Around this time of year, serious Christians all across the political spectrum to bemoan the increasing commercialization of Christmas, that the marketing of presents overrides and corrupts the true meaning of Christmas. Let me provide a counter-argument, what could even be called Christmas cheer, to those so concerned.
To see what I am getting at, look at Christmas commercialism from the opposite perspective, say from a devout Muslim living in North America. From his perspective, listening to his kids constantly mewling for Christmas presents, today’s commercialized Christmas looks more like an insidious plot concocted by devious Christians to spread Christianity to non-Christians through the backdoor of ‘secular’ commercialism. And you know what? He is right, even if most Christians are oblivious to the proselytizing forces latent in the moneymaking zeal of our business world. In his own home, he is trying to hold the line, but he is being relentlessly worn down by his own kids, who want an X-Box or iPad for Christmas. If you want to attract converts, sometimes sugar works better than vinegar.
Now a Christian reading this might counter with the argument that long-term Christian success requires a return to fundamentals and an insistence on piety and reverence, particularly with regard to its faith and traditions. In other words, the constant ads for Christmas presents, complete with Christmas music, are a problem because they offend the true meaning of Christmas. Taking this line of reasoning further, one could also say that a religion that lacks at least some of the masculine militancy of, say, Oliver Cromwell or the Jesuits circa the counter-Reformation, will degenerate into either the corrupt Vatican of the Borgias or the effeminate weakness exhibited by many mainline Protestant denominations today, which are principally populated by little old ladies and led by pedophiles. Whatever else can be said about such an arrangement, it is not the way to future success. What is needed is less turn-the-other-cheek, multi-culti understanding and more Onward Christian Soldier.
If this is your argument, I hear you. In fact, I agree with you to a large degree. But tell me, how does what you say negate what I just said? It does not. Both can be true at the same time. The suspicions held by devout non-Christian believers that, behind the commercialization of Christmas, as well as secular Christmas songs like White Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (written mostly by patriotic American Jews), lurks the true meaning of Christmas, is well founded. From a Christian perspective, the glass is half-full, not half-empty.
So all you devout Christians out there, cheer up. All is not lost.
And Merry Christmas!