First, there is Christmas…
Then, there is farce…
The subtle denial of a Holy-day that is held delicately in the balance of adoration and consumption, with the latter giving way to our actions while the former is trapped in our sensibilities.
Our very way of celebrating it dialectically usurping its truest image.
As we push further into the season of Christmastide, the wave of incarnation supposedly still cresting before us, the season has all but ended. Christmas trees will come down. Dickinson’s villages will be put up.
Christmas is over.
There is no tide at the end of our Christmas; it has been lost. There is no lasting effect of Christmas; its consummation occurred by 9am around countless Christmas trees throughout the world on December 25th. The season that used to begin on Christmas day and extend into the New Year, has now given way to a fully secularized caricature even by those that say “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
Jesus is the reason for a season that lasts one day…a day that covers the eyes of the Christ with swaddling cloths.
Systemically, there is absolutely no theological understanding of what is occurring at Christmastide. There is no wide spread reflection amongst those that believe the Christ events occurs in Bethlehem or Nazareth and what the meaning of that event is within the history of the world and the history of ideas. There is no feast that occurs at twilight of the incarnation. The season has no patterning that would make us assume culturally that our celebration has some particular Christian character. The only character the season enjoys now is one of capitalist flavor and misplaced affections wherein we tell ourselves Christmas is not about “things” only to spend the majority of our time with “things” and thinking of the “things” we’d have liked to receive.
Say what we may, but Jesus is not the reason for the season. He’s not even considered that by those that seem to say that quaint phrase the loudest…their actions denying their language.
Christmas is the lie we tell about ourselves to hide ourselves from our true selves cause the thought of us actually not caring about the “real reason for the season” is unbearable upon the selves that deceive themselves into thinking they care or that Jesus as the Christ of God matters in any real material way.
Christmas, as is now celebrated, is usurped in its very celebration. Our very means of remembrance also containing the deconstruction of the event itself; we think we inaugurate a Savior but in fact we inaugurate his absolute meaninglessness.
A Christ that is good for nothing but to be born. A Christ and his story that does not shape our lives more than the culture below the Christ into which he is received.
But this is problematic, because “Christ” and our embodiments of “Christmas” are oxymorons.
The very offensive and effacing concept of Christ does not fit alongside the marketplace of ideas in Christianity. It doesn’t fit with how we talk, think and act upon Christmas. Even simple things, such as a Christmas eve service, or a Christmas day service, has been deemed as bothersome because it interferes with the real meaning of the season: family and gift giving. People who are devout in their faith, those that scream conservatism the loudest and proclaim a culture war has been initiated upon Christmas are at the front of the line in relegating Christmas to a secular holiday void of any meaningful theological content, and certainly void of any religious formation other than grandpas prayer over the turkey at dinner.
Christians have lined up in hordes to embrace an empty Christology that is void of any real spiritual formation and caste in the appearance of the secular dismissal of anything more than a current rush to a particular morning that holds no more content than the anemic form of its arrival.
Christmas has become nothing more than farce…but it can be nothing but farce as the paranormal Christ stands beside it. There is simply no more stark a comparison nor is there a more deep distinction than the theological content of advent, Immanuel, Christ-event, incarnation and the cultural and ecclesial embodiment Christmas suffers at the hands of those that “love Jesus” and those that could really care less.
The object of desire, the Christ, has been lost in a plenitude of objects that fill nothing but create a greater sense of void in society. What Lacan calls Object a’s…substitutions for the real object of our desire that lead nowhere but to the end of unwrapping presents as children collectively sigh, “is that all?”
We say we desire the Christ, the event, yet our actions say we really desire the object below the Christ that is really the object of nothing. It is nothing but brown monochromatic semblances coated with shiny illusions. The trick is we have lied to ourselves about our intent and our desire when our intent and our desire are clearly seen via its own incarnation in the world.
Christ is not an alter event. Christmas changes nothing. There is no theological, ecclesiological, or cultural power to be had here…all of these mean nothing to the masses. Christ has simply become the conduit through which we satiate our desires and participate in the quest for more…and it’s so perfect because we are able to do it all in the name of God.
How fortunate and perfectly ideal that God wants for us what we want for ourselves.
We like the object of our power to continue to lure us into the imaginary lands of plenty and more and we like for the real Jesus to stay buried so we can turn him into our version of buddy Christ that approves of our blatant sacrilege. We justify our excess in the face of a Christ that always excessively gave himself while incessantly refusing the excess of power and things.
Even at Christmas time, or moreover especially at Christmas time, we say that we want our kids to “have a good Christmas” and have “good memories,” but what does that mean besides give them a grand display of everything capitalism has to offer? What makes a Christmas good? And why must it be made to be so, when the very incredible event of incarnation and its theological content should be enough to keep us preoccupied as we hold hands with loved ones and actually spend time seeing the feast of the incarnation occur in one another?
I wonder what kind of Christians we are making by celebrating Christmastide as we do and not re-narrating the season to be more than the pinnacle of gifts that explode from under a tree.
If such is not the case, when was the last time Christmas was a spiritual experience for you?
When was the last time your faith was actually made stronger because of this special “season”?
Most Americans can’t name one…must be a first world problem.
But this farcical way of celebrating Christmas, or the Mass of Christ, is to be expected in a late capitalist and decaffeinated Christian society.
We do not value mystery. We do not value a story that is more than characters and details…and we don’t not think deeply about our faith.
The Bible doesn’t require deep thinking because it is plainly obvious what it means…all the while we bore one another with a dead nativity that does nothing more but provide a photo op for our children’s programs.
Scripture is dead. The nativity just a detail. The characters just furniture to fill the room of the story.
Scripture only serves the purpose we have for it and the familiar stories of a tired family, a baby born in the still of the night and strange characters gathering around this child are just the details of how; they are not characters that subtly seek to subvert our sense of self and critique our presumed piety…and certainly there is no sense of a proleptic theological point being made by Matthew in this Gospel…because this would of course go against a plain reading of the Bible. (tongue in cheek)
The baby Christ has become “normal”; the nativity has become nothing more than something to defend in the public square…both have become so decaffeinated that there is effectually nothing that happens when we encounter them or think of them. Rather than being an audacious story that seeks to challenge our worldviews, we have traded in the para-normality of the event and its characters for something we can digest and feel good about a faith that we have given to ourselves since such self given faith never challenges anybody to be different or to seek forgiveness.
And we know this, but to make our idea of Christmas palatable, and our ideas of the details of these infancy accounts infallible, we simply lie aloud about our true intentions so we can justify the appearance of our actions.
But amdist all the deception, misplaced piety and Christians saying Jesus is “the reason for the season” when there is really no season at all and Jesus better not be the reason we indulge ourselves in fantasy…one thing remains: Christmastide. And it refuses to be decaffeinated…even if our collective Christian experience insists on a faith that changes nothing, not even “believers.”
There are plenty of reasons for the season, but even Jesus knows he’s not one of them, especially a season that is already over. Perhaps it is a good thing the season is fleeting…we’d hate to desecrate the Christ any further by making Christ a neo-liberal that would clearly celebrate his nativity like we do.