Monday, December 01, 2008

Seasonal Sacrifices

Randall Friesen nailed it: And now we sacrifice humans to the god we serve.

The rush to blame has begun. Police and the family's lawyer hold Wal Mart responsible for Jdimytai Damour's death. James Wolcott blames the media:

What you don't see in these Black Friday updates are interviews with the people who work in these mall chains, who have to show up at even more ungodly hours than do the shoppers in order to stock the shelves and prepare for the store openings. Openings that get nearer to the Thanksgiving meal each year, with some stores opening at midnight on Thanksgiving day and others at 4 AM on Black Friday, forcing workers to cut short their own holiday plans and put in exhausting zombie hours. It's become an arms race between the major chains, and putting a stop to these excesses and exploitations is a stellar case for unionization. I see countless inane interviews with shoppers carrying bags full of booty, interviewer and interviewee competing to see who can be more effing cutesy, but nothing with the cashiers or shelvers after they've put in a long shift. How much does a security guard or greeter make at one of these malls? It never occurs to any reporter (or assignment editor) to ask; it would be a breach of journalistic etiquette to try anything that Studs Terkel. If nothing else, it would be nice if CNBC and the other cable networks would at least stop hyping Black Friday as if it were the Super Bowl, grinning and ruminating about it as if it were some durable and endearing national tradition. Quit treating shoppers loaded with merchandise dragging their fat butts across the parking lot as if they were some hardy breed of buffalo hunter heeding the call of the wild. For an ironic postscript, you can hardly do better than this:

About the time that Mr. Damour was killed, a shopper at a Wal-Mart in Farmingdale, 15 miles east of Valley Stream, said she was trampled by a crowd of overeager customers, the Suffolk County police reported. The woman sustained a cut on her leg, but finished her shopping before filing the police report, an officer said.

So far I haven't heard much about holding the 2000 shoppers accountable. Sometimes sheer numbers make it impossible to assign responsibility. It's far easier to point the finger at those with names and bank accounts.

Sigh. The truth is we are all still tempted by the same gods as the Israelites.
Though we no longer name it Baal--"giver of abundance--" we still worship material goods and economic prosperity.
Though we no longer name it Ashtoreth, we still glorify lust and sexual prowess.
Though we no longer name it Molech, we still exalt power and the ability to destroy.

How will we repent this Advent?
We have a chance to honor Datour's memory, and to truly celebrate Christ's coming. Advent Conspiracy has some suggestions, but here's a couple of really basic things I'm going to try to do:

1) I'm going to be mindful of clerks, cashiers, stockpersons and others who serve me. I'm going to silently give thanks for them and pray that God will bless them. I'm going look them in the eye and to smile. Acknowledge their efforts and sympathize with their situation. Give honest compliments. Say thank you. Treat them not as objects, but as persons who may have aching feet and backs and families waiting for dinner.

2) When I'm in a long line I'm going to try to be patient. I'm going to surprise someone behind me by letting them go ahead of me.

3) I'm going to support our youth in their "Walk for Water."

I want to stop sacrificing myself and others to false gods. I want to sacrifice myself for Jesus. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship." (Romans 12:1).

Venite Adoremus!

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