In honor of not shopping on Black Friday (except for greens for The Reverend Samuel T. Rabbit)
1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo?
No. Just standing in line waiting to check out is enough for me. I don't even go in to the store if there are too many cars in the parking lot! :-)
2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity?
I didn't used to but when we were dating The Husband introduced me to the joys of window shopping - his mother is a gold medalist in window shopping! We enjoy looking at all the things we don't need and rejoicing in our freedom to NOT buy anything. Of course, being broke helped - window shopping is free entertainment.
3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything.
Oh it's so hard to pick a favorite. High end furniture and design stores, kitchen stores, garden shops. I really like going to any mall and watching the people at least as much as much as I enjoy looking at the displays.
4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture?
I like getting gift cards, especially from people who feel obligated but don't know me well so that I don't find myself with shelves full of Precious Moments but I don't give them.
My gifts for some years now have been either from the Women's Bean Project or our Alternative Christmas Fair, where folks can either make a donation to Habitat for Humanity, Heifer Project, or Church World Service and give a donation card as a gift or purchase items from a church sponsored anti-gang program or Third World Handarts. I like being able to give gifts that can really make a difference in the lives at both ends. Many of those I've given these gifts to also became interested in doing social justice work through shopping. :-)
5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a Playstation 3.
The need to possess the newest, biggest and best pervades our culture - the whole attitude that "He who dies with the most toys wins." Greed and the willingness to hurt others in order to "win" has become almost synonymous with being American. TV shows and advertising encourage us to not just desire Stuff, but to be willing to hurt others in order to get Stuff (Survivor comes to mind.) Prosperity Gospel preachers even tell their folks that Jesus wants them to have all the best Stuff and if they are faithful enough they will receive worldly goods in abundance.
Yet Jesus tells his followers just the opposite. He encourages us to give up our attachment to possessions. He said we could not serve two masters - we have to choose between God and the World, for we can not simultaneously serve both. The letter of James expands on this, reminding the churches that if they conduct themselves according to the standards of the World they were not living in God's kingdom.
Sadly, our churches today still have problems with this. We want to have the most members, the most generous "giving units" (I HATE that phrase!) the record in outreach giving, the most attractive buildings and grounds, the newest techie toys to spread the word.
Would that those fighters over PlayStation III were so anxious to worship God that they would camp out on the doorsteps of the churches!