Sunday, November 15, 2015

Starbucks and a Religion of Hope

(From Starbucks, via AP/, used w/o permission.)

America's presidential campaigns may explain some of this week's sturm und drang:1
I put a mercifully-brief excerpt from each of those items at the end of this post.2

Hats off to the Chicago Tribune's Greg Trotter, for his "extremely unscientific survey" regarding the latest looming crisis.

Tongue in cheek is, I think, a reasonable attitude toward the Starbuck's holiday coffee cups "controversy."

Interestingly, I haven't heard a peep about the Starbucks Veteran's Day cup, which resembled the Japanese flag, with reversed colors.

Holiday Coffee

(From Starbucks, used w/o permission)

I've read that some Christians are upset because Starbucks didn't take their frangible feelings into account when planning this year's holiday marketing.

A few may even have convinced themselves that the Starbucks logo is Satanic, although that hasn't popped up yet: not as far as I know, anyway.

I remember when Procter & Gamble changed their logo, back in the 1980s. News media had a field day, promoting a rumor that the P&G logo was Satanic.

The notion was (barely) plausible, since Revelation 12:1 mentions "...a woman ... with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars."

Never mind that Revelation 12:1 is a reasonably clear reference to Genesis 37:9: Joseph's dream, where "the sun and the moon and eleven stars" bow to Joseph.

Small wonder his brothers dropped him into a cistern, and that's another topic.

This isn't the first time that loudly-Christian protesters have targeted Starbucks.

Back in 2007, Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping — I am not making that up — marched on Starbucks.

When he's not dressed up like a 1980s televangelist with a dash of 1960s campus activist, Reverend Billy is Bill Talen, a Dutch-American Calvinist from Minnesota.

He's not a typical Christian: or Minnesotan, for that matter.

I don't miss the 'good old days,' when folks living near the crackpot fringe of Christendom could get conniptions over offenses like 'racy' dialog in Otto Preminger's "The Moon is Blue" — and be taken seriously.

I'm drifting off-topic, as usual.

I think Starbucks' holiday coffee cups would have looked better with a thin white border separating it from the red background: but I'm confident that the Starbucks creative staff knows what they're doing.

Besides, I've only seen photos of the Starbucks holiday line: which may not do the cups justice.

Which brings me to Starbuck's absence here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. The closest ones that I know of are in St. Cloud, about an hour's drive from here.

Maybe I should protest Starbuck's "war on Scotland" — since I haven't seen a tartan-patterned cup. Then, if they introduce tartan cups, I could protest because they didn't use the 'right' tartans.

Instead, I'll take a quick look at Starbucks and their holiday products: and then move on to something completely different.

Starbucks Drinkware and Getting a Grip

(From Starbucks, used w/o permission)

Starbucks' holiday take-out coffee cups are fancier than that generic photo at the top of this post: with skaters, snowflakes, and other wintry stuff.

They've got a nice line of "drinkware," too: like the "Red Holiday Mug," holding 16 fluid ounces, and a smaller version of the same thing; each with "2015" on the inside.

A sufficiently-prickly Starbucks patron might take offense at that, claiming that Starbucks thinks he/she doesn't know what year it is.

Me? I think they look nice, although I still think the logo would look better with a white border. But hey, it's Starbucks' logo: and their design decision.

Starbucks has more than 23,000 locations around the world, a bit over half of them in America. It's the biggest coffeehouse business in the world. Not bad for what started as a coffee bean roaster and retailer in Seattle.

They've been involved in assorted controversies over the decades. I don't agree with every decision Starbucks has made: but I think demonizing them is at best a waste of resources.

Reporters, columnists, and editors were still dutifully ringing the changes on the presumed widespread protest on Friday:
So am I, sort of: using Starbucks' holiday marketing as a hook for this post.

But even if I felt bad about Starbucks offering winter-themed products — and I don't — I think fussing about them would make no sense. Looks like I have company:
"...There is no mass outrage over the cups, just a lot of people commenting on the outrageous (nonexistent) mass outrage over the cups."
(Fr. Cory Sticha's comment in a discussion on Google Plus)
And now for something completely different.

Making Sense

I've got free will, so letting emotions run my life is an option: a daft one, but an option nonetheless. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1704-1707, 1730-1738, 1853, 2339)

Emotions are okay, they're part of being human, and that's another topic. (Catechism, 1762-1770)

But I'm human: a creature made of spirit and the stuff of this world, able to think — and decide whether I try to make sense, or not. (Genesis 1:27, 2:7; Catechism, 355-373, 1705-1706)

Sometimes folks don't make sense. Making bad decisions, and dealing with consequences of humanity's long history of bad decisions, "...has something to do with free will." I'll get back to that, in another post.

I won't heap verbal abuse on folks who imply that (all) Christians are angry about red coffee cups, or on folks who follow Reverend Billy's lead. That's because I take our Lord seriously.
" 'Teacher, 21 which commandment in the law is the greatest?'

"He said to him, 22 'You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

"This is the greatest and the first commandment.

"The second is like it: 23 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

"24 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.' "
(Matthew 22:36-40)
Loving God wasn't a new idea.
"1 'Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!

"Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.

"Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.

"Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.

"2 Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead."
(Deuteronomy 6:4-8)
Neither was loving neighbors. That's covered in Leviticus 19:13-18.

The idea that everybody is my neighbor is, I think, implicit Psalms 146:9, and Malachi 3:5: "The LORD protects the stranger" and all that.

There's taking metaphor literally, too, and I've discussed tefillin before. (March 8, 2015)

"God's Love Endures Forever"

On the other hand, when Jesus said "this is my body," he didn't follow it up with an explanation, as our Lord had with parables. (Matthew 26:26; Mark 4:13-20)

Instead we get John 6:54-56, and Peter's response:
"...'Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.' "
(John 6:68-69)
That's why I spend an hour each week at the Adoration chapel, about a half-mile north of my house. (August 16, 2015; June 7, 2015; August 26, 2014)

Following our Lord won't guarantee that that I'll get rich, have no troubles, or be giddy all the days of my life. But I'd rather be 'in the shadow of God's wings,' than anywhere else.
"3 LORD, your love reaches to heaven; your fidelity, to the clouds.

"Your justice is like the highest mountains; your judgments, like the mighty deep; all living creatures you sustain, LORD.

"4 How precious is your love, O God! We take refuge in the shadow of your wings. "
(Psalms 36:6-8)

"...God's love endures forever...."
(In all 26 verses of Psalms 136)

"Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law."
(Romans 13:10)

"5 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 12"
(Galatians 5:14)
I think Paul's letter to Christians in Rome includes a pretty good reminder. (October 18, 2015)
"What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?...

"...For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, 9 nor future things, nor powers,

"nor height, nor depth, 10 nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Romans 8:35, 38-39)
So is what Benedict XVI said a few years back:
"...He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an 'Advent' spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace...."
("Beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II," Benedict XVI (May 1, 2011))
Popes John XXIII John Paul II were recognized as Saints a few years later. (April 27, 2014)

"God's love endures forever," but until the day mentioned Revelation 21:3-4 comes, with "no more death or mourning, wailing or pain" — we have work to do.

I'll be back, later today, with my take on what's been happening in France.

More of my take on what's important, and what's not:

1 "Sturm und Drang" (literally "Storm and Drive", "Storm and Urge", but usually translated as "Storm and Stress") — a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music in the late 1760s to early 1780s. The idea was giving free expression to individual subjectivity, particularly extremes of emotion. Sturm und Drang was, I understand, a reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements. Almost exactly two centuries later, we went through the same thing again, for roughly the same reasons.

2 From Tuesday's news and views:
"Outcry, pushback escalate over Starbucks holiday cup flap"
Mae Anderson, AP Business Writer, via (November 10, 2015)

"It's as red as Santa's suit, a poinsettia or your neighbor's ugly Christmas sweater. Yet Starbucks' stark new holiday coffee cup has set off complaints that the chain is making war on Christmas.

"The outcry - which gained in intensity after Donald Trump suggested boycotting the coffee chain - illustrates the fine line companies must walk during the all-important holiday season: They want to stand out from their competitors, but not go so far as to offend or unsettle.

" 'The challenge is that the holiday language is same for everything,' said Allen Adamson, founder of BrandSimple Consulting. 'Everyone does it, so how do you do it in a way that's distinctive? If you push too far with distinctiveness, you might end up ruffling feathers.'..."

"Is Starbucks Waging 'War on Christmas'? Red Cup Stirs Controversy"
Sarah Whitten, CNBC (November 10, 2015)

"For Starbucks, the annual reveal of their 'red cup' is meant to signify that the holiday season is approaching. Instead, it's stirring up controversy.

"The iconic red cup has featured several winter-themed designs since it first appeared in 1997. From minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer to a winking snowman and decorative ornaments, each year the design is distinctive and different from the last....

"Starbucks red cup controversy: The view from Chicago"
Greg Trotter, Chicago Tribune (November 10, 2015)

"Chicagoans will not be denied their chance to weigh in on the Great Starbucks Red Cup Controversy of 2015, or whatever Twitter is calling it at the moment.

"In an extremely unscientific survey conducted Tuesday on Michigan Avenue, red cup-wielding Chicago-area residents and visitors responded to the coffee giant's plain red cup with laughter, some shrugging and a fair amount of disbelief that a leading presidential candidate had actually called for a Starbucks boycott.

"In case you don't spend your days scrolling social media, here's a quick recap: Some Christians feel Starbucks' red holiday cup is anti-Christmas because it's lacking holiday-themed adornment. At a political rally in Springfield on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a boycott of the coffee maker. (To be clear, this is separate from Trump's earlier boycott of Oreos.)..."


Brigid said...

Stutter: "follow it up with with an explanation"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Oops. Found and fixed fixed. ;)


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