So why was that whole Starbucks red cup winter blend outrage thing considered a major news event in the first place?
Yes, you had a former evangelical pastor serving up a click-bait selfie video that let to YouTube after YouTube after YouTube and snarky story after story after story. I thought that this Washington Post something-or-another took the prize for capturing the tone of the media product being served up.
But about that wave of outrage. You know, folks who know something about evangelicalism and its leaders had to stop and ask: Precisely who is Joshua Feuerstein and how in the world did this unknown guy end up getting waves of media coverage?
As you would expect, the Starbucks wars were the topic of this week's "Crossroads" podcast, but host Todd Wilken and I did everything we could to try to find some actual news hooks linked to this fiasco. Click here to tune that in.
For starters, all of this was supposed to have something to do with (a) lots of Christians being upset (although there was next to zero evidence that this was true) and (b) the Christian season of Christmas, which begins on Dec. 25 and continues for the following 12 days.
Then there was this other Washington Post red-cup piece that -- along with the Stephen Colbert piece at the top of this post -- kind of pointed toward the topic that dominated the Crossroads taping. The basic question: Who has, in recent years, done the most to hurt the Christian season of Christmas, the world of generic-holiday language businesses and government leaders, or the thousands and thousands of church leaders who have made the strategic decision to celebrate Christmas by the liturgical calendar used at shopping malls?
In the Starbucks wars, this is symbolized by the fact that Starbucks, apparently, has never really had "Christmas" cups in the first place, if we are talking about Christmas. In that holiday spirit, consider this slice of that second Post piece I just referenced. It starts, of course, with the creation of the plain red cup:
For one media-savvy evangelist, this was somehow proof that the global coffee conglomerate must “hate Jesus.” A public Facebook post from Joshua Feuerstein denouncing the aesthetic shift was shared more than a half-million times and received a hearty amen from GOP firebrand Donald Trump, who called for a boycott.
Over . . . snowflakes? In the long-standing tradition of seasonal outrage, there are the usual suspects — a nativity scene displayed outside a government building, a Christmas tree in a public courthouse, icons with clear ties to the religious holiday. Snowflakes, we thought, were the safest, most inclusive, anodyne holiday symbols of all. How could their absence be a rebuke to the Son of God?
In the interest of clarity, we called on Chad Pecknold, an associate professor of theology at Catholic University with expertise in religion and culture, to see which seasonal iconography has any actual religious significance. We present them on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 as “totally secular” and 10 as “peak Christian.”
Good source. Good topic, actually. Check it out. And enjoy the podcast. And, for Christians among our readers, have a blessed Nativity Lent or, in a few days, Advent. The quiet, penitential season that leads up to Dec. 25 deserves respect.