Church as Anti-Mall

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 13, 2005

David Fitch (author of the Great Giveaway and future presenter at the Conference on Christianity in a Consumer Culture) writes:

At the risk of sounding like an even worse sectarian (than some critics claim I am), can I plead for all evangelical Christians to quit threatening Target and Wal-Mart with a boycott,
if they don?t put “Christmas” on their advertisements? Us U.S.
Americans can?t seem to come to grips with the reality that we have
given away our culture, i.e. we are not the majority, and Christmas is
a secular holiday. Christmas is not a Christian holiday in the United
States or Canada.

…So for the sake of our witness to the birth of Christ, let?s boycott
the stupid shopping craze entirely and let?s not associate Christmas
with any advertising having to do with going to malls, Target or Wall
Mart. And let us ask target and Wall-Mart to not desecrate the word
“Christmas” by using it to advertise stupid stuff and entice people to
buy things. And let the church be the anti mall. Instead of going to
buy stupid things nobody wants, let us figure out how to gather and
make thoughtful inexpensive crafts as expressions of joy and hope and
then give them away, let us bring food, clothing and stuff we can?t use
because we bought too much stuff last year, and give it to those who
are broke. Let us advertise this as Christmas. Please don?t think we at
Life on the Vine have arrived at this stage yet, I?m just thinking
about how to make this into a great Christmas liturgy. Merry Christmas …

I know that suggestions like this sound a bit "extreme." Christmas is the most important holiday for many Americans.  And it is an important holiday for many Christians.  In fact, I’d argue that it is the most central holiday for American Christian identity formation.  Muslims have Eid, Jews have Hannukah, we have Christmas.  The religious holidays for Muslims and Jews are what set them apart–make them different.  These are deeply important, formative holidays. 

For American Christians, Easter is perhaps the most religious holiday, but Christmas is more important.  It is important because it best expresses our synchretized way of being Christians in America–one part Christianity, one part Consumerism, one part Constantinianism.  It is a holiday where we sing hymns to Jesus, open expensive presents made in foreign lands, all while we get paid time off. 

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One Response to “Church as Anti-Mall”

  1. Michael Rew on December 13th, 2005 12:48 pm

    Next year, tell your children you will not have a Thanksgiving meal at home so you can spend more time feeding the homeless. Then tell them they will not receive any Christmas gifts, and their old toys will be given away.

    If you ask me, the Grinch could just as easily have run a 503(c) non-profit organization.

    If you want to protest what Target and Wal-Mart are doing, then go to their stores and wish a Merry Christmas to those who pass you in the aisles. Hand a Gospel tract about the true meaning of Christmas to the cashier. Wear your Christian T-shirt, put on your cross or fish jewelry, slap on the WWJD bracelet, tote your Bible, sit down and jaw with a companion about the Lord in the concession area. Plenty of those employees and customers are going to hell while we gripe about a greeting.

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