A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Evil Santa and Woe To Consumerism: Enough Already

I know I had my own little journey into snark a couple weeks ago but now I have grown weary of the “Santa is Evil” and “Consumerism Has Consumed Christmas” blogs.  Can we please lighten up a little?  

I know this holiday season is too focused on shopping but let’s think about this.  This is one time a year when people are buying all that junk for other people and not themselves.  This can’t be all bad, can it?  Yeah sure, there is a lot of the “Oh crumb, I feel obligated to buy something for this person I hardly like.”  But there is also a lot of “Wow, that person does a lot for me.  I should acknowledge that with a gift” or “Wow, Christmas must be hard this year for that person.  Maybe some cookies to show I care.”  And a lot of  time spent really thinking about someone else and thinking about what that person likes and doesn’t like.  Most anything which gets us out of self-focus seems good to me.  

Besides, consumerism is a lot like gluttony.  If we all only overindulged on tasty treats once a year, obesity would not be an epidemic.  If we all only indulged in wildly unrestrained consumerism once a year, injustice would not abound so.  Is the problem with consumerism the way it contributes to social injustice and environmental degradation or is it just interfering with your religious holiday?  If it is the former, complaining about it once a year could be seen as silly.

I am not a big fan of the Santa thing either.  But, really, no one writes volumes about the evils of the Tooth Fairy.  Mythical characters to encourage good behavior in children is a time honored tradition.  Think Boogeyman.  Not my favorite parenting tactic but hardly the epitome of evil either.

And yeah I know Christmas has Pagan roots.  That is partially because Pagans of old were smart.  They knew we need something to celebrate when the days are short and Christians borrowed a good idea.  And let’s get real.  Christianity is relatively new to the scene in the cosmic scheme of things.  Everything we do has some roots in something else whether it be Paganism, Judaism, or goes all the way back to the roar of a dinosaurs saying, “Look at the size of that astero....ahhhhhh!”

So, if you want to explore the deep religious significance of Christmas, do so.  I hope you find a community of faith which will help you do so in a deeply meaningful, and inspiring way.  Just remember your deeply religious Christmas does not require everyone else in the nation experience Christmas in a deeply religious way.  If you are not religious, are fed up with church, or find the whole thing ridiculous, perhaps you can still enjoy the sparkly lights, the seasonal music, and time off work.  I know us Christians have not earned it but perhaps consider giving us the gift of non-mockery anyway (or at least refrain from spiteful mockery.  A little light hearted mockery is fun and probably good for us.)  

May you have a deeply meaningful or lightly festive holiday, whatever suits you best.

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