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A Christmas Lament

You can already see this in the upper right of this blog, but in case you hadn't, I want to draw your attention to the excellent little piece on First Things, "The End of Advent."

Joseph Bottum eloquently summarizes the disgust that many of us feel at the absurd bloatation and consumerization of the Christmas season, which has now devoured all of Advent and a couple weeks of pre-Advent, and in the process, has devoured much of the joy and magic which once belonged to Christmas.

I confess that my angst over this phenomenon has not been so strong this year, as I found myself yearning for Christmas as soon as November began...no doubt a combination of homesickness and of the earlier shortening of the days. Plus, Edinburgh has the most amazing Christmas festival, which started on Thursday, and which my wife and I visited just today...a truly magical (if overcrowded) German Christmas Market. So this year, it was perhaps not the expansion of the length of Christmas that has bothered me so much, as the consumerization of it--turning it into the greatest engine the world has yet seen for tricking people into spending way more money than they have any business spending on all manner of stuff that no one ever needs.

In any case, Bottum has the right idea for how to combat this capitalist cultural malaise--liturgy. If we can get back to a true observance of Advent-not-Christmas in our churches up until Christmas Eve, then we in the Christian community can make gradual headway toward restoring Christmas to its rightful place

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