Saturday, November 17, 2007



The Christmas season is starting, ever earlier each year…damn.

Jesus came and preached peace, selflessness, trust in Him and in His Father, a disavowal of materialism and the shallow attractions of this world, and regard for one’s fellow person. So how do we celebrate His birthday?

With tension, pressure, anxiety, and exhaustion. With utter selfishness embodied by the “gimme, gimme” mentality ever present in our society but especially keen at Christmas. With an “I’m gonna get it and no one is gonna stop me” mentality that leads to the “trampling at WalMart” stories each year. With a trust not in God but in our ability to use our efforts to get what we want in order to make ourselves and our kids happy (“You’re gonna have a perfect Christmas, kid, whether you like it or not.”) and to manipulate people with the gifts we give (“Make clear to your kids’ teachers that ‘We gift.’” Not only does this egregiously nescient ad completely distort Christmas, it butchers the English language, but I digress.). With a race to get or to give the most expensive, meaningless, vacuous geegaws we can in order to impress somebody with either our ability to spend, our utter lack of taste, or both. With digging ourselves deeper into debt (“Put in on the card…we can always refinance the house!” Uh oh.) in utterly futile attempts at enjoying, or providing, mostly for our own selfish gratification (“You’re right…all this crass materialism is silly, but it’s for the kids, you know.”), that perfect Christmas. In responding to idiotic ads the point of which seems to be that Christ’s birthday is the perfect time to show everyone how much we’ve utterly rejected His message by shamelessly displaying our wealth, which may or may not have been amassed honestly, morally, or even legally. With a grossly misplaced sense of priorities. (“Can you believe how long Mass was on Christmas Eve? I had to leave early to finish my Christmas shopping!” “Boy, that ‘Silent Night’ and all that other religious crap is depressing; why can’t they play some real Christmas music, like ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’?”).

In short, in modern America, and throughout much of the world, we celebrate Christ’s birthday by taking the opportunity to spit in His face. The only person who can be pleased by the way we celebrate Christmas (besides the millions who take the opportunity of Jesus’ birthday to rake in enormous profits by exploiting amorality, immorality, and imbecility) is Satan. You can almost hear the fallen angel: “Hey, look at that, Jesus…look what all those people are doing on YOUR birthday!!! Aren’t you happy you gave it all for those people! I told you they were no good! I told you they didn’t deserve it! You are such a fool!” Our ever patient Savior pays no heed but continues to do what He does best: He loves all of us unceasingly and unreservedly, perhaps even more so those who use His birthday to join Satan in mocking Him and His message.

If people want to engage in a veritable orgy of debauchery and self-indulgence at year end, that is their business. Our economy seems to depend on it, as it does on so many other rickety, jerry-rigged mechanisms of self-delusion. But I hope those who insist on displaying their vulgarity and ignorance at this time of year will leave Jesus out of it. I hope, vainly, that they don’t profane the name of our Savior by calling their annual bouts of self-destructive over-indulgence and anxiety “Christmas.” I hope people save that holy name for the activities that honor our Savior: the efforts people make to help the needy and forgotten, to comfort the afflicted, to let the true spirit of Christmas, the eternal message of salvation through faith in and love of our Savior manifested through service to others and worship of Him, to shine through at this time of year and always. Real Christmas takes place in church and the other places we attempt to conform our lives to the wishes of our loving God, not at the mall, the car dealer, or at the bar.

If people are intent on making a mockery of Christ, I pray they don’t call their doing so “Christmas.” Let them call it “the holidays” or some such other innocuous piece of puff and leave Jesus out of it. Reserve the name “Christmas” for true Christmas, which is not confined even to our ever expanding “Holiday Season.”

God bless you all at this Christmas season, and may this celebration of God’s love coming into our world never end for you.

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