Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Where Jesus Shops

In an article for Good magazine, author Nancy French provides, in the original Aramaic, a plethora of scriptural support for Christians who want to shop at Wal-Mart. Who knew? All the ingredients of the Sermon on the Mount can be found there:

And that's the thing about Wal-Mart shoppers. We don't want tips on how to live or entertain or save the sharks. We just want a popcorn bowl, the largest flat screen television we can afford, and a new Xbox 360. Oh, and we'll need laundry detergent and paper towels, too.

Good for Nancy. I certainly can't begrudge her ability to find spiritual comfort in aisle 10, along with a gift for her son "next to the whoopee cushions, and it only cost $1.50" (her very words).

But, as Amanda Marcotte translates for those of us with only a passing knowledge of dead languages, Nancy French seems to be under the impression that the Secret Progressive Manifesto requires all good "liberal secularists" to donate their hard-earned money to a different capitalist cause: behemoth corporations who cater to an upper crust far removed from the hoi polloi:

Urban Outfitters, for example, reveals eclectic style; Williams-Sonoma illustrates a sophisticated domesticity, and IKEA (admittedly affordable, but 300 miles from my house) demonstrates the urban need for maximizing space. [...] Blue State shopping, you see, is more than just acquiring items. It Makes a Statement, it Reflects Personal Style, it Helps Save the Planet. [...]

One of the reasons liberals believe evangelicals lack moral gravitas is because we don't attach our beliefs to our purchases like an overpriced service plan.

In other words, according to the Gospel of Nancy, liberals are all wealthy and the wealthy are all liberal.

Now, this not-so-wealthy liberal secular humanist (an admittedly unscientific sample) has never been to IKEA. And perhaps the teenagers I saw during my one or two purchase-free visits to Urban Outfitters were really Greenpeace activists disguised as Suburban Mallrats.

But Williams-Sonoma? Why, there's one just a couple of blocks away from me, but the store always seems filled with Bree Van de Kamp clones who strut perkily fresh from their Upper East Side Republican Women's Equestrian Club meetings and whose styling and plastic surgery were inspired more by the remake of The Stepford Wives than by the Independent Film Channel--that sculpted look known to drag queens as "camp chic."

In fact, they all look suspiciously similar to how I, with my fondness for stereotypes, would imagine someone named Nancy French looks.