What Would Christ Think of Black Friday?

This is a passage from the email newsletter I get from a United Church of God (yes, that is that heretical group that brought us the likes of Herbert W. Armstrong) publication called “Good News Magazine.”  They have some pretty nutty ideas about some stuff, but sometimes they say some things that are so right on that I have to stop and listen.  This isn’t the whole of the newsletter.  I stop before they go into their rant about how all holidays are pagan in nature and ways the devil has deceived us into worshiping him when we should be worshiping God.  Still, though, it is hard to argue with what Clyde Kilough is saying here.

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In the midst of tough times, retailers this year are really hoping and praying—after first trying to seduce us through advertising—that “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” give them an economic shot in the arm. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, is the busiest shopping day in the year, marking the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It is one of the main indicators of whether businesses will turn a profit, that is, be put “in the black”—hence the term, Black Friday.

This makes great fodder for TV news programs. Reporters often interview people lining up and camping out at midnight. They’re ready for the 5 a.m. openings, and, typically, the film crew will capture footage of the stampeding hordes when the doors unlock. The ratings always shoot up when you have a few tramplings in the herd of the unlucky slow ones who stumble and get run over—for them it’s “Black and Blue Friday.”

I understand how starving people can riot. I’ve seen the desperation of hungry people in third world countries. Maybe that’s why seeing crazed shoppers riot and fight over a half-price DVD is just plain embarrassing, because it tells the world something about what we’ve become. These stores aren’t selling food to the starving; they’re selling greed to the “haves” who want to have more! It’s consumer hunger in the land of plenty!

Astute marketers and advertisers have cleverly tapped into basic human nature, and so effectively that we fall for the idea that we’re actually saving money! Don’t we know that while they have slashed prices on some items in order to lure us into the store, they know that once we’re in there we’ll probably buy more things than we intended? Don’t we see that the hunger to have more is part of a larger, far more destructive picture? Don’t we understand that it is the materialistic mind-set that has led to horrific personal debt, overextending ourselves beyond our means financially, which has played a big part in the current economic crisis we’re facing?

But the saddest part of all is that this kicks off the holiday season in which people are supposedly focused on honoring the One who said, “You shall not covet”! This was not God’s suggestion, but His commandment! If we were really honoring Jesus, would we get caught up in such greed?

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