The Church of Starbucks

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I went to my local church, Starbucks yesterday because yes, I am white enough to crave a Pumpkin Spice latte now and again. I say, “white”, because every time I think about getting a PSL, a very funny twitter quote comes to mind: “I’m white, but not I can’t wait for PSL season, white”. I groaned and laughed because it showed up on my Twitter feed the day I bought my first PSL of the season.

As much as I love Starbucks lattes, I’ve never had one bring on a feeling of religious ecstasy or made me want to convert. I will admit, at times, that first morning cup of coffee produces a warm tingling feeling of delight and satisfaction, more akin to a orgasm than religious fervor. But apparently for some, Starbucks is the Church of Coffee and therefor is responsible for keeping the Christian holiday holy. WTF?

For those of you who are unaware, it’s not the meek that shall inherit the earth; rather it’s those who seek the red cup. For it is written:

If thou wilt be perfect, go and give to Starbucks all that thou hast, and give to the poor barista and thou shalt have treasure in heaven and a red cup: and come and follow me. (Matthew 19.21)

I won’t bother to give airtime to how this started; I don’t want to name the idiot who decided Starbucks has now engaged in the “war on Christmas”. You can Google him (he’s on Youtube). I wish it was just one guy with a beef with Starbucks, but sadly his followers are legion. What’s all the fuss about, you ask? Well, it turns out that this year Starbucks made the fatal decision to forgo it’s usual red cup with snowflakes, ad instead rolled out a plain red cup! Oh the humanity! Grab the children and get to your nearest church, the apocalypse is upon us and it starting with a plain red cup!

I'm outraged because Starbucks no longer serves Gingerbread Molasses lattes. Now this is a sin!
I’m outraged because Starbucks no longer serves Gingerbread Molasses lattes. Now this is a sin!

I have no idea what snowflakes have to do with Christmas as it pertains to the holy holiday. It is snowing as I write this, and I presume there are a lot of snowflakes on my lawn and roof, but so far, no wandering Middle Eastern family has showed up at my door asking for a room. Not even directions to the nearest Starbucks. I’m sure you can feel my disappointment with this turn of events. Snowflakes yes, baby Jesus no. Maybe I should tack some big fake snowflakes to my front door…

I wonder if baby Jesus would accept this offering?
I wonder if baby Jesus would accept this offering?

I’m tired of this manufactured “war on Christmas” and I am tired of the whining: “Oh, they won’t allow Nativity scenes on government property”(It’s called the separation of Church and State, no, it’s not in the Constitution but is in the founding fathers’ letters*. Learn some history), “I want everyone to say Merry Christmas, damn it! (Some of us say “Happy Holidays” because there is more than one holiday in December. It’s called being inclusive, look that up too).

That there is more than one holiday in December is the reason given by Starbucks to forgo the snowflake. They say:

Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season,”. “Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”

And it should be noted, that they routinely change the picture on the holiday cup, though it’s always been geared towards Christmas.

The other issue with this “war on Christmas” is the fact that the battle is not being fought over the right problem. If Christmas is so sacred, why do we as a nation worship Black Friday deals and the like so much? Why are we so driven by consumer greed (which by the way is a sin in Jesus’ eyes) that we’ve replaced the true meaning of Christmas with the demand of Thanksgiving shopping and every day leading up to Christmas? Every years millions of Christians will spend Thanksgiving evening standing in line, then stamping in herds, in order to lavish their families with gifts bought at low, low prices. Where is Jesus in all of this? This to me is the true war on Christmas.

What does a snowflake on a cup have to do with Christmas anyway? Why does Starbucks have to act as your church leader? As @arrpeebee wrote on Twitter:

If you need a coffee chain to be your ambassador of Christ you need to re-examine your relationship w/God”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. So, here’s to everyone. I tip my plain red cup to you and wish you a very Happy Holiday Season. You’ll get a Merry Christmas out of me when it is in fact, Christmas.

starbucks-jesus

*I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Danbury Baptists, January 1, 1802

References:

Starbucks. Com. The Story Behind the Design of Starbucks Red Holiday Cups for 2015

The King James – Starbucks- Bible. Mathew 19.21

Banned books, what are we protecting our children from?

I’m back! Yes, I have no doubt many of you have wondered what happened to my blog. I’ve even gotten a couple of nice e-mails from followers telling me that I’ve been missed. I truly appreciate my readers (all of you) and I should have posted long ago. But the thing is, I’ve not had a lot to say lately.

You’d think with everything going on I’d have something to say, but honestly, I’m tired and numb; tired and numb from all of the political bullshit that continues to pile up on a weekly basis. Tired and numb from the hard stand people are taking when it comes to religious rights and gun rights. And I am truly numb as those who profess to be Christian are screaming about gun rights the loudest.

What will it take for us as a nation to put aside our ideological differences to work together to effect the much-needed change our society needs? Right now Congress seems more concerned with women’s reproductive rights than the people’s right to live in a safe society. What more is there to say? What can be said, when every attempt at a thoughtful conversation only leads to people yelling behind their wall of belief and fear? Belief and fear that any attempt at sensible gun control will lead to all guns being taken away, belief and fear that any attempt to ensure that all people have equal rights will lead to some kind of war on Christianity. Those who hide behind such walls drag the rest of us down to their level because we cannot enter in meaningful dialog. We are getting nowhere fast it seems. And because of this, I am tired and numb. I had to leave the circus for a while and attempt to find some measure of peace. I am not sure I’ve succeeded, but I haven’t banged my head against a wall for a few months now. So, that’s something I guess.

So, instead of coming back ranting about current events, or trying to tie a history lesson to today’s ills, I thought I would share a (kinda) funny story, because this, I swear, could only happen to me.

As part of Banned Book Week, the Carson City library put a call out to people willing to come in and read from a selection of banned books. The reading (I thought) would be audio taped for a later presentation and celebration of books. I signed up as I don’t believe banning books is ever a good idea (well, except for Twilight, but that should go unsaid).

I showed up on the appointed day only to find that we would be filmed while reading! I dislike being filmed(no I am scared of it), but swallowed my fear of the camera for the greater good. I also realized to my horror that in my attempt to get to the library on time, I forgot my reading glasses. Sometimes I question my ability to leave the house fully groomed.

While waiting my turn I quickly looked at the stack of books, hoping to find something with big print. I did not want to be filmed squinting or hesitating as I tried desperately to read the text. I found what I was looking for in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I remembered reading it several years ago, and in fact bought it for my son. It had big(ish) print and I could not imagine a better young adult book to illustrate the power of books. For those of you who are not familiar with Alexie’s work, he is a writer and filmmaker who shines a light on the plight of the modern Native American in humors and heartbreaking detail. This particular story is told by an unnamed narrator who talks about life in and out of the reservation. His characters are drawn from Alexie’s own friends and family and he breathes so much life into them that they quickly become the reader’s friends and family. I think Alexie is very underrated. I picked his book not only because I could see the text, but also because he has much to teach us.

So as I was called to get up in front of the camera, I quickly scanned the book to find an appropriate passage to read from. I was told I only had 3 minutes, so whatever I picked, it had to have context; it had to be a 3 minute short story. I saw that chapter 4 started with the narrator talking about his first day of high school. Brilliant, I thought! This would work, as it would speak to young adults about social fears (I thought) and could be read as a short story.

Behind the camera stood a quiet, seemingly shy young man (he looked high school age) who said he would tell me when to start and stop. I had been directed to state my name, the name of the book and why it was banned. So when the young man motioned me to start I said:

My name is Sari Nichols, and I am reading at the Carson City library. The book I chose is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; one of my favorite books. It was banned because it talks about poverty, masturbation, and is anti-Christian.

Then I began to read from the book. I tried very hard to be “camera friendly”. I memorized a few sentences at a time so that I would be looking up more than I was looking down. As I read from the page it became clear I had inadvertently picked a passage that illustrated why someone had deemed it ban worthy. Oh shit, I thought, as I continued to read, do I stop or do I own the words? Do I say sorry, thus giving in to the idea that this book should be banned or do I continue, showing the world (or whoever watches this video that this is a part of the human condition and should be embraced?) I looked past the camera for a split second and saw that the two librarians were laughing! One was laughing so hard she was bent over in her chair. My decision was made; I owned the words, stressing them as if they came forth from my head and burst from my mouth. And why not? It’s the truth, not matter how much we blush to think about it. I do however feel for the young man behind the camera who looked the other way. I don’t know if he was laughing or was horrified. I’d like to believe he laughed… but I did notice he cut me off rather quickly.

Here is part of what I read

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I was fourteen and it was my first day of high school. I was happy about that. And I was most especially excited about my first geometry class. Yep, I have to admit that isosceles triangles make me feel hormonal.

Most guys, no matter what age, get excited about curves and circles, but not me. Don’t get me wrong. I like girls and their curves. And I really like women and their curvier curves. I spend hours in the bathroom with a magazine that has one thousand pictures of naked movie stars:

Yep, that’s right, I admit that I masturbate. I’m proud of it. I’m good at it. I’m ambidextrous. If there were a Professional Masturbators League, I’d get drafted number one and make millions of dollars. And maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you really shouldn’t be talking about masturbation in public.” Well, tough, I’m going to talk about it because EVERY-BODY does it. And EVERYBODY likes it. And if God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs. So I thank God for my thumbs.

When I finished one of the librarians came over (the one who was bent over laughing) and asked if I had deliberately picked that passage. I sighed and said no, it was just dumb luck. Thankfully she thought I did a good job at making the passage come alive and had the courage to do so. It did not take courage but encouragement, and the willingness of others to stand for what is right. Books should not be banned because they may teach young adults about things “better left unsaid”, whether that be about poverty or masturbation. But sadly, this is America today. Many try to shield their children from unspoken truths, because their walls do not allow them to, because their truths would crumble under the weight of thoughtful conversations.

 

This is America today.

059fe9d-2.cachedGuess I just jumped back into the circus. Cue the music!