Black Friday is the high feast day of our thing-centered cult-ure

By Carson Weber The English term “culture” is derived from the Latin cultus: worship or reverence.  It’s a mode of … Continued

By Carson Weber

The English term “culture” is derived from the Latin cultus: worship or reverence.  It’s a mode of being, a way of life, a world view, a paradigm.  Like the air you breathe, your culture influences the way you dress, the manner in which you treat your neighbor, the food on your table, and all the rest.  It is an inescapable lens through which you view the world, and it shapes your priorities.

The prevailing culture stems from what a society worships or gives worth to (i.e., worth-ship).  A contemporary example rests in the manner professional sports fans spend their discretionary income and leisure time.  Reverence of the San Francisco Giants translates into action.  Businesses shut down for the day to give employees ample time for the liturgical procession along Market Street, adorned with the festive colors of black and orange.

We are wired for worship, and we will stop at nothing to fill that inner trajectory of the human spirit for the infinite. In the post-modern, secular, materialist culture we find ourselves situated within, this orientation has brought us to adore the work of human hands. The high feast day of the liturgical calendar of this thing-centered cult-ure is Black Friday. Millions of American lives center upon inanimate objects, which devour our limited time and treasure.

The early Christians’ liturgy of the word consisted of synagogue worship on Saturday. Before Sunday sunrise, these followers of the Way would gather in the dark to sing hymns to the Christ and consume his flesh and blood in the liturgy of the Eucharist as daylight broke (cf. Pliny’s Letter to the Emperor Trajan, A.D. 112). In like manner, American consumers pay reverent attention to the word proclaimed by multicolored mailers in the days leading up to the great pre-dawn gathering, wherein chants of “open” give way to the great consumption of goods.

Amidst our overcrowded and efficiency crazy American work schedule, we are graced with a blessed holiday (etymology: holy-day), and how do we choose to spend it? By spending it. We shackle ourselves anew to the work of rising before dawn to trample our brother in hopes of attaining more stuff. The insatiable craving of the soul has no end. Or does it?

Thank God for Moses who gave us Saturday and Jesus who gave us Sunday. Also, thank God for my employer who graciously gifted me rest from work this Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday. You’ll find this overachiever lounging with a good friend over a cold glass of Guinness, enjoying the warmth of family life, and warming a pew at a Cathedral Mass – far away from the mass of bling-bling – gifting back praise to the Almighty, who truly satisfies.

Now don’t get me wrong. I might just have to hop onto Apple.com for ten minutes to satisfy my thirst for things temporal and possibly land a sweet deal. But, that’s for later. Priorities first.

Carson Weber resides in Sacramento and is the author of the Understanding the Scriptures Podcast at CatholicBoard.com. He holds a BBA from Texas A&M University and an MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville.

About

  • PSolus

    Carson,”"…”…materialist culture “…”…how do “Are you always in the habit of referring to yourself as Or, are you referring to all of the people that you know?You are certainly not referring to me, or to anyone that I know.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    No matter what the derevation of words, words mean what they mean now, and it is only common sense that liking a sport or shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is not even remotely related to religous observance; even the metapohor is poor.Our Thanksgiving holiday is Thursday; Friday is not a holiday, and many if not most people work on Friday. A lot of people cram the malls shopping on Friday after Thanksgiving, but most people do not. And people do not shop on Friday to satisfy some religious rite, but to try and get a jump on their Christmas gift-giving obligations; for that is what it is, an expectation, and duty, that weighs heavily on many people.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    No matter what the derevation of words, words mean what they mean now, and it is only common sense that liking a sport or shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is not even remotely related to religous observance; even the metapohor is poor.Our Thanksgiving holiday is Thursday; Friday is not a holiday, and many if not most people work on Friday. A lot of people cram the malls shopping on Friday after Thanksgiving, but most people do not. And people do not shop on Friday to satisfy some religious rite, but to try and get a jump on their Christmas gift-giving obligations; for that is what it is, an expectation, and duty, that weighs heavily on many people.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Both times I submitted my comments, they were rejected; now, here they are. Weird.

  • eezmamata

    I’m grateful my father is still alive, after undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer this time last year. I’m grateful that my mother still has my father, and that we do as well.I’m grateful that my wife loves me, and that I still love her as much as I ever did.I’m grateful that my family is doing well, and that so many families are doing well.But I’m not thankful. What am I supposed to thank? Do I thank the doctors who treated my father … well, I already did that. Do I thank my father for staying alive so my mother and my family wouldn’t have to feel what it would be like to lose him?I can thank my lucky stars, you can thank your gods, it has the same effect. Neither the lucky stars nor the fantasy gods feel the slightest interest in our thanking them.Gratefulness vs thankfulness … thanks Dad, for fighting the good fight.

  • xixidada

    hello everyone,im wholesale supplier onlineWelcome to our website ===== accept paypal and free shipping We need your support and trust!!!Dear friends, please temporarily stop your footstepsTo our website Walk around A look atMaybe you’ll find happiness in your sight shopping heaven and earthYou’ll find our price is more suitable for you.And we shall be offer you free gift about MP4 if you more order.=====

  • endlessazul

    Ah, irony.hello everyone,im wholesale supplier onlineWelcome to our website===== accept paypal and free shippingWe need your support and trust!!!Dear friends, please temporarily stop your footstepsTo our website Walk around A look atMaybe you’ll find happiness in your sight shopping heaven and earthYou’ll find our price is more suitable for you.And we shall be offer you free gift about MP4 if you more order.===== Posted by: xixidada | November 26, 2010 10:08 PM

  • Utahreb

    The couple visiting over this holiday and I went hiking – yes, there was a cold wind – yes, it was rocky and sometimes a little steep for this old lady (73). But we were far away from the “maddening crowds” of Black Friday and the relief and peaceful quiet was worth it.Seeing the crowds hitting the doors of the stores – the ones knocked down and nearly trampled – no thanks to that this and all Thanksgiving holidays. I just have to wonder how many got home with their treasures and thought “Why is the world did I buy this?” Crowd mentality can sometimes lead us to buy or do things we would not otherwise buy or do.But on the other hand, that is what is so great about being in this country – we have the choice of peace and quiet or giving our best efforts to shopping on Black Friday. To each his own.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Daniel, may I suggest to click “Refresh” every few minutes after posting a comment.

  • readerny

    I read something recently that startled me: that spenders are happier than self-deniers. As a longtime self-denier, I realize that you can’t take it with you, and sometimes, you just have to buy a new pair of shoes, or new winter coat, or maybe even a useless electronic gadget.

  • pjs1965

    I hate Christmas. Christmas sucks.

  • eezmamata

    When you write a comment here, it is POSTed to the database server somewhere, actually it is queued to the database server. Eventually it is persisted, and eventually the user interface will pick it up.So the programming here is semi-pro at best. If your post shows up several times then you are telling everybody that you don’t know sht about how the internet works.have some patience, it will show up.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    EezmamataI know all that. But both times I posted my comment, I got a WaPo screen that popped up and said that my comment could not be posted.

  • andrewkp99

    A cold glass of Guinness? Really, Mr. Carson! But then, Guinness is something to be thankful for, whatever its state.

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