Happy Holidays?

About this time last year I wrote a couple of posts, Save Your Christmas and Bring a Light, in which I suggested that if christians were really dissatisfied with the way the Christmas story was being told by our society, they wouldn’t waste time with protests, but instead tell a better story.

I also introduced readers to the Advent Conspiracy and the growing idea of opting out of Christmas Incorporated in favor of smaller, saner, and more personal expressions of love and community.

advent conspiracy

This year my friends at Lifelink Memphis have really embraced the concept, and together we are spending all month exploring Christmas and ways to make it more meaningful, enjoyable, and fulfilling.

I believe we are on the trail of a better story, not just one more worth telling, but one more worth living.

Oh, and I’m leading one of the classes.

So if you find yourself in Memphis this December, join me Sundays at 9:30 for a closer look at the ideas of Advent Conspiracy and stay for service at 10:15.

The story is just getting good.

Lifelink Memphis
1015 Cooper
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27 Responses to Happy Holidays?

  1. Greeneyezz says:

    I’ll be in Memphis, at least in thought.

    What a wonderful message Brent!

    I hope your holiday is warm and carring and the coming new year brings lots of love and peace to you and your family.

    ~ZZ

  2. Sokar101 says:

    Sounds a bit like a cool idea, taking Christmas away from big corporations. Sounds a little like Festivus (for the rest of us.)

    • Brent says:

      AC is not really about taking anything away from anyone, but more like scraping away layers of holiday craziness to see if there is anything meaningful underneath.

      About Festivus, I never caught a lot of Seinfeld but I hulu it or something.

  3. the scôp says:

    love it! here’s one idea that happened the 11th & 12th locally:

    http://www.continuumarts.com/2009/12/14/help-portrait-memphis-2009/

    It was an international event and featured on cnn:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/12/14/photo.shoot.help.portrait/index.html?iref=allsearch

  4. ~ says:

    “Ironically, eleven months of the year Christmas is left alone. The passionate debate largely subsides right after Christmas until the season rolls around again. It is a war of the strangest sort. The central message of Christmas is peace. Yet just in time for the season of peace all other burning issues are set aside for this one: the dreaded conflict called Christmas. For the month of December they go to battle. There are never any winners or losers — and the war never ends.”

    Christmas is questioned, lampooned, satirized, and mocked from coast-to-coast in the name of entertainment advancing the political agendas of talking heads (Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly, John Gibson etc…) who will stop at nothing in their quest for attention.

    This “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas” feud is another irresponsible bogus attempt by FOX News and other media outlets to show they “care” about upholding the true meaning of Christmas. “Demand Walmart to say Merry Christmas” they say. Big Business is not the least bit concerned that the phrase “Happy Holidays” will offend anyone, as much as they are afraid it will affect their bottom line. Christmas at Walmart and other frantic shopping malls are not traditional Christmas, but one that has been hijacked by the proponents of commercialism. I admire Advent Conspiracy’s attempt to separate the media hype from the truth about Christmas shifting the debate away from who and where it is observed to how and why we observe it. How did we get so far away from this is the first place?

    We assert there is a war on Christmas. It is an old and unsettled debate. But it has nothing to do with television pundits, school grounds, city parks or Supreme Courts. The war on Christmas is fought in the home and in the heart. Families can really get creative during Christmas and come up with all kinds of fun ways to donate their time and money. We should not let ourselves feel guilty if we can’t afford the latest and greatest electronics. WHO REALLY NEEDS MORE STUFF? Especially when there are people in this world who do not have the most basic necessity of life: WATER.

    I’m really inspired by this Brent. Can I send your Church a donation to help people get clean drinking water? Now that would fill my heart with a Merry Christmas.

    • Brent says:

      Yes, certain networks and public figures with questionable motives seem to cater to a well-intentioned but subtly misguided group of people that feel that society owes them a Christan Christmas. But like I have quoted my friend JohnO before as saying, “You don’t take a light bulb and beat the darkness out of a room. All you need to do is turn it on.”

      I was just sent a link to a write up on Advent Conspiracy on Time.com in which explains the idea better than I do:

      “A movement like Advent Conspiracy is countercultural on two fronts — fighting the secular idea that Christmas is a monthlong shopping and decorating ritual and also the powerful conservative notion that the holiday requires acknowledgment from the nation’s retailers to be truly meaningful…

      …Portland, Ore., pastor Rick McKinley says, “Christians get all bent out of shape over the fact that someone didn’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ when I walked into the store. But why are we expecting the store to tell our story? That’s just ridiculous.”

      (See more http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1947590,00.html?xid=rss-fullnation-yahoo#ixzz0Zue35SO9)

      As always, there is plenty enough to fight about if that is what you really want to do. But if you want to help there is also plenty of opportunity.

      Lifelink is collecting money to fund well-building, but you can also give directly at http://www.water.cc/ and other sites.

      • Debbie says:

        I’m not fighting about it at all. I’m trying to convey (not doing a very good job) that the fight is bogus. There is no “War on Christmas”. The phrase is just convenient political jargon much like “The War on Drugs” or “The War on Terror”. If there is a battle to be fought it should be in our hearts and minds. Meaning, we should not be tempted to go overboard and buy up an entire store because we’ve been bombarded with flashy advertisements day in and day out that aggressively tell us what we can’t live without. Instead, we need to slow down and think of what people really crave during the Christmas season: love, time, attention etc…

        “Portland, Ore., pastor Rick McKinley says, “Christians get all bent out of shape over the fact that someone didn’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ when I walked into the store. But why are we expecting the store to tell our story? That’s just ridiculous.”

        The article at Time.com is so on point (except for the title). It reaffirms what I just said about how we should not care about whether a sales clerk at some big shopping mall says “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. It’s just kind of well…stupid.

        Nevertheless, I do appreciate you always being able to diffuse my babble by pointing out what is relevant and then kindly giving me a nudge in the right direction (or maybe a better direction) all while not ever really directly telling me what to do.

        • rjlight says:

          I like that Debbie. Last year I was next to a parent at a holiday program and the parent got so disgusted with the Principal because he said have a happy holiday instead of Merry Christmas. I thought “really? he needed to say Merry Christmas or he didn’t believe in Christ? I think this getting all pushed out of shape because someone chooses to not exclude other religions by saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas is once again such a distraction to the real message of Christ. So, Happy Holidays!

          • Debbie says:

            Yes I agree with you rjlight, but I think we may be missing Brent’s point. Correct me if I’m wrong Brent (wouldn’t be the first time) but your advocation of the Advent Conspiracy is a way to stop talking about what is wrong about Christmas and start focusing on what is right (or better).

            Worship Fully
            Spend Less
            Give More
            Love All

            It’s quite simple really…substituting “compassion for consumption.”

            The worship fully part of the Advent Conspiracy is something I need help with.

          • Debbie says:

            Oh and Rjlight I forgot to say that I do still read your blog from time to time even if I don’t comment. I think I’m going to stop in more often…

        • rjlight says:

          Oh yes, I agree that is where Brent is coming from…I just was reading your post and it got me thinking about something that irritated me! I do agree about spending less, and making it more meaningful. You got me sidetracked! ha! I know in our family we have really tried to downplay the whole presents thing. This year we do have a family gift and stocking stuffers and the kids took names for each other. I don’t ever want my kids to think Christmas is about what you get. We are also giving to a couple of charities. Okay, I sound like I am bragging…

  5. rjlight says:

    Well, if I was in the area I would stop by…however, California will be my place all month.

  6. Debbie says:

    RJ!!! A two month break from writing is not going AWOL!! Just ask Bernt, he took a 4 month break!

  7. rjlight says:

    Oh Bernt, what a fellow! The problem is that I have down multiple 2-month breaks which I think is worse than a 4-month break, right Bernt or is it Burnt?

    • Brent says:

      I was Burnt….that’s why I took a vacation from blogging. I thinks it’s better to rest than to bore people, but you still need some sort of schedule or discipline or you rarely feel “rested”.

  8. Brent says:

    Just getting back from a party and boy have you ladies been busy. I’ll dig into this all tomorrow. Night.

  9. Brent says:

    Finally getting back to everyone….

    Debbie the “you” in the “…if that is what you really want to do. (fight)…” was strictly rhetorical or abstract…or just sloppy writing.

    I was referring to O’Reilly, or Limbaugh, or Michael Moore, or RJ’s holiday program parent, or anyone who is so worried about being right that they miss the point.

    And the point of Christmas is this: God…came…to humanity. To reclaim it, and restore it, and renew it…from the inside out. Completely bypassing the politics and power structures of the day.

    It was and still is absolutely revolutionary and counter-cultural, and it completely transcends the shouting matches and petty squabbles that make up much of our society.

    So when religious people “jump in the fray” and “fight fire with fire” rather than acting out a better (loving, patient, tolerant) way, they actually invalidate, or at least distract from, the message of Christmas with their tactics.

    In other word, anytime someone gets bitter about the meaning of Christmas, they have already lost sight of that meaning.

    Consider instead the cause and effect adjustment hidden within the ideas of Advent Conspiracy, namely that every person who digs down, finds, and lives a genuinely peaceful Christmas experience will convey a louder message to their friends and neighbors than a thousand protests and panic-mongering pundits.

    True peace is highly contagious.

    Unfortunately, rhetoric is easier to find. And many people on both sides invest so much of their energy in the arguments while so little energy is used expressing their love to their loved ones, often absently plopping down some cash for a quick gift rather than putting together something personal and meaningful.

    The real challenge is to each of us is to put away our weapons, whether they be words or more, and invest ourselves in those around us. Not only is that what the season is about, it is the only demonstration that actually changes hearts.

    At least that’s what I think.

  10. Debbie says:

    That was beautiful.

  11. rjlight says:

    I must agree with Debbie — beautifully written.

    And to add some deep and thought-provoking input:
    “I’m looking at the man in the mirror” this season instead of pointing the finger at…Rush. ;)

  12. Debbie says:

    There are plenty of reasons to point the finger at Rush and I’m trying NOT to give him the satisfaction. He actually lives to be wrong and he enjoys taking his 33 million listeners down with him.

    Ethics means nothing to some of these radical political pundits; they are not really concerned with being right they are concerned with being heard. Some, like Rush, have identified that the more unethical, ridiculous, and downright bogus their rantings are…the more attention they receive. Rush’s listeners, even though they KNOW he is way off base, still support him because they are the ones concerned with being right.

    Many of my co-workers and friends listen to Rush and quote him on a regular basis. (This is probably why I’m in defense mode all the time) When I offer an alternative way of thinking I usually get blank stares. It can be exhausting at times. Why should I even care what they think? Well, unfortunately Rush shapes political opinion and thus influences how people vote and in turn directly affects national and even global legislation.

    Rush’s involvement in pushing people to say “Merry Christmas” or we will lose the meaning to secular boogymen is just an extension of his “tried and true” sensationalism.

    So RJ, I’m trying to look at the “man in the mirror” but all I see is Michael Jackson singing… “No message could have been any clearer…oh shamon… :o

    *****And this is why Brent’s view is so important to me because he knows how to remove politics from the equation altogether!!! I can exhaust myself playing the political game or I can rise above it all and lead a much more fulfilling life.