Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Does Christianity live in a shopping mall?
Christmas is in our religion (by 'our' I mean all the different flavors of Christianity) the day that Jesus was born in a very humble shack, in a stable actually, warmed by the breath of the animals, lighted by the star, and showered by the magicians presents. All in modesty, humbleness, religious ecstasy, family love, quietness, with the bright light of a solitary star intruding the darkness of the night.
Now tell me, where do all these Christmasy symbols find their place in 'our' Christmas? I would think that the Japanese celebrating their fashion-victimness with yet another shopping spree, labeling it 'Christmas shopping' is alright. After all, they are not Christian.
Yet for us, Christians, the period around Christmas holidays, is usually the period where most depression attacks are registered and would not be surprised if it was the time where most suicides are recorded in Norway.
The spirit of Christmas commands from us all to be jolly, happy, surrounded by at least three kids that will open their presents on christmas day, an extended family where there are at least 4-5 couples with 4-5 offsprings each, mothers-in-law are not ball breakers, a chalet up on the mountain with a huge fireplace, a golden retriever that will sit quietly by the fireplace the entire evening (next to it without suffocating) and its sole movement will be to occasionally lick someone or wave the tail (the rest of the time it does not move, does not dirt, does not shed). In addition, there is a huge 4x4 SUV in the chalet garage, everybody is a wonderful skier and nobody gets chopped lips and face from the freaking cold.
I think this type of Christmas exists only in commercials. The depressions hit because we mistake the 'commercial type-Christmas' with 'commercial Christmas'. Unfortunately, most recently we can not have the money to buy the presents. And lately the kids are asking play station III or super nintendos - not just a fire brigade or a doll from Santa.
The problem is that at times like this, where Santa has run out of money, it is depressing to make a kid sad. A present needs to be bought. At all costs. Or the parents need to spill the beans: Santa is not real!!! (I think that revelation alone explains the anger of 15-year old Athenians...)
The conclusion is that on a period of financial crisis, Christmas period is harsh on most people. Harsh because most of us will fail to deliver as our role promises. Or at least the delivery will not be as great as it was previous years. Because there is so deeply routed in our westernized soul that we can get by our wrongdoings all year long as long as we deliver our Santa promise. Hence the real legacy of Christmas is lost and misunderstood.
In order for one to be happy, one must have a 4-member family, a mountain house, an SUV, a six digit bank account, patience in light installation and holiday decoration, shouting wealth, exhibition, festive spirit, hedonism etc. None of these qualities have anything to do with Christmas. On the contrary, Christmas, the birth of Christ, was the promise of a hope that God would liberate humans from all these musts and should dos, all these societal directives that all they serve for is to discriminate against the poor, the single and the different. Jesus was born for all, quietly, in his small shack, warmed by the breath of moving animals and showered by the symbolic gifts of the three magicians that came to pay their respects.
No SUVs, no trees, no golden lights, no santas, no fireplace, no fiestas.
My question now is: Why on earth do all these new shopping malls mushroom up in the period that most people get depressed when passing in front of a shop? Christmas is deprived of the true miracle of Genesis and the hope that His birth represented. The devil is taking over. Unlike what most people think, modern devil is disguised in small square plastic cards, especially active in large, bright, luxurious, plentiful, colorful, christmas decorated, over-advertised, window-lacking shopping malls.
PS: Frankly, thinking about it, X-mas is more a single than a family holiday (single folks flats do not have the sparkle, ribbons, trees, lights, etc of family homes during xmas)