From today’s New York Times about the big shopping day after Thanksgiving:

Perhaps it should be renamed Black-and-Blue Friday.

For decades, the day after Thanksgiving has been called simply Black Friday, because it is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, when retailers supposedly move into the black, or start turning a profit.

But bargain hunters competing for scarce quantities of “doorbuster” discounts have given this day an increasingly sharp-elbowed, close-fisted and purse-swinging edge.

Shortly after midnight yesterday, an estimated 15,000 shoppers pushed and shoved their way into the Fashion Place mall in Murray, Utah. Police soon joined them, responding to reports of nine skirmishes.

Once inside, shoppers ransacked stores, overturning piles of clothes as they looked for bargains. A retailer’s dream — too many customers! — quickly turned into a nightmare, forcing store clerks to shut their doors, and only let people in after others left. The mall even briefly closed its outside doors to avoid a fire hazard.

“It’s like a mosh pit,” said Lexie Dewegel, 19. “You get pushed everywhere.”

At the Finish Line shoe store, one employee enlisted his mother, who happened to be shopping in the mall, to guard the entrance.

“We were not prepared for this,” said Amber Friedrichsen, the store’s manager.

Customers behaved badly across the country yesterday, but the mayhem can be traced in part to an escalating battle among retailers to be the first to open their doors and offer the steepest must-have deals.

So forget religious clashes in America today. For all of the most heated rhetoric between fundamentalists and secularists and between religions or denominations in America today, there isn’t any real violence – there aren’t any fisticuffs. Such can’t be said for shopping – it has become a full contact sport.

It kind of makes me wonder about passion. Have we taken all of our most intense religious passion and directed it towards materialism and possessions? I think so.

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