Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas and the cultural war

I was reading over at Dave's blog his experience at a Chinese Restaurant. In his post Maybe Some Chow Mein and an Egg Roll, Dave talks about his meal at the "Gourmet" Restaurant Panda express. It does say "Gourmet" on the logo...

So we ordered, ate our wonderfully bland mediocre gourmet food and headed
out.

And there she was. Sitting on the concrete right by the doorway. Maybe 40
years old, dirty, disheveled, and not looking good.

...Living in a somewhat urban setting, you get used to this type of attack.
The homeless/lazy/down on their luck/lookin’ for a buck person. But this
was different.
Because she looked right at me and asked me for some
food. Maybe some chow mein and an egg roll. And she apologized. She said she was
sorry.

I quickly went inside and ordered her food. A big plate of noodles and her
egg roll, with chicken. And since the guy told me an additional item wouldn’t
cost any more, I decided to treat her to a plate of orange chicken as
well.

As soon as I gave her the food she apologized again and dove into it as if
she hadn’t eaten in a week. Which was quite possibly true.


I really like where he goes next.

Christians are pretty quick to defend “our” season. We are almost
cataclysmic if stores say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. And heaven
help the person who suggests that maybe for their own religious reasons, they
would rather not participate in the office gift exchange or Christmas
party.

But is it possible that God, just as He was with Israel, is pretty upset
with us? Maybe our version of Christmas has just become another empty burnt
offering.

Maybe in the face of our hungry fellow man, whether he is in Darfur,
Indonesia, an abandoned inner city, or down the street from where we live, our
trees, twinkling lights, and rush to get the latest iphone or Wii Fit
gadget are the things that the ancient prophet Amos says God
despises
.

Last night God broke my heart again. I hate when he does that. And believe
me, it happens over and over. Because I can be a stubborn guy.

I cannot get that woman out of my mind, and yet I am pretty sure God is
okay with that.

Sometimes Christmas can be such a struggle.

I totally agree with Dave here. Even on my own blogroll, I see many that are so concerned with the "cultural war" as Focus on the Family puts it, or the so-called "war on Christmas" that O'Reilly is bemoaning. But I think we lost those battles two generations ago, during the prosperity of the '50s, and it's only gotten worse. We lost the "cultural war" to ourselves.

We shouldn't be worrying about stores saying "happy holidays" vs. Merry Christmas. I don't think Christ would really care, honestly. I think where his heart gets broken is just as Dave mentions: when we are so worried about buying gifts and preserving the tradition of Christmas that we forget that Christ came to SAVE the world. Not to make a really cool excuse to buy each other stuff and make wishlists.

Further reading:
Advent Conspiracy
Heifer International

6 comments:

bluepitbull said...

While I would agree that giving out of kindness and not anticipated reciprocation should be the norm, I do not agree that the war on Christmas is any less real because of over-commercialization, greed, or misinterpretation.

Ultimately, the celebration of Jesus' birth is what the churches speak of, not gifts or trees or mistletoe.

So, O'Reilly is right that there are progressives that have been at work for decades trying to eradicate Christianity by speaking the same way you are trying to demonstrate that Christmas has lost it's meaning. Not true. To true believers in Christ, Christmas is not lost, nor should one man's defense of it be put down in an attempt to either appear intellectual or show a counter-stance to a media giant.

Merry Christmas, James. Hope you and your family have a good one.

James' Muse said...

I think where I would agree with fighting the "war on Christmas" when they won't allow us to say "merry christmas" and such...but demanding that companies say merry Christmas to adhere to belief or tradition is counter-productive.

Who cares if the retail giants want to cater to other religions and such? It's their perogotive, and making sure that the big corporations bring back the word "Christmas" at their stores isn't where our focus should be.

O'Reilly does miss the point. The war on Christmas is not about returning the word "christmas" to stores or not. It's about the spirit of it, which really HAS been lost, blue. You know how much is spent on Christmas in the US alone every year? $450,000,000,000 ($450 billion). Much of that by the church. It is estimated that $30,000,000,000 ($30 billion) would end world hunger. Feeding and clothing the poor was a commandment [not a suggestion] of Christ to his church, and it was reiterated throughout the New Testament (not to mention the Old)...

So I would say that the true meaning of Christmas is perhaps not lost, but it is for sure masked by mass consumerism.

We need to win the war FOR Christmas within the Church before we fight the secular world, Blue.

Susannah said...

It is entirely possible to care very much about both the watering down of Christian influence in our culture (O'Reilly's 'war on Christmas') AND the suffering that goes on all around us, even outside the Chinese restaurant.

I believe Jesus cares about both, actually. First, those whose aim it is to strip our culture of references/traditions relavant to Christianity are NOT doing it out of some desire to be humanitarian or magnanimous toward 'the least of these.' They're doing it do deprive Christians of expression in the public square - as not to offend those who aren't. I know. I've encountered this first hand.

Second, just b/c a person wishes to continues long-held expressions of faith - public or private - does NOT mean that they are insulated from the suffering of others, or that they don't care, or that they value looking like a Christian over behaving as Christ would have us behave.

Oh, of course there are those who value form over substance, but those are generally the ones who don't care about the very clear, striking & 'dramatic war on Christmas' anyway.

In other words...pretty much ditto what bluepit said.

Susannah said...

"making sure that the big corporations bring back the word 'Christmas' at their stores isn't where our focus should be"

It's a darned good start.

"Feeding and clothing the poor was a commandment [not a suggestion] of Christ to his church, and it was reiterated throughout the New Testament (not to mention the Old)..."

Absolutely! Then why has the Church abdicated its responsiblity to the GOVERNMENT!!?? Social welfare programs have robbed the Church of one of its main missions: to do unto the least of the these. Therefore, the church has become fat & lazy, waiting on the socialist-style g'ment programs to 'bail-out' people in need. The g'ment - with its socialist agenda - has certainly not disappointed. All the while, leftists tout 'separation of church & state,' (which really they couldn't care any less about than they already do) when really they just want the church out of the way. It's about power & control; nothing more.

"We need to win the war FOR Christmas within the Church before we fight the secular world"

Indeed. The Church has been neutered by feminization & the feminist movement, just like men's view of themselves (remember my last post?). In order to win the war FOR Christmas, the Church needs to --excuse me-- grow a pair, & be willing to FIGHT for it. No excuses, no apologies.

Amen & amen.

I'm done now.

Merry Christmas!

bluepitbull said...

That would explain the guys in minivans driving their children all over town here...

Susannah said...

:)
Bluepit~ My husband drives our minivan only when I'm in the passenger seat & all the children are in the back. Otherwise, he's driving his suburban...

Merry Christmas, you!