Still-in-the-Red Friday?

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I’m breaking my blog silence this week to bring this prognostication:

My family and I met other family members for an early lunch today. To get to the Indian restaurant, we passed a large mall complex (surrounded by big box stores) and a second shopping area a few miles further down lined along the main drag with strip malls.

And what did we see?

Not much, actually. Parking lots were a third as busy as this same “Black Friday” last year (and we didn’t shop then, either).

Now I can’t speak for the whole country, but at least in the Midwest I expect to hear a collective “Oh, $#*@!” come the close-of-business today as retailers wring their hands and wonder where it all went wrong.

Church, are we ready for what’s coming?

12 thoughts on “Still-in-the-Red Friday?

  1. Dan: “I’m breaking my blog silence this week to bring this prognostication

    It doesn’t seem like much of a prognostication to me. It seems like every year, come this time, the retailers are always complaining about their sales. So what is new?

  2. It’s news in Canada that the US government is hidden billions of dollars of debt.

    It matters since this country is still your largest trading partner. While we need to deal with our own house, no one can argue the church needs to wake up, North America is a consumer culture and it’s breaking people.

  3. Elijah

    I have two questions:

    1. What should be my response when Americans aren’t spending money on useless things? Should I be happy? Or, am I missing your point about the economic ramifications for such an event?

    2. How can the church be ready for whatever is happening to America economically? I don’t follow economics. I do know the value of the dollar is dropping (Is that because of the National Reserve Bank’s ability to produce money with no gold backing?). So, the worst I can imagine is another depression. Is that what the church should be ready for? If so, I’m a little confused as to what that would look like.

    E

  4. George

    I’m confused as to what the church should expect, too.

    As for Elijah’s question about why the dollar’s international value is dropping: The US buys more from other countries than it sells to them. So companies in those countries accumulate more of our money than companies here accumulate of other countries’ consumers’ money. Whenever there’s lots of something in comparison to alternatives, the value of the lots falls. That’s what’s happened with dollars — other countries have lots of dollars in comparison to how much we have of their currencies.

    So what do those other countries do with their dollars? If they don’t use them to buy US-made goods, they can use them to buy foreign stuff that’s sold for dollars. And if they don’t use all their dollars that way, they invest those left-over dollars in the US. They may invest them in manufacturing facilities, like Toyota does. Or they may buy real estate. Or they may invest in notes and bonds from either (both) businesses or governments. In fact, it’s because foreigners have been willing and able to invest in US government debt that we’ve been able to have the money to buy all the stuff the government spends it on.

    True, the Federal Reserve can produce new money without having gold to back it up. But then, so can every other country produce its money without gold backing.

    As long as we have foreigners investing in government debt, our government can continue to spend more than it takes in in taxes. When foreigners stop, then we’re in economic trouble.

  5. (I attempted this comment eariler, before George…looks like it was lost)

    Well, the WalMart here made a huge killing this Friday — nearly a quarter million dollars in sales. I’m sure some places didn’t do that well. Some did, some didn’t.

    Then there’s the whole tsunami that is the mortgage crisis and how it will affect economics. Credit card debt, too. Yeah, that’s probably coming.

    But, as part of the “church” what is it you’re saying? I’m with Elijah, here. Should I be happy or sad that people are or aren’t spending? North Dakota is experiencing an anomaly in the U.S.: economic boom. How should that affect “the church” here? What should be my feelings?

    I guess I’m not sure of what you’re really saying, though I know why you said it, given your feelings on these big box stores and consumer culture (which I don’t necessarily disagree with).

    Obviously, as a person who makes things to sell, I’m not going to rejoice in people not wanting to buy non-essentials or needs-only. So, I have Christmas ads and tie-ins on my site in hopes that there will be a consumer out there. I’m not in the red, but I did buy something yesterday. I call it “15 percent gray Friday” since I didn’t go all black.

    I bought candy canes. At WalMart.

    There is an element of economics in our faith, what with the love of money being the root of evil and the fact that the poor are always with us and all of that… so, what to do with that and what you’re saying? How does Christmas spending at a big box store and economic downturn apply to the church?

  6. Wolfgang Amadeus

    Dan,
    It seems that others have forgotton the story of the bridesmaids awaiting the groom- those who burned up the oil in their lamps vs. the ones who were prudent.

    The Church is the bridesmaid- she is the Bride actually- and she watches for her Groom. She also takes care of her children too- so, that to me means- that she is there ready to help in times of great Suffering and Need. As the children- we need to listen to her, and prepare ourselves providentially- for the time may come when we do have to provide for ourselves. Growing a small Garden, and having a pantry, having water and various items stored away is good incase a need arises.

    This weekend- my cousins significant other- the mother of his children- ended up having to leave her home- and take her daughter and son, and go to a police station due to a situation that arose with her current mate. She ended up staying with us- and thankfully we were able to provide for her a safe place. Things will get better for her now, hopefully, but we had enough things to help her through- thankfully. Some of that was due to have prepared a providential Warehouse- with a years worth of supplies.

    The Church can guide us with these things. We can look to the Bible, and see that in times of plenty- the wisdom of saving helped keep the people healthy and fit. We need to be the bridesmaid-keeping watch for her groom– otherwise- we will be cast out into the dark-alone and without a safe haven.

    We cannot depend on the Big,box stores- we cannot trust what is there- right down to the toys the children play with. Its quite scarey.

    However, we can trust in our Heavenly Father- and we can have faith in what he tells us daily.

    Blessings,
    Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang

  7. David Riggins

    Interesting the confusion regarding how the Church faces reality. When economic hardships come, people lose their jobs, and when they have no income, they lose their homes. With the current stupidity regarding credit and it’s uses, people will lose their jobs and homes at a rapid rate. 2 million sub-prime ARM loans are up for adjustment in the next 8 months. Those upward adjustments will often add 30% to the current payment those people are paying. Most of those people won’t be able to afford the higher monthly payments, putting $600 billion in bad loans on the books of already tightly stretched lenders like Countrywide. The loan industry has already lost 100,000 jobs in the last 6 months.

    Each of those jobs is responsible for an average of 4 other jobs in the private sector, from auto sale people to the bagger at Kroger. With the continuing collapse of the housing sector, Home builders will start to go under, following the example of Neumann Homes in Illinois, which filed for bankruptcy protection this month. As more and more sectors of our economy are affected, an estimated 3 million jobs could be lost. This isn’t about spending more to motivate the economy, this is about making sure that what you spend actually has an effect on our economy. What you spend at Wal-Mart, Target, Circuit City or Home Depot lines the pockets of businesses from China to Indonesia, but little of it stays here. The credit used to buy housing is a commodity that pays for the estimated $18 billion net income of the major trading houses on Wall Street, where bonuses are expected to be down 5% from the average $136,580 in 2006. And this is a “bad” year. It trickles down, but nothing like it flows up.

    All this can be directly attributed to a lack of action on the part of the Church. Our society is corrupt because the Church is corrupt. Greed has run rampant, not merely in the corridors of power and money, but in the desire of the the Church to be seen as relevant and growing. We have created cults centered on charismatic pastors and exciting music, and have abandoned our role.

    Is the church ready to take care of the people in the body who will lose their jobs, their homes, their savings? Are we willing to take people into our homes when they’ve lost theirs? If we don’t, who will? Is the Church ready to feed the homeless, provide care for the widow and orphan? As the mortage crisis wipes out retirement funds, will we take care of the elderly who now only have social security?

    I know most church-goers would scoff as these concerns. These are, after all, the responsibility of the Government.

    Not according to God, they aren’t. And ultimately, it is God we will answer to. I know that, personally, I am not ready to do anything to help anyone. I also know that our church is certainly not ready, and beyond a food pantry for the holidays, has no plan for taking care of the needy, either within or without our congregation. As conditioned as I am to clarion call of independence, I would find it hard to take care of someone who didn’t plan for hardship. It’s only by the grace of God that my family made it through the jobless times we’ve faced. It certainly wasn’t through the help of the “body.”

    Soon, the entire country could be facing the same situation that Ohio is in, with unemployment up over 7%, but this time, the price of fuel will be triple what it was in the last recession, and that will affect the price of everything else. Are you ready? Is your church? This is about looking out for your neighbor, and making sure they have what they need. This is about making sure your Church body is focused on meeting the real needs of the body, not bottle feeding the 200 pound infants. We need to grow up, and it seems that we are about to enter one of those times when we either grow, or wither on the vine and get pruned.

  8. jfn

    Economic picture for the holiday season is a mixed bag of worms here in central PA. Having been in retail for a good many years prior to my becoming a full time pastor of a country church, I can tell you that so much is riding on this one time of the year, that a slow sales season at Christmas can spell very hard times for all of us. Regardless of what has been published, seldom have retailers “hit” their goals during the past decade. While they have had profitable seasons, the signs of this slow down have been standing along the way, like a Burma Shave campaign.

    Dan, I understand what you are asking with regard to the church’s readiness, and sadly I think we are far from it. To the point that even having the basic understanding of what it will take to deal with the types of crises we are heading for, is beyond the realm of common thought.
    Our churches have, for the better part of seventy years, been willing to rely on someone else to take on the burdens of the world, and care for those in peril, while we engaged in token acts of kindness, and churching. We have become near experts at churching, and now that the tide is coming in, we are ill prepared for the rising water. We have long since sold our rescue boats and equipment, even our hip-waders, and as the water is rising around us, and those in greatest peril drift by —- well, we are somehow preoccupied, and entranced in battles which do little more than trivialize Christ, and empower the darkness.
    The church of today, needs to repent, and look at the world through the eyes of Christ — it is the only way we can regain our role as rescuing servants to which we were called.
    Let’s pray this happens before many more are lost.
    Great post Dan!!!

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