The Advent Conspiracy

Jesse Shoman pointed me to this quite a few months ago:
Click for YouTube Video

For a couple of years now, I’ve really dreaded buying gifts. It’s not that I don’t like giving, because I do. The part I don’t like is giving meaningless gifts just for the sake of giving something.

From www.adventconspiracy.org:

The story of Christ’s birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.

So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.

And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?

Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.

If you watch the video (which I think is pretty good), they say that American’s spend $450 Billion on Christmas every year. I was a little bit skeptical of that number, but I did some research and for 2008, the National Retail Federation predicts that $470.4 billion will be spent this holiday season1. There’s also a footnote that reads, “NRF defines “holiday sales” as retail industry sales in the months of November and December. Retail industry sales include most traditional retail categories including discounters, department stores, grocery stores, and specialty stores, and exclude sales at automotive dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.”

Personally, I think the $450 Billion number is high, but I believe that the point is still valid.

1 Source: http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=573

8 Replies to “The Advent Conspiracy”

  1. Dude, why don’t you just not give “meaningless gifts just for the sake of giving something”, but instead give meaningful gifts for the sake of showing people that you care about them? Gift-giving is one primary method that Americans use to show each other that they care. You may not like it, but I think it’s pretty legitimate. If you don’t, share with the audience other ways that you think people should participate in the Christmas tradition of reminding people that we love them.

    1. @Jeff:

      “Gift-giving is one primary method that Americans use to show each other that they care.”
      This may be the social norm, but I think that gift giving has been completely bastardized by commercial America. I’m consistently bombarded by ads for “3 day sales” and “best prices of the year!”

      I am giving more meaningful gifts this year, but many of them won’t be of the variety you can buy in a large store.

      What did you think of the video, in general?

      P.S. Welcome back! When do we get to hang out?

  2. In general, I thought that the video, while probably well-intentioned, was quite contradictory and wrongheaded.

    First, it denies any connection between spending money on people and caring about them: “If you really want to love people, spend time INSTEAD of money on them.” Then the video turns right around and claims that caring about the “poor, sick, thirsty, etc…” means giving money to support projects for them. What the hell? Is it time and presence, or is it money? Well, with your family and friends it has to be time, but with everybody else it has to be money. The fact of the matter is that time and money are both resources, and spending either one on somebody is a way of showing that you care. Time is the much more personal interaction, but when accompanied by a personal gift it can become a memorable and cherished experience. Giving money to people you’ll never meet (which is often used as a conscience-easer) is almost completely antithetical to Christ’s mission on this planet. It’s “love your neighbor” not, “throw money at your neighbor”. It’s about using all of your resources to show someone that you care and are thinking about them. We use gifts when we can’t be with the people that we already know and care about. Gifts to complete strangers, while not bad inherently, is not what Christ was about, even though the video makes a very strong assertion in that direction. The neighbor is the person in need you interact with and become connected to, not the person in need on the other side of the world that you neither meet nor connect with. So, long story short, I didn’t like the video.

    But yeah, welcome back to you too! And we get to hang out when some of this f-ing snow melts, unless you feel like driving through a foot of it to get to my house.

  3. I thought the video was awesome. For the past two years my family has put a hold on the gift giving and went out and did something fun together instead. Everyone is less stressed out and it’s a great excuse to go do something we wouldn’t normally do together (i.e. take a big trip to the mountains, go ice skating, etc.).

    1. @Jeff:

      No, mostly because you choose to nitpick the issues instead of debating the general idea behind the video: Christmas is an over commercialized holiday and it might be worthwhile to rethink the way we handle Christmas.

      1. Even if I was nitpicking, you’re not going to respond to any of it? I think I brought up some very good points about how the makers of the video view giving even if their message WAS simply to “rethink Christmas”.

        That said, I really don’t think I was nitpicking. The idea that spending money on family is bad (at least non-Christ-like) while spending money on people you’ll never meet is good is at the core of that video. THAT is the general idea.

        You can’t say that the general idea was to “rethink the way we handle Christmas” and ignore the entire prescription of “this is how we think you should instead handle Christmas”, and indeed the message of Christ. The video was very explicit about how the Christian message should be lived out, and I have some very serious reservations about their take on it, which I explained previously.

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