|It'll Never Happen Here|
|Written by Michael Fones|
|Friday, 01 January 2010 11:29|
This news story caught my attention over my bowl of mini-wheats this morning. The headline in the "Dispatches from all over" section of December 20th's Christian Science Monitor read, "Shopping-free Sundays." That sounded like required reading to me. Here are a few snippets:
Germany's highest court this month took a stand against consumerism, ruling that, as of next year, stores will have to remain closed on the four Sundays preceding Christmas. Attacked as a "slap in the face for Christmas shopping," as Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit put it, the ruling was also hailed as an important step toward safeguarding one of the most sacrosanct principles of German society. For many Germans, Sunday is when family and friends go on walks and sit together for coffee and cake. Shopping on Sunday would only erode those traditions, some feel. "The message of this ruling is that tradition can't be the victim of business principles," says Karheinz Geissler, a professor of time culture and management at the Armed Forces University in Munich..."Going shopping doesn't foster togetherness - the focus is on money and competition; that has priority, and money isolates people," says Mr. Geissler. "Without Sunday, there is no society."The Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches challenged a Berlin government's exception to a federal ban on Sunday store openings in constitutional court, and the judges agreed, "ruling that Sunday shopping goes against Sunday as a day of rest."
It's interesting that in increasingly secular Germany, the consequence of a Christian past (Sunday as a day of rest, family and friends) has been divorced from its root. Without Christianity, and the effects of Christian principles on labor and how we look at work, there would probably not be such a "day of rest." How long will this vestige of cultural Christianity stand against the encroachments of consumption, I wonder?
Why will it never happen here (although I wish it would)? We don't have a tradition of resting on Sunday anymore, for one - other than to gather around the TV and watch NFL. Our cities aren't designed for walking around, people watching, and enjoying one another's company; at least not since the downtowns were abandoned for the suburbs. There are movements, however, that want to re-invigorate urban centers. But I suspect, rather cynically, that there's a commercial reason behind that, as much as a "livability" reason.