Five thoughts on the war on Starbucks cups.

imageOk. Let me get this over with. As you may well know, there is a small noisy minority of Christians barking up the wrong cup. Their logic is, well,  illogical (no snowflakes = war on Christmas?). I can easily explain how people, who are Christians, are doing it wrong and doing some very unchristian things. That is paranoia looking for an opportunity. But before any of us hop on board the rant express, I invite everyone to remember a few things about how we got here.

1)  These outliers are a product of the culture wars. The more we intensify just disdain for each other the more each sides of the culture wars are convinced we have a real enemy in each other.  Whether we are cheering on Liberal Secularism or Zionist – styled American Exceptionalism or anything in between, our dismissive treatment of each other, further convinces each of us that we have true enemies, or even perhaps that we are being persecuted.   Regardless of what side of the culture wars you fall on, the more you play, the more you fuel your opposition.   

image2) It’s easy to list things these Christians should be doing instead of whining about the absence of snowflakes prints on their to go coffee. But before we hold their feet to the fire, to what extent are the things you think that whining Christians should be doing instead actually things you, yourself,  do? If not, that walks the line of hypocrisy. No throwing stones please.

3) Said differently, What are all things you should be putting your energy in to rather than whining about the Christians that are whining about Starbucks. Do that

4) It isn’t Christmas season yet, it’s not even Advent.   If it were Advent, the Christian colors for that time of year are cirrus blue or deep purple.  For Christmas tide (which begins on December 25th)  the colors are white and gold and last for 12 days until Epiphany on January 6th.   Red is a color for feast days, not seasons.    It’s wanton consumerism, shopping early and sentimentalizing the season rather than fasting and repenting as is prescribed for Advent, that is the war on advent/Christmas and that comes from inside the church as much as from without.

5)  Squeaky wheels are not just ranting, they are grieving.  For those who are so angry about the absence of purely secular symbols of
Christmas, like snow flakes, presents, branches, snowmen and Santa Claus I imagecan’t help but feel a little of what their feeling even though my reaction is different.      

Christmas has been a rich and sentimental time that many lucky folks associate with family, good times, and spiritual reflection.    While it may or may not be a war on Christmas it is a major cultural shift.   This is my favorite time of the year and I am sad  that Christians have moved away for the ancient traditions, but I am also going to miss it when the Christmas lights, carolers, and bright colors disappear enitrely.

As a single man without an immediate family near me I hold tight to some of my traditions.   One of mine is singing carols at the Christimas sing along, lighting of the Christmas tree and strolling down Main Street as we do every year on the state capital steps in Austin.  I will mourn that deeply when the objections to it overwhelm the desire for it.    

For me it is important as a discipline to sing the words to Oh Holy Night on the capital steps. It challenges me to embody my faith and pursue its hope even at the steps of Caesar.   I love that.  I’ll have to keep doing it no matter what, but I will miss it when the crowd is gone.

So remember that these squeaky wheels are not just ranting, they are grieving a world which seeems to be slipping away, and indeed it is.    I can’t help but wonder how a little compassion might be more transformational than a mocking FaceBook post.

I have come to believe less in a war on Christmas than in a war amidst Chrstmas.  We love to tear each other down and mock each other.  Do we not?  Don’t get me wrong, as a misfit theologian who is wedged between different worlds and concerned about the cultural witness of the Church I don’t mind calling out unchristian behavior done in the name of Christ.

More importantly, however, as a Christian I believe in the transformational power of hope and grace, and those are usually best served from a humble cup than from a soap box.  

And if you happen to be in the area, won’t you join me this year at the steps of the capital and sing with me?…

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease

–  Oh Holy Night

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