Black Friday proves that the progress of (post)modernity has failed to eradicate the ills of idolatry. Lest we denizens of the “highly-developed” world think that we have left the primitive vestiges of wood, rock, and gold idolatry behind, our shopping patterns (and indeed our shopping identities as consumers) should remind us of our consumerism’s dark side — a lethal one.
As I’ve put in “Reconciliation and the Lack Thereof”:
“Although physical idols may not be as universally common today as they once were, invisible idols are as prevalent as ever, especially within the context of Western materialism, where money, possessions, influence, and power are the modern-day Baal.”
If you DO happen to find yourself shopping on Black Friday, or really at any point during the upcoming shopping/holiday (an increasingly blurred line) season — allow me to recommend heartily the following book: The Economy of Desire by Daniel M. Bell, Jr. Here’s a poignant quote:
“Capitalism distorts the creative power that is human desire by constantly creating new objects/idols for its fascination. It entices desire with an endless array of distractions. The enchantments of capitalist production are distractions precisely because they cannot satisfy our desire. And as far as capitalism is concerned, this is a good thing, for satisfied desire would spell an end to capitalism, which depends on the frenetic power of unquenched desire to drive its productive engines.
“In contrast, Christianity proclaims the good news that we can indeed find rest from the rat race that is the conflict of the capitalist market. Our desire finds its true home, its rest, its delight in communion with God. Desire’s true fascination is the radiance of love that is the glorious life of the blessed Trinity. For this reason, humanity might rightly be called homo adorans — worshiping beings. We are not beings caught in an endless cycle of trucking and bartering (homo economicus) but beings inclined to worship and enjoy the divine love that provides all we need. In other words, because the Lord is our shepherd, we shall not want (Ps. 23:1). We need not strive endlessly but can be content.” (168)
If you don’t feel like braving the crowds, Bell’s book is available on Amazon.