Guest / Limited Access /

(* Click here for the beginning page of this article.)

The $100 Christmas
If we in religious communities are going to do anything about it, we have to recognize just how strong the consumerist ethos is. It has taken root in all of us, basically unchallenged. Fertilized by a million commercials, it has grown into what we call a wolf tree where I live, a tree whose canopy spreads so wide that it blots out the sun, that it blots out the quiet word of God. Churches, obviously, do not have the power to compete head-on, and few of us junkies are ready to go cold turkey. But increasingly there are signs that people are asking deep questions: "Isn't there something more than this?" And the churches can help build this momentum in important ways, beginning with those things it has the most psychological control over.

Chief on this list is the celebration of Christmas, not only the most beloved of church holidays, but also the most powerful celebration of consumerism. Just how powerful can be judged from the fact that it has become a major gift-giving holiday in Japan, despite the conspicuous lack of Christians there. And it is not entirely well-understood. A few years ago, in Kyoto, one department store filled its center window with an enormous effigy of a crucified Santa Claus.

Christmas is a school for consumerism—in it we learn to equate delight with materialism. We celebrate the birth of One who told us to give everything to the poor by giving each other motorized tie racks.

A few years ago, with a couple of friends, I launched a campaign in our Methodist conference in the Northeast for "Hundred Dollar Holidays," recommending that families try to spend no more than a hundred dollars on Christmas.

When we began, we were very long-faced, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedSaved from Hate: An Interview with Mark Phelps, Son of Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Sr.
Saved from Hate: An Interview with Mark Phelps, Son of Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Sr.
Mark Phelps graciously shared a bit of his story with me over the last couple of weeks.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickYou Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
You Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
It's not a travel guide. And Colton Burpo isn't the first Christian to have an ecstatic experience.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisDecember 9 December 9

In the Magazine

December 9, 1996

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.