for release Friday April 22, 2005
by Melodie Davis
Being Different: Where’s the Salt?
One Sunday morning last Christmas season, I found myself at Tyson’s Corner, a huge upscale shopping mall in northern Virginia right outside of Washington D.C. Bedecked in its Christmas glitter, it seemed an elaborate pantheon to the god of commerce. I felt very out of place in the pricey stores and among the chic consumers—and I’m told that the nearby Tyson’s Galleria is even pricier and chicer, boasting Macy’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus as anchor stores along with a Ritz Carlton Hotel.
So what was I, a supposed Christian even doing at Tyson’s Corner on a Sunday morning? This admission will disappoint some readers, I know, while others don’t even think twice about the day of the week when it comes to shopping. We were in the area and didn’t have a specific church to visit and window shopping that morning definitely caused me to think—in a reverse way—about attendance at religious services, holy days, and how we had raised our kids.
What if we had brought our kids up going to Tyson’s Corner (substitute the name of your local best mall) on Sunday morning rather than going to church? I don’t think it is far fetched to think that they would have been brought up with a very different set of values, had this kind of shopping been their normal Sunday morning routine. I think it is realistic to think they would have come to think they needed $50-80 jeans and $60 tops. They would have come to expect our home to be furnished with $100 throw rugs and $30 towels. They would have felt unready to see their friends unless wearing $40 foundation and $80 perfume, and expected their friends to be the same way. The Sunday morning shoppers at Tyson’s Corner were definitely not a Wal-Mart crowd.
That said, there is nothing intrinsically better about Wal-Mart shoppers or Tyson’s Corner shoppers. But that Sunday morning I came to appreciate in a new way the fact that we live on the edge of a small city, and that our kids went to a very rural school.
Back to Sunday shopping in general: one of the first Another Way columns I wrote (some 18 years ago) was in support of the blue laws that were on the books in our state back then. Stores didn’t open on Sunday, except for groceries, pharmacies and a few other essential places. I soon lost that philosophical battle when our state repealed those laws, and over the years of course more and more of us do shop more often on Sunday.
But I’m glad many of the stores in our town still refrain from opening on Sunday morning, waiting until noon. Of course in our pluralistic society, many persons have their holy days on a different day, but the important thing for parents to not lose sight of is: help your kids set aside one day of the week as something different. It is one way to be “different” in a culture that eats away at our core values.
I made some bread recently. Usually, my taste buds practically explode at the first taste of the savory goodness of warm, fresh baked bread. The long anticipation through 2-3 hours of kneading the bread and waiting for it to rise, and the delicious scent of it baking whet the appetite.
But what a disappointment was that first taste of bread. I knew immediately I had forgotten the salt! All that work and waiting and the bread was just a poor imitation of good home baked bread. It may have been healthily no-sodium, but it was also flat, dull, just so-so. It was edible, but I was reminded of that verse in the Bible (variations of it repeated three places), “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:39)
Are we raising our children with “salt”—with something a little different that makes them stand out from a culture that worships too much at the sanctuary of commerce? Do we retain salt within ourselves, or have we lost our flavor and seldom look or live by values that are any different from those who frequent the local mall instead of participating in a weekly worship experience? Finally, are we judgmental about those who do—which is just as bad. Guilty, here.
I hope that by trying to keep traditions honoring a day of rest and worship (even if we fail sometimes, or occasionally go shopping on Sunday), we can teach our children—along with the specific teachings and stories of our faith, the values of giving rather than getting; of all God’s people having the same value and worth; of being willing to be different—with a welcome saltiness; and finally, like the verse above reminds us, the value of seeking peace in our relationships with each other and in the world.
For a free booklet, “Talking with Your Kids About God and Faith” write to Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg Va., 22802, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your paper's name in your response.)
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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