About Julia Smucker
  • brettsalkeld


    There was a meme going around on Facebook about the irony of buying so much stuff the very day after supposedly having taken a moment to be grateful for what you already have.

  • Ronald King

    Being born in 1947 has been a blessing in the sense that I have experienced the existential crises of being human longer than I expected. We did not have stores open for business on Sunday. I came from coal mining families and our needs and desires were adjusted to what we could afford to pay for in cash and/or lay away for future purposes. Everything was slower. We had a lot of face to face contact and sometimes fist to face. What was apparent then and talked about among the adults was the great divide between the haves and the have-nots. There was a void which existed internally with the adults I looked up to which gave a sense of not being good enough especially compared to the middle and upper classes. Over the years I also found this to be true with those in the upper classes. This leads me to my point about one realm of existence on the Wheel of Life as depicted in Buddhism. It is the realm of the Hungry Ghost. The explanation of this realm is interesting to me. Being ghost-like in appearance it represents the past, in particular, the unmet need of being validated as having worth at a critical developmental point in time which cannot be achieved in the same way at a future point in time. This need then will influence a compulsive drive to consume whatever it is which is believed to fill the emptiness of this sense of lacking. The ghost also has a long thin neck which means that it is difficult to take in which is truly nurturing in the present. It’s bloated stomach represents that what is taken in which is nourishing is not digested and therefore the person is left with the sense of being malnourished.
    Our consumerism is built on taking advantage of this condition of emptiness because we do not know what we are doing and will do or buy anything to distract ourselves from going into the void. R.D. Laing said that people are afraid of 3 things: death, other people and what is in one’s own mind.
    I hope you have a wonderful Thanks giving.

  • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com Robert Martin

    Thanks, Julia. I appreciate these reflections. As you said, it shouldn’t be a judgmental call “Don’t shop!” But instead something to ponder as a witness that challenges the “normal”.

    • Julia Smucker

      That was meant to be a reminder to myself as much as anything, as I have strong opinions on this and (in my better moments) want to express them in a way that points to a better way instead of simply alienating.

      Props to you and Heather. :-)

  • Mark Gordon

    Thanks for this, Julia. My wife and I have never shopped on the day after Thanksgiving for a couple of the reasons you give here. (In fact, we don’t do our shopping or decoration until the week before Christmas Day.) My principal objection, in addition to everything else you list here, has to do with really entering into Advent, my favorite season in the Church year. This rush to Christmas, driven by commercialism and cheap entertainments, completely guts and bypasses what should be a beautiful four-week preparation of our hearts and minds for the arrival of our salvation in Bethlehem. It is vulgarity visible, in my view, and deeply unchristian.

  • Julia Smucker

    My suspicions of the quasi-religious nature of this sort of thing have been validated here. It’s all about ritual – and a lot of psychological manipulation in the advertising.

  • Julia Smucker

    One more link – not for the faint of heart. http://www.ranker.com/list/13-most-brutal-black-friday-injuries-and-deaths/john-barryman

    The shadow side of the shopping craze is dark indeed. Lord have mercy! We need those Advent prayers more than ever.

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  • Jordan

    Thank you Julia for your great reflections. I particularly agree with you that not allowing employees a day of rest is in some sense not only an exploitation of labor but also dehumanizing.

    re: Ronald King [November 21, 2012 9:22 am]: There was a void which existed internally with the adults I looked up to which gave a sense of not being good enough especially compared to the middle and upper classes. Over the years I also found this to be true with those in the upper classes.

    I will tell you from experience Ronald that the upper classes feel material alienation to a very great degree, perhaps because there is an emphasis on “keeping up appearances” or “keeping up with the Joneses”. I believe that the secret to emotional and psychological growth is not to repress material desire, but rather channel this desire for cooperative ends rather than for blatant commercialism and profit. I do almost all my shopping save foodstuffs and gasoline at the Goodwill. When I was out of a job, the Goodwill helped me find one and has undoubtedly helped many others as well. I know that when I spend my dollars with non-profit thrifts, my money not only funds rehabilitation programs but also provides sheltered workplaces for persons in rehabilitation. I believe that barter and cooperative small-scale economics, where possible, build Christ’s reign where big-box retailers cannot.

    Best blessings for Thanksgiving all!

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