Russell and Duenes

Living in the Land of “Make-Believe”

with 3 comments

I asked myself recently: “Why does the superficiality of the Christmas season bother me so much?”  The more I thought about it, the more I wandered into a self-discussion about the “pretend life” we have here in the U.S.  Most of us in the U.S. have the luxury to pretend.  Many get paid for it, in fact if you are a professional actor you can get paid generously for pretending. We have phony friendships that we call “acquaintances” and a phony connection to the world that we call TV.  As I thought about Santa Claus and Rudolph and presents given to co-workers out of obligation, I kept coming back to the same answer: The superficiality of Christmas bothers me so much because it celebrates our tendency to love that which is not authentic.  Christmas isn’t real to us.  We have fake trees and fake birds with  fake cranberries on fake wreaths.  We have a pretend man who comes down our chimneys and gives us toys about superheroes and baby dolls- all of which is not genuine.  At my home growing up we didn’t have a fireplace, but did have some sort of chimney that went nowhere (I don’t know why).  So when I asked my parents how Santa got into our house, they told me they gave him a key to our garage and he came up the basement steps.  Clever on my parents part, but fake nonetheless.

The more I consider the “fakeness” of the Holidays, the more it continually draws me to reflect on the make believe world in which we live.  Much of our financial spending: credit, margin buying, gambling, is all based on money we don’t have or money we won’t get.  Our social mediums create a false sense of relationships. We have homes that we don’t own, cars we lease, re-circulated air and food that is created in labs.  No wonder we are so at home with our current holiday season.  And this brings me to the true meaning of Christmas- the birth of Jesus.  Do we treat this reality any differently than we do the rest of our lives?  Is the Savior of the world entering our realm to save us from the reality of hell “real” to us?  Is Christ the reality and desire of our hearts?  Or do we treat Jesus like we treat Santa Claus?  Is He another mythic being in the pantheon of the holidays?  Do we laud Him for a time of need and when we get our presents from Him we move on to the next thing?  Is our church acting in the reality of the Holy Spirit living inside our bodies?  It seems like, for many of us, the Land of Make-believe (circa Mr. Rodgers about 1978) is our reality;  In our holidays, in our homes and in our church.  I want the “real life,” a true and authentic existence that is dynamic in me and with me all of the time.  And I want it now during the holidays and I want it in the years to come.  I can only hope you do too.  May we live in the reality of Christ during the reality of His birth… and may the reality of His life be- As Mr. Rodgers mailman used to say- a “speedy delivery, speedy delivery.”  And yes, I know, he was fake too.

 -R

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Written by Michael Duenes

December 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

Posted in Reflections, Russell

3 Responses

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  1. Hey, thanks. Been feeling pressure, from American Christendom, to embrace a “Christmas spirit” that seems anything but authentic. Longing for something more!

    Marti Smith

    December 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm

  2. Well-timed words, my friend. Unfortunately, the life you describe is not “fake” at all, but is, in fact, the real life that most of us are living. I understand your meaning, but it’s an even more depressing situation when we consider that it is all too real. The “fake” has become the real. And the reality is, as you say, that this world was created and is sustained by our Almighty God, a God who is mighty in judgment and terrible in holiness; a God who has told us what He requires of us, and has been incredibly generous and patient with us in our rebellion. Indeed, He has gone so far as to give us Himself, in the person of His Son, so that we might know Him. We shrink from this in our radical, autonomous individualism, and cover it up with all sorts of idols and amusements, especially at Christmas. That’s the reality in which we live.

    We certainly can choose to live differently, and obviously God’s people ought to, but people are not being inauthentic. Rather, they are authentically worshipping false gods and feeling pretty good about it. I confess my own sin in doing the same. I’m grateful for the authenticity you desire, for I desire it, too; and not only within myself, but in fellowship with other believers who want to move higher up into God together, that we might show forth the praises of Him who is our Head.

    -D

    russell and duenes

    December 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm

  3. I think the Christmas spirit is so easily embraced because there really are few reasons to be happy in people’s day to day lives. I have a reason to be happy every day (Jesus!) whether I think of him or not. The majority of western culture has these constant scheduled routines based on the obsession with the physical world. Example: Love of money and stuff translates into 13+ years of schooling, then 40+ years of working. I would cling to anything happy too, even if it were fake, if that was all I had.

    Rachel Vincent

    January 12, 2011 at 9:47 pm


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