Category Archives: materialism

Christians For Trump Pt III

"See, not so short!"
“See, not so short!” said the short-fingered vulgarian

In the past month or so, I have written a couple of posts about Donald Trump’s appeal to evangelical Christians. And, guess what? I’m doing it again! I keep returning to this topic because I find it fascinating. Besides, I wouldn’t be a very good curmudgeon if I didn’t salivate at the idea of Christians following a narcissistic, money-hoarding billionaire with a xenophobic streak a mile wide.

One of things that makes The Donald’s campaign so interesting is that no matter what bat shit crazy offensiveness falls out of his face hole, his numbers go up. As I told you Monday, he was…, reluctant, to disavow endorsements from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. Now, you would think something like that would be political suicide. But, guess what happened on the next poll? If you said he picked up 8 percentage points from the previous one, you are correct. Holy shitballs.

Today, I had every intention of writing about Phyllis Schlafly, who endorsed Trump back in December as “the last hope for America“, and her latest brain fart (basically, she said that baseball was better back in the 40’s, before all those brown people started playing). But, that shit is out the window after last night’s Republican debate.

Before we dive into that cesspool, you’ll need a little background. When Spy magazine was still relatively new on the scene, they wanted to make a name for themselves. To do this, they started making fun of Trump because his well-documented inability to let a slight pass  was sure to get them some much-needed attention. They hit the jackpot in 1988 when they referred to him as a “short fingered vulgarian“. For some reason, this phrase gets under Trump’s skin worse than any other insult hurled at him. The only thing close is questioning his net worth.

Interestingly, it wasn’t being called a “vulgarian” (an unrefined person, especially one with newly acquired power or wealth) that upset Trump, it was the idea that his fingers aren’t “long and beautiful”. We know this because, in  2015, Spy founder (and current editor of Vanity Fair) Graydon Carter wrote that he still gets occasional notes from Trump with pictures of his hands circled in gold Sharpie, the use of which Jon Oliver says is “so quintessentially Donald Trump: something that gives the passing  appearance of wealth, but is actually just a cheap tool.”

Now, fast forward to Sunday, February 28th at Roanoke College in Virginia. During a rally there, candidate Marco Rubio took off the gloves and said, “I don’t understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5’2. Have you seen his hands? They’re like this. And you know what they say about men with small hands?” He paused for dramatic effect, then added, “You can’t trust them.” Damn, this is the most interesting presidential campaign since 1800, when Thomas Jefferson called John Adams a hermaphrodite.

That brings us up to last night, when a debate between candidates for the highest office in the land turned into a dick measuring contest. When asked about Rubio’s personal attacks (in addition to the comment about his hands, Marco went after The Donald’s “spray tan”), Trump, true to form, responded, “Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands — if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee.” I cannot stop laughing at all this. Between bouts of sheer terror at the possibility this human hair ball might actually be President, of course.

I’m wondering if we’re now at a turning point. Sure, Trump’s evangelical supporters have stood by him while he’s touted his unabashed greed, displayed an astounding ignorance of the Bible with his “Two Corinthians” quote (I always want to add, “walk into a bar” when I say that), and torn up the Gospel with his comments on immigrants and Muslims (Matthew 25:34-46). But, now sex is in the picture, and we all know how they feel about that. So, what’s it going to be, evangelicals? This man has trashed everything you claim to hold dear. Are you going to stick by him? But, don’t worry, there’s no pressure. Only the whole world is watching.

 

Americans Becoming Less Religious

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Recently, a friend posted a link to a Pew Research Center report titled “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious” and asked “How do we reach people where they are at, without driving them away?” Not long before that, I heard a commercial for a church in Chapel Hill NC advertising an event to pack 20,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. These two seemingly disconnected things are, in my opinion, inextricably joined: one is the problem we’re faced with and the other is a ham-fisted, utterly clueless attempt to confront that problem: i.e. the church’s growing irrelevance in modern society.

To put a finer point on things, the church has a massive credibility problem right now, especially among millenials. Why? Because we have a history of being assholes, that’s why. From the Crusades to the modern-day church’s marginalization of people who are LGBTQ, the bill of particulars against us is long, varied and, all too often, bloody and violent. It also showcases our hypocrisy. Our faith is based on a man who told his followers to love their neighbor, love their enemy; hell, love everyone. That’s about as inclusive as it gets, but what has the church done? Turned it into an exclusive club with a long list of requirements that must be met to qualify for membership. Is it any wonder that millenials, with their yearning for authenticity, are rejecting us in droves?

So, how do we reach people where they’re at without driving them away? Well, we could follow the example of certain mainline churches and immerse ourselves in the liturgical aspects of worship. But, unless there’s a sea change in our attitude, that’s just window dressing and it will wear as thin as the rock concert atmosphere of an evangelical mega church. The church should be more concerned with what happens in the community its a part of than what goes on inside its walls.

To fully answer this question, I have to tell you a short story, first. Every Thursday night, a coffeehouse near me has a trivia contest and many of my friends from church attend regularly; including my pastor, Michael Usey. The one time I’ve made it out there, we trying to come up with a name for our team and Michael  said “How about The Non-Shitty Christians?” We all laughed and answered “Hell yeah”. Our scores in the contest were dismal, but the name was a hit, drawing laughs every time the emcee said it. My friends, that name is my recommendation for how we reach people without driving them away. We need to become “non-shitty Christians”.

So, how does one be a “non-shitty Christian”? For one, you can stop obsessing over lady bits and sin and start doing the things Jesus told us to do (loving our neighbors, caring for the poor, not hording shit, etc.). If you do, it’s entirely possible that people will notice and say “Hey, I like what these folks are doing”. If you’re lucky, they might  even come join you. For another, you can open your doors to everyone. And, when I say “everyone”, I mean “everyone”: Lesbians, gay men, bisexual folks, people in polyamorous relationships, people of color, even (maybe especially) trans men and women. And, when I say “open your doors”, I mean “open them all the way”, none of this half-measure bullshit we get from some denominations that supposedly welcome folks who are LGBTQ but won’t ordain, marry or even allow them to join the church.

Now, there is a bit of a Catch 22 here: you can’t advertise the things you’re doing because that will kill any credibility/authenticity you might gain from it. This where that church commercial I mentioned earlier comes in. Working to ensure hungry folks get a decent meal is always good and it is one of main the things Christians are called to do. But, taking out a radio ad touting what you’re doing? That goes against scripture and it makes it appear that you have ulterior motives. Strangely, millenials (and other people) are big on that whole “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do” deal. Following Jesus’ commandments in order to fill the membership roles (and, by extension, the collection plate) or go to heaven doesn’t really fly with them.

The bottom line is that we should stop trying to “attract millenials”, “reach the unchurched” or whatever face we decide to put on our worry over the miniscule reduction of the church’s primacy in the world and start being the damned church. Give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty. Visit the prisoner and care for the sick. Clothe the naked. Open our doors and welcome everyone. Maybe if we start living the way Jesus meant for us to, we could actualy be relevant in a good way…, for once.

 

The Poor Will Always Be With Us

Franks poorThe meme to your left has been making the rounds on the internet, lately. Quite a few progressive people, myself included, were quick to share it. As memes go, it’s not bad. Well, except for one thing: Franks never actually said that. It  comes from the Facebook group Stop The World, The Teabaggers Want Off, whose stock in trade is publishing made-up quotes attributed to conservative politicians. Now, if this fabricated quote from Franks was the only thing on this subject making the progressive rounds, I’d just publish a retraction on Facebook and be done with it. But, it’s not. And, some of those things are real live quotes from real live people.

In the last few months (coinciding with the opening of the 2016 presidential campaign season, oddly enough), Republicans have finally started talking about income inequality. And, as you might expect, they are getting it wrong. Like Rick Perry, who said back in Decemeber that “Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or fashion.” Now, you may be thinking “But, the Bible does say that!” Yes, it does, but it doesn’t mean what Perry and his pals think it does. These yahoos are using it to justify their own greed by saying that poverty is just the way things are and we should learn to live with it. Personally, I think Jesus was making a dig at greedy-ass religious people when he said, “You always have the poor with you…” and that there was an unspoken trailer that went something like, “because you’re a bunch of selfish assholes.”

As blogger extraordinaire Fred Clark points out, much of what Jesus said references the Torah and needs to be understood in the proper context. This particular passage was based on Deuteronomy 15:11, which says:

Poor persons will never disappear from the earth. That’s why I’m giving you this command: you must open your hand generously to your fellow Israelites, to the needy among you, and to the poor who live with you in your land.”

My, that’s a bit inconvenient, isn’t it?

So, what’s a good conservative Christian to do when they read Jesus’ uncomfortable statements about “the least of these” or “the poor”? How are they supposed to maintain the status quo (which, incidentally, consists of judging, ostracizing and marginalizing certain people while keeping as much of their money as possible) when the man they claim to follow said they shouldn’t do that? Luckily, Denny Burk has come to their rescue.

Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, recently published an article which uses some very impressive mental gymnastics to say that the “least of these” Jesus referred to aren’t people in poverty, it’s “Christian” bakers, photographers and florists. On what does he base this claim? I’ll let him explain it in his own words: “… contrary to popular belief, “the least of these” in Matthew 25:40 is not talking generically about our obligation to care for the poor and needy. We know this because the terms “least of these” and “my brothers” appear elsewhere in Matthew’s gospel, and in each case the terms specifically refer to Jesus’ disciples who have been sent out into the world to preach the gospel.” Yes, beloved, Burk ignores the previous 9 verses where Jesus specifically refers to the poor, the hungry, the stranger, etc. to back up his contention that the real people we should be helping are Jesus’ “disciples”.  Isn’t it interesting when biblical literalists start interpreting scripture that doesn’t fit their chosen narrative?

Look, if you want to shit on poor people, that’s your business. But, I really don’t think you should use the Bible to justify such a despicable action. And, I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t claim you’re serving Christ while you do it. But, mammon? That’s a different story.

Jesus Wants You To Buy Me A Jet

Dollar G650A couple of weeks ago, the head of World Changers Church International, the Right Reverend Creflo Dollar, asked his supporters to buy him a $65 million Gulfstream G650 jet. Yes, you read that right, a “pastor” (and I use that term loosely in Dollar’s case) has asked the general public to buy him an airplane. And, not just any airplane: the G650 is no rinky-dink puddle jumper, it’s the biggest, plushest, most expensive private jet money can buy. And, Dollar needs one to carry on his ministry. You can’t expect the man to “continue reaching a lost and dying world for the Lord Jesus Christ” in Piper Cub, you know.

‘Flo might not be as well-known as Joel Osteen, the modern face of prosperity gospel, but he is certainly one of the foremost American proponents of this shakedown theology. With a $2.5 million home, a garage full of cars (including more than one Rolls Royce) and a private jet, Dollar is the living embodiment of the “Name it and claim” doctrine which says if you’re a faithful Christian, God will reward you with all sorts of material goodies (translation from Christianese: “if you’re an expert grifter, you can too can bilk poor, gullible people out of their savings and live like a king”).

Here’s an interesting fact: Dollar’s net worth of $27 million is somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 times greater than the average in the area where he “conducts his ministry” (and by “conducts his ministry”, I mean “steals from those who can least afford it”). Perhaps just as interesting is something I mentioned in the previous paragraph: this new aircraft won’t be his first, it will replace an aging Gulfsteam. Now, you may be wondering why he needs a new jet when he already has one. Well, it seems that his current plane is getting a little long in the tooth, having been built in 1984 and purchased by the “ministry” in 1996, logging 4 million miles in the past 19 years. Plus, Dollar claims had engine trouble and once skidded off the runway due to other mechanical issues while his family was on board. We can’t have that, now can we?

Of course, some wags might say that if Dollar wants this flying New Orleans whorehouse, he should pony up and buy it himself. Puh-leeze, the man only has $27 million. What’s he supposed to do, take out a loan like normal people? And, Kirsten West Savali (the journalist who broke this story) thinks Dollar should fly commercial. What? But, that would mean rubbing shoulders with the people he’s been  shaking down all these years. And, if Dollar has to associate with the riff-raff people he ministers to, they might begin to realize that, like all prosperity gospel preachers, he’s a full-of-shit con man who should be in jail, not behind a pulpit.

You might be wondering why I chose to share all this with you, since none of it’s really news anymore. Two reasons: 1) Dollar’s request for $65 million to buy a new jet is not really out of the ordinary when it comes to this racket-masquerading-as-theology; other practitioners, like Osteen and Kenneth Copeland, are just a little more circumspect in their extortion. And, 2) it seems the fund-raising page for the jet has disappeared due to a pretty significant social media backlash. For a short time, you could still donate via the ministry’s general funding page, but now, even that option is no longer available. Is that pushback a sign that people are finally getting tired of all this prosperity gospel/Word of Faith/name-it-and-claim-it bullshit? Only time will tell, but it is encouraging.

Let’s Get Ashy!

AshTagLogo
Image courtesy David Henson

Today is Ash Wednesday, and that can only mean one thing: Lent is here! Ah, yes, that most wonderful time in the liturgical calendar all about prayer, penance and preparation for Easter. And, what better way to kick things off than by  getting your ash on?

Yes, friends, today is the day when hipsters and yuppies, soccer moms and Jesus hippies, walk around all day with black shit smudged on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. But, what if you can’t take time out of your busy schedule to attend an Ash Wednesday service (or don’t want to spend the day looking like a weirdo)? Well, friends, Episcopal priest David Henson has your answer: #AshTagWednesday.

That’s right, instead of going to church and listening to some boring ass crap about sacrifice and being guilted into giving up something  for Lent, followed by having someone you may or may not know rub those icky ashes on your forehead, you can simply share the image above on your favorite social media platform. Isn’t that great? Finally, I can satisfy may religious, attention-whore impulses without all that pesky worship and prayer!

Of course, there are some drawbacks to #AshTagWednesday. Like, how do I post a selfie with my ashes prominently displayed? And, how am I supposed to feel superior to those dim-bulb evangelicals who don’t even know what Ash Wednesday is, much less why I’m walking around with a dirty face? Perhaps worst of all, it doesn’t even begin to address how to deal with the whole “giving up ______ for Lent” situation.

What’s that all about, anyway? Why do I have to give up something for Lent? To bring myself closer to God? Crap, there’s no way I can weasel out of this and not look like an asshole. Okay, fine, you win. So, what do I give up? Coffee? Not happening. And, that’s a public service, as no one wants to see me caffeine-free. Soda? That would work except for one thing: I’m a diabetic and I don’t drink much soda. I’m not sure how “giving up” something I almost never do anyway is going to bring me closer to God. How about a social media fast? No. That is not happening. How would I post my Ash Wednesday selfie (or my #AshTag) and brag about tell you how great my Lenten observance is going?

Does all this trivialize what Henson refers to as “the holy call for self-examination”? Of course, it does. But, isn’t that the American way? We turned a national day of Thanksgiving into an orgy of materialism and the birth of Christ into a bacchanal of greed and gluttony. All Hallow’s Eve is nothing more than a good reason for a party and St. Valentine’s Day has become an excuse for buying your significant other more shit they don’t need. Do you actually think Lent and Easter are any different? Please. Trivializing the holy is what we do best.

So, run right out and get your ashes. And, when you do, be sure to post your selfie, you might get something out of it. Besides all that spiritual crap, I mean.

Stop Saying That!

Funny, but I don't see "Rapture of the Chruch" in here at all.
Funny, but I don’t see “Rapture of the Church” in here at all.

Newsflash: I do not care for the biblical interpretation of the End Times known as Dispensationalism. And, there are so many reasons not to like it: it’s not in the Bible, it uses scare tactics to “bring people to Christ”, it has been a leader in the commercialization of Christianity, it is a very “us vs. them” interpretation, it paints a very ugly picture of God and it allows Christians to ignore the suffering of others and their responsibility to the plane just to name a few. So, how did this fever dream become such a dominant part of the American religious landscape? For that, we have two people to  blame…, um, make that “thank”.

Sometime in the mid-1800’s, John Nelson Darby, an Anglican minister and member of the Plymouth Brethren movement, came up with the idea that God dealt with humanity through a series of dispensations or eras of history. According to Darby, we are now in the 6th era, the dispensation of grace, which will end when Jesus comes back and raptures his Church. As Matt Turner points out in his latest book Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity (which I highly recommend), Darby dreamed all this up while living in England and spent a very limited amount of time in the U. S.; which means he needed an American accomplice. Enter James H. Brookes.

Brookes was a Presbyterian pastor, writer and one of the leading dispensationalists of his era. He wrote extensively on the subject (7 books, 250 pamphlets and a very popular periodical), but his biggest contribution to the eschatology was mentoring Cyrus Schofield, best known as editor of the Schofield Reference Bible. While you’ve probably never heard or read anything written by Brookes, the same isn’t true of Scofield’s Bible. In the 20th century, it changed the way Americans thought about God. Even today, it’s still popular in circles of a more fundamentalist bent.

So, we know how it got so popular, but what about why? Dispensationalism became popular in the U. S. during the Gilded Age, one of the most selfish, greedy eras in America’s history. The idea that Jesus is coming back at literally any minute allowed Christians to continue living extremely indulgent lifestyles (or held out false hope to the poor that their travails wouldn’t last much longer); an idea that still holds true today.

It is because of Dispensationalism that some of our elected officials can deny the effect our way of life has on the Earth’s climate or that Mark Driscoll can publicly state “I know who made the environment. He’s coming back, and he’s going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV” with a straight face. It is Dispensationalism that allows a follower of Christ to put more emphasis on a person’s soul than their stomach. That’s just sad.

Look, you can believe what you want, but please stop saying a theology that allows you to ignore what Jesus actually taught because he’s “coming back any minute” is in any way Christ-like. Because it’s not.

Don’t Make Me Do It!

does-50-shades-of-grey-deserve-its-criticism-L-G1jpcFI’ll be honest, I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey and I don’t really want to. However, my problems stem not so much from the subject matter as the inane writing and questionable origin of the franchise. For those of you who live under a rock haven’t heard of this series, Fifty Shades of Grey (henceforth shortened to FSOG) is the story of a innocent, naive young woman’s relationship with an older man whose sexual proclivities run to…, let’s say the kinkier side of things. Now, doesn’t that sound like great literature?

There are numerous problems with these books (there are 3 of them!), stock characters and a salacious storyline to cover up the dismal quality of the writing are just a couple. That’s not to say there aren’t concerns beyond conventional criticism, though. I’m talking about things like the abusive aspects of the relationship between Ana and Grey or the fact that yet another book/TV show/movie/pop song aimed at women is shallow, simple-minded dreck (evidently, the entertainment industry agrees with Renee Elmers). Look, it’s crap and we all know that. It is, however, reletively harmless crap. But, you wouldn’t think so if you listen to people like Matt Walsh and Jarrid Wilson.

For those of you not steeped in the Christian blogging world, Matt Walsh is a conservative Christian blogger who appears to be to the right of Atilla the Hun The Gospel Coalition and Wilson is the pastor of a megachurch in Nashville. They’re just a couple of the folks who have issues with FSOG; the good ladies from PlanetMommyhood call it “a lie from the pit of Hell”. I understand that this “literary” phenomenon upsets these folks; hell, I even understand why. I don’t agree with them, but I understand where they’re coming from. But, what they don’t seem to realize is that they’re shooting themselves ( well. their cause, actually) in the foot.

What Walsh and other evangelical bloggers don’t seem to understand is that if they’d just leave it alone, this turd of a story might (with any luck) die a nice quiet death and we’d be done with it. But, the fact that someone like Matt Walsh doesn’t even like the idea of this movie makes me want to see it even though I know it will, in all likelihood, suck most heartily (Really. It’s fan fiction based on Twilight, for god’s sake. That’s a double-whammy of suckage). And, here’s the thing: I believe it’s safe to say a movie based on one of the best-selling pieces of mommy-porn in history doesn’t need any help with publicity.

Are there problems with Fifty Shades of Grey? Absolutely. Is it the major threat to our culture that Walsh, Wilson and the ladies at PlanetMommyhood think it is? No, it is not.  Maybe it does eat away at our collective morality with its depiction of abuse-as-love or the cynicism inherent in the way it attempts to appeal to women. But, major threat to our morality? No, major threats are things like our reaction to the humanitarian crisis on the border, our love affair with violence, or our embrace of materialism. These are the threats we should be worried about, the lies from the pit of Hell we should be fighting. Not some poorly written (and poorly acted and directed, if the trailer is any indication) bit of fluff that provides some harmless escapism for harried adults. In other words, ease the hell up, folks. It’s just a movie.

The Real American Religion

It has been said that football, rather than Christianity is the real American religion. But, I’m not so sure I agree with that. In my opinion, the major religion in this country is the worship of Mammon (and you know what the J-man had to say about that). Football is just one of our methods of worship and Superbowl Sunday is one of its biggest feast days.

That is fitting considering the staggering nature of the consumption surrounding the Superbowl. Much like Christmas and Easter, people host parties and get-togethers in their homes, which leads to a significant amount of coin being passed at the grocery store. It is estimated that we spend over a $1 billion on snacks alone for Superbowl parties; God only knows how much is spent on alcohol.  Not being a football fan doesn’t lock you lock out of this holiday, either; there are plenty of people who watch just for the commercials. That makes them almost as important as the game itself (maybe more so this year, as the game sucked), leading to an average ad cost of $4.3 million for a 30 second spot. And, that’s not counting the game itself. If you wanted to go and see in it person, the cheapest tickets cost $1896 while the most expensive went for $449,645.  I’m not sure that last is for one seat or a box, but either way, it’s what I’d call pricey expensive insane.

The insanity isn’t limited to the Superbowl, however; it’s all over the place. You see it at Christmas with retailers starting the shopping season earlier and earlier each year and pimping the latest must-have gifts. It’s evident the usurpation of children’s holidays such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day to sell more crap no one really needs. It’s shoved in our faces every day with inescapable advertising campaigns; last night, I clicked a link to see the Muppet’s Toyota ad and had to watch a commercial first. That’s right, I watched a commercial to watch a commercial.

Materialism is the real American religion and it’s practiced by the majority of people in this country. In one way or another, we all line up at the altar of Mammon. And, we do it whether we want to (or even know it) or not. Think about it for a minute: do you really need all the stuff you’ve accumulated? I know I don’t. And, even with that knowledge, I still want more.

Why? Why do I want more stuff than I could possibly need? Is it because I am bombarded by ads telling me I need the latest trinket or gadget some company is trying to foist on consumers? Is it because I believe Corporate America’s lie that if I don’t consume, the terrorists (or whoever the current boogey-man might be) win? Or is it because I am human and my default setting is one of selfishness disguised as self-preservation?

 

I think it’s the last one; the others just are carefully crafted attempts to cash in on that broken aspect of my nature. And, in doing so, they show that same aspect of the all-to-human individauls who created them. And, yes, I said broken. What else would you call it when people spend billions on trivialities while a significant portion of the world’s population lives in grinding poverty? I don’t believe that we are broken, awful, wretched sinners, incapable of being decent without God. But, I do believe there is a broken facet to our make up that allows us to be extremely shitty to our fellow humans. And, sometimes, the way we choose to spend the money with which God has gifted us bears that belief out all too well.

Advent? Not a Fan

It's a conspiracy all right. A conspiracy to suck the fun out of Christmas.
It’s a conspiracy all right. A conspiracy to suck the fun out of Christmas.

When you have a lot of friends who’ve been to seminary, you see and hear a lot of churchy, religious stuff the average joe doesn’t. Discussions about theological systems, obscure religious teachers and atonement theories are everyday fare. If your seminarian friends are particularly nerdy, like mine, you get to hear about Beer and Hymns events and all things liturgical. As a part of the liturgical calendar, Advent falls into that last category. And, I don’t really care for it.

To be perfectly honest, liturgy in general leaves me cold. Mostly because I grew up reciting creeds and prayers and singing hymns that were, at best, performed with a “this-is-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it” attitude. There are other issues, but that’s a story for another day. I don’t like Advent because it’s about patience and waiting and self-denial. Basically, Advent is Lent without the promise of good weather at the end. In other words, if you do Advent correctly, there’s no reward for all the hard stuff.

Think about that last statement for a minute. With Lent, you give up something meaningful (like coffee or soda or your favorite food) and, when it’s over, you get to resume whatever indulgence you forbore; plus, it’s Spring when the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. Not so with the drudgery that is Advent. No, if we are to properly observe this season, we’re supposed to spend it in “expectant waiting”, not shopping and partying and singing Christmas songs. And, what do we get at the end? Who knows? Every blog I read, every sermon I hear, every theology nerd I know that sings the praises of Advent, not a one of them says a word about anything concrete I’ll get for all that “expectant waiting”.

Oh sure, we get to celebrate the birth of Christ with some church services and maybe a dinner or two. Are you seriously telling me that, for spending a month of Sundays going to church and listening to sermons building up Christmas, I get to celebrate by…, going to church again? Look, I am a man of my times, which means I crave instant gratification. Add to that a rockin’ case of ADD and you can see why I might need a little more if I’m going to wait on something.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I like the way we’re doing things now. My friend, Daniel Miles, wrote a nice piece about all this today. In I Hate Christmas, But I Love Advent, he talks about the stress resulting from all the shopping, partying and insipid  incessant Christmas music one encounters between Thanksgiving and C-day and his critique is right on the money. He also talks about how hard it is to do Advent properly. My thought is that it might be a little easier if there was something neat waiting at the end. Sure, a little good weather and getting to drink coffee or sodas or whatever else you might have given up isn’t much of a pay-off, but it’s more than we get with Advent. I’m supposed to give up self-indulgent materialism and the reward is “Peace on earth” and “goodwill toward man”? Frankly, I’d rather have more food than I can eat in several sittings and a ton of crap I don’t need. Somehow, though, I don’t think it works that way.

Advent? What the F…

satire def

***Warning, this post contains satire. Read accordingly. ***

Recently, fellow traveler Diana Butler Bass wrote an article for that socialist rag, The Huffington Post titled Fox News’ War on Advent. I’ll be honest, I had to look it up because I’d never heard of this Advent crap. And, that’s exactly what it is: crap. According the dictionary, Advent is ” the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting.” Well, hell, I was already doing that; except for the prayer and fasting part, screw that noise. As Butler Bass (being a good lefty, I’m sure she’d want me to use both names) explains, during Advent

“…churches are not merry. There is a muted sense of hope and expectation. Christians recollect God’s ancient promise to Israel for a kingdom where lion and lamb will lie down together. The ministers preach from stark biblical texts about the poor and oppressed being lifted up while the rich and powerful are cast down, about society being leveled and oppression ceasing. Christians remember the Hebrew prophets and long for a Jewish Messiah to be born. The Sunday readings extol social and economic justice, and sermons are preached about the cruelty of ancient Rome and political repression. Hymns anticipate world peace and universal harmony.”

“Muted sense of hope and expectation”? That, my friends, is not the American Way. The way we do things here in the Land of Free involves excess, conspicuous consumption and ignoring or belittling anyone who thinks differently. I mean, seriously, does this woman think we’ll give all that up based on a measly 1500 years of tradition? That “hope and expectation” junk might have flown back then, but not today; we’re too busy buying shit we don’t really need to worry about it. Besides, the American way of life is what all those poor bastards were longing for, so why bother hoping anymore?

Not for one second do I believe all this crap she’s spouting. I think this Advent thing is just another attempt to push Marxism on good, God-fearing Americans. Look at what she said in that paragraph I showed you a little earlier. She talks about social and economic justice and universal harmony, things that everyone knows are just code words for socialism. If that’s not enough, she even says “The ministers preach from stark biblical texts about the poor and oppressed being lifted up while the rich and powerful are cast down…” She’s advocating class warfare, people! Do you really think that’s biblical?

Look, we all know the rest of the world hates us for our freedom and would love nothing better than to see us humbled and brought low. It seems that Marxists like Butler Bass feel the same way. That’s why she’s advancing this leftist plot to take away our guns and our freedoms and turn us all into good little communist sheeple who won’t complain when Barry the Muslim institutes Sharia law. Not me, brother. I’m not going without a fight and, this year, I’m going buy a bunch of crap no one needs for people I don’t like, festoon my house with the gaudiest lights and decorations I can find, raise gluttony to new heights and generally run around like a chicken with my head cut off, so stressed I don’t enjoy one solitary moment of the season. Because that, beloved, is what being a Christian in this shining city on a hill is really all about. ‘Murica!