Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Greed & gluttony - the real War on Christmas
Every year people across the globe celebrate Christmas, whether they are Christian or not. They'll decorate their houses, sing carols and give gifts to family and loved ones. For many children, the mythical Santa Claus will visit and leave them a special gift. 'On earth peace, goodwill to all men' is one of the main bible scriptures quoted during this time (Luke 2:14 KJV).
Also every year, we hear of a 'War on Christmas', a war that is apparently attacking the very fabric of the Christmas celebration.
This 'war' is allegedly perpetrated by grinches who want to ban Santa Clause or other aspects of the Christmas celebration. A number of hoax emails that usually blame Muslims, but have no basis in fact, are circulated - check Snopes1 or hoax-slayer2. I'd have to seriously question the mental and moral state of the person who sees fit to compose a hoax email in order to spread hatred in the community. It is a sad indictment on the community, that so many people actually believe these emails without checking them out. After all, Google is but a mouse click away. It is people like this who have lost sight of the meaning of Christmas (remember the 'peace, goodwill to all men' thing?)
The 'War on Christmas' is also being waged by anyone who commits the dastardly act of saying 'happy holidays' instead of the socially acceptable, 'Merry Christmas'.
These events do not signify a 'War'.
The only War on Christmas was waged & lost years ago. It is the one in which the Christmas spirit was usurped by capitalism; by greed and gluttony. The generosity of the real St Nicholas (Nikolaos of Myra - a Greek Bishop who lived in what is now Turkey) who gave to the poor and needy, has been replaced by Santa Claus who brings unnecessary gifts to rich kids while the poor continue to suffer. Sadly, Santa either doesn't visit poorer children or when he does, the toys are not as expensive. Maybe Santa uses cheaper elves for making the presents of the poor.
Santa's gifts are based on whether you're naughty or nice, good or bad - according to one or two Christmas Carols. Yet, this has no basis in scripture. Jesus didn't come for those who 'deserved' His redemption (remember Romans 3:23-24, 'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus').
We are told that Jesus is the 'reason for the season'. Yet most families, Christian or not, barely (if at all) acknowledge Jesus in their haste to open their presents before gorging themselves on food and drink. Christmas was lost to greed and gluttony years ago.
Of course, the irony is that Christmas was originally a pagan festival known as Saturnalia, in which people gave themselves over to absolute pleasure and indulged their fleshly desires in unrestrained revelry: not unlike Christmas in first world countries. Greed and gluttony.
People across the globe can't wait for the fat-man to deliver gifts that may or may not be needed, and then guts themselves stupid until they feel sick - while millions of people go hungry. All of this to the accompaniment of Christmas Carols extolling the virtues of peace and goodwill. Christmas spirit or Saturnalian celebration?
This decadence is hardly a celebration of Jesus and contains a shallow concept of peace and goodwill.
The 'War' on Christmas has not come from other religions or from the benign 'happy holidays' greeting, but from capitalist exploitation and marketing. Capitalism isn't just content to sell us rubbish that we don't need, but also to force many people in retail to work over Christmas, keeping them away from their families and friends in order to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the manipulated masses to spend, spend, spend.
Throughout his life, Jesus preached and commanded love of all humanity, to eshew greed and to help the poor. If we are to truly celebrate Christmas, we should be helping the poor and loving everyone (not just other Christians or those with the 'Christmas Spirit' who indulge in the Saturnalian or Bacchanalian decadence of consumerism and over-indulgence).
It is greed and gluttony that waged the War on Christmas, and that war was lost years ago. The bulk of Christendom indulges in the capitalistic and selfish delights of what constitutes the modern Christmas 'Spirit'.
Many of us appreciate that it is our family and friends who are more meaningful than any gifts we receive. Yet, what about those who are lonely or homeless, who are languishing in prisons, detention centres or refugee camps? Again, for those who want to keep 'Christ' in Christmas, it may not hurt to check out the parable of the sheep and the goats (remember the bit about 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me' - Matthew 25:31-46).
Here's a thought or two. Why not give a gift to a stranger, someone less fortunate than ourselves. Of course, we shouldn't wait until Christmas to help others, but as Christmas is a time of gift-giving, it is certainly a good time to give useful gifts to the poor and needy. Or why not take the time to spend time with the lonely, the homeless, the prisoner, the refugee. Time and attention are valuable gifts, and maybe for a moment, take the focus off ourselves and our greed.
Peace on earth and goodwill to all.
1. 'Cardwell', Snopes, http://www.snopes.com/politics/christmas/cardwell.asp, 3 December 2013. Last accessed 25 December 2013.
2. 'Hoax - Broadmeadows Shopping Centre Christmas Celebrations Ban', Hoax Slayer, http://www.hoax-slayer.com/broadmeadows-christmas-celebrations-hoax.shtml, 10 December 2013. Last accessed 25 December 2013.