Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Rather than complaining about the eclipse of Christian festivals, Advent Conspiracy is an initiative to build a positive alternative, "an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption." That's more like it. Advent Conspiracy has recruited many thousands of people on its Facebook [registration needed] and MySpace social networking offshoots alone. It has three main active ingredients: * Communicate the Vision - Worship More, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. (Pretty simple). * Educate Yourself - Read a little more about materialism, the local and global needs and what the meaning of Christmas is all about. Then, start talking about it. * Get Creative - Discover together how to live in a more relational way.

The distinctive element on this, it might be said, is deliberately counterposing worship to consumption. That is, the activity of receiving the world as creative gift for all in need, in contradistinction to turning the world into a sellable commodity for those with purchasing power. The problem, of course, is that 'religionism' (the word I am starting to use for ideologically inward-looking versions of faith) rapidly turns worship into yet another commodity: either by degutting it of those elements inimical to Mammon, or by construing it as spiritual massage for a 'god' conceived as a larger version of our own power-ego. (God, it should not need saying, but does, wholly transcends and contradicts our attempts to create the divine in our own image - and much more successfully than we mimetic creatures can.)

In contrast to self-legitimating religionism, the deceptively innocent-looking Christchild who we invite into our hearts and communities at this time of year turns out to be one who threatens all such 'religious' manipulations and illusions - by showing us that the God of cradle, kin-ship and cross is nurtured to new life among the poor, despised and outcast of this world, rather than the by the 'obvious' personas of domination and authority, whether sacred or secular. That, as they say, "takes some believing". The gospel is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. Which is why we need to belong to a community of imagination, resistance and hope in order to stand any realistic chance of staying the course...

For this reason, the advent of Christ is also the advent of Christ's Body, scarred and compromised, but also charged with insurrectionary anticipation of a new world coming.

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