“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hap, Happiest Time of the Year!

Here we go; another Christmas season... I dread the fact that I will have to fight the crowds to pick up ANYTHING during this time of year. However, this is not a diatribe about the consumerism that has poisoned our land; that is old news and been discussed by many who are more capable than I, this is much more a statement about the Christians who bemoan the fact that Christmas has lost all meaning because of the evil surface-dwellers (oh, sorry, I meant the reprobate and lost ones).

We sit around on our collective, and often self-righteous, duffs, complaining about the school not letting our children bring in Christmas cookies with angels on them, or some other tripe, and all the while, we participate in the world's denigration of Christ during this season.

Oh yes, we don't use the dreaded "X" in our Christmas (i.e. Xmas, Xians, etc) but we participate in every other way. Let me provide some examples:

Last night I went to a local big box Christian store, looking for, of all things, some decent Christian literature to purchase for a friend. I had in mind Francis Turretin's 'Institutes of Elenctic Theology", and this store actually does have a fair selection of Reformed books.

Well, they didn't have the book, and the girl behind the counter, (why can't they actually hire at least ONE person who knows ANYTHING about theology?), actually laughed, and asked if I made up the word Elenctic. I admit it is a bit unusual, but just the fact that she would ask that is interesting, considering I did not appear to be joking... As a complete aside, maybe one day I will recommend that this store get a dress code; half of the girls (and I do mean girls, not women) working there had JUST ENOUGH clothing on to ALMOST cover them.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent, where was I? Oh yes, I went to the store to pick up literature, and while they did not have the book I was looking for, they did have some other fairly decent selections. I picked out a few, and headed to the checkout counter. Now, you must understand that I almost NEVER go anywhere in this store outside of the front door >>>>> Book section >>>>>>> checkout counter. However, my wife was with me and she had wandered into sections completely unknown to me. I was shocked by what I found....

Well, I must admit that I was not shocked by what first greeted my eyes; rows and rows of 'Purpose-Driven' junk; books, journals, pens, coffee cups etc., followed by rows of Osteenian junk, and then the onslaught of Narnia materials, NONE of which have anything to do with the story of Narnia (i.e. stuffed Aslan dolls etc.).

But once I had waded through that, the cornucopia of bad taste that assaulted me was unexpected, (maybe I should get out more!).

There were crosses EVERYWHERE; one entire corner of the store was crosses from top to bottom; in every shape and decor that you could imagine. I was amazed at the tawdry and shameful way that this was done. The crosses were nothing more than merchandise to be stacked in a corner. And there was no restraint on bad taste, some of the crosses were hideous in color and design! This instrument through which our Savior paid the price for our sins is now a decorative item to be displayed like so much canned tuna fish!

Then I came across the fish and dove, (Calvary Chapel dove), tambourines... Reeling from this I scrambled into the next aisle which had GIFT BOXES of tracts; and not just any tracts, but tracts for specific people; i.e. tracts for women, tracts for men, tracts for midgets who have halitosis! All priced for Christmas!

I determined (not in a Norm Geisler way, but in an active way) to locate my wife and escape. I found her milling amongst the 'Testamints' and PEZ dispensers, (all attractively adorned with the head of some saint), and we made for the door. That was when I discovered the Biblezine's. Now, I knew of these from many who posted about them on the web, i.e. Pyromaniac, and Steve Camp, so I was not in the dark, but what I was not prepared for was the large SELECTION of these. Wow...

Finally, we were safely headed out the door when I ran across the Christmas sale on, and I am not kidding, The Beverly Hillbillies Bible Studies. Sorry, I had to look; I mean, I watched the BH's when I was a youngster, but for the life of me I could not figure out how Jethro and Jeb would fit into a study of God's Word! I flipped through the book and found the most inane junk that I have ever read regarding the study of God's Word. An example, which is not a quote, but from my remembrance: "When have you given something up like Jeb?" AAARRRGGGHHH!

So, what does all this have to do with anything? Am I telling anyone anything they don't know? Probably not, but next time you are decrying the fact that the lost world has denigrated Christmas to a 'Winter holiday', I want you to look through your purchases and see how many pieces of trviviality that you have bought. I mean, how are we displaying the incomprehensible love of God through the advent of the Savior by purchasing what my lost friends call 'Jesus junk'.

What we are doing by being those types of undiscerning consumers, is lining the pocket of businesses that could care less about Christ, even so-called 'Christian' businesses, such as Nelson Publishing. And we are trivializing the greatest event, outside of the Cross, that ever occurred.

As you pick up a cheap cross to display on your endtable, around your neck, or even in your car, let these words ring in your head:

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

As you buy your Veggie Tales Nativity Scene please remember these words:

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
triumph o'er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day's return,
till thy mercy's beams I see;
till they inward light impart,
cheer my eyes and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine;
pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
fill me, Radiancy divine,
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.

I know that many disagree with me, and that is their right, but if you are going to pursue consumerism, please don't attach the name of the Savior to it. Maybe this year, instead of buying some junk, you could sit down with your children and tell them the wonderous story of the advent of the Son of God...

I have a final idea: Rather than buy junk, how about buying a REAL Bible for someone? Or how about purchasing some real literature? Or maybe, just maybe, how about putting an extra nickel into the Salvation Army bucket and let the PEZ dispenser be!


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Consumerism is fine by me. Good for the economy.

People do complain a bit too much. But I am not a big Christmas fan.

Libbie said...

Pez dispensers with saints heads on?
Wait, I'm having a spiritual moment - is this to remind us of the suffering of so many christians throughout history, when unspeakable things where done to them, but at the heart of it all is something sweet?

No? Just plastic and e-numbers, then?

Ray said...

Sorry Libbie -- I think it is just plastic and junk...

Actually I didn;t even go into the myriad things that were truly there...

Ryan said...

Great as always Ray.
I assume the store you visited was Mardel, the Wal-Mart of Christianity. I have always been confused by their "self-help" section.

Ray said...

I actually posted something about self-help in a Christian store a while back... :-)

Yes, the ultimate big-box Christian store. To be fair, they actually do have a fair selection of books, however the rest of the stuff; oh boy!

Charles North said...

Ray-Ray. Wow that was great. I laughed because I could see your face as if you were telling this in person. I can't help but agree with the absolute shallowness of "putting faith on display." I can't tell you how many times I've been run off the road by SUVs with Jesus-fish on them while out bike riding.

Ray said...

The saddest part is that many people allow the 'stuff' to define their Christianity instead of being a living testimony to God's grace; allowing their life to speak of Christ, and not their SUV!

Tom said...

Good post Ray. I visited a Catholic bookstore once and the difference between it and most evangelical stores was striking. The atmosphere just seemed more reflective. There was also no blatant consumerism and a lot of books on spirituality and theology (though I heartily disagree with their viewpoint!).