Friday, December 18, 2009

The war on Christmas

When I think of war, I think of the World Wars...Korean...Vietnam...and now Iraq and Afghanistan.

The last two weeks, I've been told by two people (not from my church) that I must do all I can to "put Christ back into Christmas."


I'm guessing they are referring to perceptions that "the secular world" is messing with Christmas. I find it interesting that, in most cases, this is not in response to the Christmas sales mania that now starts even before Thanksgiving, but to expressions like "Happy Holidays", and seeing Santa and snowmen instead of creche scenes. After all, very few people voiced many objections to the commercialism of Christmas (Charles Schultz being the great exception with his "A Charlie Brown Christmas"...the story of its creation and fight to keep Linus' scripture reading is fascinating), but came to the defense of Christmas only upon the sense that "liberals" were ruining Christmas by being culturally and religiously sensitive. (What kind of stamps did you use this year: Happy Holidays, Madonna with Child, Hanukkah, EID or Kwanzaa?)

So I wasn't surprised to see this article on CNN online:

Who's winning the war on Christmas?
By Kristi Keck, CNN

I was actually pleased by the article.

First off, it's in CNN Politics section: a statement in and of itself.

I think the article accurately describes the perceptions out there.

Perhaps my favorite part:

Barry Lynn, an ordained minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, isn't keen on the prospect of congressional action.

"Resolutions like this come up because there is this bizarre view by some members of Congress that there is a war on Christmas and that they have to be the generals in some responding army," he said.

"My advice to the lawmakers would be promote any religion you have through your private acts, and don't try to 'help' the baby Jesus by passing a resolution on his behalf. It is arrogant and ridiculous at the same time," Lynn said.

In the end, I politely disagreed with the two people who contacted me, suggesting that Christians should perhaps spend more time focusing on Advent, rather than worry about combating peoples' holiday traditions and attempts at cultural sensitivity.

Check out the article for yourself. What do you think?


Kurt said...

(Upon reflection, I should have also suggested that addressing consumerism in terms of Christmas would be a worthwhile Christmas project.)

Kurt said...

My friend Michael Cosgrove left a worthwhile checkout on Facebook:

Great post. Oh, and on the topic of your comment that "very few people voiced many objections to the commercialism of Christmas," I recently discovered the Advent Conspiracy:

(Kurt: Advent Conspiracy, at first glance, looks very promising.)

Kurt said...

(Another Facebook transfer)

Charlotte Dunbar Nichols: Great blog post, Kurt. I can't for the life of me see how Jesus would object to my using a holiday greeting that is respectful of my Jewish and Muslim friends.

Oh-and my Buddhist, Hindu, Native-American, Pagan and non-believing friends. Sorry if I left anyone out!

(Kurt: Way to go Charlotte! She illustrates that it's about inclusion and generosity towards one's neighbor: a defining characteristic of Jesus!)

Miranda said...

This puts me in mind of Chris Smith's book on American evangelicalism - he uses two poles to define evangelicals - he describes evangelicals as oppositionally engaged with the dominant culture (as opposed to fundmantalist groups, whom he sees as trying to be disengaged from the culture). I think that sense of being embattled is very attractive and engaging. As a discourse/mindset, it has a lot of power irrespective of its validity...

Laura Toepfer said...

Thanks for writing about this. Every year when it comes up, I just say to myself, "Oh, for Pete's sake!"

Margaret Evans Porter said...

It's interesting to me how the fuss about the fuss has become the story. I don't really know but I sense that people who complain about the "war" on Christmas, or that it's observed too "soon" or is "too commercial" don't actively participate in the waiting and longing and seeking season of Advent. Which for me, keeps things in perspective and keeps me focussed.
Which stamp? Usually the Madonna and Child stamp, because it's pretty. (And religious.) But last year it ran out so I used something else that looked nice.
I honestly don't think Jesus took it personally or felt snubbed in any way!