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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)

TITLE: Cynic4Christ
By J. C. Lamont
11/05/08


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“It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and they’ve got Christmas stuff out!”

The man ended his rant with the moniker of the Nazarene, and Jordan stiffened, looking up from the wreath she held. “That’s God’s name, don’t wear it out.”

The man arched a brow, evidently confused as to whether he felt amused or angered. “I’m an atheist.”

“Uh-huh,” Jordan said.

The man snorted and ambled down the next aisle.

Setting aside the wreath, Jordan snatched four boxes of blue Christmas lights and headed for the checkout. Jingle Bell Rock blared from the muzac system overhead, and a synthetic pine scent lingered in the air.

Passing signs for holiday trees, holiday ornaments, and holiday cards, she deliberately said “Merry Christmas” to the woman behind the register only to receive a scowl in return.

November rain pelted the street and turned to filthy currents that rushed past the tires of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Beneath fake, tinsel-draped poinsettias hanging from street lamps, Jordan darted between cars with her shopping bag held over her head.

“I’ll never find a man in this city,” she muttered, ducking under a storefront awning to get out of the rain.

From beneath the canopy, she watched people dash to their cars, drivers honk and curse at the vehicles in front of them, shoppers hauling their bags as they hurried home. All appeared indifferent to the holiday cheer decorating the street around them, as indifferent to it as they were indifferent to its symbolism.

She turned to see a sign in the window beside her flashing ‘X-mas Specials’ and shook her head. “Yea, just cross His name out and keep living your stupid, pathetic lives—”

She cut herself off, wishing she could rid her soul of cynicism, but seven years of living in the liberal city of Philadelphia had taken its toll.

Her bus came, and Jordan stepped from the awning only to be splashed with cold water as it groaned to a stop.

From the view through the dirty window, she watched Christmas lights blur past in streaks of white, red, and green, back dropped against grey buildings and a slate sky.

The muddled water swirling the filthy street mirrored the muddled minds and hearts of the people around her. God, Jesus, and the true meaning of Christmas held no relevancy in their frenzied lives. And no matter how hard she prayed, no matter how often she reached out, she was met with the same blank stares, the same don’t-give-me-your-God-crap responses.

She felt so alone.

And oh, how she longed to shake the dust of this country off her feet and go to a captive nation – where people risked their lives to attend a worship service, where they clutched single pages of scripture to their heart like gold, where they slept in gutters because their homes were burned to the ground for their faith, where their pastors were murdered and their children persecuted.

But it was here that God wanted her, so here she would remain – amongst people who slept-in Sundays mornings, whose Bibles collected dust, and who cursed God for the price of oil as they watched TV in their warm living rooms, and ranted that calling December 25th ‘Christmas’ was an infringement of their rights.

The bus stopped at her corner, and grateful the rain slackened, Jordan trudged to her apartment, willing the Christmas spirit to cheer her disillusioned dreams. She longed for a revival – a Christian revolution – to sweep the county she once felt so proud to live in.

Yet all around her, people eagerly embraced their disease, blind to the growing sickness within, willfully ignorant of the decay rotting their soul, eating away at their spirit's flesh.

Pulling open the door to her apartment building, Jordan stepped into the foyer, but her bag snagged on a screw jutting from the frame. The plastic ripped, spilling her lights all over the floor.

Biting her tongue against blurting something she’d regret, Jordan scrambled to scoop up her purchases.

“Need a hand?”

She whirled to see a young man standing behind her. “Not unless you can tell me what these are,” she said wryly.

“Um, they look like Christmas lights to me,” he said. “What do you think they are?”

Jordan handed him a box of lights and noticed a silver cross dangling from his neck. “Well, I suppose you can help then.”

“You’ve got attitude,” he said, suppressing a smirk. “I’m Todd.”

“Jordan,” she said with a smile. “And you’ve no idea.”


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This article has been read 559 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 11/06/08
Oooooh boy, he doesn't know what he's in for, but I'm sure he can handle it! Wow! this so reeked of cynicism - just like it should, and just like it reflects the reality of soooo many! I loved it!
I long for the same. Simple worship, in a simple church with no powerpoint production and no show to intertain.
This nailed it.
Scott Sheets11/07/08
Nice job! Great commentary on the dispassionate faith of many in our country. I find it strange at times that American believers go over to other countries like China to 'train' their leaders, when we should actually be learning about serving Christ from them. Nice ending, as well.
cindy yarger11/07/08
I love your title. Too many don't know that cynic does not mean you can't possibly be a Christian. Good job with perspective from other nations.
Gregory Kane11/08/08
I would say a very enjoyable read but I rather suspect it's not meant to be 'enjoyed'. Powerful writing that searches and exposes our preoccupation with 'XMas'

By way of contrast I work in Mozambique where Christmas is hardly noticed - no trees, no carol services, no Christmas cards, definitely no Santa. Even its name is changed to 'Family Day'. Personally I prefer the Western version, even if we have to filter out all the junk
Joanne Sher 11/09/08
I love the voice of your MC, and the descriptions especially. The end is just right - hope you finish this story some time.