MY RED CUP RANT

There is a fine line between a blog and a rant. In my opinion, most blogs are rants. Some are just more sophisticated than others. By nature, a blog is someone’s passionate opinion about some topic. Therefore, a blog is just a rant without all of the high-octane rhetoric and reckless word choice. More often than not these days, the line between the two gets pretty fuzzy.

 

That may be the case here. Just so you know.

 

(In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know right up front: I am not a coffee drinker. Can’t stand the smell of the stuff, actually. For that reason it’s hard to convince myself to get it close enough to my nose to put it in my mouth. So, as a non-coffee drinker, I may not understand all the subtle nuances of the whole Starbuck’s phenomenon.)

 

I recently posted a comment or two on my personal Facebook page in reaction to the great Red Cup Controversy of 2015 where Starbucks had the nerve to design a completely neutral, albeit bright red, coffee cup for it’s holiday sales season. The lone decoration on the cup is the company’s famously familiar mermaid logo.

 

Personally, I liked it. As an artist, I enjoy great design. Less is more in my book.

 

Evidently, some Christians found this simple red cup offensive. In their minds, it was an obvious slight to the traditional celebration of the birth of Jesus.

 

After some research, I even embraced Starbuck’s explanation for the zen-like simplicity of their holiday design. According to the coffee company’s press release, they were simply creating a cup that invited everybody’s story to be celebrated this coming holiday season. Honestly, I like the intent of that. I’m a big fan of respecting everybody’s story, even when it’s different from mine.

 

In my Facebook post I was making sure everybody understood I was NOT one of “those Christians” who take offense with everything anybody says or does these days. Particularly, not something as trivial as the design of cardboard coffee cups.

 

I mean, seriously!

 

Ever get the idea that some Christians are just hard to please? Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. Evidently, even a completely neutral cup can be offensive to some Christians.

 

Tough crowd.

 

Needless to say, I was privately scolded by several Christian friends for the content of my Facebook posts on this topic. They thought my disagreement with some Christians over the whole red cup issue showed my support for the Starbucks empire, and at the same time, a disregard for my fellow Christians, possibly even a disrespect for our Christ and His Gospel. This is risky behavior for a pastor.

 

Had I now become a red cup myself?

 

I overheard one Christian woman say, “I don’t go to Starbucks because they are so anti-Christian.”

 

Really?

 

Evidently, Starbucks is the evil empire of the commercial coffee world. They are known to defend things like gay rights, same-sex marriage, and a woman’s right to her own body. Oh, and they evidently send money to Planned Parenthood. There are probably a few other left-leaning, liberal causes and agendas supported by Starbucks. These kind of secular shenanigans has Christians on high alert to take exception with anything coming out of that place down on the corner with the mermaid selling five-dollar lattes.

 

So, let me see if I understand this.  If Starbucks supports abortion, homosexuality, liberal politicians, and equal rights for all, then, obviously, their latest coffee cup design is demonic in nature. Or, at least, anti-christian. And for that reason, Christians should not buy coffee there? Or pumpkin muffins? Or even bags of coffee for Christmas presents?

 

So what I hear some Christians saying is, "Boycott it all because it supports everything Christians stand against. After all, if we buy their products, we’d be supporting all that the evil empire stands for in its opposition to what we believe as Christians."

 

Do I have this right?

 

So red-cup boycotting Christian, let me ask you a few questions.

 

You go to the movies right?

 

I know. I know. As a non-red-cupper, you only go to see the G and PG-rated movies. Either way, you pay about the same for a movie ticket as you do your favorite coffee selection. About the same again for a large soda or a bucket of popcorn.

 

Have you ever noticed the soda cup and popcorn bucket at the theater do not have any uniquely Christian branding on them during the holiday season? There is no “Merry Christmas” or “Wise Men Still Seek Him” anywhere on your concession-stand snacks. Just pictures of great big kernels of popped corn slathered in butter and bubbly soda with cold, wet condensation running down the side of the cup. Other than the food and drink images, there may be a logo or two for the theater and the company that supplies the soda or popcorn.

 

In fact, now that I think about it, those drink cups are often bright red too! (Hmmmm, it must be some kind of conspiracy.) They are bright red and printed with the logo of that supplier of all things carbonated, Coca-Cola. Surely, they must be into a few things Christians take exception with in our hypersensitivity about all things liberal.  Everybody knows that stuff is addictive.

 

Are you bellyaching about or boycotting your local theater for their holiday neutral drink cups and popcorn buckets this Christmas season?

 

Why not?

 

It is the exact same situation.

 

Do you know anything about the movie industry?

 

What do you know about the billion dollar production companies out there in Hollywood generating enormous profits off of movies they create?  A few of them are G-rated. Their real bread and butter when it comes to profitability are the R-rated movies they produce. You know the ones with generous amounts of nudity, sex, profanity, sacrilege, drug abuse, violence, murder, racism, and liberal politics.

 

I know you never watch any of those movies. However, I can assure you the G-rated movie sliver of the revenue pie is not anywhere close to contributing nearly as much to the bottom line as their R-rated counterparts. I’m pretty sure their more “mature” movies are doing the lion share of the profit work.

 

ALL the movies they produce – from (G)eneral Audience to (R)estricted fare – ALL of them combined together create the profit that goes toward the fiscal bottom line. It is from that same ledger they pay the exorbitant salaries of actors and directors – Hollywood celebrities – many of whom live nothing like Christ and stand for causes and agendas every bit as evil as Starbuck’s sin du jour. And then the owners, shareholders, and others decision makers who decide what the production house is into and up to, take some of that same profit and support all kinds of anti-christian initiatives. You know, stuff like Planned Parenthood, liberal politicians, gay agenda, and religious opposition.

 

Do we even want to explore how many of those same production houses have their fingers in the creation and distribution of pornography under some clandestine label way down the food chain because, well… because there is A LOT of money to be made from American consumers out there when it comes to porn.

 

It all goes into the same income column on the exact same balance sheet. Your G-rated dollars right there along with that other guy's X-rated ones.

 

I haven’t read any blogs boycotting Hollywood or Coca-Cola, Santikos or Palladium, AMC or Starplex because their soda cups are religiously neutral this holiday season.

 

Nope, you're just driving past Starbucks in your self-righteous spirit of boycott on your way to the movie theater full of excitement about the holiday season's newest nothing-to-do-with-Jesus release. Buying the family large sodas in red cups and giant containers of popcorn in red striped buckets at the price of rent for your first apartment...you are financially supporting all that Hollywood is up to these days to insult almost every Christian sensitivity out there.

 

How exactly is that more noble than buying a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks?

 

Let me ask you another question, boycotting Christian.

 

I see you’re wearing clothes. (Thank God.)

 

Know anything about those clothes and where they came from? The truth is, no you don’t. Other than knowing where you bought them you have little or no knowledge about where that particular retailer gets the clothes they are selling you. 

 

The truth is a lot of those clothes are being manufactured overseas in countries with much different labor laws than those in America. In the “flexibility” of those other country’s laws is the freedom to employ children, women, and men who would do just about anything just to have some kind of job so they can eat. They willingly choose to work in deplorable conditions for inhumane hours at great sacrifice to their physical health just to keep from starving. Most of what they are paid and much of how they are treated amounts to slavery.

 

So almost every time you buy clothes from your favorite retailer, you are supporting an enterprise that abuses young children to produce what will eventually become profit for Mr. Manufacturer. He turns around and sells it to your retailer who adds a few dollars to the price you pay to hang it in your closet.

 

Have you ever seen so much as the word “God” on any of the clothes you wear? How about a cross? A bible verse? A Season Greetings? A Happy Holidays?

 

Nope. Just a horse or an alligator; maybe a logo or some letters in a font that has become the distinguishable brand that you love to wear for its comfort, durability, and fashion appeal.

 

Every time you buy clothes from that retailer you are supporting what they support.

 

I don't see you boycotting that retailer hanging those bright red holiday hoodies, button-downs, or sweaters on the sales rack for you to gobble up. Lest you miss the point: devouring your favorite clothes or downing your mocha of choice is the exact same thing.

 

And yet, you aren’t rising up in holy vitriol to denounce your favorite clothing retailer like you are a particular coffee company.

 

If the red cup conspiracy is as you say, coffee or clothes, movies or make-up, with each purchase you are thereby complicit in their evil.

 

I don’t get that kind of hypocrisy.

 

And if there was anything Jesus really found offensive it was hypocrisy in the lives of religious-types.

 

It usually takes Jesus-people to have hypocrisy issues. Starbucks, Hollywood, Coca-Cola, Target, or Abercrombie-Fitch can’t really be hypocrites in quite the same way as that which disgusted Jesus. In fact, they are often just living their lives – and running their companies – in a manner that is consistent with their beliefs.  Including plain red cups for the holidays.

 

It's the Christians with the hypocrisy problem.

 

I could go on. We could talk about your favorite restaurants, your current insurance provider, your area utility company, your preferred cosmetics brand, and the local paper from which you get your news every morning. While we’re outing everybody, this even includes the Facebook empire that provides you the free platform from which you pronounce boycotts amidst your pitiful rants about the severe persecution you are enduring at the hands of places like Starbucks with their bright-red coffee cups.

 

Seriously, persecution?!
 

 

What do you say we just go ahead and nip that kind of overly-dramatic language in the bud?

 

When we were kids playing pick-up basketball games the rule was always “No blood. No foul.” If contact didn’t draw blood, there wasn’t really an infraction worthy of free throws. Play on. Don't be such a baby, you big wuss.

 

That might be a good rule when it comes to defining religious persecution too.

 

If there is no bloodshed, you’re just offended, not persecuted.

 

Unless they are hauling you off to prison for no legitimate legal reason, burning down your house or your church, kidnapping your children, or putting a gun in your mouth to intimidate you into keeping silent about your faith, you’re probably not really being persecuted. You’re feeling stuff like hurt, anger, and frustration, but that’s not persecution.

 

We have Christian brothers and sisters around the world who can tell you what persecution looks and feels like. Having to drink coffee out of bright red cardboard cups probably doesn’t look like anything they are familiar with…assuming they’re still alive to tell us about the enormous difference. 

 

As one friend in response to my Facebook post put it.

 

“First world church problems...being ‘persecuted’ by the packaging of expensive coffee. The early church would be embarrassed.”

 

Nailed it!  The early Church would shake its head in bewilderment, not at the shenanigans of Starbucks, but at the complete ridiculousness of the contemporary Church over stuff like this.

 

I mean, seriously, where do we draw the line of what to boycott because it stands in opposition of our Christian sensitivities?

 

Other than forming our own isolated Christian communes out in the barren wastelands of west Texas (we'd screw that up too),  we will never be able to sequester ourselves far enough away from all that retailers are into beyond the products they sell us.

 

The holiness, worship, and evangelism Jesus asks of us is our responsibility, not Starbucks. And none of that has anything to do with the color of coffee cups unless we want to rush headlong back into the dark world of the Pharisees who seemed distracted by the whole “bowls and pitchers” problem.

 

Granted, the Pharisees of old seemed more obsessed with sanitation than design. Germs or colors, it’s all the same burdensome legalism when you come right down to it.

 

As far as I can tell, the only people who care what Starbucks holiday coffee cups look like are the people who don’t really understand what true Christianity looks like.

 

Not the other way around.