All week I have been rolling my eyes at the dozens of posts in my Facebook feed about the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy. The first time I saw a related article I had no clue that such a controversy existed, so I clicked on it out of curiosity; I wanted to see what everyone could possibly be upset about regarding the popular coffee chain’s choice of cup-color. What I read was a scathing critique of the people who were offended that Starbucks chose to use a solid red color for their cups, instead of a traditional pattern with wintry, Christmas designs. My following reactions were confusion at first, then disbelief, not only that so many people could be angered by a plain red cup, but equally so that there could be such widespread hate and disgust aimed at those who held that opinion. While I do agree that getting upset over a secular company’s design decisions is
a waste of time petty a little over-zealous, was their anger so grossly and offensively misplaced that they deserve to be ridiculed and humiliated? Have we not realized yet that everyone cannot be made happy, especially when it comes to religion, holidays, politics, economy, or something even as simple and seemingly harmless as a red cup? It is the nature of the world today to be dissatisfied. There will always be people who get angry over the placement and display (or lack of display) of Christmas tress and Menorahs. I guess the internet is a free-for-all when it comes to expressing rudeness and disgust toward an opposing opinion, but we should collectively learn to choose our battles- no matter which side you stand on regarding the red cup.
Where am I going with this? Back to my Facebook feed. A few days later, after scrolling past dozens of articles related to this “controversy” (can we please stop calling it that?) I happened upon a video a friend posted that was different from the others. First of all, this is a Catholic priest giving his perspective, so it was already different from anything I had seen related to the subject. It’s quite an interesting and thoughtful point of view, and definitely worth taking the time to watch.
Here’s a link to their website.
The message here is simple but profound, a refreshing take on an already tired, but trending topic.
We are against many things in this world, but do we know what we are for?
As Catholics, we know what we oppose, but do we explicitly share with the world our beliefs, our light, our love? More importantly, God’s love? I love what this priest says about how we are often like the cup- we generally mean Christmas, but we do not explicitly say it. In other words, we present ourselves to the world as being vaguely about God, but we fail to specifically and outwardly show our love of God and other people in tangible and society-changing ways.
So it turns out this post is not really about red cups after all, but more about how we, as Christians, would do well to remember to live in a way that explicitly shows others about God’s love- in our words, our actions, and in how we interact with and care for other people. As Christians, if we choose to act only armed with the knowledge of what we hate and what we are against then the world will remain unchanged. As Fr. Rob says in the video, we cannot derive strength from being angry with the world and with society for being itself. Fueling anger towards the world for being itself is a distraction, he says. We can gain strength, however, by purposefully and communally loving God, and then showing it in our daily lives.
In the video Fr. Rob talks about what he imagines God might say to us at the end of our lives, when we list off the things we fought against, and the things we hated: But did you love me? You hated and fought against those things, but did you love me?
I imagine that God’s follow up question might be this: Did you love my people? Did you clothe them, feed them, console them, love them, point them to the truth?
That is truly what it means to be explicitly Christian, am I right?
Lastly, here’s a picture of me: a proclaimed Catholic drinking out of a red mug that vaguely represents something to do with Christmas. (It would have been a picture of an actual Starbucks cup, but I already reached my weekly quota of $5 Starbucks drinks so I had to use a picture of me with my very own homemade coffee and my favorite red mug. Damn you, peppermint mochas.)
I will try harder to be explicitly and proactively Catholic and to a live a purposeful life sharing God’s love while I drink tasty caffeinated beverages and let the vague, unspecific Starbucks cups worry about their own lack of outward religious commitment. Double tall hazelnut latte, anyone?
That’s all for now,