Merry Commercialism

Merry Commercialism

I’m going out on a Christmas tree limb to finally say something that’s been on my mind for a few years. I’m well aware I’m not going to be able to put this out there without offending someone; probably everyone. Those who know me won’t be surprised by this.

RE: The War on Christmas

I heard about twenty seconds of a talk show on a local religious radio station. The hosts were talking about the vast array of tree ornaments in any given store. “Aisles and aisles” of ornaments, and the majority of them secular. Oh, my! Their voices were hushed and serious; the lady sounded as if she was on the edge of tears. It was a travesty; Snoopy, baseball, elves, Santa…shocking.

Thirty years ago the Christian community started pushing back against the rampant commercialism that consumes this season. “The Reason For the Season” buttons became popular. The years went by and the rhyme moved on to shirts, cards, and pens, stationary and—yes—tree ornaments. All lovingly manufactured, packaged and sold in your local religious book store. Next to the Bibles, inspirational books and, oh yes, nativity scenes

Part of the Christmas tradition is gift-giving; after all, didn’t the three Wise Men bring gifts for the baby Jesus? And they weren’t stingy. Rare spices and gold. They knew the art of gift-giving. So why do some religious people get all bent out of shape over commercialism during the holiday season, but spend hundreds of dollars, all year round, on bibles, tracts, CDs, DVDs, and every other conceivable item that could possibly be marketed to zealous believers

Oh, I’m sorry; you thought I had an answer? I don’t. Not even after having been one of those zealous believers for many years. Well, wait, I do have an answer…dare I say it…hypocrisy? Tell me the truth, why did Jesus take a whip and flog the money changers right out of the Temple courtyard? Because those men were putting a price on God’s redemption. He said “You’ve turned my father’s house into a den of thieves.” Strong words and kind of a scary scene from someone we’ve been taught was ‘meek and mild’, a gentle soul.

Fast forward to today’s popular preachers and speakers. They come as guest speakers at the church. But before they speak, they’ve set up tables at the back of the sanctuary with books and CDs and DVDs. And their sermons end with, “You can buy my book today; it will share the secrets of prosperity for God’s people.” Or something like that. Well, he certainly found his secret for prosperity.

So in the face of this rampant religious commercialism, which Christians’ own Savior condemned, we secular (evil) folk are undermining the Word and blaspheming the Savior by commercializing the commemoration of His birth. It’s a plot to turn the eyes and hearts of the world away from God by usurping his holy holiday. Really? (Hmm…Could it be Saataannn??)

I think we ought to be thanking Macy’s every Christmas season. They saw an opportunity and they seized it. (Carpe dinero).It was pure commercialism at its most honest and its most effectiveness. Effective how? Macy’s Christmas commercialism helped give birth to the idea that the Winter Solstice does not belong to Christians alone. There are too many holy days honoring too many deities/avatars/bodhisattvas in too many religions and philosophies for December 25th to belong to Jesus alone.

In buying special things for our loved ones, we are celebrating a tradition every bit as legitimate as that of the Christians, because we recognize that family and friends are valuable, vital influences in our lives. We are emulating the Magi; bringing gifts to honor One whom they recognized as one of those avatars.

The act of giving a gift has traditionally been of a humble nature. Giving weaves a greater bond of love, respect and humility between human beings than preaching to them about Hell and the War on Christmas. In today’s society, the sacrifice of cash in order to bring another person joy is the purest practice of commercialism. Commercialism has been an important force in protection against an all-out takeover of the month of December by the over-zealous believers.

Of course you won’t ever turn the conviction of the true believer. And I’m not sure I really, really want to…because it’s just so damned much fun watching the real zealots making asses of themselves.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a great holiday sale.

RE: Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays or The War on Christmas Part Two

RE: Merry Christmas v. Happy Holidays

Or

The War on Christmas Part Two

Here we are, it’s that time of year again. I swear, some people will latch on to anything if it’ll let them start an argument while looking like an ass the whole time.

Believe me, I know, because I was one of them; ‘crazy for Jesus’ sake’.

I digress. Another burr under the Christians’ butts is “Happy Holidays” v. “Merry Christmas”. It is closely related to “The Reason for the Season”. This burr started getting spiny about three years ago. Now it’s really in your face.

“It’s NOT ‘Happy Holidays’, it’s Merry Christmas! Share if you agree!”

Loud and clear on your Facebook page.

Come on, now. When will these people of the Christian faith realize they are acting crazy, not to mention disrespectfully, prejudicially, and self-centered? I must ask you, my Christian friends (and some not so friendly): WWJD?? THINK, PEOPLE!

Those who insist you MUST say “Merry Christmas” are really saying, “We don’t respect you or your faith, since you’re not like US. And, of course, because you’re going to Hell, since we all know that everyone who doesn’t agree with US is going to Hell. Even if you’ve got that cool candelabra and those fabulous, colorful clothes.”

The debate of “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas” is carried out loudly and obnoxiously, defensively and with much emphasis on the victimization and disrespect of Christians in order to cover up the fact that the debate itself is disrespectful and self-centered. It’s a choice between being confrontational and being tolerant.

I use both. If I know the person I’m greeting is not Christian, I use Happy Holidays. If I’m greeted with “Merry Christmas”, I respond in kind. It’s about respect, dignity and tolerance.

Happy Holidays includes ALL holidays…such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. There are more than just Christians sharing this time of year with celebration, spiritual hope and comfort, and family gatherings. Why would you deliberately say “Merry Christmas” to a person you know to be Jewish, or Muslim, or so on? Don’t you think Merry Christmas (while I don’t object to saying it and always return it when someone shares Christmas wishes) only allows people to recognize the Christian faith, and refuses to at least respect other people’s beliefs?

This is not a war on Christmas; it’s basic human respect.

First You Forgive

First You Forgive
The moon peeks through the branches of a hundred-year-old cottonwood tree near Cairo, NE
 

First you forgive. Three words and the world is balanced again on its rails…then again…

“I forgive you. I forgive it all.” It’s not only for what she’s done. It’s not only for what’s in the past. Saying the words; even truly meaning them; that’s the easy part. Because those three words are not magic. They don’t protect you from what’s coming. And, sister, you’d better believe, it isn’t over. It isn’t ever over.

Because now that you’ve forgiven, you realize part of that forgiveness is realizing you can’t change her. Not only that, you can’t change her dreams; her wants and needs. Now you have to accept her as she is; as she’s always been outside your fantasies and your own wishes and hopes. Now you realize you might not be her fantasy. Certainly if you were, none of this would be happening. There wouldn’t be a smoking hole where your heart used to be, and you wouldn’t be waking up every morning wondering how you managed to wander into a wilderness where there are no markers, no road signs; not even a cattle trail to follow.

And this is where the air in your lungs takes on an extra fifty pounds, and the dust gets thick in your throat. Your canteen’s almost empty and there are no rest stops on the horizon. And still you have to go on, you have to take one more step, because this could be it; this could be the breakthrough where your compass finds North. God, please; you don’t even need a traffic sign or a fresh wind; just a true North reading to help you out of this desert basin. But it doesn’t come; no wind, no mystical guide, no water hole, no magnetic realignment. And you realize the worst joke is the one you’ve played on yourself. You just got the punch line, and knocked yourself out.

Because you’ve driven yourself here; driven the vehicle until the radiator’s dry and the tires are bald. You jumped into the car full of delusions and misunderstandings and wishful thinking and drove it into the ground following a mirage into a Death Valley of the heart. The oil light was flashing, the fuel gauge was dinging and you heard the death-percussion of six pistons destroying six cylinders, but you kept going; believing it was all going to work out; and now there’s no more give in this old car.

So here you are. You’ve forgiven, but you haven’t changed. True forgiveness means you’re not going to keep expecting what she can’t or won’t give. The only way out of this desert is to make peace with what she can.

Desert places are big. You can’t just stroll out of one. And whether you walk out with her, or without her, it’s still your journey. It’s your life to save or lose. If she’ll come with you—oh Gods, that would be more than you could hope for. But if she’s found her own way, you still have to live. Somewhere, you’ll have to find the water to sustain you, the shelter to keep from being burned. You have to believe somehow you’ll find green fields again; a river and some old cottonwood trees. Maybe you’ll even find someone, someday, to share it.

You got here one step, one mile at a time. You destroyed your ride in your desperate attempt to hide from the truth. Now you have to find your way home the same way you got here, except if you’re going to survive, you have to turn away from the mirage. There are no guarantees you’ll make it. Even if you do, it won’t be the same home, and you certainly won’t be the same. But if you begin the journey well, you have a good chance. First, you forgive.

Challenging my writing

I’ve started experimenting with one-sentence vignettes, wanting to stretch myself and find the shortest bit of writing where I can effectively express wit, description, one-sided dialogue. I haven’t challenged myself enough in my writing; I think this is a good place to start. I’m also going to go back to 6 Sentences, which also was a strong challenge in my writing. I’ll let you know how I think I’m doing; and you can let me know how you think I’m doing, too,