Let’s get this straight: If you insist on wishing a Jew, Muslim, or atheist a merry birth of a Savior they do not believe in, that does not make you a good Christian. It makes you a condescending jerk. I know that some people think saying “Happy Holidays” is tantamount to kicking over a plastic baby Jesus in the front lawn of your local Catholic Church, but the so called “war on Christmas” has a lot more to do with what comes out of our wallets than our mouths.
I wrote a recent piece in the Huffington Post that pointed out the irony of the Black Friday ritual. To celebrate the incomprehensible mystery of the birth of the infant God, we rush to fill our homes with new assortments of plastic crap. Consumer culture plays upon our most base, selfish desires. It operates on our psychological weaknesses to keep us perpetually dissatisfied. We buy one product, and feel temporarily fulfilled, but soon enough it ends up in the back of our closets. We are a people in love with what will soon be garbage. The way we behave around the holidays reminds me of the gluttons in Dante’s Inferno. We spend the holiday season trying as hard as we can to devour as much filth as possible.
As Derek Flood put it in another Huffington Post article:
So maybe the way we really should be celebrating Christmas is by caring for the least, rather than shopping til we drop. Maybe we should be teaching our kids lessons about compassion and giving, instead of about getting more and more stuff. And… just maybe… Christmas should be about showing “peace on earth and good will towards all mankind,” rather than on getting mad at people who say “happy holidays” to us.
People do not believe in Jesus because they hear his name in public. Nor do they believe in Jesus because Christians berate them for being “politically correct.” When people believe in Jesus, it is because they see him born in us. It is because we exude love, gratitude, and selfless generosity – the very values consumerism works against. So until we can begin to disengage from the commercialization of this season, we are fighting in the war on Christmas, and we are fighting on the wrong side.
P.s. Stay tuned Thursday, when I talk about how we help our kids understand that Christmas is more about giving than getting.