Canceling Christmas?

Imagine stories around a campfire…

a mystical möbius – curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a digital space around a safe, cozy, yet rather eclectic virtual campfire. My hope is to render an adequate real-time sketch of history (i.e., a rough first-draft). 

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‘Picking-up after an Apocalypse’ is a brief mini-series of themed posts.

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It’s a holiday ‘season’

Yes, we’ve almost made it passed the Thanksgiving holiday weekend now. So, in a couple weeks, new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations will likely begin spiking-up from our current record surge levels (e.g., approx. 3,000 new cases a day in Kansas). Then, just in time for the height of the “holiday season,” we’ll see increases in the number of coronavirus deaths that naturally follow in a week or two after we see spiking hospitalizations. “A surge superimposed upon a surge” is the way Dr. Fauci recently described it. That’s like saying an imposing darkness on an already grim picture. We have indeed turned a corner as we’re presently adding a million new cases of Covid-19 every six days in America.

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Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay || CC0

In 2020 there has surely been an elephant in the room we call Thanksgiving. I posted the “1st Isolations 24.7” cover image above to my ‘The facebook’ page on thanksgiving morning accompanied by this greeting:

“H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G ! ! !

‘G-d bless us, everyone.’ —TT (Cratchit)”

So, I know, I’m seemingly invoking Tiny Tim one holiday too early. However, this is not a mistake. I felt as though for this particular Thanksgiving, you know, 2020 and all, we need to keep the inequality that the Covid-19 Apocalypse has revealed to us top of mind—what better times than ‘Advent’ and ‘Christmas’ are there for that?
 
G-d has equitably blessed creation and all life. Humans have constructed a social reality that celebrates and rewards those who are the “haves,” and devalues, disrespects, and demonizes those who are the “have-nots.” Upon reflection we find that incentives and inequality have been divorced in practical terms, as though one had nothing to do with the other (e.g., like the shadow-laden notion that racism and classism have no relationship). 
 

“Food challenged”

“Food challenged? “Food insecurity?” Euphemisms? We used to just say “hunger.”

Hungry people without food seems more down to earth and straight forward than “food challenged,” or “food insecure,” although I grant that the latter expressions do have an ‘over time’ quality to them. “Hungry” can seem so transitory as to be misleading here. On Friday ABC World News reported we are expecting numbers to increase to fifty million hungry people this year in the U.S.A., up fifteen million from 2019. Worse, it seems that at least eleven million of the total are children (“17 million children,” said ‘Face the Nation’ 11/29). Nearly one sixth (16%) of the American population may well be hungry when they turn-in for sleep tonight.

I’ve written often that Rent Is Too Damn High. By that I essentially mean that the basic costs of living have outstripped the basic economic reality of many Americans of all colors. I feel proof of this is offered in these two images of people lined up to get food in different times of our history.

Think about images you’ve seen of 1930’s depression era food lines, like this:

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Other images indicate the line reaches a long ways on out of frame. | image Public Domain

and contrast it with this recent one of the line of people for a Dallas area food bank:

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Image via Twitter from Kathryn Rose Fisher @kayrosef

Cruising a $30,000 ride to the food bank?

To the casual observer there is an apparent disconnect between the up-scale mobile status of those pictured above and hunger. The Covid-19 pandemic is a bit analogous to a ‘neutron bomb’—e.g., devastating to living things but leaving the material structures in place. However, in this case, devoid of any income for many of those who inhabit those material structures to even purchase necessary consumable-resources like food. One still has their house and car, and the bills that go with them—at least until such time as the process is able to repossess them—, but, hunger just keeps coming-up again day after day. Even in the midst of so much material wealth in the U.S., as noted above, around sixteen percent of Americans (or one in six persons) are regularly going hungry right now. Food bank administrators report that forty percent (40%) of present food-assistance recipients have never had to use a food bank before the pandemic. Many of these newly-hungry folks are the same kind people who had previously been the ones who donated to the food bank prior to Covid-19‘s rude interruption of life.  

The reason I’m writing

The “Imagine stories around a campfire…” intro at the top describes why I write in this space. However, in particular, right now, I’m writing as a squeaky-wheel in training. My premise is that the Covid-19 pandemic has been an American Apocalypse revealing the injustice and brokenness endemic to our key systems (economic, education, health, etc.). Right now my passion is driving me to write so that, at least in this space, the brokenness and injustice exposed by the pandemic will not just get swept back under the rug. 

Leave it to Americans

Yeah, leave it to Americans to turn ‘Christmas’ upside-down and make it all about us. If December 25 is not your birthday, then why are you expecting gifts? The story of ‘the wise men’ who brought gifts for Jesus at Christmas has obviously been lost on most Americans. 

The first Sunday of May this year I published a piece entitled Mary’s Magnificat and UBI. I will be returning to those economic justice themes soon. The ‘Magnificat’ hymn ties in here because it gives us clear guidance on our Christmas gifting problem in the wake of the Covid-19 Apocalypse.

See,Mary’s ‘Magnificat‘ in the Bible is revolutionary. Some evangelicals silence her—this Ben Wildflower illustration is from the Washington Post story:

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The artist Ben Wildflower’s depiction of Mary, based on the Magnificat.

Mary’s Magnificat is a divine expression of how we are to level-it-upe.g., bring down the haughty and raise up the hungry ( Luke 1.46-55). We are to concretely level-it-up—i.e., ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ It is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ if it is not good news to the poor (Luke 4.18).

A BIG ask

I know I’m asking a lot, but here it is, plain and simple. I’m asking you to take your ‘Christmas’ (or holiday) gift-giving budget you plan for this year and use the greatest percentage of it that you can muster (25%?; 50%?; 75%?; or even 100%?) to offer gifts to Jesus (it is his birthday, after all). OK, I can almost hear the rejoinder, “Hey, my gift budget is for things I want to get for other people, not to buy presents for me.” So, regarding true generosity see Luke 14.12-14. Concerning justice and leveling-it-up see Luke 1.46-55.

How do we give gifts to Jesus? Well, we can, in the spirit of the Magnificat, create and give gifts that serve to “level it up,” as Mary’s song instructs. For instance, as we indicated above, food banks are under great stress all over the country right now.

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Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay || CC0

Hunger.

Jesus was really big on making sure everyone had something to eat, perhaps you could gift your area food bank?

Just use your imagination to follow your heart, there are countless ways to gift Jesus.

Leaving both the consideration of who ‘deserves’ (Matthew 5.45) and any kind of ‘quid pro quo’ (Luke 14.12-14) out of our giving, it becomes a potent lesson in compassion and grace for all involved. Gifting Jesus creates an opportunity for an experience of empathy and grace: i.e., feeding people, not because they deserve it, but simply because they are hungry. ‘On earth as it is in heaven.’ 

Next week: “Picking-up after an Apocalypse” mini-series part 5: Common ground found. Come and see. 

[this post approx. 1,550 words (7 min. read +”Bonus Video” below, please don’t miss)]

Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say? Note: I know, trying to introduce a big-picture idea like Spiral Dynamics (a complex developmental anthropology) in this format is ambitious. So, I’m using a serial-approach. Blog introduction (June 30, 2018). First in series (July 1, 2018).

 

Archive of posts related to this mini-series:

Picking-up after an Apocalypse (part 1),’ ~ Election debrief

Picking-up after an Apocalypse (part 2),’ ~ “Racial anxiety”

Picking-up after an Apocalypse (part 3),’ ~ This is really messed-up

Other Covid-19 related posts (listed from oldest to newest):

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, hush

Show me the money

Covid-19 Apocalypse? 

Oxymoron

Grief revisited

Easter Apocalypse

Grief revisited (part 2)

Science and predictability

Mary’s Magnificat and UBI

Masks: a shibboleth?

TL;DR on coping with Covid-19

Covid-19 — Eucharist online?

Teachers in the center ring

 

Bonus Video – One and Many reconciled…

I’ve shared this video on a mystical möbius every year during the holidays. Last year I wrote: “This is last year’s U.S. Air Force Band Holiday Presentation, but our personal and collective need for what this Wailin’ Jenny’s song embodies is as fresh, urgent and great as ever”—and that seems more true than ever right now:

“voices two…helping each other to make it through”

“voices three…surrendering to the mystery”:

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4 thoughts on “Canceling Christmas?

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