A Brief Reflection on Black Friday

There is something almost “metaphysically unsettling” about “Black Friday.” The very name of this day has an ominous ring to it. It may just be the sheer “nakedness” of the open, unapologetic, unflinching—and idolatrous?—materialism that pervades the day. (Last year, a staggering five billion dollars had been spent in less than 24 hours!) Or, is it the sight of the steely determination of compulsive consumers camping out overnight before the store of their choice that offers that ever-enticing single word: Sale? Perhaps it is the frantic mayhem of the rush to the doors once they swing open like insatiable jaws leading into a modern-day Moloch awaiting to swallow its victims. Could it be the unneighborly pushing and shoving for a product on the shelves or a place in the check-out line? How about an uneasy sense of potential violence hovering in the atmosphere if competitive tempers and nerves begin to fray? Perhaps it is more the rapid devolution, in a veritable “twinkling of an eye,” from a day of peaceful thanksgiving, into a day of rampant consumerism that is nothing short of unnerving in its effect. (Once upon a time, this Friday after Thanksgiving was a day of rest and relaxation.) As things now seem to stand, Thanksgiving Thursday has become a mere prelude to the Black Friday that follows. Or is it, finally, the disheartening havoc wrecked upon any vestigial remainder of “Christmas” that has miraculously continued to linger within our secular culture two millennia after our Savior’s Nativity in the flesh?  We seem to be witnessing a juggernaut that continues to pick up speed and strength as it careens into an unrestricted future with no end in sight.

There is “Great and Holy Friday,” and now there is… “Black Friday.”

Am I exaggerating? Please let me know. Of course, one can show the virtue of patience and simply wait until “Cyber Monday” in the quiet of one’s own domicile. Not very certain that it will be spiritually healthier, but it will be far less chaotic and perhaps even safer!

If only we loved God with the type of fervor displayed by our neighbors and co-citizens on Black Friday and rushed to the Church with such energy for the peaceful and prayerful services of this sacred season! What a witness to a spiritually-starving world we could make! But, alas, just when will that happen? Then again, with God all things are possible!