This past Sunday, the Christian season of Advent began. The word literally means "coming" or "arrival." It's a bit crazy-making, what with all the work and preparation for Christmas entailed. We're supposed to be getting ready for the birth of Jesus, though it's hard to figure out what so much shopping, cooking and decorating has to do with a poor family who had their baby in a stable on a cold winter night.
Every year some right wing Christian leader rants about the attempt to "take Christ out of Christmas" and accuses those of us too sensitive to religious pluralism of secularizing the holiday. The ranters seem to forget that Jesus and his family were Jewish and that three Persian Zoroastrian priests, called the magi or three kings, came from the east because they saw a star (some scholars think the idea of a messiah first came from Persia because the first person called a messiah or Christ in the Bible was Cyrus, the Persian King, a Zoroastrian himself). Meanwhile, the Christian right's prosperity gospel, anti-socialism rants, contempt for poor people and pro-capitalism, pro-war agenda have pretty much ejected Jesus' message of good news to the poor, release to captives, liberation to the oppressed and healing of the sick (for free!). But maybe their take on Christmas is a lot like their abortion politics: protect the pre-born Jesus who can't speak for himself, but once he's grown, he's fair game for elimination.
An artist friend of mine, Rich Doty in Houston, Tex., creates personal Christmas cards that capture some of the ironies of the season. He and his wife Sarah have been sending them to me for 30 years, and I always look forward to seeing what is in those envelopes from Houston every December.
Rich sees his work as akin to a political cartoonist, and last year he sent me a card I liked so much, it has been posted on my refrigerator ever since. When I saw him in Houston this September, I mentioned how much the guests who wander into my kitchen enjoy his work. So he sent the images so I could share the laugh with the rest of you.
Advent runs for four weeks. The card has eight images, so I'll put two up each week before Christmas. The front of the card has this written on it: "Logos of the Season"
Logos is the Greek for the divine "Word" in the Gospel of John that has entered human flesh in Jesus Christ to bring light and life to the world -- very Christmasy. But, of course, it also means the identifiable brand names attached to consumer products -- also very Christmasy.
When you open the card, you see eight logos. Here are two Logos of the Season. Enjoy!