The "War on Christmas" Cries Overshadow The Daily War On Christ—By Christians

broken ornament

‘Tis the season to claim persecution…

Our yearly Christian obsession with the supposed “War on Christmas” began early this season, with the viral video of the Starbucks red cup rant by self-proclaimed car seat prophet Joshua Feuerstein and the ensuing social media sideshow that followed.

This certainly won’t be the last of such claims, and though a mystifying multitude of the faithful rushed to amen Feuerstein’s rather meritless accusations, one of the most refreshing developments was the number of good-hearted people who refused to be fooled and drafted into a phantom battle.

They know that there isn’t a war on Christmas waged by non-Christians, as much as there is a war on Christ by Christians—and it’s been that way for a long time now.

To those who’ve been paying attention for the past few decades, American Christianity has become more politicized and commercialized than Jesus would ever have desired. It’s been married off to the religious Right, packaged for easy megachurch franchising, and used as a selling tool by Country Music artists and NFL players and Presidential candidates. It’s often as reflective of the consumer corporate culture as any other entity despite our claims otherwise.

And Christmas has largely become this jacked-up faith’s glitzy, sexy, bloated high holy day, marked by the kind of consuming and spending and barn-building that bears very little resemblance to a Jesus who was born in anonymous poverty, ministered while homeless, and altered the planet without a budget, church building, tax exemption or media empire.

Yes there is of course the kernel of beauty and truth and joy still there, but it’s usually buried deep beneath thick, cumbersome layers of wish lists and feasting and materialism and gluttony and all-night retail parades. So for any high-horsed Christian to defend this holiday, as if it purely represents Jesus is a bit disingenuous to say the least, especially when our churches often mirror its hallmarks.

In truth, the War on Christmas cries are really a gift we Christians give ourselves.

These manufactured seasonal offenses offer a convenient distraction for we who have become complacent and comfortable in our affluent, cozy religion. They generate the kind of cheap urgency we need to take a yearly self-righteous stand, filling us with the easy high of temporary pious outrage. After a brief crusade against the tyranny of some imaginary heathen horde, we can then return to the regularly scheduled yuletide fray with an inflated sense of moral fortitude, confident that we have defended the faith. 

In reality we’ve just made a brief moral pit stop on the way to the mall.

Of course there is persecution of people of faith, but we who live in America as Christians probably will never see or experience it in any meaningful way, at least not enough to invoke a battle posture. In fact when it comes to Christmas, the season more often puts us in the role of intolerant, overbearing zealots demanding that everyone else conform to our religious preferences and publicly reflect our inner convictions.

We are not the underdogs in whatever conflict there is during this season.

Frankly, I’m tired of annual demands to “keep Christ in Christmas” by Christians who don’t seem particularly interested in keeping Christ in their Christianity the rest of the year (you know: caring for the poor, protecting the marginalized, alleviating suffering, shunning greed, championing equality). I think lots of people are. I think they’re looking for a faith that finds the real evils of this world worth railing against, one that doesn’t need a self-made, trivial diversion in order to feel valid.

There are millions of people currently breathing our air who are starving and suffering and aching for the smallest scrap of hope today, and honestly they couldn’t give a damn about coffee cups or santa displays or sales clerk salutations. They just want what Christians are supposed to provide by virtue of their title and job description: tangible, irrefutable evidence that God is and that God loves. Unless we’re willing to expend our energies to do that above all else, we’ll be fighting on the wrong side every time.

We who claim Christ should spend less time this season building convenient enemies to stroke our fragile egos, and more time having our hearts freshly broken for the daily heavy burdens of those walking alongside us—and moved to help carry them without delay.

This is the only war worth waging this Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 thoughts on “The "War on Christmas" Cries Overshadow The Daily War On Christ—By Christians

  1. Yes. Thank you. I am so tired of hearing fellow Christians protest that they are being persecuted when a) they are confusing “persecution” with “this person doesn’t do things the way I think they should” and b) there are Christians (and others) being crucified and beheaded. We have become a bunch of entitled whiners.

  2. Yes. Thank you. I am so tired of hearing fellow Christians protest that they are being persecuted when a) they are confusing “persecution” with “this person doesn’t do things the way I think they should” and b) there are Christians (and others) being crucified and beheaded. We have become a bunch of entitled whiners.

  3. What happens is that people who take up the cause of “pure religion” are going in the wrong direction. Jesus never gave any of us a mandate to “fix” people. We are meant to bring them to Him. It is not our job to “fix” anyone. We are to be light and salt. Jesus will do the fixing. In the process of trying to “fix” people, Jesus is forgotten in favor of making rules in our own kind.

    • No, we don’t have to ‘fix’ people. We don’t even have to bring them to God. I mean, God is God. He’s powerful to do that on his own. But we are here to Love each other.

      I think what the original article meant by ‘fix’ is that we have to show God’s love to all. Our job is to Love everyone, not only our family, or those convenient for us to love. We are commanded (like the Samaritan) to love our enemies. Do good to those that hurt us. Pray for those that use us. That is the power that ‘fixes’ other people. That is also the power that brings others to God.

      Bringing others to God and fixing (healing) them are synonymous.

  4. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:34, NASB

    I think the current Starbucks holiday cups are beautiful, even elegant in their simplicity …I see many who have become so isolated behind a ‘Christian Curtain’ of Christian media, Christian schools, Republican politics, Christian bookstores, Christian conferences – people that don’t have a single non-Christian friend or neighbor – who strain on ‘gnats’like the ‘War On Christmas’ and swallow the ‘camels’ of inequality, poverty, war, injustice, racism, discrimination, etc ….

    • Christian Tableware
      Christian wastebaskets
      Christian doormats
      Christian carpets
      Christian no wax floors
      Christian calculators
      Christian driveways
      Christian septic tanks
      Christian recipe books
      Christian pork shoulder
      Christian telephones
      Christian paper clips
      Christian paper
      Christian pens
      Christian books
      Christian egg rolls
      Christian toilet paper
      Christian toothpicks
      Christian scissors
      Christian coasters
      Christian eyeglasses
      Christian staplers
      Christian washers
      Christian dryers
      Christian picture frames
      Christian fried shrimp
      Christian boiled shrimp
      Christian coconut shrimp
      Christian shrimp scampi
      Christian Szechwan shrimp
      etc.

      Note: None genuine with the official “Stamp O’ Jesus” and his Aramaic signature displayed in a prominent place on the label.

      I get so tired of this nonsense… It puts Jesus on the same par as the plastic pink flamingo on their front lawns.

  5. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:34, NASB

    I think the current Starbucks holiday cups are beautiful, even elegant in their simplicity …I see many who have become so isolated behind a ‘Christian Curtain’ of Christian media, Christian schools, Republican politics, Christian bookstores, Christian conferences – people that don’t have a single non-Christian friend or neighbor – who strain on ‘gnats’like the ‘War On Christmas’ and swallow the ‘camels’ of inequality, poverty, war, injustice, racism, discrimination, etc ….

  6. Thank you John Pavlovitz. I was just researching Xmas when I opened my e-mail and read this post. My only concern should be, how I will honor Christ every day, not just on Christmas.

  7. Reblogged this on The Spiritual Blog of Rev. Michael F. Copado. and commented:
    I’ve avoided blogging or even responding to the “Starbuck’s War on Christians” thing right now, because, quite frankly it’s too early to get my head into “Holiday Mode.” I lost my brother on Christmas Eve many moons ago, and it’s still a difficult time for me. I really don’t like to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving at least, and I try really hard to tune out the bombardment as much as possible, it’s just too triggering for me. (Yes the irony of a minister who dislikes Christmas is not lost on me.)

    But I can’t help it, this one is just too stupid to believe, and does belong in the “Stupid things my fellow ‘Christians’ say” file.

    Once again the fundamentalist right nutjobs who kidnapped Christianity a long time ago are claiming religuous persecution because a multinational corporation didn’t adorn their coffee cup with the usual pagan symbols they normally do, such as, you know, mistletoe, Christmas trees, wreaths, yule logs etc.

    So instead of, I don’t know, feeding the homeless, trying to fight poverty, adopting orphans, and not being a pain in the ass they are getting their panties in a twist against some more made up nonsense, and totally ignoring, as this article from “Think Progress” points out all the Christmas products Starbucks IS releasing in honor of the holiday.

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2015/11/09/3720449/starbucks-war-christmas/

    I’m really not going to say much more about this right now. I’m going to once again let John Pavlovitz do it for me, as he so eloquently so often does.

  8. 1. You’ve stated wll this as fact when it’s your opinions. 2. Today you are sounding like an angry Christian yourself. 3. You left out at least one category of Christian, me. I try, with God’s help, to be a giving, caring and aid, when and where I can, on a daily basis but, some of these manufactured seasonal offences bug me a little. 4. I read this as mean spirited.
    I agree with a lot of what you say, but this one sounds like the angry Christians you are speaking about. I won’t be sharing this one.
    Buuut, it is Monday, sooooo, you’re excused. With much respect, Ann

    • 1. No, actually it is a fact. Get in touch with Dan at the Christian Freedom Network in Austin, Texas,

      2. No. He is sounding like an honest Christian who dislikes Jesus falsehoods manufactured to raise money.

      3. Good for you.

      4. No. It was not meanspirited—just genuinely honest. You know what Harry Truman said: “I just tell the truth, and to them it sounds like Hell.”

      5. Aw. Being smug at Christmas eh? W-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-l-l-l-l… (Woman in old Three Stooges short film then reaches for closest pie.)

      • Rev Pavolvitz clearly cares deeply about the suffering in the world, and I can see this as a cry of frustration by a good human being. But the claim that people who say “Keep Christ in Christmas” by-and-large indulge in a materialistic holiday frenzy and ignore human suffering can only be an opinion.

      • It’s more than just an opinion. I live in a town that is saturated with churches in a variety like you have probably never seen. Our stores are equally saturated with frenzied shoppers at Christmas time—including me. You’re not going to tell me that those irritable, sardine-can crowds packed into our Wal-Mart at Xmas (I did that on purpose—woo-hoo!!!) are not well dosed with Christians?

        Listen up lady and listen good because we are talking anthropology here. In cultural anthropology, it is the Law of Reciprocity. If someone gives you a gift, they are going to expect to get a gift in return—and enormous social and cultural freight hangs it. For example: “Why John!!! You gave him a nice Christmas gift, and he didn’t get you anything. What kind of gratitude is that—and you are thinking about promoting that ungrateful wretch to Vice President of our company?” How about this one: “You’re my own sister, and you didn’t even get me a Christmas present. You always hated me, and now you have enough guts to finally show it.” I could do a long list here—and you could too.

        My point here is that the Christmas frenzy is actually driven by the Law of Reciprocity and a sociocultural requirement to give homage to Christmas by giving gifts. It is a deeply imbedded sociocultural expectation that was established long ago and is mutually held as “culturally right” by just about everyone. There is more to this American view of Christmas than simple materialism and corporate greed—even if The Coca-Cola Company did invent the modern American Christmas—not to mention the modern view of Santa Claus.

      • P.S. I have a friend who is about 93 years old. Last Christmas he went down to the bank to take out a bunch of $20 bills just to randomly pass out to people on the street who looked like they might be down a bit or in need of some money. His relatives found out about it and stopped him. He is a good Christian man who loves people like John Pavlovitz does. He is not demented and still has a good mind—serving as a local history consultant. He was almost in tears when he told me about being stopped by his children and other family members because he just wanted to help people because that is what Jesus would want—and especially at Christmas. He said: “Heck. I might not be as strong as I was when I was young man, and I might have lost my wife and some other things. But I do still have money. I have a lot of money. More money than I would ever need if I were to live for many more years. And now I am not even allowed to do good with one of the few things that I do have.

        I have seen this before in other cases. The relatives want his money, and they are watching him like a hawk to make sure it does not get diminished by even one unnecessary dollar so they can be assured of inheriting it all when he dies. Merry Christmas—and i would bet you good money they are all “good Christians.”

  9. Honestly, I think the so-called war on Christmas was manufactured by simple economic forces, precisely to profit by underhandedly convincing an awful lot of people, people who identify as conservative Christians, that marketplace extravagance and true Christian living are the same thing.

    But the railing against what rotten people Christians are is getting as old as the claims of war on Christmas, and both are disconnected from the real issue.

    The economy is sick in its dependency on holiday season sales. Starbucks’ statement about the cups admits that they perceive a need to provide “sanctuary,” to dispose of all holiday symbols and foster “quiet.” How a huge company that overprices caffeine can achieve quiet, I will leave to others. 8~) But they do this for the same reason they formerly decorated their cups: to make money. Both were done by perceiving a craving on the part of the public and trying to sell them something to fill it.

    Meanwhile, the need for sanctuary from the manufactured war is real. And the Christians who seek that fix of convenient distraction provided by the bloated glitz are not the predators in this. They are the prey, and need healing like we all do. Ephesians 6:12.

  10. Honestly, I think the so-called war on Christmas was manufactured by simple economic forces, precisely to profit by underhandedly convincing an awful lot of people, people who identify as conservative Christians, that marketplace extravagance and true Christian living are the same thing.

    But the railing against what rotten people Christians are is getting as old as the claims of war on Christmas, and both are disconnected from the real issue.

    The economy is sick in its dependency on holiday season sales. Starbucks’ statement about the cups admits that they perceive a need to provide “sanctuary,” to dispose of all holiday symbols and foster “quiet.” How a huge company that overprices caffeine can achieve quiet, I will leave to others. 8~) But they do this for the same reason they formerly decorated their cups: to make money. Both were done by perceiving a craving on the part of the public and trying to sell them something to fill it.

    Meanwhile, the need for sanctuary from the manufactured war is real. And the Christians who seek that fix of convenient distraction provided by the bloated glitz are not the predators in this. They are the prey, and need healing like we all do. Ephesians 6:12.

  11. It never ceases to amaze me how worked up some people become about something so insignificant. It is a friggin cup. If you need a cup to define Christmas for you, you are in serious trouble and should probably just get a life.

    I am so tired of seeing memes pop up on my FB page with friends stating they will say ‘Merry Christmas’ regardless of what anyone tells them. Seriously, I must have missed the memo telling me I am not supposed to say “Merry Christmas” any longer because I don’t remember there now being a rule stating that I must only say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”. Last Christmas someone even posted a song that encouraged people to not shop in stores unless they are littered with Christmas decorations and the person behind the counter says “Merry Christmas”. At worst, this type of thing is xenophobic/racist and seeks to exclude those who do not adhere to the dominant religious practice in the West. It just disgusts me and in truth, hearing and watching people who are supposed to be Christians act in this manner is an embarassment for all Christians.

    • “Oh. Oh. Oh. That man said “Happy Holidays” to me. Shaking all over. T-T-T–r-rue C-C-C-C-Christians are losing their c-c-c-c-c-control over Christmas.”

      This reminds me a lot of a very compelling short, animated film I saw recently. The film is about a fictional fundie preacher in 1930s Georgia who is descending into madness because things are not going well for him in his local culture war on African-Americans. This is well done and fascinating—very short too.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/414499/a-horrifying-animation-of-a-racist-preachers-descent-into-madness/

      • Wendy. It sure was disturbing—and was meant to be. Did you ever see the old Vincent Price movie entitled “The Tingler.”? It posits that all people who undergo great distress grow a lobster-like creature within them that attaches to the spine and does…well…something. I think the bad pastor in the short film has one of those lobster-like things—but much more insidious—and it is what makes him think like he does and sends him into the madness by acting on him from within. I suspect the Religious Right is dominated by these lobster-like things. Here is a clip from the old Vincent Price movie:

  12. It never ceases to amaze me how worked up some people become about something so insignificant. It is a friggin cup. If you need a cup to define Christmas for you, you are in serious trouble and should probably just get a life.

    I am so tired of seeing memes pop up on my FB page with friends stating they will say ‘Merry Christmas’ regardless of what anyone tells them. Seriously, I must have missed the memo telling me I am not supposed to say “Merry Christmas” any longer because I don’t remember there now being a rule stating that I must only say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”. Last Christmas someone even posted a song that encouraged people to not shop in stores unless they are littered with Christmas decorations and the person behind the counter says “Merry Christmas”. At worst, this type of thing is xenophobic/racist and seeks to exclude those who do not adhere to the dominant religious practice in the West. It just disgusts me and in truth, hearing and watching people who are supposed to be Christians act in this manner is an embarassment for all Christians.

  13. Thank you my friend, and Amen.

    Christ (the anointed One) is alive in each of us, whether we choose to own the name “Christian” or not, when we choose the path of love. Love is a road that winds along the hills and valleys of life taking us to places of compassion, kindness, healing, and gratitude. Gratitude is not reserved for a specific place on the journey or even its ultimate destination, rather gratitude is a deep appreciation of the journey itself, a journey whose ultimate destination is grace. In the words of my pastor,

    “Gratitude springs from the soul as an epiphany of grace for the gift of life and the gifts our lives hold. No need to glaze over a life that is more minefield than meadow. No need for denial of what just isn’t working for you right now. You are part of the human family, and I doubt if we’ll ever get it really right, whatever that might mean.” -Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull

    Christmas is every day and any day we find ourselves on the path of love surrounded by opportunities to experience this amazing grace, opportunities that are there in the most unexpected places if we but open our eyes.

    Live in blessing.

  14. I so often wonder – after our Lord cleared the temple of the moneychangers – all those who were using the church to further their profit margin —- what would He do today? Would he “clear a temple” or would he “rain fire and brimstone”. The only thing I’m sure of is He wouldn’t destroy the world again by flood. I find the temple I need him to clear is me. Keep me from “waging war on Christ” and taking care of the log in my own eye. Inspiring post of truth. I do so love coming to this blogsite!!

    • He did not destroy the world with a flood to begin with. It’s a parable about how hopeless even the best of men and women are…leading eventually to Jesus. And if it ever was God’s intention to send a worldwide flood, he decided to be patient and merciful—and chose not to do it. Jewish guy. “Huh? What?!!! There is hope there I think.”

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  17. My friends at the Texas Freedom Network call it the “Phony War on Christmas.” It often comes with a request for money to help fight against the imaginary hordes who are trying to take Jesus out of Christmas. Funny thing though. For Religious Right organizations that do their finances and accounting on a calendar year basis, I suspect the fact that Christmas season comes at the very end of the year gives them a chance to ask for more money to balance out the past year’s budget and turn in a better fundraising report for the year. In other words, Christmas coming at the end of the year and a a holiday about Christ that offers a golden opportunity to manufacture a phony war to raise money are no doubt seen as an annual Godsend. Personally, I think they should be ashamed of themselves for using Jesus in such a lowdown and mercenary way. But hey, we know who the real God is there: M-O-N-E-Y. Jesus is just store front window dressing for a false God.

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  20. Thank you John for posting this. I too am very tired of this imaginary war and hope most people will wake up to the reality that the best way to celebrate the birth of Christ is to emulate his actions as much as you are able.

  21. Wait, I don’t get it. What’s the difference between a snowflake or a Christmas tree & plain red? None of these things are Christian symbols. It’s just hilarious to me– the things people have time to conjure up.

  22. Wait, I don’t get it. What’s the difference between a snowflake or a Christmas tree & plain red? None of these things are Christian symbols. It’s just hilarious to me– the things people have time to conjure up.

  23. >>And Christmas has largely become this jacked-up faith’s glitzy, sexy, bloated high holy day, marked by the kind of consuming and spending and barn-building that bears very little resemblance to a Jesus who was born in anonymous poverty, ministered while homeless, and altered the planet without a budget, church building, tax exemption or media empire.<<

    Brilliant. Hilarious. True. Thank you!

  24. >>And Christmas has largely become this jacked-up faith’s glitzy, sexy, bloated high holy day, marked by the kind of consuming and spending and barn-building that bears very little resemblance to a Jesus who was born in anonymous poverty, ministered while homeless, and altered the planet without a budget, church building, tax exemption or media empire.<<

    Brilliant. Hilarious. True. Thank you!

  25. Nothing to say about the religious Left? You know, the ones who celebrate gay marriage, embrace all kinds of false doctrine and preach the false gospel of political correctness?

    The Laodicean Church spoken of by Christ himself in the Book of Revelation is represented by today’s apostate church. If the religious Left paid more attention to the Bible than it does to the New York Times and PBS, then maybe they’d realize that the ones they call extreme are the true followers of Christ.

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  28. I just read a story about a little girl (4 years old) in the grocery store with her Mom. After a lady commented on the little girl’s Frozen shirt, her mother whispered in her ear to say “Happy Holidays” to the complementing lady. In return, the lady criticized the girl telling her that her *Daddy* (not her Mommy) should be telling her to say ‘Merry Christmas instead.” Really? The lady should have been grateful that the little girl and her Mom said something nice at all. The little girl just looked sheepish. Now that to me is mean-spirited and a real slam at the mother.

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