James K.A. Smith: “Christmas IS Political”

merry-christmas-donald-trump-men-s-premium-t-shirtIn his piece at The Washington Post following Donald Trump’s Values Voter Summit announcement that “we will be saying Merry Christmas again,” philosopher James K.A. Smith reminds us what it really means to think politically about Christmas.

Here is a taste:

The biblical account of the birth of Jesus Christ is drenched in political significance. His genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew makes Him royalty, the heir of King David. The titles Savior and Messiah, which we imagine are merely religious, carry political connotations of deliverance and liberation. When his mother hymns her Magnificat, she praises a Savior who “has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.” (Luke 1:51-52).

None of this was lost on Herod, ruler of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth. Herod the Great — Herod the infrastructure king, the tyrant who was the biggest, best, greatest ruler — knew that Christmas meant a rival was in town. When he caught wind that people were paying homage to a “king of the Jews,” he summoned priests and teachers for intel. They reminded him that the prophet Micah had promised that a ruler would emerge from Bethlehem. So Herod unleashed the heinous solution we know as the slaughter of the innocents, which was (he thought) a surefire way to eliminate any pretenders to his throne.

So yes, Christmas is political.

Read the rest here.

Southern Baptists Are Not Happy About the New Starbucks’ Holiday Cups

A lot of Christians on my social media sites are asking if anyone out there is actually opposed to the new Starbucks cups.  I initially thought that the Starbucks critique came from one guy–an evangelist named Josh Feuerstein

But I was wrong.  
Richard Land, the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and the former president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has joined the cause.
I am curious to see what Russell Moore, Land’s successor as the president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has to say about this.  How many Southern Baptists does Land represent?  If what I have read about Moore is any indication, I would think he would rise above this petty issue and keep the Southern Baptist Convention focused on more important things related to its mission. But will he speak out against his predecessor?  (I haven’t seen any commentary by Moore on this.  If he has spoken or written on this topic please let me know).
It is worth noting that in 2012 Moore spoke out against a Christian boycott of Starbucks after the coffee company announced that it would support same-sex marriage.
Al Mohler, another Southern Baptist leader, is not too happy about it either.

I Like the Red Starbucks’ Cups

I just started drinking coffee about two years ago.  I like my coffee with a lot of cream and sugar. When I order coffee I am basically looking for the taste of coffee ice cream with a shot of caffeine.  I have never liked Starbucks coffee.  It is too strong for me and the baristas never leave enough space for the cream.

It appears that Starbucks is now the latest company to be complicit in the so-called “war on Christmas.”  Starbucks has rolled out new holiday cups that are red, white, and green.  Wait–aren’t these Christmas colors?  Frankly, I really like the new design, although it is unlikely I will be drinking much Starbucks this holiday season for the reasons stated above.

This whole hullabaloo was started by a guy named Joshua Fuerestein who calls himself a “pastor” and “social media personality.”  Here he is on CNN:

On one level this video is hilarious (Is Fuerestein really unable to hear the other guy?).  On another level it is very sad.  Shame on CNN and other media outlets that are covering this story in a serious way.  This is just another example of the shallow culture-war shouting matches that pass for serious dialogue in our culture today.

For those of you who want to think seriously about the role of Starbucks in American culture check out Bryant Simon’s Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks.

And here is my irreverent take on coffee in church.