Friday, December 09, 2005

Where would Jesus shop?

Those involved in 'outing' Walmart in recent months, the 'Wake up Walmart' crew, have taken their activism to people of faith. here is the press release. they have asked people of faith to sign this letter and they have launched this video.

For many Christians, Christmas is a cultural location for the convergence of family values (very important to evangelicals in this country), good will, generosity, and getting those things that we have been eyeing all year (or perhaps just since the Thanksgiving sales).

Is this 'consumer activism' a step in the right direction or an annoying intrusion of bah-humbug-ish rhetoric? Does Jesus really care where we shop? What about the poor who often have little choice about where they can shop and afford food/presents/luxuries that mark christmas as a special time? Is this just the bleeding-heart lefties coopting/manipulating people of faith or is it a wake up call (stones crying out)?

Here's a brief quote from the letter mentioned above:
The holiday season is a time to honor and remember the virtues of hope, love, joy, sharing, sacrifice, and faith. For people of all faiths, the celebration of the holiday season is a time to remember and embrace the best of our values. It is a time to reflect upon our lives, the impact we have on others, and the responsibility we all have to improve the lives of those less fortunate than us. The prophet Moses in Deuteronomy 25:13-15 teaches "Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy ... lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee." During this holy season, we must ask ourselves - at what moral price do we accept the sins of exploitation and greed? Sins, it is sad to say, which are exemplified by one of America's largest and richest corporations, Wal-Mart.


james said...

This reminded me of a column I read recently, (also of a much larger article in april of 2004, but didn't want to pay the subscrition) on the subject of Walmart. Thought this might add to the discussion

geoff said...

thanks walshy,
this was a very interesting article. it was a clear critique of people who would question 'standard business practices' that are legal and in line with 'best practices' for retail business here in the US. i still wonder how we deal with this issue as christians...we are not satisfied with what the state, activists groups, or the business 'community' deem "okay"...we are under a much more penetrating social ethic. so i'd like to see us wrestle with this more in the light of the law, the prophets, and the ways of jesus.

geoff said...

Thanks for the link, Walshy. Very helpful article from a business perspective…but I’m still wondering about our response as Christians. As Christians, we are not satisfied with what activists, business people, or the common law have to say to us (although they might be helpful)…we are supposed to submit ourselves to a much higher social ethic...that of the law, the prophets, and the ways of Jesus. This is why the ‘wake up walmart’ letter gave me pause…it appealed to our scriptures in a way I found compelling. Perhaps it would be nice to see an equally compelling ‘narrative’ shaped from a pro-walmart, business perspective using the scriptures. Equal time and all that.

geoff said... first comment didn't post so i wrote it again as best as i could remember it...then the first one showed up again. so there you have it..i'll leave them both as they are slightly different.peace.

Blue November said...

While the NR column didn't explicitly reference Scripture, it did seem that the foundation of Lowry's thesis is that Walmart does support the "common good" (which I presume we would link to Scriptural justice) by reducing consumer cost not only for the majority of American society.... but particularly for the "less fortunate" who still need clothes and food.

I don't think Lowry is simply arguing "best business practices" here. He seems to be arguing that retail innovation benefits society as a whole.

Perhaps sharing the minimized margins between revenue and costs is the corporate equivalent of opening your home to the needy?