Many shops are still open on Christmas Day, and stampeding throngs are buying up everything in sight.
But there’s anticipatory weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in hell, where Mammon lives. For Christmas sales will sooner or later end.
There will be other sales, numerous other opportunities to inject new energy into the devout worship of Mammon. But no sale is quite like a Christmas sale.
So hurry! The chance of a lifetime! Discounts on everything! Today and Boxing Day! Including, and this is the best part, a 100 per cent reduction on the meaning of Christmas.
Churches stay open too, for old times’ sake, but their traffic is a trickle compared to the mighty torrent in Oxford Street. Some churches have found a solution: eliminating God from their liturgy and joyously advertising an ingenious marketing ploy.
This is the discount to end all discounts: Come and have a good time! Take the weight off your feet, blistered by sprints from shop to shop. No charge! You won’t have to ponder, repent, worship, even listen to those words no one uses anymore.
Come in, belt out some songs in a Karaoke sing-along, kiss whomever you’re sitting next to (they may be ‘well tasty’, you never know your luck) – and then off you go again, pounding the pavements in search of the real deal.
Even the cultured atheists among my friends are aghast. Perceptive people, they sense that this rampant materialism runs so contrary to our cultural, social and spiritual tradition that it’ll eventually spell a disaster.
The till, they acknowledge, is a poor substitute for the collection box. We must take Christianity seriously, even if no clever people can take Christ seriously. That way we can dump the outdated superstition while keeping all the good things: social cohesion, morality, spiritual content to our lives.
The agricultural equivalent of their craving would to be sever the roots of an apple tree while still hoping to enjoy the apples. Nature doesn’t work that way. Neither does life.
Christianity was able to provide such good things as social cohesion, morality and spiritual content to our lives, while creating the greatest culture the world has ever known, not because it was a clever way of keeping the masses in check. It was able to do so because it’s true. Or at least because most people believed it was.
Taking Christ out of Christianity will have the same effect on the religion as taking Christianity out of life will have on society: both will first degenerate and then die.
Unless my cultured friends believe that Christmas is the day on which God was incarnated to redeem our sins, Christianity won’t do them any good. Nor will it do any good to a society compulsively obsessed with conspicuous consumption.
A society obsessed with consumption will become consumptive. And no palliative treatment for this disease exists.
Cultured people even wish one another a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year – prosperous, not virtuous or spiritual. They don’t even sense a contradiction there, but then their minds knock off for as long as it takes my atheist friends to ponder such subjects.
Christ didn’t come into the world 2016 years ago to make us prosperous. He came to die for our sins, thereby making us good enough to be saved. Hence our popular greeting is an oxymoron or, in musical terms, a jarring, cacophonous discordance.
Oh, I know my atheist friends are too clever to believe any such superstitious nonsense. This isn’t what clever people believe.
They believe that a few molecules created themselves out of nothing in some primordial soup and then – chaotically, totally at random – came together in a larger entity called matter and decided to live according to rational laws.
Ex nihilo nihil fit? Nonsense. Of course something can bloody well come out of nothing, say my clever friends (they may not actually say it, but that’s the only thing their atheism can imply).
And that something is perfectly capable of organising itself – no outside help needed, thank you very much – according not only to rational natural laws but also according to aesthetic and moral ones. In due course, matter develops an irresistible urge to build cathedrals and write the music sung inside.
My cultured friends admire the architecture of the cathedrals; they love to listen to the music and even to play it. Sensitive souls, they detect the presence of divine reason behind these, but they can’t identify it as such.
As far as they’re concerned, all those nice things began with a random, purposeless physical event. Yes, the world functions according to universal, rational laws. But that, to my clever friends, somehow doesn’t have to presuppose the existence of a rational law-giver. Those things just happen, best not to think about it.
Those of us who do think about it must pray for those who don’t. For by denying divine intelligence they discount their own. If they don’t reconsider, eventually the discounted commodity will have to be written off altogether.
The only alternative is to put Christ back into Christmas – even if this means a smaller and less frantic traffic in the High Street.
2 thoughts on “Selling out Christmas”
Happy Christmas Alexander!
As a Christian who works in advertising, as I believe you once did, I would love to hear your thoughts about how you reconciled your faith with your profession. I know we can honour God through faithful service in almost any job, however I can’t help but feel that by doing so I’m contributing to the consumption culture you refer to.