Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Starbucks and the Christmas Bully on Veteran's Day

My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. I love the season, I love the commercialization, and I love it’s true meaning.  We need look no further than, “a Charlie Brown Christmas” to discover this truth.  When all is lost, and Charlie Brown is at his wits end being  ridiculed by the masses for having destroyed Christmas, the principal indictment being levied by Lucy Van Pelt, Charlie Brown exclaims, “Does anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?”. And then the most humble of the group, Linus, steps forth to recite from the Gospel of Luke.  He says, among other things, “...the angel said unto them, fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy...unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’

Each year we start the Christmas season earlier and earlier. We grimace when we see the Christmas decorations show up early in stores and begin prying open our credit cards. We complain about it’s commercialization which is the major theme of the Charlie Brown Christmas. But somewhere, in our hearts, despite the onslaught of commercialization we know there is something magical about this holiday and that Christmas is ultimately about love.  Regardless of what we believe, and regardless of how we celebrate, we know we will be with family and friends experiencing life to the fullest. Yes there will be disasters and drama and depression, but so too there will be redemption.  We learn this from the Who’s down in Whoville and we experience it first hand on Christmas morning. But today, I don’t want to talk about the Grinch, who is the chief Christmas bastard we love to hate,  I want to talk more about about Lucy Van Pelt...I want to talk about bullying. A few years ago I wrote another blog about bullying at Christmas was entitled, “Rudolph’s Dad was a Total Shit”.  Perhaps you read it?  If not you can read it here.  

I didn’t expand to other Christmas bullies because the cartoon “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer” is so rich. But already this season, we have encountered an amazing form of bullying that has painted closed the hearts of many and speaks loudly to something that has gone terribly wrong in what should be a season of great love.  Something, we have truly missed from our upbringing, even if we haven’t learned the meaning of Christmas  we have taken from the crowd...the mob that is social media and the ridicule it can engender.  After Charlie Brown returns to the school stage with the Christmas Tree he has selected he is subjected to a mob...the tirade of ridicule that is launched directly at him defies the sensibilities of even the least politically insensitive among us.  If you don’t believe me go back and watch.  Fast forward to min 19:30 when Charlie Brown and Linus return with the Christmas Tree and are roasted alive.  

After Charlie Brown’s total defeat, Lucy exclaims, “You’ve been dumb before Charlie Brown, but this time you really did it”. It is then that Linus takes center stage and saves the day.  The passage is repeated twice in the cartoon thus I will repeat it twice.  “...the angel said unto them, fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy...unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’

It’s 2015, exactly 50 years, since Charlie Brown entered the Christmas conversation. Now we have another example of bullying.  Another of the ignorant, claiming to be a Christian, using the platform of social media to tell us what’s wrong with Christmas and how the secular world is chipping away at it’s foundation. To tell Starbucks, in the words of Lucy, "You've been dumb before [Starbucks] but this time your really did it". As clever as Joshua Feuerstein thinks he may be he has done nothing more than stoke the flames of discontent in a society already full of discontent.  He has given us the green light to bully. He has given us the source material to say, if things are not the way they have always been, you should be ridiculed for lacking our collective Christian values. And worse, for eroding what it means to be a Christian just as sure as if the Devil himself had a hand in removing “Merry Christmas” from the Starbucks holiday cup. Here is his video.

Feurerstein is a bully.  He's inciting all of us to also be bullies. This is not how we should act, this is now how we should teach our kids to act.  Have you seen the latest headlines exclaiming that the most intolerant kids in our schools are the ones with Christian values? Evidence suggest there is some truth to these headlines...ask a teacher.  This is a trend that must be reversed.  Christian children should be absolutely the most tolerate, the most accepting, and the most forgiving of any child if they have Jesus in their hearts. Feurestein's video teaches the opposite.

So Starbucks has removed the mention of Christmas from their holiday coffee cup, even though the holiday cup remains red..  Since there is no mention of Christmas, they have removed Christ from Christmas.  Was Christ ever really on the coffee cup?  Since Donald Trump has also added his voice to this fray, perhaps we should double check last years cup and see if we can find Jesus?

I am not the first to be critical of Feurestein’s diatribe, apparently he was even called a bigot on National TV. I would not take it that far...but I will say he exhibits the characteristics of a bully and a hypocrite.  Those who side with Feuerstein  should first put Christ back in their own hearts before looking for Christ on the side of their coffee cups.

Look, I’m not a fan of Starbucks.  Regardless of how many awards for ethics the CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz (irony noted) may receive for the global goodness  of his company, selling coffee for $5 cup has never sat well with me. In many ways Starbucks has been the bully of the coffee-shop industry.  If the crowd wants to boycott Starbucks that’s the capitalist marketplace way of doing business.  I will not stand in their way. I might even curtail use of my Starbucks gift card for a few days in protest over their prices.  But I will not do so because it doesn’t say Merry Christmas on the red holiday cup...that’s not only ridiculous it’s borderline blasphemous.  Doesn’t worshiping a coffee cup smack of idolatry?  It’s bad enough that we worship the contents of the cup, the drug that “America Runs On”, to drag Dunkin Doughnuts into the Christmas fray.  What about those hole-less bastards?  Have they removed Christ from their orange and white cups of Joe as well?  Not likely.  Jesus cannot be on the side of the coffee cup, he must be in our hearts and in our minds.  We shouldn’t need a reminder in the form of a cup or in the form of coffee.  Alas, we are only human and reminders do serve a purpose.  Thus isn't the color red all we need?

I guess I can thank Feurestein for one thing, here it is only mid November and I’ve already completed my Christmas blog.  Thus I’ve already started to think about Christmas and the love Jesus has for me.  Think about the color red.  Yes Christian’s it clearly represents the blood of Christ. Starbucks has chosen to color their cup this Holiday season in the blood of Christ. That is our gift.  That is our reminder.

Last thing...since today is Veteran’s Day... there is another  red we should be reminded of when drink from a Starbucks cup.  That is the red of valor visible on our US Flag. “Greater love hath no man than this, then a man lay down his life, for a friend.” John 15:13  Thank a Vet today.  Better yet, go drink of cup of Joe with a Vet out of a red Starbucks coffee cup. I will not be offended.


Mike Payne said...

Anyone who blogs about Charlie Brown and Rudolph in consecutive years is alright by me! On this: "Christian children should be absolutely the most tolerate, the most accepting, and the most forgiving of any child if they have Jesus in their hearts." Yes. Who needs that forgiveness most of all? Lucy. And Rudolph's father.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven ... If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." --Matthew 5:43-48

Both Lucy and Rudolph's dad come to repentance in the end, though it is expressed grudgingly. Lucy: "Charlie Brown is a blockhead, but he did get a nice tree." Then she joins the others singing around it. Rudolph's father admits something like "maybe I was a little hard on Rudolph". Once that door is cracked open, forgiveness floods in.

Mooch said...

Now it is I who must I have shown little tolerance for the bullies I have perceived and persecuted myself...