I am more than a little heart-sick at the lessening of faith and Christianity in our time and society, America in the 21st Century. We are so privileged in the West that it seems we often don’t know how to be Christians without manufacturing a war on something we enjoy or pretending to be persecuted. It lessens our witness, it lessens our joy and it lessens our faith.
Did you grow up singing the great old ditty I Have Decided to Follow Jesus? I did… and there’s that other verse, though none go with me, still I will follow. But somewhere along the way that refrain has become though none go with me, geez will I tantrum! We tantrum because we don’t get to tell others how to greet people in the holidays, we can’t always force people to listen to our praying in public, and in fact, some of our neighbors aren’t Christians at all! And we haven’t the maturity to deal with it.
When we cry our crocodile tears over Starbucks cups, we lessen our faith. When we deny others their civil liberties, like marriage, we lessen our faith. When we slander our Muslim neighbors for their religion, we lessen our faith. When we manufacture a war on our faith to bolster slipping or apathetic morale and make a political gain, we have lessened our faith and opted for a something completely other than faith.
Christians have begun the slow death of the meaning of Christmas by making it a season of self-centeredness and creating controversy where there should be joy and peace. We welcome the Prince of Peace by being contentious, angry and divisive. How have we so completely lost the message of humility in the birth narrative of our King? How have we so lost the grace with which he responded as he was both welcomed and rejected in his own life? How have we forgotten that Jesus didn’t forge a kingdom or legacy on any blood or suffering but his own?
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Preach it, Peter. I’d like to advocate a season of love this year, when we rid ourselves of all the envy over other people’s headlines, when we rid ourselves of malice toward people who don’t think or live just like us, when we grow up a bit and bring some meaning back to the faith we profess to follow so that our behavior is admirable and points toward the grace of God.
Imagine it with me… we’re taking about a whole season of:
~ Christians simply drinking their coffee and enjoying it,
~ Christians not posting slanderous meme’s and sharing
hateful stuff on social media that slanders and demeans
~ Christians not manufacturing a war on a holiday that
is about to drive our national consumerism into the usual
frenzy of overindulgence and debt, and
~ Christians growing out of their spiritual baby years and
into at least a form of spiritual adolescence in which they
learn to serve the world and their neighbors with the love
and selflessness shown by their Christ.
We can do this! In fact, the very meaning of our Christianity depends on it. Our witness depends on it. Our growth depends on it. And yes… I believe our faith depends on it.
SPOILER ALERT! I might ruin this song for you forever, or at least be accused of trying. If that would be the end of your world, please don’t read any further.
I know it’s an endearing moment in Elf and every duet that has ever existed has covered it, some much better than others. But is the song Baby It’s Cold Outside a bit of a guilty pleasure for anyone besides me? (the lyrics)
Christmas is a storied holiday, rich with various narratives. We of course have the birth narrative of Christ, but not satisfied with that, we invent Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch and little sidelines for the Christ story like the Little Drummer Boy. Will Farrell’s Elf is one of my favorites and a newer addition to the fun Christmas story lineup.
But is the story of Baby It’s Cold Outside really one that I want my kids humming the tune to? It’s a story of a guy using weather, booze and shmooze to further his sexual conquests with a lady friend. Really.
I know the songwriter wrote it and debuted it with his wife… and maybe it’s cutesy, innocent fun when they sang it. But I can’t help but cringe when I hear the line, “What’s the sense in hurting my pride?” What? What!? Because a man’s pride is in how many women he can seduce?
And I’m not just being an anti-sex prude here. I like sex. Really. I’m talking about a song that blithely objectifies a woman into a sexual object to be manipulated. Why do we dig on this song so much? Other than the catchy tune, it should make us sorta mad that it celebrates the use of use of booze and bad weather to maneuver a woman into that position. It also reinforces the old myth that when a woman says “no” she really means “yes,” so the guy just needs to go for it. Or at least he needs to pour her another drink, and another, and another until the answer magically becomes “yes.”
Is the song irredeemable? No, it’s probably not. It shamelessly uses the word “swell,” so it at least has that going for it. The ending is almost totally open… she could still escape! I just think that of all the Christmas stories out there, this is not the one that I want stuck in my head. But with that masterfully written tune and lyrical banter, it’s going to be stuck in there forever.