I think we (the Church) wish it were true – that Starbucks was taking aim at all Christians everywhere and at the Church in North America in particular. But, I don’t think it is. Somewhere along the line, we took a non-issue and made it an issue. And gave Starbucks all kinds of free advertising along the way!
I think Starbucks is focused – on making money. A lot of money. They do this by selling coffee. Lots of coffee. Served in cups. This year they are red cups, with their green logo on them. Red and Green. Ever since I was little, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, red and green have been the colors of Christmas. But, I don’t think Starbucks cares so much about that as they do about making money.
They are a business. And as long as they are in business someone’s prayer, “Give us today, our daily bread” is being answered – all over the world, literally.
But as a Church, I think we wish it was true. The story that they are out to destroy Christmas. I think we want it to be true because it feeds two postures we’ve grown fond of lately.
First, it allows us to tell ourselves that we are victims. Victims of persecution. Victims because Christmas is being taken away from us. If the US Post Office and Starbucks don’t say “Merry Christmas” when we are shipping gifts or buying coffee, then it isn’t really Christmas is it? Being victims allows us to piss and moan about how bad the world is – and how good we are in comparison, of course.
Ultimately, though, I think we like to take the posture of being victims because then we don’t have to confront the consumerism in our Christmas. If we complain about how bad Starbucks is, the government is, somebody else is, we don’t have to face the reality that we are spending $4.00 or more on a cup of coffee when the rest of the world makes less than that a day. We don’t have to confront the huge amounts of money we spend buying, wrapping, shipping and throwing away presents all in the name of Jesus.
But that moves me to reason number two. I think we want to believe it is true, and take on the posture of victim, so we can also take on a posture of non-responsibility.
Yes, you read that right. We, as The Church, actually prefer non-responsibility (not irresponsibility) over responsibility. If we are the victims, then someone, in this case Starbucks, HAS to be responsible for this mess. Someone, or something, we can blame for the whole mess. If it is up to someone else to make sure Christmas is celebrated, then I don’t have to take responsibility for living out the Gospel in my own life. Our thinking is something like this: Well, if President Obama hadn’t declared December to be National Muslim Awareness Month, then I would share the Gospel with my friends, family and co-workers. But, now I can’t. Why bother…
Our posture of non-responsibility allows us to blame and shift responsibility. In this posture we don’t have to confront our selfishness, the ways we’ve tied consumerism to the Gospel, our lack of love for others, our in ability to get along, how we haven’t raised our kids to love Jesus, etc.
I think we, the church, have grown to love controversy and our pseudo-persecution in the U.S. because it allows us to divert our attention away from the transformation needed within ourselves and the Church. I think we have grown to love controversy because it allows us to be victims without responsibility and that lets us be lazy.
But I also think that we, the church, don’t have to be this way. That in reality, deep down inside, we don’t want to be this way. We want to live into the kind of life Paul ascribes to Timothy. We want to have an enormous impact on our cities, culture and world. We want to see Jesus do some really cool things in and through us.
But we can’t, not when we take on the postures of victim and non-responsibility.