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Devra Torres

7 Quick Takes: Consumerism and its Discontents

Nov. 24, 2012, at 2:22pm

 (Yes, it's Saturday.  I lose track of time when long-lost adult children come to visit. But I wanted to get in on Jen Fulweiler's weekly blogger tradition.  You can, too, if you like: see Jen's instructions at the very end of this post.)

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As my philosophy professor, the late lamented Dr. William Marra, used to say,

“Money is happiness in the abstract.”

He was right: if we dedicate Black Friday to commerce,

it’s not so much because we want this particular HDTV or that particular vegan leather handbag: it’s because money seems to bestow the power to be happy in whatever way we might turn out to desire.  It

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Jules van Schaijik

National holidays and government intervention

Nov. 24, 2011, at 8:06am

Black Friday has been encroaching on Thanksgiving Thursday for many years now, and this year, it seems, will be no different. There are some conflicting reports about the exact opening hours of various retail chains, but the trend is clear. According to one article

Sears will be open on Thanksgiving morning, while Toys 'R' Us will open its doors at 10 pm Thursday, its earliest Black Friday opening ever. Walmart's jumbo-sized supercenters won't close at all.

Many Americans are not happy with this trend, but they seem powerless to stop it. Their objections and petitions are easily brushed aside by an appeal to what consumers want. "Our guests," says a Target representative, as if it is all

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Katie van Schaijik

Thanksgiving as an interpersonal act

Nov. 19, 2009, at 1:05pm

A letter-to-parents from the headmaster at our sons’ prep school today includes this reflection-inducing item:

The Angelic Doctor [St. Thomas Aquinas] describes thanksgiving as being a process, rather than an event. This process consists of three parts. First, we recognize that we have received a gift. Secondly, we honor the person who has given us the gift. Thirdly, we desire to make a return for the gift we have received.

Do I go too far in thinking that this is an admirable summation of the structure of all deep personal and inter-personal acts? The essence of personhood can almost be described in this trinitarian way. Receiving a gift; giving honor to the giver; making a return.

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