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Buy Nothing Day

For 24 hours, millions of people around the world do not participate -- in the doomsday economy, the marketing mind-games, and the frantic consumer-binge that's become our culture. We pause. We make a small choice not to shop. We shrink our footprint and gain some calm. Together we say to Exxon, Nike, Coke and the rest: enough is enough. And we help build this movement to rethink our unsustainable course.

â??Buy Nothing Dayâ? has been celebrated for 13 years. Have we seen less consumerism after rethinking "our unsustainable course"? Doubtful.

Frankly, lots of people who shop â??til they drop today are getting a start on holiday shopping. So, maybe we need to go to one likely source: Christmas. There is a Christmas Resistance Movement afoot. Will there ever be a â??Buy Nothing Christmasâ?? Probably not. Weâ??d put more than stores out of business. Think of all those people, products, and services out there that thrive on helping us reduce our holiday stress.

Iâ??ve noticed that this year in fact some people are pushing the holiday celebration even earlier. More holiday lawn decorations have been displayed in advance, some as early as Halloween. And, a local radio station has been playing Christmas music since October. Perhaps the stress of the holidays, counteracted by the euphoria of a world of make-believe, is preferable to the realities of a divided nation and a divisive war.

Personally, I find many, many good things happening around the holidays, the kinds of things that arenâ??t acquisitive. Yet, I could go for a little escapism. No, not at a shopping mall. How about at least imagining myself for a little while somewhere with â??no roads, no phone, no TVâ?....


I've thought for a long time that xmas was really quite a different sort of religious holiday than is generally supposed. The thing that many people fail to understand (schooled as they are in the semitic faiths' rhetoric of mono-lateralism) is that we can simultaneously engage in more than one faith, more than one religion. It's seemed clear to me for a number of years that the religions that speak of God have become secondary to the more important ritual practices: Those of consumption.

Even conservative Christian movements elevate consumption to an exalted position: For what is tithing, but a form of ritualized consumption (and especially as it's practiced in relation to televangelism and in the great American mega-churches).

I happen to know a fair number of fundamentalist christians for whom this isnt' the model, by the way. My own extended family is filled with them. Tithing in our familial ethos, and in the ethos of the churches to which my sister's and eldest brother's families belong, is not acceptable as a strictly monetary activity. As an example, my brother-in-law brought with him for Thanksgiving the youth pastor of their church, who had offered to help hang, tape and bed drywall in my nephew's "new" house. That's an ideal; but I think it's one honored far more in the breach than in practice.

Sorry, escoles. I donâ??t quite follow your link to â??â??s blog.â?

Besides the well-publicized mega-(bucks) churches, there are many more, smaller, neighborhood churches. In my motherâ??s church, which is not evangelical/fundamentalist, tithing, in the sense of giving one tenth of oneâ??s income, is not seen very often, if at all. Monetary offerings are generally smaller. I do believe, however, that expecting one to give of oneself in service is not the exception, but rather is very much expected in most Christian congregations. In my motherâ??s church, in addition to the monetary pledge form, a separate form is given to parishioners, asking them to pledge their service in specific areas. Also, impromptu deeds frequently occur when families are in need, meals sent, baby sitting, housework or house repair performed. Certainly not all members conform to this ideal, but plenty do offer themselves for other members in the spirit of community.

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