The Corner

Has Capitalism Devoured Christmas?

My latest column, out this morning, asks: “Is capitalism crowding out the Christian life? And do we have special insight into this at Christmas?”

Has capitalism desecrated Christmas? Many Christians are quick to claim it has, and there is reason to think that the modern celebration of Christmas is incompatible with Christianity. This can be understood most simply by juxtaposing the birth, life and message of Jesus of Nazareth with the civic rituals of Christmas.

According to the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus was born in a barn, there being no room for him and his parents in the inn at Bethlehem. His way of living forsook the acquisition of wealth and worldly goods. His message celebrated and elevated the poor, and he was quick to warn of the danger of materialism: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Two thousand years later, observe the Christmas celebration in our modern, capitalist culture: a shocking emphasis on gifts, material exchange and consumption. Christians believe that it is imperative to know Jesus and that to know him we have to live like him. It is very difficult to argue that the civic rituals of modern Christmas reflect Jesus’s way of living.

Click here for the full column.

Your comments, as always, are very welcome.

Michael R. Strain — Michael R. Strain is the director of economic-policy studies and the Arthur F. Burns Scholar in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute.  

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