Yesterday, we had a great mashup gathering with:
- Two young couples that are new to town
- A middle-aged woman we didn’t really know who didn’t have anything else going on
- Chrissy’s brother
- A couple of international people from the university (one of whom we had never met)
We had a tremendous amount of food. Too much food. The majority of it is stacked in our refrigerator in handy containers. I had something of a minor victory this Thanksgiving.
I did not take seconds.
I am a closet glutton. In high school, my closest friends called me “Skinny.” I could not eat enough. Because of my super-metabolism, I was always concerned about when I would next eat. I was truly bottomless.
In my 20s, this generally remained true, though it was a bit tempered. I sometimes actually felt full.
Now in my 30s, I try to gauge how much I need to eat by matching my nine-year-old daughter or seven-year-old son. Eating the same amount is about right. I can eat more but it’s obvious my body isn’t tearing through those calories like it used to. If I’m not conscious of it for a week or two, I start to feel the food sticking to me—something that never happened fifteen years ago.
So Thanksgiving is an interesting exercise for me. We have a national free-pass on gluttony for a day. We joke about it. We enjoy it. It’s mostly in fun. But as a Christian, I think it odd we give a free pass ever, even if for a day, to what the ancient church called one of the “seven deadly sins.”
We don’t talk about gluttony. We don’t mention it, even to close friends, when we’re concerned about how someone else relates to food. There is appropriate concern at the other end of the spectrum about eating disorders. But we North American Christians seem to care more about what we (and others) do with genitals than digestive tracks.
Only in the U.S. do we find people standing in lines overnight to buy stuff that they don’t need to live. True confession: I’ve done Black Friday. In 2006, I bought three laptops before 8 am, replacing our one, adding a second so Chrissy and I could both work at the same time, and selling one at cost to another friend in ministry. I saved several hundred dollars. And it wasn’t even hard for me, because I was jetlagged, fresh off sixteen hours of flights back home from South Africa—I got up at 3am, but my body clock was at 10am.
Supposedly the sales today are so that we can buy gifts for others. But I wonder what percent of purchases today end up staying in our own homes, that are actually for ourselves, like the laptops I bought.
Are we really eager to get up early (or now even plan to end our Thanksgiving celebrations in time to get to Target to line up in the afternoon) and buy big-ticket items for others?
I’m all for stewardship, making our limited resources do as much as they can. But I am concerned we are greedy, wanting more and more, justifying it because it’s on sale, making our greedy pursuits a big national event. I know this is sometimes true for me, so I try to keep that in mind and use it as a way to give up my self-centeredness.
The Echo of Envy
And then, even if we resist the siren call of ultrabooks, minitablets, and other screens, we hear about the commercial victories of others.
When we hear what Nate got for just $99, and it’s something that we’ve been wanting, we can envy Nate for his purchase. We don’t like Nate because we envy him. We want what Nate has, or we covet, to use another biblical word related to envy that’s largely evaporated from our vocabulary. This is the third deadly sin that I think runs rampant this weekend.
We simply want what we don’t have. And this is the polar opposite from what ought to characterize the days around Thanksgiving.
When was the last time you heard of someone in leadership of a church or ministry being dismissed for greed or envy or covetousness?
I really must stop. I’m starting to feel judgmentalism—pride—rising up in me.
And that’s another of the deadly sins.
(But one that I probably won’t get fired for.)
What do you think about Black Friday, greed, envy, and pride?