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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas Cynicism

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am struggling with what can only be called "Christmas cynicism." Of course it's not my fault. Rather I am a helpless victim of this societal machine called Christian radio. They did it to me. They made me look down on what others might consider to be the heart and "true meaning" of Christmas.

You see, I listen to KLTY, which is 94.9 ( on the FM dial here in north Texas. It's a Christian radio station - said to be the number one Christian radio station in the whole of the United States! They typically play contemporary Christian worship music and I find it pleasant to keep on. Our house has an intercom system with speakers in every room. Usually KLTY is playing on that intercom system throughout the day.

So what's the problem with our dearly beloved KLTY radio station? Well, quite honestly, Christmas is their problem. They absolutely don't know how to do Christmas right. I'm serious. they load it up with sappy, tear-jerking crap that at best could be considered mercenary. It starts with that song, "Christmas Shoes" ( It's a wretched song (in my humble opinion). It's quite far from reality. And they play it incessantly ... over and over again and again!

But "Christmas Shoes" is just to warm you up. The icing on the KLTY cake, so to speak, is the annual "Christmas Wish" ( program. In this program, people nominate someone they know of who is destitute and in need of assistance. Then KLTY gets that poor sap on the phone and humiliates them in front of all their listeners as they give them money, food or other resources to meet their desperate needs.

With the KLTY "Christmas Wish," they'll get some desperate individual on the phone and chronicle their current hardship. Typically it'll be a story of being behind in the rent, having no food, needing medical attention, have a car that needs repaired, etc. The announcer on KLTY will walk through all the tragedy, and then proceed to dole out a total of maybe a few thousand dollars. It's typically enough to pay the rent, get the car fixed, turn the lights back on, get the kids a Christmas tree or whatever. The individual will usually be overwhelmed and sob uncontrollably. It's shameless how KLTY uses these unfortunate souls to boost their ratings. And it's sickening to listen to.

KLTY usually picks a new person every week day. They'll then replay the phone call with that individual over and over again throughout the day. (When I worked from home last year, I'd hear the same one many times throughout the same day.) It makes me ashamed to call myself a Christian. I like listening to KLTY throughout the year. But this Christmas drivel coupled with their shameless advertising for Sona MedSpa throughout the year is really challenging me to keep listening.

So what's the source of my cynicism on this front? The real problem is that KLTY isn't loving people as Christ would love them. Even the "Christmas Shoes" song belies a tragedy (albeit not a real one) that requires a steadfast Christian to intervene in a tangible way and walk with the family that is losing its mother at Christmas time. It requires far more than a pair of new shoes for the dying mother.

The "Christmas Wish" fails to address the needs of the desperate family after Christmas. In fact, if you listen to the daily stories on KLTY, you can see clearly that they're doing absolutely nothing to make provision for the needy individual or family beyond the immediate needs or desires for Christmas. They'll pay the rent, buy a Christmas tree and give some presents. One can imagine that the family will still end up homeless by March --- when the KLTY assistance has been used up.

Christmas is not a time for sappy, part-time love. It's a time for making long-term commitments to love one's neighbor as we would like to be loved. That means every day, throughout the year. If I'm going to meet your needs, it has to last longer than the fresh cut Christmas tree. Otherwise, I haven't met your needs at all.

So my prayer this Christmas is that KLTY (and other Christian radio or TV stations) would work much harder to represent the true mind of Christ in their programming.

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