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Dismantling Christmas

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People are out to dismantle Christmas as we know it! You’ve got film director and evangelical atheist Brian Flemming declaring “War on Christianity” as part of a marketing campaign for his The God Who Wasn’t There film.

“No Christmas pageant or Nativity display is safe from our troops,” says Flemming. “Wherever the mythical figure Jesus is celebrated as if he were real, we will be there with an information barrage. We will undercut the idea that there is any point at all to celebrating the ‘birth’ of a character in a fairy tale.”

Damn, you’ve got the unholy offspring of the Grinch and Madalyn Murray O’Hair here making movies and bothering people. Brian doesn’t want to remind us of the “true meaning of Christmas” or tilt at the windmills of commercialization, he wants to completely annihilate the foundation of Christmas – what he wants to replace it with, I’m not sure.

Lump of coal for you, Brian.

Then you’ve got Reverend Billy Talen and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir campaigning coast to coast on the Stop the Shopocalypse Tour, rabble rousing and “delivering sinners from the deepest American vice and wickedness: love of buying and accumulating unnecessary, mass-produced goods.”

Further quoth the Rev, “When 7 of 10 Americans wish Christmas were less commercial; when, as a nation, we owe $600 billion in credit card debt; when the average American family spends four months paying off bills from Christmas, we are witnessing the Shopocalypse!”

Reverend Billy and Choir members will travel close to 4000 miles on the coast-to-coast Stop the Shopocalypse Tour, with planned stops in Chicago, IL December 8th-9th; Minneapolis, MN December 10th-11th; Des Moines, IA December 12th; Dallas, TX December 16th-17th; Las Vegas, NV December 21st-22nd; and Los Angeles December 23rd-25th, urging consumers to “celebrate the holidays by rejecting over-consumption, by avoiding big-box megastores, and by supporting local proprietors and community economies.”

Addressing throngs gathered in New York’s Times Square on Black Friday, Reverend Billy said, “Christmas is not in a mega chain-store; it’s not in a Gingerbread Latte. We’ve got to think outside the Big Box, children! We’ve got to bring this message of freedom back to our communities! We’ve got to bring it back into our homes and our hearts!”

The man has a way with words. He describes his appearances as “a post-religious, post-ironic, highly interactive political performance.” He exclaims, “The hurricanes are a tipping point. Ordinary Americans are now ready… (more) to acknowledge that our idea of a ‘White Christmas’ is a shopping-and-advertising cycle which is addictive and petroleum-based. This year let’s make our gifts with our hands; let’s be local-vores; let’s cut the Evil big boxes out of the deal.”

Billy, then, is in reality an anti-globalization, anti-consumer capitalism activist using the trappings and energies of a revivalist preacher; but hey, he’s entertaining and he has at least part of a point: making your own presents or taking the time to hunt for unique handmade items IS a great way to show you care and even save some money.

But everyone has at least part of a point.

Meanwhile, there is no question that it is quite easy to slip into the commercialization abyss of the Christmas/Hannukah holidays and lose touch with the true “spirit of the season,” whatever that may mean to you and the horse you rode in on.

BUT if one balances the acquisition and dispersal aspect of the season — which I believe does derive from the healthy desire to interact in the spirit of generosity with those we most love and like — with a genuine meditation upon the “peace on earth, good will toward men” spiritual aspect, then there is nothing whatsoever wrong with obtaining your purchases wherever the prices, selection and convenience suit your needs, big box or otherwise.

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About Eric Olsen