I’m sad today, guys. I’ve been sad all weekend, ever since the War on Starbucks Red Cups broke loose. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Starbucks opted for plain red cups this holiday season – no snowmen, ice skates, or any other designs that, you know, represent the true meaning of Christmas. And Christians all over the Internet have lost their ever-loving minds.
This is one more splinter in the table representing Christian culture on one end, and Christian faith on the other. I have felt welcome at one end of this table, but not the other. Sometimes, it’s been extremely difficult to decipher which end is which. You wouldn’t think that saying “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays” is a central tenet of Christianity, but the culture would have you think otherwise. You wouldn’t think that martyr-bating to images of persecution is the eleventh commandment, but again, Christian culture will have you believe that is so. I’ve made the mistake of debating these things with Christians in small group discussion over the years, and like most debates over religion, I left feeling like an “other.” Like a child being told to “shush,” the adults are talking.
I wish this was an instance where I could chant, “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” but the fact of the matter is, if I am to call myself a Christian, then this is my circus, and these are my monkeys. And that’s embarrassing. True, my close Christian friends are in agreement that this whole thing is ridiculous, but to the world at large (or at least to the rest of the country), Christians are becoming known more for what they choose to boycott than what they actually stand for. And while I don’t believe it’s my responsibility to apologize on behalf of other people, I still feel an urge to add a “but…” whenever I profess to be a Christian: “I’m a Christian, but I know I have extreme privilege in the US, and this red cup hullabaloo is ludicrous.”
It’s no surprise, then, that when shit like this breaks out, I feel an urge to dig into the Jewish culture that I’m still intimately familiar with. I feel I’d rather spend my time with people who don’t need to go looking for reasons to feel persecuted, because we know how ugly it is – and we know it’s still happening. To be perfectly honest, it scares me to go into a church and look at the people around me, wondering who in this congregation buys into the lie that their faith is under attack. It’s beyond insulting to even suggest it to a person whose ancestors were literally chased out of Europe. I’ve completely lost my tolerance for this crap. I will literally have to walk away from anyone who peddles this nonsense before I say something like, “Try moving to Iran if you want to experience legitimate persecution, jackhole.”
I can’t fellowship with people who shell out cash for their entire bible study to see films like God’s Not Dead and make a huge stinking deal of boycotting secular coffee companies. And it’s not enough of a comfort to hear that not all Christians are like that, either. My allegiance feels like a pendulum, swinging back and forth toward whichever group is most rational, most understanding. And as much as I know in my heart that faith and culture are separate entities, it’s increasingly difficult to view the faith as something unique and beautiful when its surrounding culture is so damn ugly.