Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fighting for "Christmas"

Well, it's Christmas time again, and the same old hubaloo over
how to greet one another during this season of "peace on Earth"
has cranked up all over again.

This year's headlines bring a bit of a new twist: Apparently some
conservatives are so put out by what they view as "political correctness"
that they are calling upon their lawyers to mandate the "proper" greeting
in the streets... Some of the details appeared this week on CNN.com:


What could be more ludicrous than an attempt to use the LAW to force
others to say the words YOU want to hear... Sadly, such efforts do FAR
more to allienate people than they do to generate any kind of
"good cheer"... Yet another example of the "Us versus Them" mentality...

A brief study on the history of what has come to be known as "Christmas"
quickly weakens the rather more conservative position on the holiday:
This particular time of year has, for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of
years been more about themes surrounding Festivals, Sun worship,
the Solstice, and other myths, legends, and customs than it has about the
birth of Jesus. Even the abbreviated "Xmas", far from "taking Christ out
of Christmas", is merely Greek language "shorthand" for the exact same
thing, used often among 16th century Christians (or "Xians" !)...

Here are some sites to look at, when considering the REAL story of
Christmas (there are many, many more):


So why all the fuss? Why are some in our society so "offended" by the
expression "Happy Holidays" instead of the more traditional
"Merry Christmas"?

Lots of reasons: People love their traditions, and are saddened to see
them being eroded, particularly religious ones and particularly if the
reason has to do (at least in their minds) with "political correctness".
Christmas is perhaps the one most near and dear to the hearts of many
"traditionalists", and self-defeating as it might be, a law suit is perhaps,
at its root, really a process of mourning the death of something held dear
and even considered sacred.

I think, though, that there is a valuable lesson to be gleaned from this:
Since the history of this holiday has relatively little to do with the Western
idea of "Christmas", and since the early Church was actually the party who
originally appropriated the date of December 25th from the pagans (along
with many of the pagan mythologies and traditions), and since there is so
LITTLE to be gained from legal action, or even the relentless clashes on
televsion and radio... I think the REAL reason for these "culture wars" has
more to do with Pride than anything else.

What is the problem with greeting someone with "Happy Holidays!"
instead of "Merry Christmas"?? Do we understand that to the ears of
someone (say, the grocery store clerk, the bus driver, the bank teller, etc.)
who may not believe that Jesus was (is) the Savior, this greeting may be
offensive? And if we ask ourselves WHY we don't want to modify our
greeting so as not to offend, what is our answer? What do we GAIN by
digging in our heels and putting up our fists while proclaiming,
"Christmas is about CHRIST!" ???

As an example, if somone wants to be called "African American", as
opposed to "black" or "colored" or "negro", they may not, in fact, be
asking for a factual recognition of their personal heritage: A (white)
person, of British heritage, having come from a long line of Brits who lived
in, say, South Africa, may come to the USA for a job, and find themselves
working next to a (black) person whose family has remained in, say,
Atlanta, for the last 160 years... Tell me, of the two, which one should be
called "African American"??

Either one! If either of these persons wishes to be called
"African American", tell me, what is the problem with that?? Keeping in
mind consideration for other people, and genuine humility and
compassion and a desire to SERVE other people, what is the issue
with deferring to their wishes?

The same goes for "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays".
If America is anything, she is a country where Pluralism is welcomed and
encouraged, and if the waitress replies, "yes, Happy Holidays!" to my
"Merry Christmas", well then, that's just fine with me. Jesus was born to
trash the "culture wars" and to condemn the Snobs
while restoring the Snubbed.

For those who claim the true Gospel as their own,
THAT is the reason for the season.

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