Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Let's Keep Christ out of (Cultural) Christmas

There has been an incredible amount of backlash in the last few days about these ridiculous
Starbucks coffee cups: Christians have attacked Starbucks for waging a war on Christmas, secularists have belittled Christians for attacking Starbucks, other Christians have attacked Christians for waging a war on Starbucks, and Christians have attacked the secularists who are attacking the Christians for attacking Starbucks.  It has turned into a convoluted mess, and most people on social media (Christian or otherwise) have ironically become a part of what they have been decrying. 

The whole notion of a “war on Christmas” seems to be a yearly phenomenon, but this year it’s gotten an early start.  Retailers are accused of waging war on Christmas by removing religious or even seasonal images and wording from their packaging and marketing, and people get offended because the words “Merry Christmas” have become politically incorrect.  And so people – many of whom are Christians – become offended and are convinced that there is a war on Christmas.  Well, there is.  And the sooner the culture can “win the war on Christmas” the better, as far as I’m concerned. 

After all, what does the culture’s representation of Christmas have to do with the actual purpose of the Christmas holiday?  Nothing that I can see.  Then why do we want one of the most holy of Christian holidays to be recognized and celebrated by a culture that only uses it as a marketing gimmick?  News flash: the only reason why Starbucks designs its cups the way they do is because they believe it will sell coffee.  The only reason any retailer markets and packages their wares the way they do is because they believe it will lead to sales.  If Starbucks thought they could sell more coffee by using cups that had manger scenes on them, that’s what they would do.  Secular Christmas is about marketing.  And if companies can cash in on your cultural ideas of Christmas, that’s what they’ll do.  

Think I’m exaggerating?  Think about it: two cups of coffee stand before you: one that is plain red with the Starbucks logo; the other is red with a full manger scene, including Mary, Joseph, animals, wise men, angels, and everything else.  Which cup do you reach for?  Why?  Could it be that you choose the manger cup because you identify with it?  If retailers can figure out what drives your purchasing habits, they’ll take advantage of it.  Do we want to participate in the process of Christ being lowered to nothing more than a marketing gimmick? 

And why would we want Christ to be associated with the secular culture’s idea of Christmas?  After all, the culture’s idea of Christmas is replete with themes of materialism and idolatry.  And we want to keep Christ IN the culture’s idea of Christmas?  No thanks.  Take him away from all of that, and good riddance.  And a note to Starbucks and other retailers: if you can strip Jesus out of your marketing and packaging, that would be great.  The culture’s idea of Christmas should be secular, because the culture is full of secularists.  Yes, take Christ out of the culture’s idea of Christmas.  The more we can focus on Christ without being distracted by materialism and idolatry, the better. 

Come, behold the wondrous mystery
In the dawning of the King
He, the theme of heaven’s praises,
Robed in frail humanity

What does that have to do with Starbucks coffee cups?

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