Hey friends, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. If you missed my big pre-holiday announcement about my new book, click here.
Today is “Cyber Monday,” which means that in all likelihood, if you aren’t reading blogs and Facebook at work, you’re scouring the internet for crazy sales.
Of course, we all know that Black Friday really started on Thursday. And we complained about stores destroying our holidays. We lamented our sacred traditions being stolen by capitalism. But then we bum-rushed the doors Thursday night, right after we finished giving “thanks.”
But what makes a tradition sacred? How can tradition be destroyed by anyone?
Maybe we just need to create a new holiday to commemorate what is really sacred to us.
The Sacred Inconvenience
You could probably come up with lots of ways to define what is “sacred,” or “holy.”
I define it with one word: inconvenience.
Think about it. Worship is a “sacred” event. And it is inconvenient to get up on Sunday morning, go to church, give money, and participate. It is inconvenient to try to live as a Christian and do right by others.
The holidays are sacred…and very inconvenient. We spend a lot of time, energy, money and stress over family gatherings, meals, parties, and gifts. We put up our Christmas tree Thanksgiving night. It’s a big pain in the butt! But it’s kind of a sacred tradition. It would be a lot easier to sit at home alone.
To some people, football is sacred. Their tradition involves buying the best sports cable packages or buying season tickets to sit next to drunk idiots in freezing weather every Sunday for four months.
Jesus indicated in no uncertain terms that following him would be one heck of an inconvenience to anyone who actually held his words as sacred. Take up your cross, lay down your life, love your neighbor.
In a world that loves convenience, it becomes easy to see what we hold sacred. Sacred things are worth the trouble
It has become plain to me that kicking off the feeding frenzy of Christmas shopping has become a sacred event in our culture. The proof is in how much inconvenience people are willing to endure to keep the tradition alive. If inconvenience is a measure of sacredness, Black Friday is the new holiday.
Violent, Angry Zealots
On the news site I frequent in the mornings, a link showed fresh violence in the middle east. Swarms of Muslims chanting, shouting, burning things, throwing objects, firing guns in the air. I shook my head as I again could not wrap my mind around the blind zeal of those frightening crowds.
Then a string of links said things like:
“Gang fight at Black Friday sale.”
“Man pulls gun on line-cutting shopper.”
“Thousands of women and teen girls storm Victoria’s Secret.”
“Men steal boy’s bag outside Bed Bath and Beyond.”
“Mayhem at Nebraska mall where 9 murdered in 2007.”
The thing is, from the outside looking at zealots in their religious fervor, it always looks shocking, incomprehensible. I can no more understand the violence in the Middle East than I can in my own country.
But our culture is experiencing the closest thing to revival we will ever see in our lifetimes. Millions of people making an annual, sacred pilgrimage, their zeal for the cause provoking them to violence. When something is sacred, and you are willing to inconvenience yourself for it, it is easy to become a violent crusader for your cause.
Sacred Because I Say So
So who is destroying our American traditions?
Is it Wall Street?
The answer is no one. No one is destroying our sacred traditions. If people want to hold Friday sacred and not Thursday, it’s because their conscience guides them to do so. They are willing to inconvenience themselves for it. They are willing to get violent for it.
I don’t participate in Black Friday because I find nothing sacred in it. It is not worth the inconvenience. I know that if I don’t look at the advertisements, I won’t know what I’m missing. I’m a Black Friday agnostic! The sales may exist, but I don’t know what they are.
But no one is coming to my home and telling me what traditions I must follow, or what traditions I must give up, because they are now “destroyed.” My traditions are as sacred as I make them, not what the stores dictate to me. Their manufactured holidays are not sacred to me. The ones made by my family that celebrate our traditions and our worship are sacred, holy, and worth all the inconvenience.
Are you a Black Friday zealot or agnostic? What makes the holidays sacred to you?