Thursday, November 25, 2004

Shopping for Jesus!

Attention shoppers, one month 'til Xmas. Start your credit cards.

I don't own a television, indeed never have. And usually when I channel surf at friends' or a motel, I surf CNN, The Daily Show, Seinfeld Reruns, decent movies and the outer orbits of cable. But once in a while I check out the local TV news to see how crazy dumb the state of local TV news is. Thanksgiving has afforded me the opportunity to see what blather millions of Americans are injesting like baby pabulum it would be best to spit up, turn off and unplug.

Tonight, yes, some war-related stories - of soldiers going to and coming back from Iraq through DFW airport, but most of the news was related to the night's top story - the beginning of the "holiday shopping season." Apparently, there's an identity and credit card theft spree, just in time to help those much less fortunate buy Nintendo sets at your expense. The pile it on holiday is already underway a little earlier (and 24/7) at some errant stores (which ironically got free advertising by pulling the stunt of being open Thanksgiving Day - sacrilege no more or at least not for long). One big junk palace along the highway is staying open for over 100 hours straight from Thanksgiving through Tuesday night, though the shoppers and innocent bystander spouses seemed more weary than thrilled. And in other news this evening, there was another overtuffed and glittery feature on buying that hot, Hot, HOT gift item, a flat screen TV - as if it were your American duty this Christmas season to get one or more for those in your family still suffering from regular TVs - even though the story ended with the admission that conventional TVs still have the best picture quality. But who wants a better picture on a frumpy old set when a posh new $2200 screen will impress your drunken New Year's revelers watching the real shindig at Times' Square or your equally inebriated Super Bowl hounds - just hogs at the trough of new tech. Breaking news: two steps backward for altruism as one major mod discount change, usually known for its corporate generosity (as opposed to the stingy big W-Mart), announced it would not allow Salvation ARmy bell ringers this season bout that it would offer automated wake up calls to get shoppers to the store on time. Makes one wonder which flat screen Jesus would have us envy. What would Jesus buy? What would "a savior" give as gifts? Could he even stomach Americans' mad materialism?

Oh, the feverish engines of commerce and of the Almight Consumer (with no clothes) are now in full swing, with full permission from the Lender Gods to got the max and get at least two of everything, like moving home appliances into a 2200 square foot pseduo-Tudor Noah's Ark that looks suspiciously like a generic tract home in the burbs.

For years, some perversely humbled sect of Americans have been saying that enough is enough and too much is way too much, but how many heed these warnings of the cancer of consumerism taking over the souls of Americans' better angels? Polls and surveys taken in the last few weeks indicate that, even with the trade deficit and national debt at new highs, the government maxed to the hilt of its might swift sword, unsecured consumer debt at all time highs as well, and the dollar at all time lows against the Euro, the Yen and other strong currencies, that Americans expect to spend more and more freely this gift giving season that last year. Are things even incrementally better? Or have people just finally decided that the world - or at least the country - is going to hell in a hand basket and so shop 'til we all drop. Sort of like fiddling while Rome burns.

The World Trade Center was still falling in slow motion, yet President Bush made repeated pleas with the American people to shop as if nothing had happened - as if everything would be the same. And yet, one of the cliches of the time was that nothing would be the same.

Is shopping our desperate way to vote with our feet and our wallets and our dangerously leveraged futures? To say things are going to be the same, dammit, no matter what, as long as they'll give me credit? It's as if this country's last vastly popular statement to the world is that we will be the biggest consumers on Earth, even as we make less and less of the world's stuff - and deeply endganger the future security of our nation in the process.

In this context, "shop 'til you drop" takes on an even more ominous tone.

Maybe a plug for a bit of common sense and a dose of Christian virtue are in order:

Be humble.

Tread lightly.

Don't buy on credit.

Don't be wasteful.

The meek shall inherit the Earth after the overspent hedonists are vanquished.

Give simple gifts and not many.

Don't BE an accumulator - don't be what you consume.

Curb your envy for others' things and the things in stores.

Don't love things more than people.

Turn off the insipid TV - and otherwise avoid the blather of ads and consumer fads.

Just say NO to the consumer fever.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, whether they live near or far, are Americans or not, are human or not, treat you well or not - be virtue.

Be generous of heart and spirit and compassion.

Peace and good will toward men and women and children.


At 11/26/2004 7:20 AM, Blogger Aleksu said...

He he he...

A hacker got into the site of a merchant that I favored in the past. So, my credit card had to be cancelled and they are sending me a new one, I have only one and the limit was set at 2k. I've been negotiating increments since I started up at 500 dlls.

Then this Wednesday I received a piece of mail from my bank informing me that out of the blue, I had been approved for a new limit: 2,800!

Perfect timing you would think. Well, the Shopping Season can kiss my bootie, I am home, sipping coffee and watching the snow outside, you would have to chain me and drag me if you want to see me at a large retailer for the next six weeks.

At 11/26/2004 11:08 PM, Blogger Regina said...

Never, I will never give up my insipid TV. Never.

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