Current Reading

The latest issue of Radix has two articles that caught my eye enough that I’ve read them several times. The first, “Why Love Will Always Be A Poor Investment” by Kurt Armstrong, is an examination of the marriage covenant, and how it stands in opposition to the individualistic, choice-driven relationships of our time.

This ring on my finger is a symbol of my decison to live against the ways of the consumer world’s telling me that fidelity is no longer fashionable. Marriage is one part of my stubborn, angry, defiant “no” to those who offer the hollow promises of so-called freedom. My lifelong commitment to bind myself to my wife is a stand against the consumer culture and its dehumanizing ways.

No. I am married. For good.

Donald Heniz, in “The Material Culture of Christmas,” sees that the material trappings of the Christmas holy day (nativity scenes and bells, for example) as a critical part of a day that celebrates God in the material.

Of all the Christian holy days, Christmas most conspicuously celebrates and clothes itself in the material world. Christmas is a festival of material culture. Divinity bodies forth in the world. As certain medieval mystics said, God is in all things, and all things are in God. If you want to celebrate life on Earth religiously, Christmas is the ideal occasion.

As part of an austere reformed tradition, our church does not conspiciously celebrate Christmas–each day should be a celebration of the incarnation of Christ. Many families within the denomination will not even allow the trappings of the holiday into their home. While these families are not wrong, would we do better proclaiming “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!” every Christmas day? Yes, the holiday has become mired in consumerism and materialism, but is that a reason to deny the celebration?

Such a mindset, however, overlooks material culture as a way into the understanding of faith. Across the Christian traditions, many of us are determined to see, hear, and touch God, to set the faith into the landscape of our senses.