I just got home from spending 24 hours in the hospital with breathing issues. This all happened like 2 days before Christmas. If you’ve got 3 kids, you can probably emphasize with the sort-of chaos that ensued from this.
Also, I’ve been watching the rather brilliant, “What would Jesus buy” a documentary(ish) film that follows the exploits of a guy who seems to be masquerading as a charismatic born again Christian. He’s gathered a gospel choir and is spreading a message against the orgy of greed that the holidays have become. It’s sort of like “The Apostle” meets “Super Size Me.”
Finally, I have just had this feeling, these last couple Christmases. Something has just gone wrong. We are lost, dazed, and confused. The ultimate symbol of all this: We Christians are fighting over whether Jesus’ name is mentioned in the holiday, but we don’t seem to give a crap if the actual content of our holidays honor him.
So maybe that’s my reaction to all this: I’m only going to say ‘Happy Holidays’. For get about other people putting the Christ in Christmas. I know that if he were around today, he’d tell me that I first ought to put the Christ back in Christmas. And so I’m not going to say “Merry Christmas” until I feel like I’ve earned the right to say this.
The principles I’m going to work on discussing, internalizing, sharing, and acting on, for the next year, are these:
#1) Christmas has become a time for us to glorify greed and materialism. It’s not enough that we say, “It’s for the kids” and then give them all kinds of material stuff they don’t need. We need to balance the giving of gifts with teaching kids about the value of living simply.
#2) Christmas is becoming more and more about the anxiety of getting everything down, the status of buying the right gifts, the despair created between the disconnect between our Christmas realities and Christmas fantasies… In short, we have become lemmings. We have accepted a defective, unbalanced, unrealistic set of beliefs about what December should be like. This vision didn’t come from a prophet, leader, or wise men. It came from CEO’s and the blind capitalistic market itself.
#3) Though Christ’s birth was proclaimed by good shephards, as a society our Christmases have been characterized by us acting as the worst kind of shephard. We have become poor shephards of finance as we spend more than we have; we have become poor shepards of the environment as we fill more landfills with packaging and wrapping and squander natural resources by lighting our tacky displays; we have been poor shephards of our children as we teach them all the wrong things by giving them the things they think need but robbing them of the lessons they require.
#4) Christmas’s darkest perversions of values have spread through out the year. The very best that Christmas has to offer us gets an increasinly shrinking portion of our time, energy, effort, and consciousness. We all groan together when the sales, decoration, and music start a week earlier than last year. We should be equally passionate about the idea that love, peace, and goodwill gets an even shorter lifespan each year than it did the last.
More later. I’m shooting for 12 (for reasons I’ll explain later.) What do you think are some principles we ought to fight against that Christmas is coming to stand for?