Starbucks red cups and the ugliness of Christian culture

12189737_1190320544330681_8745612284750347427_nI’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.


9 thoughts on “Starbucks red cups and the ugliness of Christian culture

  1. Hi Beth

    I must be living under a rock or at least not in the US (:

    I personally cannot drink out of paper cups, so being a bit of a snob I drink out of a proper cup (at home preferably China) , so haven’t noticed what Starbucks hasn’t done. In fact I’m more concerned about the quality of the coffee (my preference is toward very full bodied middle eastern coffee ).

    The irony is that in my country and technically yours as the U.S. were fledgling English colonies at the time , the only time that Christmas was banned(along with music , theatre and sport, for religious reasons), was when the country, a republic, ruled by puritan protestant fundamentalists circa 1645-1660 . So it wasn’t the wicked atheists or other religions (Jews didn’t reappear in England until 1656), but Christians themselves who did away with it in their zeal to follow their interpretation of the new testament word for word, e.g. Christmas as a festival isn’t in there is it?

    In fact neither were bells, snowflakes, reindeer , Christmas trees etc, because whilst it can snow in Israel, we have no idea if Jesus was born in the winter or not. Secondly these symbols of Christmas are very modern inventions anyway and have nothing to do with the actual Christian festival (e.g. Christmas trees were German and introduced to Britain at least by queen Victoria’s husband , Prince Albert, in the 19th century).

    But does being wished a merry Christmas offend me? No it doesn’t, in the same sense I wish people every Friday a Shabbat Shalom, so one can take or leave the greeting, but hopefully appreciate the spirit in which it is meant. I do get irritated if people evangelize and start telling me about Isaiah 9, but I just say no thanks.

    Are Christians persecuted in the US/UK? No I don’t think you are. The US has a very large Christian population which has a big influence over one of their political parties and the UK (England at least) has a state church. Religious freedoms are guaranteed. Christians can even proselytize others: they are confident to do so at university and we know Jews for Jesus etc are quite active at present. I don’t see this as signs of a persecuted church or religion .In fact without wanting to upset people here, the Christians should look up the historic treatment of Jews by Christianity in Europe to see what it is like to be a minority religion and have practically no legal or any other protection or indeed look no further than present day Iraq and the plight of Christians and Christianity there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with you. I got sick to my stomach when I saw this circus start. As Christians we are at war against the forces of evil, but a colored cup isn’t evil, nor is wishing someone “Happy Holidays” instead fo “Merry Christmas.” There is real evil to fight. Ask those Christians in countries taken over by ISIS. Maybe we should spend our energy praying for them and the others who are truly persecuted for their faith rather than tilting at windmills. I frankly think God could care less what color the cups are. And I don’t see anything in the Bible about even celebrating Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To be honest the snow and stuff on the cups never made any sense to me since I’ve lived in Florida my whole life. Plus I drink iced coffee in January because it’s hot out.

    About the article. If you get upset because a mega-corp decides to market their product differently during a certain time frame, you’re not getting upset for religious reasons. You’re getting upset for capitalistic reasons, because you believe–deep down–you know how to market better than that company.

    It’s just a red cup you’ll end up throwing away 30 minutes after you buy it.

    Or maybe people are upset that people around them won’t know Starbucks brewed coffee is in their cup. If that’s the case the problem is materialistic. Still not religious.


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