Signs of the Times

Signs of the Times: Annotated news, views, quotes and notes

27 November 2014, No. 1

Welcome to the premier of prayer&politiks, an online journal “at the intersection of spiritual formation and prophetic action.” Welcome as well to the first issue of Signs of the Times, a weekly column featuring annotated news, views, quotes and notes, for discerning the times in which we live.

¶ The launch of this site on 27 November, “Black Friday” (in the US), is intentional, as it occurs at the edge of Advent, whose first Sunday is this weekend.

¶ For readers outside the US: The day after the celebration of Thanksgiving (since 1941 always the fourth Thursday of November) in our country has effectively become the start of the Christmas shopping season. The phrase “Black Friday” was originally a derogative term, beginning in the early ‘50s, for the practice of workers calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving in order to get a long weekend holiday. (At the time, the holiday was limited to the single day.) In the early ‘60s the phrase was used by the Philadelphia Police Department in reference to the traffic jams caused by shoppers. Since then the day has emerged as the nation’s busiest shopping day of the year, when merchants provide steep discounts—though some major stores are now opening on Thanksgiving Day itself.

¶ “In the spirit of the holiday,” announced a spokesman for the J.C. Penney Company, its executives planned “activities and giveaways including swag bags full of goodies, round-the-clock food to keep [salespeople] fueled for delivering excellent customer service, pep rallies to drive excitement and energy through the early morning hours of Black Friday.” Read more ›