Kevin Basil (signature)

Seasonal Reflection, part I

Next article: Cheerwine is Online
Previous article: Forget Russia and Greece, This is Texan Orthodoxy!

Written by Basil on 12/8/2003 10:12 PM. Filed under:

Share with your friends and followers:

Christmastime is here again–if you listen to the approved providers of Goodthink. Angels, wise-men, hay troughs and stars: all with complementary gift-wrap and delivery. This time of year, we cashiers see cash so infrequently that I joke about asking for ID. Christmas, it seems, is all about how much money you spend.

Recently, the news was blanketed with stories about “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving when retailers expect some of the highest sales of the year. Many stores open early and offer sale prices to lure more shoppers into their doors. Some retailers have been operating essentially in the red all year; this marks the point when they either start operating in the black, or they make plans not to be around next Christmas.

Bill McKibben, author of Hundred Dollar Holiday, reminds us that this time of the year lopsidedly props up the economy on one giant leg. Remove the money expended during the final month of the year, and the Great Depression would seem inviting by comparison.

I have worked in retail in some form for the past seven years. My first year was spent working at The Coffee Beanery in Fayette Mall. That was my worst Christmas ever. I was cursed at on more than one occasion. Peace? Men of good will? Only if it’s on sale.

My service in the retail industry has deeply soured me against capitalism. I am not a socialist or communist by any means, so I guess I end up thinking of capitalism as the least evil of the available economic systems. I am certainly not a pure capitalist, though I do have strong libertarian tendencies politically.

The worst part of this season is the identification of my religion’s second highest holy day with mammon and the identification of its virtues with its vices: generosity with greed, selflessness with selfishness, giving with getting. Every commercial about Christmas turns out to be about buying something from some merchant somewhere. I just saw a two-minute spot extolling the virtues of unplugging and spending time with your family: Have family game night and play Monopoly or Sorry or one of a half-dozen Hasbro/Parker Brothers games.

I’m sure this is not the first rant you’ve read about unchristian attitudes during the holiday season. So, what’s the point? To be continued…

Share with your friends and followers:


The URL to trackback this post is:

9 Responses to “Seasonal Reflection, part I”

  1. James the Beardless Says:

    I’m not a economist, but I’ve often thought that our economy, especially in the Lexington area, is too retail driven. It’s too driven by stores like Wal-Mart, Sears, Kohl’s, etc. Just like you said, many retailers depend on this last month of sales to drive their whole ledger.

  2. pete Says:

    indeed. sometimes i find myself actually wanting to go along with a local talk radio guy who suggested that Christians ought to celebrate Christmas in, say, June–less emphasis on materialism, less Satanclaus, etc. (i disagree with just about every other word that comes out of this guys’s mouth, though, so it’s really hard to concede any points to him.

  3. Mr. Hibbity Gibbity Says:

    Um, capitalism, in its base form, is neither good nor evil.

    Unforunately, the heightened sense of consumerism which we see running rampant in our society today is a result of several factors, one being that American culture/society has slowly devolved from the mindset of ‘producer of goods’ to one of ‘consumer of goods’.

    Typically, when one produces, one appreciates the goods one produces and subsequently, the goods that others produce. The result being that goods are of a better quality and are treated better in order to prolong their longevity.

    Unfortunately, a consumer based society continually feeds on itself; constantly ‘ramping up’ every year.

    It would be so much better if people would budget themselves to a certain amount of expenditures for the Christmas season. Then, when next year rolls around, they would actually have money to spend and our economy wouldn’t suffer from people ‘tightening their belts’ for the next several months.

    However, that would require us to live in a society that didn’t promote ‘instant gratification’.

    Blah, ’tis the season.

  4. basil Says:

    In truth, if we were only talking about buying and selling, you would be correct. However, capitalism depends upon the charging of interest, what Scripture identifies as the sin of usury.

  5. Mr. Hibbity Gibbity Says:

    Actually, capitalism doesn’t rely on interest. While the charging of interest may be a factor in our own economy, that doesn’t mean that it’s inherently intertwined with capitalism.

    The charging of interest is another ‘beast’ altogether.

  6. Mr. Hibbity Gibbity Says:

    No, wait, hold up . . . you’re partially correct.

    Capitalism does typically depend on charging more for a product than that product is worth . . . hence profit, which is a return on an investment or interest.


    Still though, as you pointed out, capitalism is still the lesser of the evils. The other option being ‘ideal socialism’ which would level the playing field and make the cost of everything reflect its actual worth.

    Or course, without any competition and without any hope of gaining profit on an investment, what would be the incentive to make things better?

    Sure, if everyone worked for the ‘glory of God’ that would be enough, but unfortunately, we live in a fallen world.

    Kinda sucks.

  7. pete Says:

    but does the fact that “we live in a fallen world” justify apathy?

  8. Mr. Hibbity Gibbity Says:

    Yes, yes it does.

    In fact . . . I’m so apathetic . . . that I’m not even going to respond any further.