Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Problem With Christmas #5

#5: The War On Christmas

We've heard it for years. Retailers barring Salvation Army bell ringers, employees who aren't allowed to say "Merry Christmas", holiday trees.

Political conservatives have been trying to convince us forever that there's some sort of secular-progressive war on Christmas. I say heartily that there is not, or rather, what is being done to "secularize" or "pluralize" Christmas hardly amounts to a war at all, and we really shouldn't be as preoccupied with it as we are.

What we, as Christians in the west, need to realize is that whether we like it or not, we live in a multi-cultural, pluralist society. Around us every day are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Atheists who probably don't celebrate Christmas. Businesses, being what they are, have to be sensitive to this. This war on Christmas is primarily an American concern, rather than a Christian concern. Conservative Americans, who primarily call themselves Christians, are terrified of losing their previously dominant identity, and so they make it about Jesus, but it's really not.

Christmas isn't even really based on Christ's birth. He wasn't born in December. Some of the ancient Christians chose to celebrate the Incarnation at this time to oppose some pagan festivals going on at the same time.

Even if there were a war on Christmas, what would we really be fighting for? Our true, Christian beliefs, or our identity, our traditions? And haven't we, traditionally, thrived under persecution anyway? Yes, but it wouldn't matter, because we've been on top for a while, and we like it here. Then again, I go back to the point that it's not really us, but the American Christian identity.

Why do I feel like the War on Christmas is something negative about the Christmas season, rather than just misinformed? Because it causes us to focus our energies in the wrong places. We get all worked up for stupid reasons, which culminate in protests and hard feelings on all sides. We could be focusing them into productive things like caring for people who will not only have no gifts to give their children, but no tree to put them under, and no food for Christmas dinner.

We could be doing the work of Christ during the Christmas season, but instead we're protesting, doing the work of the average American and the conservative pundits. Instead of focusing on loving our traditions, let's remember what Christmas is really about:

Loving others.


Troy Van Dellen said...

Dude, I cant beleive you hate Christmas! Your such an idiot your probably going to hell fo rthat.

Miss Kitty said...

Thanks for this post, Greg. I think the Far Right is just looking to stir up another s**tstorm around the holidays with this b.s. they pull every year. They have to feel as if they're being persecuted...otherwise, they can't enjoy Christmas. (Baffles me, too.)

Did anyone besides me find the Christmas tree--of pagan origin!--on the front cover of The War on Christmas highly ironic?

bethany said...

good post. I agree - the defensiveness around this issue is puzzling and off-putting.

Jason said...

I don't identify myself as Christian (or anything, for that matter) but I really liked this post, and all of your "problem with Christmas" posts for that matter. Rock on.

Gregory said...

It's always good to hear that what I say is affecting an non-Christian.