Thursday, December 13, 2007

Faith and Marketing: poll update

Those who actually voted in the poll this past week were evenly divided between the “I only shop at retailers who promote Christmas because that is the reason we give gifts in the first place” and the “I pay no attention to whether retailers use the term Christmas because in the marketplace it is largely a sales tool and has nothing to do with faith.”

I think this is interesting even though this in an unscientific poll. Maybe the most interesting part is that no one indicated that they would refuse to shop at a store promoting Christmas. Is that an across the board sentiment or is it indicative of the cultural leanings of those who blog or those bloggers who visit my blog? As is often the case, when you ask a question you get more questions.

For several years now I have been thinking about what is the balance in this area of celebration and honoring and sharing. This is coupled with the issue of whether Christmas should be synonymous with sales rallies and balancing ledgers that have been poorly managed the other 300 days of the year. Some people I know think I am just a Scrooge about this and I’m sorry they feel that way but questions are always uncomfortable.

Many years ago, before the Christmas versus Holiday sales war was even thought of, I heard a pastor give a sermon on “Does Christ love Christmas?” This is a good question to reflect on again. Do we think Jesus wants his name pasted to a marketing scheme? We can probably make an accurate guess by looking at the record in Matthew 21:12. If he didn’t like marketers using his house he’s probably going to have a similar view on the use of his name.

It is sad that the event we now identify as Christmas has become polarized into a war zone. Well, worse than a war zone because there are some who want to turn the keeping of Christmas into a litmus test of patriotism and cultural correctness. Unfortunately there are the literal wolves in sheep’s clothing among the pro-religious Christmas keepers as well as the pro-marketers; and often upon indepth examination they turn out to be one and the same.

For me Christmas is connected to my faith and beliefs as well as traditions. That connection used to come with a ton of non-essential expectations for how the house should look, the foods to prepare and how many activities I had to attend or support. But I woke up one year and realized that I looked more Christmassy than I thought or felt. Christmases since have been about not just doing less, because that really doesn’t take any thinking, but doing what matches how my faith is revealing who I am and my relationship to Christ.

The point here, unlike some others you can find online, is not to thrust a guilt-trip on anyone out-of-hand nor to dictate what the right position is. The point is to help readers, whether religious or secular, who celebrate a form of Christmas to be honest and conscious about what they do and why. It is very easy to slide along the wave of external pressure to do and think and proliferate Christmas in certain ways depending on the external source of the pressure. I would encourage readers to be sure their outward expressions match their inward belief about the season regardless of the label.

Technorati tags: