The Church of Fast, Cheap and Easy

February 1, 2001

In this issue:

Newsbrief: Roddick Dazzles Golden Gate Students

Editorial: The Church of the Fast, Cheap and Easy, by John Renesch

More Newsbriefs: Smash Hit at Presidio





The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick gave a lecture and answered questions on January 20 at Golden Gate University, attended by mostly women students and some members of the general public. Associate Dean of Student Affairs Maia Rabinov served as host and the University’s CFO introduced the program; John introduced the out-spoken leader of the socially responsible business movement.



Being over sixty years old gives me a perspective on the changes that we’ve undergone over the past couple of generations. I remember the years before time payments, bank credit cards, supermarkets, shopping malls, fast food chains, and, of course, the Internet. One of the trends that began back in the 1950s and continues to gain dominance in our culture is the American propensity for convenience. The U.S. consumer seems very willing to pay more, valuing convenience over and above many other factors.

Another trend has been a growing desire for everything being as “easy” as possible – divorces, consumer gratification, career advancement, sexual gratification, drug usage to and other ways.

And then there is the growing expectation that we shouldn’t pay any more than absolutely necessary for anything, and that the cheapest price drives purchases of anything.

Yes, we have become members of The Church of Fast, Cheap and Easy. As members of this congregation, we are always looking for ways to get what we want faster, cheaper and easier. Any business person who wants to feed this religious-like fervor and take advantage of this feeding frenzy can usually count upon a responsive customer base, following industrialist Henry J. Kaiser’s advice: “Find Need and Fill It.” After all, we have proven that we are willing to forego our health, sacrifice relationships, pollute our environment and accept unethical behavior in business for the sake of our personal convenience, the cheapest prices and the fastest gratification.

There is no end to this trend since there are always faster gratifications, lower prices, and easier ways to partake in whatever it is that we have yearnings for. One look at the marketplace today and we see hundreds of examples of this. Instant customer gratification is the goal for almost any new enterprise; we can get our food made to order in seconds or minutes, our mail gets delivered in “cyber-moments” (only seconds in some cases), and we don’t even need to leave our homes to work anymore.

So, you say, what’s the problem? Where’s the negative side to this? Does this headlong race to join the congregation of the Church of Fast, Cheap and Easy have a downside? Only if you value relationship – like relationships with merchants you used to know by name. Only if you value savoring the anticipation of having a neat experience, and waiting for it to mature over time so it can be truly appreciated when it arrives, like a fine wine. Only if you reduce all major decisions – like where your kids go to school, what kind of food you eat, what neighborhood you live in – to what costs the least amount.

We hear many people complain about the finer things in life disappearing – like deep understanding of ideas, aesthetics, appreciated elegance, savoring beauty and finer things – and then we see these same people ride off toward their next “quick fix.” The quick fix society that we have become disallows for patient investigation of new ideas for business, deeper appreciation for the subtle nuances of the situations we encounter every day in our work, and the natural evolution of human growth, consciousness and how we relate to one another.

Can we resign from this congregation – the Church of Fast, Cheap and Easy? I suppose we can. All we need to do is walk out of the Church, even if it is in the midst of a sermon, and stop buying into the dogma, stop subscribing to the practice, and start valuing qualities in all parts of our lives like we do in the few remaining areas that haven’t yet succumbed to this dogma. Good sex, fine wine, great literature, art and sculpture – things of great beauty and wonder which have not yet completely been swamped with this tidal wave of faster, cheaper, easier.

While the congregation for this sect appears to be growing rapidly, there is a simultaneous trend which parallels the evolution into greater consciousness – the kind that Barbara Marx Hubbard, Peter Russell and many others of us write about. There is an evolution toward this higher place and some seem more aligned with it than others. In some ways things look pretty rosy, but you have to look much harder than you do for the trends that are so evident in the news and all our advertising.

I recall the opening line from The Tale of Two Cities – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and I never really knew what Charles Dickens meant by that until recently. This is certainly a time when that line is quite an accurate descriptor, for while we have plenty of reasons for alarm about our future, there is also a basis for optimism about a shift in our consciousness – a shift like the one Einstein referenced half a century ago when he said we’d never solve our problems from the same thinking that created them.

As an Indian businessman and colleague of mine – Jagdish Parikh – once said, “It is wonderful to have a lofty vision that pulls you toward it but it helps if you are being chased by a tiger.” The Church of Fast, Cheap and Easy attracts that part of us that represents the tiger – pushing us closer and closer to a society divorced from its humanness. Our vision for what we can be, and our continuing evolution toward our divine destiny, is what pulls us ever closer. We are motivated to repel from a negative trend while we are attracted to a more positive one, like the long train with an engine at either end – one pushing us and another pulling.




The first Presidio Dialogues of the new year was held Tuesday, January 23rd, and it was a SMASH HIT. Evolution biologist Elisabet Sahtouris and Chaordic Alliance Managing Director Tom Hurley were the guest presenters and both used Power Point slides to augment their presentations on the evening’s theme – “Organizations as Organisms.” As moderator, John facilitated a conversation with the audience after the initial presentations…..This month’s program takes place on February 27th with Larry Liberty and David Berenson on “Human Emotions and Maturity in Business”….



Riane Eisler is the author of this month’s guest editorial in eCHOICE: The E-Newsletter for Introspective Leaders, John’s UNfree e-newsletter. Riane is author of a new book Tomorrow’s Children. To subscribe to eCHOICE (see information below).


About John Renesch

Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John E. Renesch, a San Francisco writer, futurist, and business philosopher. His new book – Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing – is just out. He served as Editor-in-Chief of The New Leaders business newsletter from 1990 to 1997 and has created a dozen business anthologies on progressive business subjects, including consciousness, intuition and leadership. These books include New Traditions in Business, Learning Organizations and The New Bottom Line.

He is also an international keynote speaker, having addressed audiences in Tokyo, Seoul, London, Brussels, Budapest as well as many cities throughout the U.S.

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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