An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

'C' for Christmas, 'C' for Christ and 'C' for Compassion

Rampant consumerism at Christmas irritates me and so it was with great interest and more than a tinge of sadness that I read an article in The Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown about the disconnect between the compassion of Christmas and the consumerism that surrounds it. Actually, I could have added another 'C' in the title for Capitalism because, according to Yasmin, 'Christianity is dying because it has sold its soul to capitalism'.

The trigger for the article was a dinner party that Yasmin attended at which she told a posh woman, referred to as 'Mrs Rich', about a conversation she had had with a homeless woman who was lonely and desperate for human company because people ignored her. 'Mrs Rich' was 'extremely snobby about the encounter and blamed the poor for choosing poverty. In her view, people chose poverty by not taking up jobs done by migrants.

What has happened to compassion? Has it been superseded by capitalism? While I don't think that Christianity has sold its soul capitalism I do take Yasmin's point that Christmas has been hijacked by an economic system that masks misfortune as 'choice'.  It is an uncompromising position that is untouched by the birth of Christ, the celebration of compassion and the spirit of giving during Christmas. Christmas, for many, is the high point of the spirit of capitalism instead which involves expensive present buying and an excess of food. Eating more than we need to has become a common Christmas joke as we compare how much weight we have put on.

Dare we hope for a change to take place in 2013? If it did what would be the trigger for a change in attitudes  towards those on welfare? Whatever the answer I do know that the church has a role to play in helping change mindsets as much as helping those who cannot afford to help themselves for whatever reason.

Merry Christmas

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