I realize I’m slow to the Starbucks party this week. I wanted to collect my thoughts on what it is that has bugged me about this whole episode the most.
Somehow the fact that Starbucks has decided their cups for this holiday season will be red has created quite a firestorm. Somehow because the words “Merry Christmas” are not on the cup or their baristas lips, certain Christians have felt ostracized, maybe even “persecuted.”
There has been at least one call to retaliation: tell the barista at the counter your name is “Merry Christmas” and then they’ll either have to say the phrase “Merry Christmas” (some sly trickster, huh?) or have an unclaimed Extra Shot of Espresso Mocha Latte Grande on their hand the rest of the day (and that’s about a day’s wage going to waste right there…come to think of it, that might be worth getting upset about!).
I honestly don’t get it. I have questions:
- Since when does Starbucks need to cater to any one group? It appears to me they are running a business that is still going to celebrate the season. They even have their “Christmas Blend” coffee on hand in bags ready to go. I’m not sure their cups ever said “Merry Christmas” on them in the first place. And any store worker—whether it be at a coffee shop or a retail chain—has the freedom to wish me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or nothing at all. It’s not going to ruin my day either way. Shouldn’t I be more concerned how to make their day a little brighter? Like by being “light”?
- And since when do Christians need to retaliate? I was under the impression that we are following a man who taught us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I think it is great to pray for the people of Starbucks but I doubt very seriously they were who Jesus had in mind when he talked about “enemies.” Even so, if that’s how one happens to view the corporate coffee giant called Starbucks, then prayer and love is what is to be extended to them. Not snarkiness.
- And since when is anyone who has the financial means to spend their hard earned cash on barista quality coffee considered among the persecuted? There are plenty of Christians around the world who truly understand what it means to be persecuted who must look at us and scratch their heads in wonder (assuming they have even heard about this horrible event and hopefully, for their sake, their days have not been filled with this nonsense since they have enough real world issues to deal with—like staying alive). “Wonder” as in “to think or speculate curiously.” Not “wonder” as in “to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe.”
- And since when do Christians operate from a position of power, prestige and privilege anyway? That’s not the life of the earliest Christians. And it wasn’t the life of their leader. In fact, he turned away from those things (remember Matthew 4:1-11?) and walked a road that led to a cross. Can you imagine the early church complaining about their rights to the Roman Empire? Can you imagine them getting upset because a local watering hole served them something to drink in a container that did not have on it one of their symbols? Like maybe an anchor. (I can hear it now: “They aren’t mentioning our anchor this year. Tell them your name is An Chor. Hehehe. Then they’ll have to say it to serve up their brew.)
No, shouting and complaining about a cup of all things makes little sense to me. Getting our “way” about anything will not change anything. But “getting” Jesus’ Way about everything might just transform the places we inhabit each day of our lives.
The place for transformation to begin is not at Starbucks. It is in us. And when we are transformed there is a great likelihood that things around us will be transformed too.
Red cups aren’t worth complaining about. Unless, of course, you prefer green as your holiday color of choice.