Christmas and Consumerism: Four Biblical Reflections and Practical Responses

With Matthew Colwell. Studies produced for the Center for a New American Dream. 11 pp.

Few of us would argue with the complaint that Christmas has become too “commercialized.” It has deteriorated into an overheated festival of manic consumption in which the majority of the gifts are purchased by people who cannot really afford them and given to people who do not really need them. Yet we often still feel caught in the expectations associated with this annual ritual. Meanwhile, many retail businesses have become increasingly dependent upon the holiday revenues generated by exactly this kind of dysfunctional consumer behavior.

Christmas thus presents thoughtful people with three interlocking dilemmas.

(1) As a season of crude materialism, crass consumerism and gratuitous waste, it mirrors much of what is most problematic about our economic way of life; yet for us to raise such questions can seems like a betrayal of the “holiday spirit.”

(2) The season seems to create both economic and psychological anxiety that only increase the more we participate in the season’s commercial excesses; Christmas is thus a time of widespread depression and emptiness on one hand, and indebtedness and financial overextension on the other.

(3) Under the pressures of the above two dilemmas, the deeper meanings associated with the religious symbols and stories tend to get trivialized, sidelined or lost completely.

Full Article: Christmas and Consumerism: Four Biblical Reflections and Practical Responses SKU: 01-5-Pb