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5 reasons Black Friday creeps me out


Call me a hypocrite, but Harriet and I did go out last Friday. While visiting my dad, The Chester, we ventured out to Hobby Lobby in Greer, SC, mid-morning. Christian music played in the background, giving the store a civilized ambiance while customers browsed through holiday niceties, manger scenes, crosses, and other seasonal fare. Harriet bought a 2016 calendar with her 40% off coupon. There weren't any fist-fights or tussles or riots, like the one is a stylish boutique, pictured above. I walked for twenty minutes. logging 2,500 steps.

Black Friday creeps me out. We fought the crowds and wrestled over more expensive sale items a number of years ago but gave it up for Lent soon after. And, it's not just the dark depraved nature of human kind that brought us to that decision. The whole thing creeps me out because of what it's become. Suddenly, Black Friday is the epi-center of The Secular City that liberal theologian Harvey Cox predicted way back in 1965. It is mobility an anonymity in spades. Five distinct black marks make it a creep- out zone for me.

1. The obvious black mark is that it plays on the depraved nature of man.

Classic liberalism affirms that mankind is good and is getting better. Of course,

you can Google "Black Friday fights" and see how greed and envy and

self-absorption characterizes our species. Lower prices, limited supplies, long

lines, and the native competiveness that beats in the human heart are

maximized in the build up to Black Friday. Advertisers play on the dark side,

and create an environment that ignites our worst instincts. All the stuff about

love and acceptance and tolerance and kindness and peace are lost in the

consumer culture of good deals.

2. Black Friday is suddenly the beginning of the Christ season.

As a traditional Christian, the Christmastide season has always begun on the

first Sunday of Advent. With Black Friday as the make-it-or-break-it sales day

for most retail business our Christmas celebration is now fast-forwarded a

couple of days and is now defined by consumerism and not spirituality. There's

just something obscene about Christmas decorations out in the open before

Halloween, the set-up for Black Friday.

3. Thanksgiving has been blurred by Black Friday commercialism.

Of course, Thanksgiving all the time is the biblical standard. But, in the United

States, we've observed Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November

since 1941 as a national day of thanks and prayer. Originally, Black Friday

happened on the day after Thanksgiving. But, in recent years the competitive

nature of retail marketing and sales has moved the beginning of Black Friday

to Thanksgiving Day. While some retailers close on Thanksgiving Day, most are

open for business and advertise their greatest sales bargains late Thanksgiving

Day. So, the lines start forming, people camp at the entrances to many retail

establishments, and Thanksgiving Day is shoved into the background.

4. Black Friday isn't always such a great deal.

OK, we all want to save money on the big tickets items. As a result, Black

Friday deals are offered at what appears to be record low pricing. However,

college Marketing 101 taught me about loss-leaders and the many ways these

low prices lure the spending of impulse purchases beyond the advertised

pricing bonanza. Yes, there's one born every minute, and someone has said

that there's no such thing as a free lunch. In the greater scheme of things,

Black Friday isn't always such a great deal.

5. There's a values inversion in the Black Friday hype.

Suddenly you're un-American if you don't participate in Black Friday. Yes, there

are a good many grouchy people like me who don't prefer the crass

commercialism, huge crowds, and greed of such a giant sales day. Today, these

people, including me, are viewed as negative, intolerant, often religious

fanatics who would rather spend a nice quiet day at home rather than join the

mania of crowds vying for those large ticket items that draw so many to the

mall and large retailers.

Then, there's the football weekend. And, what red-blooded American male would rather spend Black Friday shopping when you can be preparing for Grudge Saturday college football. I mean, let's get the values thing down to the basics.

Seriously, though, there's this conforming to the world thing too. And, there's much more to this life than a good deal. You know, like time with the family, genuine moments of gratitude, and anticipating the joys of the season.

For whatever it's worth.


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