Last Tuesday in his post Advent and Us, Chalcedon made this point.
Advent is a casualty of the secularisation of our society. For many people its arrival seems to have been marked by the urge to worship Mammon; at the garage this morning, paying for the petrol took longer than usual, apparently because so many people were using their debit and credit cards for ‘cyber Monday’. Already the invitations for Christmas parties are here, and the general thrust of the season seems to be towards excess and self-gratification; that may not, of course, be much more than an intensification of business as normal. So how do we retrieve Advent?
He’s correct of course. But there is also this. Advent/Christmas has been sort of a pendulum in our society. When I wrote about Thanksgiving, I was reminded that for the Separatist/Pilgrims Christmas was simply another work day, not celebrated at all. I doubt any of us really want to go back to that either.
The other point to that is that business, at its best is agnostic in regards to religion. It’s purpose is to supply the goods you want at what you consider a fair price. Yes, the owner of a business should have the option of not dealing with anyone he chooses not to. But he must understand that such a course works to his disadvantage as well as those with whom he chooses not to deal. That does not mean it is never justified.
But retail is a very strange business. the way it has developed in the US (and I suspect the UK), it has become a very large friendly dog, in a very small room, and every time it wags its tail it knocks something off the table.
Here we have a business that (if it is lucky) manages to break even in the first eleven months of the year. That means if it is to make a profit at all, it must do so in the last month, and we all know that coincides with Advent/Christmas. Christmas is, of course, a marketer’s dream: The birth of a child (and so a birthday party) combined with the major religious holiday of the dominant religion, in our countries.
And so, if you were in charge of a business like that, what would you do? I think most of us would do exactly as our retailers do, exploit it for all we are worth, after all we have employees to pay, and presumably we’d like to keep them employed for another year.
Yes, much of it is completely tasteless, occasionally degrading, and completely misses our point. And that part of it bothers me as well but, some isn’t.
And never doubt that if they could figure out a way to exploit Ramadan, they would screw that up as completely. Their job is to move product, not be be sympathetic to the religious.
Mostly, I suspect we should take this as still another reminder that while we are in this world, we are not really of this world.
And besides, a fair amount of it is kind of fun, when we put our outrage aside, isn’t it?
And personally I have always believed God has a good sense of humor, He must have, He created us, after all.