“In the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”–Mark 1:1

This morning, for the third or fourth time, someone asked me if I heard about the New York Walmart employee trampled to death by crowds frantic to get the best bargains early Friday morning.

As a society, we are both appalled and fascinated by this story.  I wonder if anyone remembers him going down, stepping on him, tripping over something soft? News reports indicate that some in the crowds complained as distraught employees and police tried to shut down the store because they’d “suffered” outside all night waiting for the store to open. How dare this man’s death–and their part in it–stop commerce! How dare they try to take the ho-ho-ho out of the holiday!

For the record, I hate Walmart, (and I mean no offense to my friends who work there) but it’s really not Walmart’s fault.  The company thrives because people flock there, capitalizing on our primal urge to get the “best deal” (or a better deal than all those poor saps who pay a few dollars more), and our belief that bigger is always better. Trust me, no one will ever get trampled at the door of my hometown grocery, Cuba Cash Store.  (For a glimpse of my world, go to Cuba.)

Living in one of the rapidly declining rural population areas in America, I really hate it when news stories describe our location in terms related to the nearest Walmart.  (30+ miles, in case you’re wondering).  As if our level of sophistication is directly tied to our proximity to cheap underwear.  

I suppose some people might believe were I live is akin to wilderness.  But there’s something to be said for having fewer distractions (and traffic to fight) in your life.   

As we busily prepare our holiday shopping and to-do lists, supposedly celebrating the birth of Christ,  I envision John the Baptist’s face turning bright red and his hair standing on end– “The voice crying out in the wilderness:  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1:3).

I wonder while the Baptizer was baptizing if he ever envisioned a day when the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ would be linked to Black Friday, CyberMonday, the economy, and herds of shoppers stampeding and killing each other for electronic devices designed to immerse people even deeper into the world of self.