In the beginning was a Starbucks coffee cup with snowflakes on it. Then the snowflakes went away, and all hell broke loose.
And so it began...the annual charade of the 'war' on Christmas, where every year Christians who otherwise spend the rest of their year not terribly concerned about hard calling of the Christian life find something trite in our secular culture to get their little angel feathers all ruffled up over. This year, of course, it's Starbucks and their little red cup, because clearly a cup without snowflakes or reindeer is a plain affront to Christians everywhere. We all know that snowflakes and reindeer are clear biblical imagery used for millennia to celebrate the birth of Christ.
This just in, Christian friends. Starbucks is a secular business. They exist to provide a product, and they do so quite well--after all, they get you to pay for a fancy cup of coffee what many us pay for nearly an entire pound. You should have no expectation of them to proclaim our Christian faith any more than a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Shaman, Satanist, or (fill in the blank) should. Please don't start of the whole American Christian heritage bit. It's not terribly accurate, and it's really embarrassing when you go there.
John Pavlovitz shared some great thoughts on the war that we would all do well to read and ponder. You should read his entire post, but the following especially struck a chord with me:
To those who’ve been paying attention for the past few decades, American Christianity has become more politicized and commercialized than Jesus would ever have desired. It’s been married off to the religious Right, packaged for easy megachurch franchising, and used as a selling tool by Country Music artists and NFL players and Presidential candidates. It’s often as reflective of the consumer corporate culture as any other entity despite our claims otherwise...
These manufactured seasonal offenses offer a convenient distraction for we who have become complacent and comfortable in our affluent, cozy religion. They generate the kind of cheap urgency we need to take a yearly self-righteous stand, filling us with the easy high of temporary pious outrage. After a brief crusade against the tyranny of some imaginary heathen horde, we can then return to the regularly scheduled yuletide fray with an inflated sense of moral fortitude, confident that we have defended the faith.
Thinking big picture for a minute, beyond the myopia of our American 'affluent, cozy' Christianity...I'm pretty sure that most of our brothers and sisters in faith around the world not only couldn't care less about Starbucks' cup design but probably can't even understand all the nonsense. I'm thinking especially about:
- Christian living under ISIS' threat of horrendous execution for their faith
- the homeless living on the steps of a church somewhere, dependent solely upon the compassion of strangers for food
- the imprisoned writer facing a life sentence in unimaginable conditions for exposing government corruption in his country
- the orphaned child who has never known the love of a family
We need a big dose of reality, folks. The kingdom of God will come with or without decorations on a coffee cup. Let's spend less energy on that silliness and more on the work Christ called us to do.