Chris Moerdyk

I’m all for the commercialisation of Christmas

2011-12-19 08:05

Chris Moerdyk

It has become entirely predictable that during the Christmas every year there is a lot of complaining from conservative Christians about the crass commercialisation of Christmas.

While I suppose 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 if he had 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 this so-called Christmas abuse. The first is to let human nature take its course and succumb to the temptation to rally against all those profiteering people muscling in on Christian territory.

The other is to look at the positive aspects to the commercialisation of Christmas. Every year billions upon billions of Rands are spent on Christmas - again, mostly for all the wrong reasons. So what?

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 massive contribution Christmas makes toward poverty relief?

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?

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 unemployment 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 try and put Christ back into Christmas,   perhaps they should do so without resorting to fanaticism or blind obsession lest they  inadvertently condemn millions of less fortunate fellow beings to death by depriving them of their jobs.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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