With the craziness of consumerism reaching a fever pitch just before Christmas, it is time for the obligatory respite to complain about it. Indeed there is very little that is redeeming in the purchase of endless and unnecessary items for people who already no doubt have more than they need. Does anyone ever complain that there are just not enough trinkets to buy or trendy items to collect? Of course not, but there is plenty of complaining about not being able to please the voracious desires of family and friends who will be disappointed if they don't get the latest and greatest. Consider that complaint for a minute. Who actually thinks so little of their family and friends to accuse them of such shallow desires? That is the most pernicious element of consumerism, it leads us to actions that that run counter to what we most want to believe. We want to believe that the things that matter most are not things. We want to believe that our family and friends only need our love and care, yet we allow the demands of consumerism to believe that they just must have things as proof of our love.
So why don't we stop? Why don't we wake up and celebrate Christmas by simply doing the things that make us happy with friends and family? Why don't we give gifts to the one who is having the birthday? We could give presents to Jesus who said he would be with us in those who are sick and hungry and in prison. But we all know that our noblest intentions at this holy season will still not be realized. Perhaps consumerism is a form of demon possession. It certainly seems to have a power beyond our control. It also is a force that that is in direct opposition to the teaching of the one whose birthday we celebrate.
A documentary called, “What Would Jesus Buy” opens in theaters this week. It is filled with satirical humor and street theater presented by “Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping.” It will no doubt make many people laugh and no doubt think about the insanity of consumerism. Perhaps we need to laugh to keep us from crying. There is indeed a war on Christmas, and it isn't about not telling the story and singing the songs. It is about ignoring the story and not listening to the message. May this be the year and we all start to hear the message of love at the heart of the story. Instead of giving more things to “the person who has everything” let us bring our gifts to the manger by giving them to the least among us.