Chris Moerdyk

Conservative Christians should come to terms with commercial Christmasses

2012-12-24 07:00

Chris Moerdyk

It has become entirely predictable that in the weeks before and following Christmas every year there is a lot of complaining from conservative Christians about the crass commercialisation of Christmas. 

While it is perfectly natural to react with more than mild irritation at the way Christmas has been turned from a holy day into a profit-motivated holiday, I often wonder what Christ would have done had he walked out of the temple from which he turfed all those money-lenders two millennia ago, straight into this modern world of ours to see what a fiasco mankind was making of his birthday.

Would he have shaken his head with despair at the sight of all those non-Christian shopkeepers decking their stores with holly, mistletoe and fake snow and exhorting their customers to  celebrate the birth of Christ by handing out soap-on-a-rope and saucy underwear to their loved ones?

What would he have thought about all those people, who had never seen the inside of a church nor allowed His name to enter their frames of reference other than as a blasphemous swear-word.  And all their rushing round for weeks before Christmas spending absolute fortunes on lavish gifts and slavish self-indulgence?

And what about those companies sending Christmas gifts to customers for the sole purpose of securing future business with not an iota of goodwill and peace on earth?

Just how would He react to hearing the plaintive cry about putting Christ back into Christmas drowned about by the cacophony of commercialism?

Frankly, I don't think He would be in the least bit angry.

Because there are two ways of looking at Christmas abuse. The first is to let human nature take its course and succumb to the temptation for we Christians to rally against all those profiteering people muscling in on OUR  territory.  

The other is to adopt the only Christian option available.  And that is to take as an enormous compliment the fact that so many millions of people who don't give Christ a single thought from one day to the next, nevertheless choose to celebrate His birthday. Admittedly all for completely the wrong reason but isn't that better than taking no notice at all? 

With so many Christian churches under attack these days  is it not encouraging to see once a year the majority of the world's population joining together to create what must be the greatest religious celebration on earth?

Even if it for all the wrong reasons?

And,  much as it might stick in the conservative Christian craw to admit it,  there is another positive aspect to the commercialisation of Christmas. Every year billions upon billions of Rands are spent on Christmas – again, mostly for all the wrong reasons.

But,  just think about how much employment that creates.  Millions of otherwise poverty stricken and jobless people have gainful employment as a direct result of the commercialisation of Christmas and are able to support their families.

So, perhaps putting Christ back in to Christmas does not mean campaigning against  shopkeepers and greedy corporations but celebrating the true miracle of the contribution this greatest of all feast days makes toward poverty relief?

It is, I admit an enormously thorny question. Could it be at all possible that Christ loves everyone on earth so much he condones so vast and hurtful and abuse of His birthday in the interests of feeding the poor and clothing the naked? Logically, one has to admit that it makes sense from a purely Christian perspective.

Which in turn makes one wonder if material aspiration does not perhaps fall into the same category.  Is mankind's obsession with possessions, wealth,  fashion, food and exotic lifestyles,  completely bad and contrary to the very ethos of most religions?

Could it possibly be that it is only the rich man who hoards his money who will find it harder to enter heaven than pass through the eye of a needle?  And that rich people who spend their money lavishly are actually doing good in the world?

Now, that's a million dollar question for you.  All I know is that if there were no BMW's or Ferraris or holidays on Mauritius or the ski slopes of the world,  the level of employment and poverty around the globe would be a thousand times worse than it is right now.

So, while it is unquestionably the duty of all Christians to put Christ back into Christmas,   perhaps we should do so without resorting to fanaticism or blind obsession lest we inadvertently condemn millions of our less fortunate fellow beings to death by depriving them of their jobs.                       

The chips on all those holier than thou conservative Christian shoulders are actually dangerous weapons of mass destruction.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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