Monday, November 28, 2005

Christ, Christmas, and American Commercialism

I used to get quite upset around this time of year. Every time I heard "Happy Holidays" or even "Happy X-mas" instead of Merry Christmas, I was convinced that there was some underhanded pagan strategy to "take Christ out of Christmas." Yes, the American Corporate World was banding together to rid the world of Jesus. Now, however, I am glad they are doing it.

Now it may seem like I am throwing up the white flag on the culture wars, but let me try to explain why. I am sick of American Christmas. I am sick of people trying to make money on Christ. I am sick of religion being reduced to a means of padding the bankrolls of the irreligious. I am infuriated that I am coerced into covetousness over what should a sacred holiday. I do not want Walmart to make money over Christmas. I do not want CBD to make there year's sales goals because of the five weeks following Thanksgiving. I am sick of The Passion gift sets, Veggietale Bible covers, one more Amy Grant Christmas CD, and every other act of simony baptized under the dubious auspices of "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." I am angered by the purveyors of consumer electronics and their plans to make millions off of Americans, Christian and otherwise, who are addicted to the pleasures of this age.

I work in the corporate office for a small to medium-sized retail corporation. Listen, Christian, do know how they plan to use you? They are going to suggest you buy their things for "gifts." Not just suggest, but push. Their yearly sales will be shored up by your spending at our retail locations. They strategize how to lure you in, how to set up the bait, how to "go in for the kill." They carefully plan to get you to buy. Do they care about Jesus Christ? Yeah, they do--but only if He helps the fourth-quarter sales numbers. And the Christian corporations are largely no different. They are right in line with the profiteering and promotion of greed, except they are only more explicit in their simony. They actually have the audacity to sell religious things for these ends.

Of course, the ironic thing here is that "Christmas" is intentionally being deleted from the coffee cups, the bags, the POP, the background music, and so forth. Why? Because being politically incorrect, they figure, does not sell as well as the harmless inoculation of all the other season's greetings they could pass along. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Yes, they will sell billions upon billions of dollars of junk that will end up in a garage sale twenty years from now all because of "Christmas", all while subtly removing any mention to the Person at the center of the holiday--the person in whose name all these "Christians" will go out and buy this junk. I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm being double-crossed. I guess I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Am I glad they are taking "Christ" out of Christmas? Well, yes--I grieve that the Lord Jesus Christ's name is being blasphemed so. But am I glad they are taking "Christ" out of Christmas? Well, no. As long as they are making millions off of Christians, they might as well have the guts to admit that it is all in the name of Christ. But my "yes" reason trumps my "no" reason. Will this dereligiousizing of Christmas have any great effect? Probably. But we Americans like our holidays essentially meaningless (except for Valentine's Day). The less meaning, the better. Far better for Americans to give thanks to nobody, ask for candy on the eve of All Saint's Day, and celebrate "the holidays" than to actually understand what these holy days are all about.

But while American commercialism is engaged in their silent protest, I will still force on them a "Merry Christmas" in a few weeks--just to jar them a little. And what do you know? All of sudden a phrase that had lost all meaning will suddenly, because of its newfound political incorrectness, have a new, stark meaning that will remind them why Christians still view December 25th as a holy day.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you, but here is even a better idea to consider.

Where is the Biblical mandate to observe the birth of Christ? We observe his death by means of the Lord's Supper, we celebrate Easter to commemorate the Resurrection...

11/28/2005 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I did not mean for this post to address every issue with Christmas, theological, liturgical and otherwise, but a very small, but important, aspect on the holiday.

But yes, the legitimacy of celebrating Christ's birth is a good question itself. Some Reformers had problems with this sort of activity, eliminating the Church calendar altogether. Perhaps I will post something on that in the coming weeks. I will say now that I believe observing Christmas is a good thing, although I would never make it a "requirement"; I would never force someone to observe Christmas.

11/28/2005 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Todd Mitchell said...

Good article, Ryan. I agree.

For a few years now I've told my family that there are two things going on this time of year. There is a sacred Christmas, and there is a secular "Christmas," for many of the reasons you have pointed out. I have lumped the decorated tree and the presents with the secular "Christmas."

I wonder, though, if this is the right approach for me to take. After all, that decorated tree is called a "Christmas Tree." What shall I think?

1. Ironically rename the tree so as not to confuse the sacred and secular events?
2. Ingeniously rationalize the tree as a part of the sacred event?
3. Get rid of the tree to avoid the problem?
4. Stop thinking to avoid the problem?
5. What problem?

11/28/2005 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Your distinction is the same made by C. S. Lewis.

Luther had a tree (I think). Give the tree meaning (or restore its meaning)--what says "life in the midst of winter" better than an evergreen? What welcomes in the Light in the midst of the darkness of winter better than lights? Sounds like I need to research to verify my musings, but I think I'm on the right track.

11/28/2005 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Todd Mitchell said...

Perhaps a fertility ritual?

11/28/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Funny. Probably.

11/28/2005 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Maybe you should do something for the Modest Newsletter on the development of some of these traditions. Be sure (of course) to consult several sources. I did something like this for a different purpose concerning Easter, and found that some traced the traditions to pagans and others did not.

11/28/2005 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob Roberts said...

All I want for Christmas is an Immoderate RSS feed.

11/28/2005 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Bob, I have added a link to my RSS feed on the main page.

11/28/2005 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob R. said...

What fantastic service one finds at Immoderate! Thank you, Ryan. I'm subscribed.

11/28/2005 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

The peak of irony was my getting my CBD catalog in the mail today, which reminded me that my deadline to buy was Dec 21st. "Last Minute Gifts" it said in big letters across the front. All this before I even open the thing.

11/28/2005 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous News Electronics Lover said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/24/2006 01:51:00 PM  

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Immoderate: Christ, Christmas, and American Commercialism

Monday, November 28, 2005

Christ, Christmas, and American Commercialism

I used to get quite upset around this time of year. Every time I heard "Happy Holidays" or even "Happy X-mas" instead of Merry Christmas, I was convinced that there was some underhanded pagan strategy to "take Christ out of Christmas." Yes, the American Corporate World was banding together to rid the world of Jesus. Now, however, I am glad they are doing it.

Now it may seem like I am throwing up the white flag on the culture wars, but let me try to explain why. I am sick of American Christmas. I am sick of people trying to make money on Christ. I am sick of religion being reduced to a means of padding the bankrolls of the irreligious. I am infuriated that I am coerced into covetousness over what should a sacred holiday. I do not want Walmart to make money over Christmas. I do not want CBD to make there year's sales goals because of the five weeks following Thanksgiving. I am sick of The Passion gift sets, Veggietale Bible covers, one more Amy Grant Christmas CD, and every other act of simony baptized under the dubious auspices of "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." I am angered by the purveyors of consumer electronics and their plans to make millions off of Americans, Christian and otherwise, who are addicted to the pleasures of this age.

I work in the corporate office for a small to medium-sized retail corporation. Listen, Christian, do know how they plan to use you? They are going to suggest you buy their things for "gifts." Not just suggest, but push. Their yearly sales will be shored up by your spending at our retail locations. They strategize how to lure you in, how to set up the bait, how to "go in for the kill." They carefully plan to get you to buy. Do they care about Jesus Christ? Yeah, they do--but only if He helps the fourth-quarter sales numbers. And the Christian corporations are largely no different. They are right in line with the profiteering and promotion of greed, except they are only more explicit in their simony. They actually have the audacity to sell religious things for these ends.

Of course, the ironic thing here is that "Christmas" is intentionally being deleted from the coffee cups, the bags, the POP, the background music, and so forth. Why? Because being politically incorrect, they figure, does not sell as well as the harmless inoculation of all the other season's greetings they could pass along. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Yes, they will sell billions upon billions of dollars of junk that will end up in a garage sale twenty years from now all because of "Christmas", all while subtly removing any mention to the Person at the center of the holiday--the person in whose name all these "Christians" will go out and buy this junk. I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm being double-crossed. I guess I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Am I glad they are taking "Christ" out of Christmas? Well, yes--I grieve that the Lord Jesus Christ's name is being blasphemed so. But am I glad they are taking "Christ" out of Christmas? Well, no. As long as they are making millions off of Christians, they might as well have the guts to admit that it is all in the name of Christ. But my "yes" reason trumps my "no" reason. Will this dereligiousizing of Christmas have any great effect? Probably. But we Americans like our holidays essentially meaningless (except for Valentine's Day). The less meaning, the better. Far better for Americans to give thanks to nobody, ask for candy on the eve of All Saint's Day, and celebrate "the holidays" than to actually understand what these holy days are all about.

But while American commercialism is engaged in their silent protest, I will still force on them a "Merry Christmas" in a few weeks--just to jar them a little. And what do you know? All of sudden a phrase that had lost all meaning will suddenly, because of its newfound political incorrectness, have a new, stark meaning that will remind them why Christians still view December 25th as a holy day.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you, but here is even a better idea to consider.

Where is the Biblical mandate to observe the birth of Christ? We observe his death by means of the Lord's Supper, we celebrate Easter to commemorate the Resurrection...

11/28/2005 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I did not mean for this post to address every issue with Christmas, theological, liturgical and otherwise, but a very small, but important, aspect on the holiday.

But yes, the legitimacy of celebrating Christ's birth is a good question itself. Some Reformers had problems with this sort of activity, eliminating the Church calendar altogether. Perhaps I will post something on that in the coming weeks. I will say now that I believe observing Christmas is a good thing, although I would never make it a "requirement"; I would never force someone to observe Christmas.

11/28/2005 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Todd Mitchell said...

Good article, Ryan. I agree.

For a few years now I've told my family that there are two things going on this time of year. There is a sacred Christmas, and there is a secular "Christmas," for many of the reasons you have pointed out. I have lumped the decorated tree and the presents with the secular "Christmas."

I wonder, though, if this is the right approach for me to take. After all, that decorated tree is called a "Christmas Tree." What shall I think?

1. Ironically rename the tree so as not to confuse the sacred and secular events?
2. Ingeniously rationalize the tree as a part of the sacred event?
3. Get rid of the tree to avoid the problem?
4. Stop thinking to avoid the problem?
5. What problem?

11/28/2005 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Your distinction is the same made by C. S. Lewis.

Luther had a tree (I think). Give the tree meaning (or restore its meaning)--what says "life in the midst of winter" better than an evergreen? What welcomes in the Light in the midst of the darkness of winter better than lights? Sounds like I need to research to verify my musings, but I think I'm on the right track.

11/28/2005 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Todd Mitchell said...

Perhaps a fertility ritual?

11/28/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Funny. Probably.

11/28/2005 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Maybe you should do something for the Modest Newsletter on the development of some of these traditions. Be sure (of course) to consult several sources. I did something like this for a different purpose concerning Easter, and found that some traced the traditions to pagans and others did not.

11/28/2005 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob Roberts said...

All I want for Christmas is an Immoderate RSS feed.

11/28/2005 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Bob, I have added a link to my RSS feed on the main page.

11/28/2005 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob R. said...

What fantastic service one finds at Immoderate! Thank you, Ryan. I'm subscribed.

11/28/2005 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

The peak of irony was my getting my CBD catalog in the mail today, which reminded me that my deadline to buy was Dec 21st. "Last Minute Gifts" it said in big letters across the front. All this before I even open the thing.

11/28/2005 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous News Electronics Lover said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/24/2006 01:51:00 PM  

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