What Would Jesus Buy


(David Halnes)

“When Black Friday comes,
I’ll stand down by the door
And catch the grey men when they
Dive from the fourteenth floor.”

Steely Dan

I don’t like Black Friday, but I do like Thanksgiving. It’s the least demanding of the major holidays. It doesn’t require that you write cards, buy presents or color eggs and prepare Easter baskets. You may be hosting a dinner or bringing dessert, wine or a side dish to someone else’s home, but that is tame in comparison to the financial bloodletting required of a true, red-blooded consumer on Christmas. Stop shopping and the terrorists win, remember?

I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday. I’d rather spend a few dollars more and not be stampeded to death. Also, I am prone to panic attacks—especially in confined spaces—so it’s not the optimum environment for me in the first place.

Remember this one? “A 29-year-old shopper was pepper sprayed and arrested Thursday in a New Jersey Walmart after arguing with a store manager about a TV and attacking an officer, police said.”

Ah, sisterly and brotherly love at its best. There’s actually a site called Black Friday Death Count. Check it out if you don’t believe me.

We all like a bargain—maybe me more than most. I waited over a month to purchase an Anne Klein dress at Lord & Taylor because I knew they’d eventually mark it down. Patience has its virtues. After returning week after week, not only was it reduced by 40%, but I had a 20% coupon which brought it down to less than ½ the original cost. I was quite satisfied with myself over that one.

Back to the topic at hand. I was pleased to learn that Walmart employees in several states are planning a Black Friday walkout, asking for a more livable wage and safer working conditions. I think that’s fair, considering that the Walton Family, who owns Walmart, is the richest family in the U.S, with more wealth than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined. If Sam Walton’s dependents worked for their dividend checks this year, they would each receive $1.5 million every hour. Walmart workers get an average of $8.81 per hour and are routinely denied full-time work.

My experience with Walmart is limited to the children’s theater/literacy tour I did with Golden Books in 2000. Our little troupe performed on a stage in the Walmart parking lot (no kidding) in Bentonville, Arkansas on a snowy November afternoon. Bentonville is the site of the original store and corporate headquarters. The manager was less than cordial. Many of the very friendly cashiers were missing front teeth: the dental plan is only available to full-time employees.

Let me leave you with these kernels of wisdom from Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping:

We’re going to spread the good gospel through the Mall of America. You can walk away from the product! Drive the moneychangers out of the temple this year! We are all ending up inside these super malls! These products are taking over our lives! Stop shopping! Hallelujah! Change-a-lujah! Let’s change! We’re here in the heart of the Mall of America to urge you to join us and many other Americans in saving Christmas from the Shopocalypse!

Reverend Billy’s latest book, also made into a movie by Morgan Spurlock, is entitled What Would Jesus Buy?

Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a good night!