Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Christmas Shoes and the Social Gospel

The intermittently insightful Patrol Magazine has published a fine flaming of what is perhaps the pinnacle of Christian kitsch, the song "The Christmas Shoes." On the song's aesthetics, there's not much else to say, and yet the article barely touches upon what the song's gravest fault. At the song's conclusion, the narrator, having purchased a pair of garish shoes for a poor child's dying mother, claims that God has sent this child "to remind me just what Christmas is all about."

What Christmas is really all about, it seems, is a one-off act of cheap charity to a grotesque pathetic enough to melt the hearts of a multinational bank of Scrooges. Americans love this. We love to complain about the commercialization of the holiday, we love to complain about the shopping season that begins earlier each year, we love to talk about the comparative blessedness of giving and receiving. Our complaints are valid, and also convenient ways to deemphasize what Christmas really is all about - Jesus coming to Earth as both God and man.

Mark Driscoll has pointed out that we cannot fashion an earthly analogy appropriate for the humility of the incarnation, because any such analogy compares two created things, while Jesus becoming a human is an uncreated being taking on the identity of a created being. The Christmas story is about prophecies fulfilled, mythologies thwarted, enemies defeated, sinners redeemed, and love for enemies as much as for cute children. These things, our true cause for celebration and charity, are not the stuff of Christmas easy listening.

No comments:

Post a Comment