The “True” Christmas

It is a universal human pattern:  first, use some analytical solvent on the accidents to get to the essence,  then, be shocked that the essence itself melted away.     

Christmas is not a core story or truth buried under the barnacles of culture.   It is a dialogue between God and man, in which God says “Emmanuel!”  and man says “joy!” , and the only voice man has is culture.   Culture includes money as well as song and color.   Christmas has not been corrupted by being “commercialized” —  how wouldyou expect a wealthy culture — as a culture —  to respond to the incarnation?   With everything except its money?   Why in the world would we want that?   

No, I think we’re just smug docetics, and docetism’s smugness is the smugness of self-made religion.   Jesus’ birth is too pure, too ethereal for our money.   We think we sully it with money.   Really?  Really?  Have you read the gospels?   Have you been schooled by the feast?  Widows bring mites because they have them;  the little drummer brought what he had; the ox and lamb kept time and kept Him warm with their breath; but the rich magi didn’t bring him a mite, or their camel breath,  or a little drum; they brought him GOLD.   It would have been an insult to do otherwise.  

Not that every thing man says in reponse to God is equally good.   The ascetic or puritan impulse is often correct, just like an eraser is useful when you write.   There are corrupt cultures, and wealth is often corrupt.   But the healthy ascetic erases one thing in order to add something else.   You don’t make Christmas more pure by taking the money out of it; you just make it poor.   Money is a medium of exchange of material goods, but it has never been a substitute for anything else.   The poor can be deluded by that error just like the rich often are.   

A stock anecdote this time of year is “the poor Christmas of our childhood, in which we had nothing but the birth of Jesus to celebrate.”   Well, money didn’t steal that from you; you gave it away for a bowl of porridge.  

All humans are docetic until the incarnation heals our logic.    Come, celebrate the feast with all you have.

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