Catholic Consumers and the Economy

For many years early in our marriage, my husband and I shared a car.  The memories from those years have become quite special to us.  I’d bundle up the kids two or three mornings a week and we’d drive dad to work so that I could have the car to grocery shop and run errands.  Then, at the end of the day, back into the car we’d go — after having been in and out of it all day long — to pick up dad from work.  For the life of me I can’t remember the kids causing problems or bickering, although I’m sure they did.  I can’t remember how exhausted I must have been, but I’m sure I was.  The memories are fond and joyful and hassle-free.

I’m positive that my age also has something to do with the way in which these times have become dear to my heart.  I am convinced that this is how God rewards us for persevering — He sweetens our memories so that they cushion us in our old age.

Anyhow, when my husband’s van up and died last summer, I was easily able to step back into the “one-car, two-driver” mode.  However, just about everyone we know was flummoxed by this decision of ours to ride out (pun intended) the economic uncertainties by juggling schedules and sharing a car.

But, for me, taking my husband to work a few times a week has provided newfound treasures.  We’re older now and so our conversations have changed during this “alone” time.  Although, admittedly, we still recap how much sleep we each received during the previous night, it is no longer the fault of babies who needed feeding as much as it is tending to our own nightly needs combined with the worry and wonder of kids in college and concerns about the world they are inheriting.  I have to chuckle when I think that I used to imagine the post-baby years would certainly be long nights of rejuvenating sleep!

Nonetheless, the morning rides when we share a car are much easier now.  There are no babies or toddlers to bundle up — although I miss those little boys.  My husband I just each grab a cup of coffee and off we go.

This isn’t to say that it’s been a piece of cake.  I’ve had to do some serious adjusting.  It has been imperative that I become more organized and I have also had to learn to deal with a cabin-fever on many occasions during our extremely long and cold Midwest winter.  Then there are the times like when I missed a night out with a friend because our one family car had to be available to take our youngest son to and from work.  But priorities are often about sacrifice.  Overall, however, we’re doing quite well with this arrangement.

In the midst of all this I have found myself facing what I feel is a real quandary regarding our “one-car, two-driver” situation.  I can’t help but wonder if I am morally obligated to purchase a car and do my fair share to help our economy or if I am morally obligated to withhold my money to protest the ways in which I believe our government is supporting policies and agendas that are against my beliefs as a Catholic.

The more time goes on, the more this dilemma grows.  A few weeks ago, I read a letter to the editor of a Catholic newspaper in which the writer, a gentleman, called for all Catholics to stop buying things as a way to make the current administration “listen” to what we value as Catholics.

That made sense to me and I appreciated seeing that other Catholics are also discerning their roles in the economic future of the country.  Although, what we are willing to sacrifice for our beliefs remains to be seen.

Most of us are aware that Obama has surrounded himself with the most pro-abortion women possible and has released federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.  We are also painfully aware that he has reversed the Mexico City policy.  Do we know, however, that in appointing Harry Knox to the “faith” based council Obama has chosen a man very outspoken against the Catholic Church, her Pope, and even her organizations like Knights of Columbus?

These are all things that make me see my money in very moral terms and not just a means to an end.  Indeed, if money talks, then Catholics can be sure they will be heard by what they don’t or won’t do with their dollars in these next few years and I, for one, want to make sure I have discerned well my role as a Catholic consumer and act with wisdom and understanding.

Obama has made the statement that he sees a glimmer of hope in the economic turnaround.  I can see how that would be happening.  In some ways sharing a car with my husband is growing old.  It’s a little easier to cope with cabin fever in the dead of winter where I would have been inside anyhow due to the snow and freezing temperatures; but, as spring makes its way to the Midwest I am itching to have some freedom.

But then I really wonder if buying a car will help foster economic growth and ultimately provide more job security for my family or will it, like the billions given to GM, simply forestall the inevitable at which point I’ll have lost a precious opportunity to make a statement?  Is economic stability at the price of an administration gone wild for abortion just blood money that will be on my hands and conscience?  These are very real questions that I grapple with on a daily basis.

Now that I think about it, they are questions that I’ll have to discuss with my husband next week when I drive him to work.

Cheryl Dickow


Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at

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  • I regard those companies which have taken President Obama’s handouts as receiving stolen property. I am, as much as possible, avoiding doing any business with any of them for the foreseeable future.

  • I’m not a big believer in boycotts. I think any positive effect they may have is miniscule, easily ignored by the targets, and serves only to inconvenience people who need cars and toasters regardless of where they come from. Remember the “Free Tibet” boycotts against Chinese goods of ten or twenty years ago? Well, Tibet is still firmly in the Chinese Communist orbit and we’re buying more junk from China than ever.

    I’m no expert in financial management–if you don’t believe me I’ll show you my credit card bills–but what I would say is, a major purchase should be an act of discernment. Bring your needs before Jesus and let Him lead you. There is only so much that we can do as consumers, as the power of our dollar is limited; we have other, stronger ways of making ourselves heard, ways like moral suasion. I think it does a lot more good to stand out in front of an abortion clinic praying than it does to boycott GM. And writing letters to politicians and newspapers–all of which do get read, even if they are dismissed–is another effective tactic. Most of all is the voting both, and working to rally Catholics for the 2010 and 2012 elections should be a big priority.

    Well I’ve said my piece. Time to get back to work, sitting at my Chinese-made desk, making calls on my Chinese-made telephone, and staring at my Chinese-made computer screen.

  • It is not sufficient to not buy. One must write the company, stating what products you used to buy, what you are doing now, and *why*. Without this information, on paper, there is no way for anyone to tell how and why your buying habits have changed.