Merry Christmas: Christianity Creates Economy

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I’ve been reflecting upon Christmas in a way that most people tend not too. I’ve decided that I’m all for the commercialization of Christmas. In fact, during a time of bad economics, more Christmas commercialization is needed, not less.

My reasoning goes like this: If you think the economy is bad now, imagine how much worse it would be without Christmas. For many businesses the Christmas buying season accounts for nearly a third of annual income. The Christmas buying season is so heavy compared to the rest of the year that retail stores usually hire extra employees to handle the load. Even in these recent, tough economic times retailers are still hiring seasonal employees. Imagine the impact on the retail and grocery industries if Christmas went uncelebrated.

Of course Christmas is not really about buying, selling, and giving, or the economy. But Christmas, like much of Christianity, has side benefits that go along with the religious observances. Christianity changes lives not just through spiritual transformation, but through economic stimulation. Yes, greed is a bad thing, but Christianity doesn’t foster greed, Christianity creates economy. A little history lesson will help, so let me quote from my 2005 book, Faith & Freedom:

Under Roman occupation, a religious infrastructure that built and contributed to community and economic growth was the norm. Roman rule took advantage of local deities, and established temples of its own. Whole communities thrived on the business generated by pagan ritual and devotion. The Apostle Paul experienced this in Ephesus when the metalworkers and priests of the goddess Artemis wanted Paul killed for fear of what would happen to their industry if his preaching prevailed (Acts 19:27) Culturally, the Jewish and Gentile Christians who would proclaim the faith to the known world were used to a culture where religion was a vital part of building empires and solidifying a community’s faith through the economic and political benefit that faith offered. Faith, that to a large degree helped build communities, was normal. Ironically, community building is something most of the great faiths of the East did not do. Buddhism, Hinduism, and others focused on either personal denial, or spiritual attainment, but they built no lasting communities within communities, or empires within empires. Nor did they build communities with an economy-generating component, as Judaism and Christianity did. Christianity was designed to transcend a culture, and through that transcendence, transform it. This is why Christianity was able to spread and develop beyond the cultural borders of Israel. Christianity is culturally independent: It can be adapted to fit many cultures without losing it core values. [1]

A Mongolian gentlemen hit the nail on the head a few years ago during a 1999 news interview by The Weekend Australian when he remarked:

“Christianity brings values to our country that Buddhism never did and never will,” says Javklan, 41, a local businessman who, like many Mongolians, uses just one name. “The traditions of Christianity are what have helped make Western civilization so dominant. The values of mutual respect, of caring for others, of bringing progress and good to society are all necessary for Mongolia to develop,” he says. [2]

So while my reflections today touch on the economy, they are really spiritual in nature. Christianity is life changing in every way imaginable, in ways that other religious systems are not. So, there’s another reason to celebrate the birth of the Savior. Merry Christmas.
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Chapter 5: “Faith Falters,” Faith & Freedom: How the Missionary Principle Facilitates Political Freedom, 2005, Tom Terry.
“Christianity Uses Muscle and Money to Edge Out the Dharma in Mongolia,” Lynne O’Donnel. December 7, 1999; The Weekend Australian

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