Are you ready for the cries from right-wing Christians about the war on Christmas? It happens every year, and we ought not be surprised by it. One by one, conservative pundits bring forward scandalous stories about retail establishments that substitute the term "happy holidays" for "Merry Christmas," and instruct us to prime our outrage in like fashion.
Even more oddly, it seems they are decrying a war on the holidays in aggregate, since we have already been informed by them that the President has waged war against Thanksgiving by omitting a reference to God in the video version of his Thanksgiving Day address; additionally, they dutifully declaimed schools that eliminated Halloween celebrations.
In any case, to my mind, the punditocracy is identifying precisely the wrong activity as the "War on Christmas." It is not big box stores or shopping malls that are insufficiently resorting to explicitly Christmas greetings (and Christmas decorating, and Christmas music playing, and targeted Christmas selling) that are tearing down the Christian values of the country. The soldiers of the war on Christmas are not secular humanists who might prefer no mention of the religiosity, or pluralists who wish to expand our merriment by extending our religious referencing to include other religions. No. In fact, the truth is precisely the opposite. The soldiers detonating their munitions against the integrity of Christmas are the CEOs who instruct retail line staff to wish shoppers a "Merry Christmas." The war on Christmas, if we must identify one, is waged every time a retail establishment exploits the religious holiday in order to transform the pigment of its financial statements from "red" to "Merry-Christmas-black."
The sovereign potency of transnational corporations to inflict suffering around the globe, and disguise it under the cloak of a veneer of immediate gratification, is a force of ruin inflicted on our world. The tyrannical reign of these corporations inhabits not just our economies, but also our minds and our moral imaginations: we are brainwashed by their subtle and gross manipulations into acquiescing to their totalitarian demands that we let fear and frustration rule our lives. Our fears and frustrations can be relieved, we are told, only by the consumption of their products. In part, it is this demonic and authoritarian structure against which the 99% Occupy Movement is mobilizing. Too long has the profit motive occupied Christmas. Perhaps it is time for Christians to Occupy Christmas.
It is inconceivable that Christ would approve of the shopping, consuming, and profit imperatives. The notion of kenosis, the self-emptying, self-sacrificing, total giving up of every privilege for the sake of the other is what the Apostle Paul says of Christ (Phil 2:7). This is the opposite of a corrupt consumption-ethic that strives incessantly to fill our vacant yearning with things. And the protest that the Christmas Consumption Season is at its core about generosity rings false in the context of the vicious competition and violence exhibited by consumers consumed by their consumptiveness on Black Friday; it rings false in light of the overwhelming profit imperative imposed by corporate greed as Black Friday bleeds into Thanksgiving Thursday (for more, see Phillipe Copeland's "Tis the Season to Consume").
It is the unholy elevation of the vices of greed and gluttony, the reformation of these formerly deadly sins, to the status of incontrovertible virtues that reduces so-called Christian values to a laughingstock. Jesus was unambiguous: no one can serve two masters (Luke 16:13). Every time we link the life and teachings of Christ to the perpetuation of the Currency Cult, we belie our true allegiance to the true God of America, whose name is Money.
So, is it possible for us to Occupy Christmas? What would it look like if we were to Occupy Christmas? What do you think?
Image taken by, and sole property of, Paul Joseph Greene .