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Black Friday and the Trouble with Tribbles

November 29th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yesterday on Thanksgiving I was driving home from the last of the Thanksgiving festivities about 9:00 PM and noticed as I was driving by one of the local shopping centers that all of the big stores were open and the parking lots were full. Black Friday, apparently, now begins before we’ve even slept off the turkey. I have in the past two days received literally hundreds of emails informing me with great urgency that I had better hurry because all of the sale items would go fast, or the sale wouldn’t last long. I got Black Friday notifications from every online retailer I have ever done business with, and from places you might not expect: Christian oriented sites such as those selling Bible software and a Christian surfing association. I even learned that my web hosting company was having a “sale.”

I have to admit I have been kind of a humbug for most of my life. I am not a humbug about Christmas per se, rather about the crass commercialization of this most holy event. Everybody’s doing it now, even Christians. I used to be quite vocal and angry about it. I guess I am still vocal but now I am more sad than angry. Because the materialistic madness this season sets in motion is merely an intensification of a fundamental aspect of our culture, and that is that we are starving. It’s not just Christmas, it’s everything that can be packaged and sold.

In 1967 a light hearted episode of Start Trek titled “The Trouble With Tribbles” aired that introduced into our culture the famous little fur balls called tribbles, that purred when handled by humans but hissed in the proximity of Klingons. The trouble with tribbles is that they are born pregnant, and with a voracious appetite. The reproduction rate of tribbles is tied to their appetite such that if you obtain one, and there is enough food available, within hours you will have thousands. In the episode this characteristic of tribbles is at first troublesome to the heroes of the Enterprise, but in the end the tribbles’ voracious appetite reveals that the Klingons have poisoned the food supply. The poison is such that the more one eats the less nutrition one is able to absorb, so that finally the tribbles die of hunger, even though they are gorged.

Dying of hunger, even though they are gorged. You get the connection I’m sure. I see that when I see people so desperate that they’re willing to spend months of their lives trying to figure out how to feed their hunger with other peoples’ money, or others desperate enough to spend months earning the money to part with (or going into debt) in exchange for something they hope will feed their hunger. Honest or dishonest, it is an exchange empty of nutrition in both directions. On the one hand there is money that doesn’t satisfy the hunger, and on the other there is stuff that doesn’t satisfy the hunger. The more we eat the less full we feel, and in the end we die of starvation. Is this not sad?

I don’t think this hunger is something new in the world. In the gospels we see people flock to Jesus because he feeds them a food that really satisfies. On the day after he fed five thousand people the crowd he had fed crossed the Sea of Galilee desperately seeking him, but really seeking another free lunch. Then Jesus told them that he was the real food that came from God. And he told them the most astonishing thing: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:35 ESV)

Never be hungry. Never thirst.

This is what you are looking for. But you will not find it at the shopping center.

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