Scenes of hungry angry shoppers fighting over big screen TVs are likely to show up today as Black Friday hits us once again.
Weird that it is the day after Thanksgiving. Almost like we didn’t have enough to be thankful for so we rush out to get more stuff.
We’re stuffed turkeys. Gobble. Gobble.
It’s easy to see the greed and blame our materialistic culture without seeing the deeper threat.
Every argument is a theological argument, and the vulgarity and futility of Black Friday reveals a philosophical-theological crisis at the heart of our culture.
It’s called “Materialism”. It’s easy enough to see the consumerism of Black Friday and say this is materialism but the behaviors are a symptom, not the disease.
The disease is the philosophy of materialism which put simply is “What you see is what you get.”
The materialist thinks the physical world is all there is. There is no spiritual realm, no invisible reality. There are no demons, no angels, no heaven and no hell. What you see is what you get and when you die that’s the end. Flat line. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.
Materialism is therefore implicitly atheistic, and it is the philosophy of materialism which is the default setting for a huge number of Americans. They don’t SAY they’re atheist, but they behave as if they are atheists because they put all their trust not in Almighty God, but in the Almighty Dollar. They believe their material goodies will make them happy and they serve the Almighty Dollar with all their heart, soul, mind and body.
How does one counter Materialism? I think the most practical way to counter materialism is to tithe. What I mean is “give large amounts of your money away.” Don’t get all huffy and think I am asking you to give me your money. I’m not.
I’m suggesting that you tithe 10% of your income. Give to your parish, give to your church, give to the poor, give to the charity of your choice–just give, because by giving you are killing the great god Mammon. You are showing the Almighty Dollar who’s boss. You’re in charge and by giving you are breaking your dependence on material stuff for your security.
When you learn to tithe you will have learned one of the most important and basic rules of the spiritual life: to be in control of your physical appetites. Tithing leads to happiness. Tithing leads to increased self control. Tithing leads to hard work (because you’ve given so much away you have to work harder) Tithing leads to contentment. Tithing kills the Golden Calf and exchanges it for the Lamb.
The delicious irony of this is when you tithe you actually learn what the truly abundant life is all about. You learn that it really IS more blessed to give than to get. The Lord loves a cheerful giver and those who have learned the lesson of tithing actually become joyful when they give. Go ahead and try it. Write a big fat check that is so enormous that it makes you nervous because of the risk and ridiculousness of it. Then feel the surge of joy when you send that gift away to do some good in the world.
(I should add a caution that if your or your family really ARE in financial hardship and are-for example- head over heels in debt, then it is NOT responsible to give at this ridiculous level! The first responsibility you have is to get yourself into a financially responsible position.)
However, if you are where you should be financially break the neck of that turkey materialism and tithing
Tithing leads you closer to happiness. Tithing leads you closer to others. Tithing leads you closer to God.