Category Archives: Christianity

Starbucks, Micropersecutions, and the Church’s Embrace of Victimhood.

I was listening to The Art of Manliness‘ podcast about microaggressions and the victimhood culture at the gym yesterday. Pretty fascinating stuff. I can’t really hide my contempt for the psychology that produces people who whine about every little thing that goes on because it makes them feel uncomfortable or “unsafe.” Suck it up and deal with it. Face your demons and grow into something stronger than they are.
Except, about forty minutes, it hits me: First world Christians are just as bad about this, assuming that we didn’t invent the stupid problem in the first place. Every time I turn around the American church is being “persecuted” in some new manner or another, and while I believe there are probably some genuine instances of it here and there, most of what we face is not a persecution per se. It’s inconvenience. It’s a stupid law. It’s a country that doesn’t share our values.
Now, I’m not saying we should stop trying to influence the culture, or that, say, we shouldn’t take the fight for our values personally, but man. No one has imprisoned my family members lately. No one has forced me to pay a tax, convert, or leave town because I’m Christian. No one has beheaded anyone I know in less than six degrees because I’m a Christian. The only Bible smuggling I know of is OUT of America and into other countries.
That red cup? That’s not the war on Christmas. That’s not a fight to remove the name of Jesus from our society. It’s minimalist design from a company that has nothing to do with the faith.
Guys. We really need to suck it up and start dealing with this. We are ridiculous. We are laughable. You want to talk about persecution? Remember how Saul hunted down Christians before he became one? Remember Rome, when Christians were fed to lions for fun? Remember the persecutions of Diocletian, which were bad enough they created a schism in the church? Remember how 21 men were lined up on a beach last year and beheaded because they were Christians?
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This persecution complex we have: STOP IT. What’s going on right now with this whole Starbucks cup thing tells me that we’re no better than the emotionally flimsy students at Oberlin who needed Play Doh and cookies to hide from a speech with uncomfortable and challenging thoughts. Churches are not and should not be “Safe spaces” where we can be protected from the big, scary world out there. Where we don’t have to think about it. Where our hurt feelings are soothed with flannelgraphs and ethically sourced charity coffees in cups that say JESUS on them because, you know. We love our Jesus.
But apparently our Jesus is so weak and pathetic that we have to protect him from micropersecutions. (I wish you could hear the contempt in my typing when I type “micropersecutions. It’s even worse than “microaggressions” and “trigger warnings.”) Dude died a terrible horrible death so that he could kick death in the junk and liberate humanity from death’s grip, but we have to make sure his name is on EVERYTHING, so let’s tell that barista that our name is “Merry Christmas” so that it’ll get a mention of Jesus in there! What does that accomplish, besides annoying the poor barista that probably just had an entire pastoral staff roll through and do the exact same thing? Doesn’t it strike you as taking the Lord’s name in vain? Just a little?
Are we not stronger than this? Braver than this? Can we not look a little bit of cultural ambivalence in the eye and say, “You don’t care about my faith. That’s cool. My faith cares about you. Why don’t you let me buy you a coffee and we’ll talk about it?”
Now. I have a paper that I should be writing, but I had to get this crap off my chest.

This is why we can’t have nice things, you guys.

I’d love to assume that this is a work of satire, some ridiculous sort of atheist guerrilla attack on Christianity. But the fact is, I grew up as an evangelical in the 80s, a time of slightly overboard world-rejection (Clarification: My parents went slightly overboard, but they’re very reasonable, intelligent people. I knew other, less reasonable people who went a little nutso.)  I’ve also read the ridiculous Turmoil in the Toy Box, which illustrates just how Satanic EVERYTHING that your children loved during the 80s is. (Including GI Joe, a show that taught young children that soldiers fought to protect people.)

(Okay. So, maybe the Monster can is a little crude. “MILF” isn’t a term I use on a regular basis, nor is the F-bomb; but y’know what? I know plenty of very decent people who do, and yes, they’re a little crude, but they’re not exactly the Antichrist.)

Here’s the thing. Satan and his minions are not orchestrating every aspect of the world that’s not related to a church. (Also, churches are not exempt from the influence of Satan. *gasp*) There is no clear-cut line in this world where you can say “this aspect of it is holy; this aspect of it is Satanic.”

We can look at the mountains or stars and see the work of God; there’s a holiness there. They’re also decaying. Erosion is wearing down the mountains. Stars are eating themselves alive. Everything is a little tinged with death in our world, whether we like it or not; death is an evil-thing. A Satan-thing.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” (Rom 5:12, NIV) Per the apostle Paul, death is the result of sin; in a science-y world, we know that death is a byproduct of entropy, a law of physics that influences our whole world. What this means is that sin is everywhere in our universe. It’s in you, it’s in me, it’s in the president, it’s in the Pope.

To be sure death is felt in different ways across in the universe. Human beings don’t erode; mountains don’t sin. It’s felt in different intensities. I’d imagine that Pope Francis and Billy Graham are probably a little less likely to drop an F-Bomb (Or the linguistically appropriate equivalent) when they stub their toe in the middle of the night than I am. It manifests itself differently from person to person. I’m not inclined to theft, violence, or blasphemy; I am inclined to pride, sloth, and melancholy.

What does this have to do with Monster energy drinks?

Monster, for good and for bad, is a company living in a world that is thoroughly tainted by sin, death, and entropy.

Being crude doesn’t make you the devil. It just means that whoever it is responsible for it is human, just like you. Being angry doesn’t make you the devil; it just makes you another sinner, like everyone else in the world. Being tangled up in something messy or questionable doesn’t make you the devil, or even a devil worshiper, it proves that you exist in the same, fallen state as everything else in the universe.

Having a giant M slash logo-that-looks-like-a-monster-clawed-it that happens to bare a resemblance to the Hebrew letter vav, valued at six in the borderline bunk that is gematria, doesn’t make you the devil. Intentionally drawing comparisons to a monster doesn’t make you The Beast of Revelation. Having an O with a slash through it– intended to represent another Monster claw, I’m sure– that looks sort of like a cross, and sort of like an upside down cross when you turn it upside down, doesn’t make you the devil. If it does, it’s only in the town of South Park, Colorado.

Oh, and lest we forget, the upside down cross is Peter’s cross. You know, the one that Christ chose to found his church. The one who, according to tradition, wanted to be crucified upside down, because he wasn’t good enough to die the same way Jesus did.


Oh, and, lest we forget, if you turn that big frigging can upside down to drink, you better be a professional level chugger. That’s a lot of fluid that’s gonna be in your face shortly.

If Satan’s behind this, it’s an attempt to use it as a distraction. Get someone fired up against Monster, against trick or treating, against space exploration (I’m looking at you, Ken Ham), and that’s one less person to chase after something that matters. You want to really frustrate Satan? Go after injustice, a form of sin-slash-cultural entropy. Fight for the personhood of the unborn. Fight to help the needy, the hungry, the cold, the oppressed.

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