Eugene Cho

what are we exactly standing up for when we stand for christmas?

Speaking of some of my favorite blogs, here’s a post from one of them entitled, ‘Stand Up for Christmas?’. I don’t think that she’ll mind me sharing her post in its entirety (below)  as I’ve done it once before but it’s too good of a read not to share.

I’m sharing this not because I’m trying to throw Focus on the Family under the train. Believe it or not, I have a lot of respect for the big picture vision of their ministry. Hate them or love them, they are doing some things that not many dare even engage. We can often rant, complain, (and blog), but they’ve been doing work to build up one of the cornerstones of a healthy society: Family.

But when they miss the boat on occasions, they really miss the boat and I think this might be an occasion they missed the boat. Let me also say that I recently had the privilege of meeting the new President of Focus on the Family (Dobson resigned this past year) and I was appreciative of our time together…

Why can’t we get behind another campaign like this one that shows that so little of what we earn can bless so many around the world? For example, $100 can radically impact a woman in Eastern Congo impacted by war and gender violence.

I’ll warn you though that there’s some profanity in her post. I don’t know who her pastor is but he should probably have a talk with her because he would never use profanity in his blog.

Read the post below. I get what Focus on the Family is trying to do but read what the author is trying to say. Agree? Disagree? Both? Thoughts?

I’ve been trying to blog more positively this month, but I can’t resist taking a shot at this one. Focus on the Family’s “keep the Christ in Christmas” initiative. You get to rate retailers on how christmas-friendly they are (aka whether they say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” when you walk in the door). Stores can be rated as friendly, negligent, or offensive in terms of their Christmas spirit. That way you can be sure your holiday spending gluttony goes to the retailers who are appropriately catering to your view of how secular retailers are supposed to celebrate a christian holiday, at least while they are selling you christmas crap.

Really? The thing Christians are supposed to care about is whether or not a secular retail chain says the word “christmas”?

The last time I checked, spending lots of money at christmas wasn’t a big priority of Christ. Neither was all of the hoohaw about saying/doing/looking holy from the “religious” people in his day. Christ cared a lot about the oppressed, poor, neglected, and rejected. He didn’t give a shit what the most religious people of the day said was important; in fact, he called them a bunch of hypocrites (and got killed for it).

One thing I’ve been reading about a lot lately is modern-day slavery. (This blog is a good start). There is a lot of slavery in our world. Slave-made products are everywhere, and as many as 27 million people are enslaved in various industries world-wide.

If we’re wondering what Christ would have cared about, let’s start there. Let’s start rating companies on whether they DO Christ-like things, rather than on whether the under-paid clerk says “Merry Christmas” as you’re checking out.

Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
~ Amos 5:23-24

The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.
~ Proverbs 5:7

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
~ James 1:27

You know what offends me? It’s not whether someone says “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”. It’s when I read that L.L. Bean, Pier 1, and Walmart are known to be actively and intentionally using slave labor in their products. I don’t give a shit how many “Merry Christmas” signs they have in their store, as if that makes one flying fuck’s worth of difference when they are participating in the enslavement of women, men, and children who are created in the image of God. Focus on the Family gives them 12-14% offensive ratings, and 52-71% friendly ratings. No mention of child slavery. No mention of beating or firing workers trying to unionize to protect themselves. No mention of the workers who have died at the factory making the cheap furniture you bought at Ikea. How does “Standing for Christmas” have ANYTHING to do with Christ?

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
and in his name all oppression shall cease.
~ “O Holy Night”, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, 1847

* 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame
* Jason Boyett’s blog on this same topic
* Petition for the Association of Christian Retailers to adopt anti-slavery standards
* Where to find Fair Trade gifts
* Department of Labor list of slave-made goods

Merry Christmas.

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60 Responses

  1. […] know, you get a Happy Holidays.  Eugene Cho, one of my favorite bloggers, just shared an insightful reflection worth […]

  2. Great post. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind you sharing it. I think Focus really did miss the mark on this, as they tend to do when they fail to actually do what their name implies, focus on the family.

  3. Rick in Texas says:

    To paraphrase Campolo, some people are going to be more upset about the fact that the writer used (and you re-published) offensive words than they will be about the fact that people are suffering and dying in unjust working conditions. Thanks for this post Eugene.

  4. Erin says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. I’ve been feeling real lonely in this “Stand up for Christmas” feud. So many posts on facebook that feel real imperialistic. We win, we’ve got 12 Merry Christmas’ to your 3 Happy Holidays! Madness.
    This was a breath of fresh air.

  5. Kacie says:

    Yeah, that Focus campaign is sort of unbelievable. I’m embarassed by it.

  6. Rebecca says:

    There’s a great article on Time regarding The Advent Conspiracy: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1947590,00.html?xid=rss-fullnation-yahoo

    A much better response to consumerism at Christmas, in my opinion.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho and Art Good, Tony Wood. Tony Wood said: Powerful post on what we "stand for" at Christmas by @eugenecho (fyi slight profanity) http://bit.ly/7MHd6E […]

  8. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by eugenecho: What exactly are we standing up for when we Stand for Christmas? – http://bit.ly/7MHd6E

  9. Matt says:

    I understand where she is coming from, but Focus on the Family is doing this for one specific reason. Just because 1 initiative cannot cover all things in the world that are not of Christ does not mean that you should attack them for looking at 1 thing. How many times have you all ever shopped anywhere? Yeah, anywhere? Did you, prior to shopping there, take a look at where they purchase their products from and then take a look into the working conditions of that organization to decide whether or not to shop there? Or, did you look at who had the best price and shop there without one other thought? I am more embarrassed by each of you for attacking a organization who is doing what they can to spread the love of Christ in all things while you are sitting there doing nothing. Was Christ politically correct? No. Focus is not worried about being politically correct, they are worried about spreading the gospel of Christ before it is too late. I admit, they aren’t always spot on, but they are at least doing something.

    Look into their company and see how often they have done reports and studies on the unethical treatment of organizations. You might change your mind about them if you do.

    • Andy M says:

      I’m sorry to disagree, but they are most definately not sharing the love of Christ by pointing the finger at business’s for not saying “Merry Christmas”. This country is not a Christian country, and business’s must cater to all customers, not just the christian ones, thus they change how they greet people.

      Forget about organizations trying to be “politically correct”. Try to think about this. How are you sharing the love of Christ, and/or sharing the gospel, by ignoring the fact that many other people in this country follow a different religion than Christianity? If this country happened to be primarily Jewish, would you not feel alienated if they refused to say Merry Christmas, but rather said Happy Hanukkah? You might prefer they said Happy Holidays rather than ignoring your religion.

      And know that saying, “Merry Christmas” does not count as “spreading the gospel”. Unfortunately, in our culture it now has about as much significance as “Have a nice day!”

      You assume too much in saying that “you are sitting there doing nothing.” You don’t know me, and apparently you don’t pay much attention to the work Eugene has and is doing with ODW.

      And while I’m sure that there are many organizations that are treated unethically, there are billions of human beings being treated unethically all around the world every day. Treated unethically by governments, by big corporations. Mistreated organizations are not our problem.

      • Matt says:

        I was not referring to organizations being treated unethically, I was referring to their unethical practices of those “billions” of people that you have quoted as being treated unethically. Really? Billions? Wow. Where did you come up with that number? That is staggering and should be the focus for all followers of Christ everywhere!

        Also, my comment really had nothing to do with what Focus is doing with this particular “movement” it had to do more with that fact that people attack them at every chance they get. And more often than not, they are not doing anything themselves, just attacking the work of others.

        I commend you if you are one of the few who are actually following James 1:22 with the way that you live. My post was not an attack on you. And, Andy, you are right I do not know you, but by what you said it sounds like you want me to tell you good job with what you are doing in this life.

        • Andy M says:

          If Focus on the Family ever criticized many organizations or corporations for unethical practices, then I’ve never heard it. I’ll admit that I don’t pay much attention to them, but they are usually most vocal about things like what Eugene posted. If they really do what you say, then they should add that in to the “Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays” discussion, rather than sidelining it to focus on the most trivial thing they could.

          Considering that essentially half of the earths population lives on less than $2 a day, while many corporations exploit them, I would consider that relevant. Was I being precise, no. But I take very seriously the chasm between the rich and the poor on earth. If you take the bible seriously, you would have to agree that God blesses some people in order to bless others, but that is not what is happening.

          Focus on the family often “attacks” themselves, so they should expect some criticism.

          You didn’t say that “they” do nothing, you said, “you” do nothing. You should be more careful with your words.

          If I cared enough, I’d be insulted by your last suggestion. All I pointed out is that you don’t know me. If I wanted a pat on the back, then I would have started listing my achievements. But I didn’t. I don’t need affirmation from some stranger on a blog.

          • Stranger says:

            Gee, what examples of “Christianity”. The bickering is something I can do without. Unfortunately, it’s why I don’t go to church very often. I mean really, why would anyone aspire to learn about God and/or faith when on the surface it looks no different than school yard bullying.

    • Laurel says:

      Yes, as a matter of fact, I do take a look at the ethical ramifications of where I shop, because I take this seriously:
      Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
      ~ James 1:27

      Maybe part of not being corrupted by the world is not descending into petty arguments about how our culture/nation isn’t Christian enough anymore. Maybe it’s good for the Church to not be popular and widely excepted? Perhaps the less-christian our country/world is, the more of an opportunity there is to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” ~Matthew 5:16

      Which is a more pure and genuine religion: saying Merry Christmas or fighting to end slavery and oppression?

      • Matt says:

        Laurel, you are right on track with this. Thank you.

        The church has never been more pathetic and that is because it is safe. The movement of CHrist’s church in this world was so powerful and impactful when it was not safe. I agree with you that the less popular the church gets, the more pure and genuine it might become.

        • Steve says:

          Double Bah Double Humbug!!!

          The “Purity” of the society in which the church exists has never been the issue. The world in which the Scriptures were written was a hell[sic] of a lot worse than the U.S. The issue should be how the church responds to the hurting people outside their walls.

          I got the forward to this FOF and then the AFA call to arms the same day I started reading a book in which Tony Campolo had written about an episode regarding the church, and the culture… forgive the length, but it seems appropriate here:

          [Tony had found himself wide awake at 3AM due to Jet lag]…

          Eventually he found a tiny diner, with one man behind the bar who served him coffee and a doughnut. Tony was the only customer until, quite suddenly, the coffee shop was filled with girls. Some sat at small tables, others at the counter near Tony. From their conversation he learned an astonishing amount about Honolulu’s night life, for the girls were discussing their night’s work and their male clients. These girls were prostitutes. He tells the story:

          I overheard the woman sitting beside me say, “Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m going to be thirty-nine.”

          Her friend responded in a nasty tone, “So what do you want from me? A birthday party? What do you want? Ya want me to get you a cake and sing ‘Happy Birthday?'”

          “Come on!” said the woman sitting next to me. “Why do you have to be so mean? I was just telling you, that’s all. Why do you have to put me down? I was just telling you it was my birthday. I don’t want anything from you. I mean, why should you give me a birthday party? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?”

          When I heard that, I made a decision. I sat and waited until the women had left. Then I called over the fat guy behind the counter and I asked him, “Do they come in here every night?”

          “Yeah!” he answered.

          “The one right next to me, does she come here every night?”

          “Yeah,” he said. “That’s Agnes. Yeah, she comes in here every night. Why d’ya wanta know?”

          “Because I heard her say that tomorrow is her birthday,” I told him. “What do you say you and I do something about that? What do you think about us throwing a birthday party for her right here tomorrow night?”

          A cute smile slowly crossed his chubby cheeks and he answered with measured delight, “That’s great!…”

          “Look.” I told him, “if it’s OK with you, I’ll get back here tomorrow morning about 2:30 and decorate the place. I’ll even get a birthday cake!”

          “No way,” said Harry (that was his name). “The birthday cake’s my thing. I’ll make the cake.”

          At 2:30 the next morning, I was back at the diner. I had picked up some crepe-paper decorations at the store and had made a sign out of big pieces of cardboard that read, “Happy Birthday, Agnes!” I decorated the diner from one end to the other. I had that diner looking good.

          The woman who did the cooking must have gotten the word out on the street, because by 3:15 every prostitute in Honolulu was in the place. It was wall-to-wall prostitutes…and me!

          At 3:30 on the dot, the door of the diner swung open and in came Agnes and her friend. I had everybody ready (after all I was kind of the M.C. of the affair) and when they came in we all screamed, “Happy birthday!” Never have I seen a person so flabbergasted…so stunned…so shaken. Her mouth fell open. Her legs seemed to buckle a bit. Her friend grabbed her arm to steady her. As she was led to sit on one of the stools along the counter we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her. As we came to the end of our singing with “happy birthday dear Agnes, happy birthday to you,” her eyes moistened, when the birthday cake with all the candles on it was carried out, she lost it and just openly cried.

          Harry gruffly mumbled, “Blow out the candles, Agnes! Come on! Blow out the candles! If you don’t blow out the candles, I’m gonna hafta blow out the candles.” And, after an endless few seconds, he did. Then he handed her a knife and told her, “Cut the cake, Agnes. Yo, Agnes, we all want some cake.”

          Agnes looked down at the cake. Then without taking her eyes off it, she slowly and softly said, “Look Harry, is it all right with you if I… I mean is it OK if I kind of… want I want to ask you is…is it OK if keep the cake a little while? I mean is it all right if we don’t eat it right away?”

          Harry shrugged and answered, “Sure! It’s O.K If you want to keep the cake, keep the cake. Take it home if you want to.”

          “Can I,” she asked. Then looking at me she said, “I live just down the street a couple of doors. I want to take the cake home, OK? I’ll be right back. Honest!”

          She got off the stool picked up the cake, and, carrying it like it was the Holy Grail walked slowly toward the door.

          As we all just stood there motionless, she left. When the door closed there was a stunned silence in the place. Not knowing what else to do, I broke the silence by saying, “What do you say we pray?”

          Looking back on it now it seems more than strange for a sociologist to be leading a prayer meeting with a bunch of prostitutes in a diner in Honolulu at 3:30 in the morning. But then it just felt like the right thing to do.

          I prayed for Agnes. I prayed for her salvation. I prayed that her life would be changed and that God would be good to her. When I finished, Harry leaned over the counter and with a trace of hostility in his voice, he said “Hay! You never told me you were a preacher. What kind of church do you belong to?”

          In one of those moments when just the right words came, I answered, “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning.”

          Harry waited a moment and then almost sneered as he answered, “No you don’t. There’s no church like that. If there was, I’d join it. I’d join a church like that!”

          My point is that I think there are many people out there who would come to a church that gave birthday parties for Prostitutes, but would not come to a church that condemns them.

          I aim to find out

          • Mick says:

            Steve that is a good point about the culture . But I would disagree somewhat because if Christ was born in a culture that worshiped many Gods , His Birth and Death would have been just a story of one God of many . So culture has something to do with our view points , what we accept , what we tolerate for discussion , and there for what we are able to receive and give to others in our everyday lives. Is Christmas a big deal , to me it is , but thats Ok if it is not with you. You seem like a man who Loves God and much I and others could learn from . But of course if we were talking about Christmas , I would never have known that and your beautiful story you passed on . in any case , God Bless and Merry Christmas . I figure I send one of the conservative messages that go around , its kind of cute.
            No malice intended .

            To All My Democrat Friends:

            Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes
            for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress,
            non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday,
            practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion
            of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the
            religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice
            not to practice religious/secular traditions at all. I also wish you a
            fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated
            recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010,
            but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures
            whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not
            to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor
            the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also this wish is made
            without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious
            faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

            To My Republican Friends:

            Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!

            • Susan says:

              Mick – I’m a believer in Jesus, a follower who was gloriously saved more than 30 years ago. And I’m a Democrat. So knock it off already. Merry Christmas to you, too.

    • Leica says:

      No one is criticising one initiative for not covering all things in the world. Just that the one thing they focus on is pointless and ignorant. No one is “spreading the gospel of Christ” by being forced to say “Merry Christmas”. To say “Happy Holidays” does NOT disregard Christ or his believers, it simply acknowledges everyone else too. These businesses take everyone’s money equally, not just the christians, therefore it is only proper that they respect everyone equally. It has nothing to do with anything so modern as being “politically correct”, it’s simply good old-fashioned courtesy.

      “At least they are doing something.” Yes. What they are doing is perpetuating the image of christians as pushy, arrogant, intolerant, self-righteous bigots with an agenda to force their beliefs down everyone else’s throats. That doesn’t spread the gospel, it doesn’t bring anyone to Christ, it only pushes people further away. God is not being served by this.

      Your sarcasm regarding the casual estimate of those “billions” of people being treated unethically just goes to prove your lack of awareness. YES, there are approximately 6.8 billion people on earth and most of them are victims of injustice in some way. And YES, that SHOULD be the focus for all followers of Christ everywhere – which is exactly the point! If everyone focused on what really matters, they wouldn’t have time to be bothered over whether shopkeepers mumble a perfunctory “Merry Christmas”.

  10. Liz says:

    I have also been disgusted by this campaign. It is exactly the kind of thing that the religious people who rubbed Jesus the wrong way would have been into. But I have to admit it is this kind of stuff that I have come to expect from FOTF.

  11. Andy M says:

    I completely agree with her, even with the profanity, though I doubt I would use it myself. It shows exactly how many christians completely miss the point when it comes to Jesus.

    I respect Focus on the Family for much of the work they do in family matters, but I don’t think they actually live up to their own name. Much of their “focus” has been shifted onto some conspiracy theory about atheists or homosexuals taking over the world or something. They seriously just need to calm down and focus on what Jesus focused on, that is serving the poor and oppressed.

  12. What really kills me about this, what really boils my blood, is knowing that so many Americans would be open the message of Jesus if it weren’t for crap like this. Those Americans who are most hostile to the gospel are anti-slavery and pro-family. They’re just anti-imperialist as well.

    Every time I talk to someone about the big questions of life we inevitably end up confronting their assumption that Jesus is concerned primarily with sexual immorality and cultural conservatism. And it comes straight out of stuff like this.

    And, because it’s worth remembering: All the popular Christmas traditions existed back when the church considered Christmas a heresy. The pagans crafted it and we Christians shoe-horned our savior in later. So talking about the “real reason” for the holiday season is revisionist history.

  13. I’m frustrated with Focus on the Family on this one for fostering an attitude of entitlement and buying into the consumerism that has overtaken Advent. Worst of all, it sounds like some folks have used “Stand for Christmas” as an excuse to be rude to the poor sales clerks at some of these stores.

    Jason Boyett wrote a great post about the whole thing here: http://blog.jasonboyett.com/2009/12/rant-not-standing-for-christmas.html

    And I had a little to much fun writing a fake submission to the site, which you can read here: http://rachelheldevans.com/stand-up-christmas

  14. Danny says:

    The could care less about this campaign directly. What I care about are the indirect results of it:

    Self-righteous people thinking they have a right to hear “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” or another innocuous greeting…and making it known how upset they are that they didn’t hear it.

    The furthering of a mindset of being “removed from the world” as if that were even possible, as opposed to being a light in and amongst the things of the world.

    And, probably mostly, those who are outside the church and see the behaviors, see a campaign like this one or another, see that Christians care more about semantics and terminology than justice–and use it as one more powerful reason to never come to Jesus.

  15. Reggie says:

    Yes!!!! 100% agree. Thank you for sharing this.

  16. danderson says:

    I teach fifth grade in a public school. The other day at a staff meeting, we again talked about “secular” mindfulness, and were treated to a portion of a video from a conference where the principal and a fellow teacher went. The Dali Lama was also there. The Dali was referred to repeatedly as “His Holiness”. Did I mention I teach at a PUBLIC SCHOOL?

    Just today, the local high school acting troupe regaled us with a bunch of skits on tolerance. I like the ones related to culture, skin color and language. Less so, when it comes to sexual orientation.

    Why am I saying this? Because fifth graders these days will learn to put condoms on cucumbers, that being gay is as natural as being black and that the Dali Lama is “His Holiness.” But God forbid that they hear about Jesus.

    I used to disdain Focus on the Family’s politics in my younger days. Now I’m beginning to see their side of the picture. Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but the spiritual forces. And in America they’re alive and well and brainwashing the young.

    And I disagree with the comment that Jesus was only about feeding the poor. His mission was also to be the Bread of Life and our Living Water. As I grow older I begin to mourn how we so nonchalantly treat God’s word. Maybe because Bible reading is now at an all-time low….

    • Jason says:

      Just curious where the statistic, “Bible reading is now at an all-time low” comes from. I would assume that really you might mean in the last 50 or 100 years or so, tops, considering the literacy rate for most of the world’s history. (and again, I’m not saying that is or isn’t true).

      I guess I should consider myself more fortunate, then, that despite having grown up in schools that preached tolerance, taught about all the world’s religions, and yes, even tried to deal with how people should treat others who are homosexual, I still managed to hear about Jesus and his Love, the redemption he offers the whole word, and fall in love with reading Scripture. Guess God still triumphs over evil after all🙂

    • dritta says:

      Just to clarify: the post did not say that Jesus was only concerned about feeding the poor. The point was that he was MORE concerned with feeding the poor than with false confessions of holiness. This, if you read your Bible, I believe you will find to be true.

      I also work in a public school. I find it hostile towards those who feel they have a right to have their religion preached in the name of education, but very open to those who expect to have their religious beliefs respected the same as everyone else’s. When mainstream Christians are able to show as much tact as the Dali Lama, I expect they will be equally welcome. Until then, I am not surprised that folks get irritated by the arrogance.

      and yes, I read my Bible every day this week. You?

      • danderson says:

        You sound a bit hostile. I’m sorry I even posted here. What a herd mentality to bash Focus on the Family. Maybe there will be a post someday about the good things FOTF have done for families. I won’t hold my breath on these types of blogs…This reminds me of a class on Social Dynamics my wife took as a grad student at UW-Madison. The class was discussing abortion. My wife asked what would happen if she disagreed with the standard liberal position on abortion. She was told she would be relegated to the out-group. That’s the way tact and tolerance works, especially with so-called “progressives”.

        • Eugene Cho says:

          thanks for commenting danderson. i appreciate your comment and your pushback.

          it’s unfortunate that you regret posting on “these type of blogs.”

          i have a great amount of respect for teachers and educators. don’t be discouraged brother. i’m glad that you are serving the lord as a teacher in the public school system.

    • Andy M says:

      Not to start anything, because I understand your concerns. But there are a couple things to consider.

      Honestly I think sex education should happen at home coming from the parents, rather than the school system, but they do it there because it simply is not happening at home in most cases. And living in a pluralistic society, we have to deal with the fact that homosexuality is now a culturally acceptable lifestyle, thus it will be included in public education, whether we like it or not.

      And you have to realize that calling the Dali Lama “His Holiness” is now rather like calling Obama “Mr. President”, or a Catholic priest, “Father”. It is a title, not necessarily worship. Now, I hate titles, so I do have a problem with it, but I dislike it the same amount as having to refer to anyone with a title, whether that be His Holiness, General, Bishop, Admiral, Father, President, Pastor, King, whatever. I want to be respectful, but I absolutely hate titles.

      • danderson says:

        Your post reminds me of the analogy of our culture with the frog in water. The water heats up ever so slowly, and the frog never notices that it’s slowly being boiled to death. I wonder what our culture will tolerate next, beastiality? pedophilia? Where do we draw the line? Or is there no line to be drawn, unless it’s related to poverty and climate change?

        • Andy M says:

          To make myself clearer, I don’t believe that just because we live in a pluralistic society that we just accept the culture. But, it is not our job to judge the people of other cultures, nor try to control them by forcing them in one way or another to follow our rules. We become the worst kind of tyrants when we force our morals on those who often don’t want them.

          Like I said before, I truly understand your concern with those things, but that is the world we live in and we are called to serve the world, being an example of Christ to people. I trust God that if I live my life how He wants, loving others, even enemies, caring for the poor, and serving people as Christ did, that God can change this world through me.

          I see no positive results from drawing lines. Drawing lines just separates us from those whom we are to spread the Gospel to. American Christianity has been drawing lines for a couple centuries now, and it has resulted in Christianity being seen at best as irrelevant, and at worst being based on hate.

        • Steve says:

          What was the line drawn by Jesus many times, but perhaps most vehemently in Matt 25:33ff?

          I for one never heard this as an important thing to Him, either in growing up in the church, or in my years of close contact wiht Focus on the Family.

          Jesus said some very disturbing things, and challenged the very notions that seem to many to have become the main points of church in America.

          FYI, Our culture already tolerates a lot of pedophilia, and even trafficking of children for that end…The solution is not to boycott someone who doesn’t say Merry Christmas when they sell you something you don’t need. wake up!

          Or, John the Baptist put it this way: Repent! for the Kingdom of God is at hand! I am sure those who read their bibles also know what John identified as the works of this repentance. Right? I never heard a sermon on this verse, either.

          What were the works that John said would show this Kingdom repentance, Danderson?

        • Laurel says:

          I think the origional point, D, was that the church has been in the boiling water long enough that we tolerate slave labor in our supply chain more than we tolerate secular companies saying “happy holidays”.

          If we believe truly that God loves every person, and cares about the injustices suffered by people who are enslaved, maybe we should start making a stink about that instead?

  17. […] I have to update this blog with links to another great post on Christmas that I found through eugene cho. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Merry Christmas!Christmastime is […]

  18. As a business owner, I want to be respectful of my patrons and not be wishing them a merry holiday if that is irrelevant (or even offensive) to their belief system. I’m lucky, in that I spend quite a bit of time with each of my patrons and can discern whether they celebrate Christmas, or indeed whether “merry” is an appropriate wish for them. (When people are grieving, for instance, it can be a bitter pill to be wished merriment everywhere they turn.)

    If I worked in a big box store, obviously I wouldn’t have the same opportunity to get to know each of my customers. So to be respectful, I would probably opt for the most neutral greeting I could devise. I don’t understand what’s so controversial about respect.

    So yeah, I think that FOTF tends to stir up a lot of “circle the wagons” thinking that is totally unnecessary. What bothers me is the way that people blindly follow their lead about things that weren’t even an issue until they pointed out the supposed evil. No one cared about “happy holidays” until FOTF told them they should care. Herd mentality….

  19. eliseanne says:

    oh eugene, i heart your blog.

  20. Mick says:

    The Christmas fuss is just that , a reflection of a culture change . Christmas is a beautiful time of the year , for beioevers and non believers.

    The truth of the matter is at one time we said Christmas Vacation for our kids to get a week off, now its the winter vacation . Kids use to make things as presents for parents at schools. Now we have winter festivals.
    A few years ago the School District I live in banned the Play Charlie Brown’s Christmas from performing . A teacher I heard got upset by the Linus contribution to the play.

    Understand that as Christians we need to be bigger then saying merry Christmas or I boycot you. As my wife use to say when I was dealing with four teenagers , pick your fights . Fighting Poverty and promoting Christ are good ones to focus on I agree.

    But reading say Sojourners who Chou blogs on, the folks there who supported this blog also support gay marriage , abortion rights, and the constant need to promote people as narrow who they say are their fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. You would never know it by their method of promoting social justice .

    Some use Social Justice to condemn other believers and promote politics. The people who seem to get upset about Merry Christmas have some strong views on allowing abortions ,property rights, capitalism, traditions, morality, gay marriage or clergy and such . So there are other aspects beneath the debate that go unspoken to.

    I agree sometimes making a big deal out of Merry Christmas , but I also believe making a big deal of those who have seen the changing culture without acknowledging that aspect of the conversation makes one wonder has the world got a bigger hold of the church then we all thought .
    Don’t Christians discern what really may be going on beneath this debate ?

    I enjoy when we challenge ourselves to be better , I have to wonder when we blame another aspect of the church for not being as up to code as we are . Hmmmmm Merry Christmas , Happy holidays , ad God Bless all of you !

    • Steve says:

      I wonder if the folks who are upset about recent ways that Christmas has been corrupted by the culture have Xmas trees in their homes?

      Pardon my French, but what the hell does the Fir tree have to do with the birth of the Savior?

      How about Satan Claus?

      How about Flying Reindeer?

      Christ mass first got waylaid about 1600 years ago, if not sooner. It stopped being a time to focus on the most amazing birth ever, and became at that time tied to the Sun God and the feast [orgy] of Saturnalia So the Christians could convert and still have their feast, and that is why it is celebrated on Dec 25th, and not at the more probable time.

      Every “Christian” endeavor to fix the culture, or “keep the faith” that does not include a lot of loving your neighbors, and NOT judging, and repenting quickly as you realistically see how little you do is a fake. One person called it a religion that more resembles a white washed tomb, than something relevant to the ebb and flow of the society.

      It seems like our Lord, and his Apostle Paul gave us the imperative to judge within the church, not outside of the church. So, that seems like a good reason that this sort of Blog should be focusing on this sort of thing.

      I heart your blog, too, Eugene!

      • Mick says:

        I loved Christmas before I put Christ in my life . So I guess I am out of the loop on this debate . I love the way people open up to each other, the music, the sharing , the giving and yes me receiving . I love the way kids , now my Grand Kids get so excited . And I love the way I and my wife have been able to witness to them about the Birth of Christ and the Love of God for us all and enjoying the people around us in our inner communities who are re enforcing that faith and not trying to restrict the message of the Birth of Christ. The early Church were such great examples for us , and I would agree that having a culture around us re enforcing our beliefs is not the main element in our Faith , and if Peter Paul and the rest did it , we can too through Christ. But to suggest Focus On the Family is saying Jingle Bell Rock is the main aspect of our faith also is quite a leap in cognitive understanding of the subject at hand. Hence a strawman Arguement that Eugene used effectively , but only to get cudos from one side of the debate and crys of fowl from the other side . He Actually started a conversation that could have been met something , but usually sermons that spur growth are met for us as individuals to hear , not for those to use to say see I am more Righteous then you are .

        Take Care Steve .

        • Steve says:

          Hi M Ick;

          Either you hit the eggnog a little early, my friend, or I am inhaling mold from this dang tree, but I can’t elicit a clear thought out of your words. I see a lot of intimation, but if you were trying to say something clearly to me, maybe you could diagram your sentences as an exercise in clarity before hitting the submit comment button.

          To help with the effort, here are a few succinct phrases that seem beyond the pale, or beyond my simple mind:

          “I would agree that having a culture around us re enforcing our beliefs is not the main element in our Faith , and if Peter Paul and the rest did it , we can too through Christ.”…are you saying that Peter Paul reinforced our beliefs? How would a culture around us reinforce our beliefs, anyway?

          “…to suggest Focus On the Family is saying Jingle Bell Rock is the main aspect of our faith also is quite a leap in cognitive understanding of the subject at hand.” Come again?

          I don’t want to be mean, but if this is the kind of Logic that holds to the views expressed by the Christian Right, I think you have made my point.

          • Mick says:

            “I would agree that having a culture around us re enforcing our beliefs is not the main element in our Faith , and if Peter Paul and the rest did it , we can too through Christ.”…are you saying that Peter Paul reinforced our beliefs? How would a culture around us reinforce our beliefs, anyway?”

            Dear Steve

            I was saying the early church lived in a culture where their beliefs were the minority. That they did not have the luxury of walking through a town and seeing reminders of their Faith. The culture Paul preached to had a symbol of the UN Known God , not the Christ Child. So I was actually agreeing with the point of making a huge fuss about saying Merry Christmas , we Christians in America still have it pretty good compared to what the early church did , in America anyway.

            If you walk into a room where your traditions are represented or at least respected , acknowledged , your beliefs are being reinforced. Acknowledged perhaps better put.

            “…to suggest Focus On the Family is saying Jingle Bell Rock is the main aspect of our faith also is quite a leap in cognitive understanding of the subject at hand.” Come again?

            Focus on the Family making a big deal of this is not meaning that is what they believe is the important aspect of Christmas is. It is no different then when some of us parents made such a big deal of our kids cleaning up their rooms. We might have made a major deal about it , but that aspect of parenting ranked far behind the more important things we were trying to teach our kids . Thus I was trying to convey making a big thing about Focus on the Family and their Christmas V Happy holiday debate is basically doing what they are doing . Your making a big deal , and by the way starting to get a little nasty about it .

            “I don’t want to be mean, but if this is the kind of Logic that holds to the views expressed by the Christian Right, I think you have made my point.”

            Well I am a Christian and I do have many of views that all Christians share.Except for ther politics , Focus on the Family are great . I am pro life , believe God set families up through Christ to be the cornerstone of civilization . That since the beginning our familes are pretty dysfunctional and need the support of friends , family and God to keep us on track . That we all are better off with a Mom and Dad including gays, blacks, whites , browns and who ever. I believe I did make your point . I am pretty much a product of the 14th century reformations, and growing up in America . My Love for Christ basically grew because he loved me so much . My big thing now is mentoring kids who have trouble in their lives , throug a Christian organization and a civic one. Mentoring one now whose Mom was homeless with 4 kids and now has a home . I am trying to set up a homeless program in my community that makes it easier and legal for churches and private homes to help .

            In my day folks with dyslexia were put in the third reading group, had a label of dummy do not submit button on our foreheads. Culture of that day did not promote us in participating . Thank God he has put people in my path who have been able to see what I was saying and allowed me to help build and be his servant . I think you are right , I proved your point But excuse me I will keep pushing that submit button in my life thank you very much . . We who think Merry Christmas is cool all fit into the religious right , less intelligent little grouping that makes Christ seem so small in the lives who promote their belief as something so important . I get that stereotype. Mission accomplished , your point won the day.

            Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

  21. Mick says:

    ” No one cared about “happy holidays” until FOTF told them they should care. Herd mentality”

    I respect your opinion on this , but I do not see you doing the same . If you do not want to offend someone by saying Merry Christmas , is it so hard someone might be offended by not saying it and giving another expression . I am with you , whats the deal , but you seem to respect the one who is offended by changing the meaning of the Christmas Season in the way we exchange greetings , in our culture to a more general Holiday . I am not upset about that , but your caricature and statements of people who do fing saying Merry Christmas as important is interesting . If Focus say saying Merry Christmas was not important , would you then say it was . Your logic seems to be Focus bad , everyone else good ?

    I happen to love the Christmas Season , I work for the public , people are so kind and wanting even to converse and share about themselves , its great.

    Focus On The Family is a Giving Ministry that helps the poor, the lost , and families in turmoil . Because they see a cultural shift as damaging to our families is just common sense .
    Poverty equals split families so often .

    But I agree how we handle that cultural change is another thing . What are you doing ?

  22. chad m says:

    if we were true Christians we wouldn’t wish a Merry Christmas until Christmas. we would wish people perseverance and patience during Advent. also, what constitutes “Christmas music”? what counts?

  23. Freedy says:

    Understand that as Christians we need to be bigger then saying merry Christmas or I boycot you. As my wife use to say when I was dealing with four teenagers , pick your fights . Fighting Poverty and promoting Christ are good ones to focus on I agree. I read it and found it interesting. http://www.youthforjesus.com

  24. […] those that were speculating whether I was selling out because of my post, What Exactly Are We Standing Up For When we Stand for Christmas?, I want you to know once and for all…that I have no shame in proclaiming Christ as my Lord […]

    • Steve says:

      Didn’t saying MERRY Christmas start only after the tradition of drinking a cup of Yuletide Mead was pretty standard practice?…in other words, if you don’t drink, or want others to, shouldn’t you refrain from saying “Merry Christmas” but rather say something like “Holy Christmas”. Well, I guess that ends up sounding a little like Batman and Robin

    • Mick says:

      Eugene I did not think you were selling out . I thought you were taking a cheap shot. I was telling another poster when my kids were younger I use to make a BIG deal about keeping their rooms clean. My wife taught me to quit majoring in the minors . I think that is what Dobson was doing here , making a big deal about our culture shift and how we are treating Christmas . Even Aristotle spoke about the next generation hurting the culture . Kind of a normal thing . You I believe took advantage of the the religious left/ secular left/ anti religious right- politics hatred.

      The secular left can’t stand religious right politics plus some like Dawkins and that crowd just hate believers. The religious left feel as thought the right have dissed their beliefs because they don’t vote correctly ” I think they have a point the religious right sound as self righteous as the religious left do from my experience.

      Having that all said , I live in your area . I am an Evangelical and read about your commitment to helping those in need. God Bless you Pastor. You have the kind of faith I want to have when i grow up . ;0)

      But I would encourage you to write about things that we all share in common that can challenge us or encourage us. This kind of stuff divides us , one guy mocked my sentence structure” yikes I know it I have dyslexia.

      Take care ,
      Mick

      Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family.

  25. […] In Christianity in particular, priests, pastors and ministers struggle with apathy, attendance, sincerity, and lack of commitment in their churches. They are constantly fighting a battle just to survive. Some hold on to long held traditions while their attendance falls. Apathy and indifference runs rampant within the churches much to their leader’s frustration.  Some have found success with attendance while watering down the commitment suggested or required by the scriptures they preach from, using new music and fancy buildings to make it “cool” to attend church. And some struggle to find compassion for social justice issues among the “Christian” population, because the christian sub-culture has much of American Christianity focused on more trivial matters such as music styles, or how to dress, or whether the clerk at Wal-Mart said “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. […]

  26. […] Jason Boyett – I saw it here first, he’s quickRachel Held Evans – Seems most of the commenters didn’t get it…strange they read her blogEugene Cho – Including a blog entry by someone who goes to his church on the same thing […]

  27. […] Frankly, I don’t really care because I think there are bigger battles to be fought. We can be secure in knowing who we are and who our Christ is so that we don’t have to start “it’s not just a tree, it’s a movement.” This reminds me of last year’s post, “What are we exactly standing up for when are stand for Christmas?” […]

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The family that karaokes together stays together. #ChoFamilyKPopFamily Family time in one of my favorite cities in the world - especially when the exchange rate is so favorable. Thank you, Vancouver, for being such a great refuge for our souls for the past 20 years. #QuestVancouver It's the day after...that day.
Be grateful. Again.
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Breathing. Dreaming.
Pursuing. Embodying. Loving.

It's never that perfect or easy but that we get to try to do these things is reason enough to be grateful to the One who gives us life.

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That you, Jesus.
#PreachingToMyself This is what real life looks like after a crazy couple weeks. Grateful for this woman. I love her. She's gonna scream at me for posting this pic. #ThoseSocksThough Grateful for the opportunity to encourage 2500 youth leaders & pastors at the @youthspecialties conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Had prayed for wisdom to encourage leaders and courage to navigate a word for leaders post election about empathy and compassion for the unseen, marginalized, and those experiencing real fear.

Also, what a joy to have my church's youth pastor, @cobycagle, also here teaching. Some years ago, I was a youth pastor for several years in California, Korea, NY, and NJ. They were meaningful years but filled with challenges and loneliness. Sometimes, I felt unseen and insignificant - in comparison to "real" adult ministry. As a lead pastor now, I want to make sure I don't make those mistakes of overlooking our youth and children's ministry and their volunteers and staff. 
Pastor Coby, Pastor Katey, Pam, Jalle, and Jasmin: We see you. We appreciate you. We are grateful for your presence and leadership at Quest and beyond. Thank you and all of our amazing volunteers Wow. So proud of our 13 year-old son. When he began the trumpet in middle school, you could say it was a little painful. But this cat has got some groove. He's taught himself the piano, guitar, and really come along on the trumpet.

Parents: Fret not if you have no musical skills. I am living proof that musical genes or the lack thereof are not passed on. #AsianMilesDavis

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