Some folks think it's crass to mix the spiritual nature of Christmas with the material. But the fact is that the spiritual and the material are much closer than many folks realize.
Take Mother Theresa, who took the dying poor off the streets of Calcutta so that they could die with love and dignity in her arms or the arms of her sisters. Some people thought that Mother Theresa didn't do enough for poor people's material well being while they were alive.
One of those critics was the late writer Christopher Hitchens, who said that if Mother Theresa really cared about the poor, she'd work harder to make sure that they never got poor. He said that her focus on the poor's spirit was a waste…that she should focus on their material needs.
But what Hitchens missed was that by holding up the extraordinary value of each and every soul, Mother Theresa showed the Indians that everyone had something of great value to contribute, whether they were rich or poor or untouchable. An economy that excludes entire classes from offering what they're best at, as India used to, limits its most valuable resource -- its people.
Mother Theresa's focus on the power and worth of each individual soul actually helped turn India from a caste system that led nowhere toward an economy in which everyone is allowed to participate. And that appreciation of the power of each individual soul has led millions of Indians out of poverty and into the middle class.
Christopher Hitchens never got this. But hopefully he has a better understanding of it now.