i’m not a walmart hater. i have many friends who are, but i’m not. at all. in fact, i think walmart is actually good for communities. there’s certainly some negatives that come with its presence, but ultimately, i think offering products at lower prices is good for lower income families.
i say that simply to establish that i’m not the type who looks for reasons to bash walmart.
but yesterday, as i entered a local walmart, i was greeted with a large sign that hung above the entrance. here’s the sign:
christians love to get angry about stuff. gay people getting married. rob bell. any music made after 1964. what they said on south park. janet jackson’s boob popping out. the list goes on. and ultimately, these things are pretty insignificant to most of society. even more than that, these are things that, in my humble opinion, are pretty insignificant to god.
but i think there’s a long list of things that christians should get angry about. injustice. poverty. racism. sexual abuse. inequality. and just like the previous list, this one could go on and on.
one of the things that could be added to the top of this list is when jesus is used to hawk products. when faith is reduced to a mere conduit for consumerism. when the celebration of the most pivotal moment of our faith is used to sell discount cadbury eggs.
what struck me when i first saw the sign is that christians don’t even bat an eye at it. maybe we’re desensitized? maybe we don’t know how to respond? maybe we’re too preoccupied with the first list of insignificant things that we don’t make space for the second list?
it’s disappointing that walmart uses this type of sales tactic, but it’s not surprising. it’s what i expect from businesses. but it’s exponentially more disappointing that christians have no reaction. i’m not asking for a boycott (i’ll certainly continue to shop at walmart). i’m not asking for someone to make a scene in walmart. i’m not even asking for christians to defiantly refuse to eat a chocolate bunny rabbit this year for easter (i mean, let’s be reasonable here…).
i’m really asking more for just an awareness of the interaction of faith and consumerism and the role we do or do not play in it. and more than anything, i’m asking that when christians want to get angry about things—which is good and healthy—that we begin to shift our focus from things that have fleeting significance to things that are close to the heart of god.