Starbucks and Christmas: and the winner is…!

Joshua Feuerstein gets 12 million views on his gun toting, let’s have the baristas at Starbucks write Merry Christmas on our cups video. The news picks up the story and subtly perpetuates the myth that Conservative Christianity is generally up in arms about the loss of Christ on Starbucks Christmas cups, and a few noisy Christians join in. Christians respond overwhelmingly by agreeing with the media, that conservative Christians are disconnected from reality, and over-concerned about petty issues like red cups without holiday scenes. (I won’t link to Christians responding to the frenzy, because I have friends I am disagreeing with on this.) 😉

Who’s the winner here? Let’s consider this issue at a deeper level than the immediate kickback name-calling and stupid-shaming.

  1. Joshua Feuerstein’s call to go to Starbucks is rather silly albeit engaging. He does not boycott, but calls people to action. What action? Go to Starbucks and buy coffee. (Joshua: 1 point for 12 million hits/Starbucks: 1 point for selling 12 million cups/Christianity: -1 point for looking petty)
  2. The news picks up the story and propagates a myth that Christians are outraged at generic red cups. (Joshua 1 point for getting lots of press/Christianity -1 point for having the myth increased that it is out of touch/Starbucks 1 point for millions of dollars of great free advertising)
  3. Christians start blogging and tweeting and declaring the mythical war on Starbucks mythical war on Christmas to be a stupid thing, further perpetuating the myth that most Christians are out of touch with reality. (Christian bloggers 1 point for more hits/Christianity -1 point for being called out by your own people about some non-existent war against a non-existent war/Starbucks 1 point for continuing the viral advertising)

Photo on 11-9-15 at 8.20 AMSo far, with just a cursory glance, this is the score as I see it:

• Joshua Feuerstein 2 points
• Christian bloggers 1 point
• Christianity -3 points
• Starbucks 3 points

All a rather self-defeating process for Christianity it seems, but it gets worse. A small percentage of Christians create a stir about something insignificant, and the news and disagreeing Christians respond disproportionately to the cause by reacting in large way. The actual result is that we have done two negative things in the process:

  1. We have been duped into perpetuating a myth that says Christianity is overwhelmingly out of touch, when in fact this story is representative of only a small number of people. Christians have jumped on this story and helped to retell the myth. This is like saying that we hate “religion” but love Jesus, and then trying to invite someone to church. Does anybody see the disconnect with that logic? If we continue in stupid-shaming our own faith, people will automatically see stupid in things we say, even when it may not exist. We are helping to propagate pre-existing biases against our own tribe.
  2. We have been duped into commercializing a holiday, which has its origins in the birth of Jesus. (I won’t get into the extremely loose and unproven connections  to the Pagan Roman Saturnalia in this blog post.) The point here is that most of us are bemoaning the increased cost and capitalization of a religious holiday, and yet in this moment, everyone is celebrating with a “go to Starbucks” response. Thanks Joshua – thanks news people – thanks Christian bloggers for helping bring Christmas to me in early November with a message of buy, buy, buy for the baby Jesus. Start early with a cup of coffee for “Christ’s sake.

I’m sure glad I drink tea. O wait, I bought my tea at Teavana. They got bought out by Starbucks a couple years ago. Facepalm.

If you like my inverted thinking, you can get more of this by joining the capitalistic plunge and buying my book: Burning Religion: navigating the impossible space between secular society and religion

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