Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent Day 5: The "War" on Christmas

This year I'm blogging through Advent season. The goal is to put up a shorter post every day in December on topics related to the holiday, and I'd like to toy with some different media (music, poetry, art). I may not stay faithful to the format, we'll see, but I'd thank you to come along on the journey with me anyway. I hope this can enhance your Christmas experience as I'm sure it will mine.

I don't mean to be petty or argumentative, but something has really gotten under my skin lately. Every year as Christmas approaches I start to hear the same squabbles popping up left and right, causing a bizarre tension between groups of people I love very much. The Grand Poobah of these conflicts centers on the "secularization of the holiday" or more provocatively put, the "war on Christmas."

The war. On Christmas. Apparently somebody's waging a war on Christmas. They better stop it, huh? Cut it out! I love Christmas!


See, that's the trouble with words. "War on Christmas" is a phrase designed by PR people to draw ire from holly, jolly American Christians, and all those who enjoy Christmas (not limited to Christians).


The idea is supposedly that Christmas is being cast out from the public sphere by those vicious, sneaky Communists (or whatever), or else sanitized to become a generic holiday for all people of all religions (God forbid). Christmas imagery has, according to ardent Christmas defenders, been commandeered by the masses for commercial use but stripped of Christian meaning, to the extent that it is no longer "politically correct" even to say "Merry Christmas." We must say "happy holidays," as it is more inclusive.


This apparently makes Christians feel picked on, as if our faith and traditions don't warrant the reverence afforded other faiths. Some also cite a dissolution of our national "Christian heritage" as cause for concern, adding the spiritual state of our nation to the stakes of this struggle.


Is this true, that we're being picked on? Or, as I've heard it said, are we being persecuted?


Here's a little infographic I believe perfectly answers this question:

persecution-download.jpg
Props to Rachel Held Evans for the graphic.

This "war on Christmas" talk is demonstrative of a larger culture war waging in our country. We have divided along party lines to fight over who is more truly American, which is fine, whatever, but I resent that Christmas is caught in the middle of this nonsense. Those wishing others "happy holidays" are not trying to quash Christmas. Sure, they are guilty of being "politically correct," but only in order to make everyone feel more included. What is so unChristian about that? Political correctness has for whatever reason gotten a bad rap in conservative Christian circles, but what is the purpose of PC talk if not to make people feel more supported and included with our language? As Christians I feel we ought to be willing to watch what we say out of love for others.

Similarly, we ought not to cling to our more comfortable grasp of cultural dominance (public displays of Christian superiority) if it means we are alienating those on the outside whom we ought to be serving and loving.

The war on Christmas is unwinnable for Christians. Either we dig in our heels, become more obstinate and turn off the world to the Gospel while it speeds on toward progress and tolerance without us, or we succeed in forcing everyone to adhere to our traditions and rules by compulsion and in doing so compromise the Gospel by marrying it to abusive power. The Christian is not to operate by force but by the paradoxical principles of love and grace. And so it is with the Church. If we must lose a culture war to remain faithful to our God and His mission of love, so be it. It will be uncomfortable to lose political power but it has always been God's call on us to give up power in the name of humble service.

Christmas is a holy day celebrating God's coming down to rescue a broken world. It is not damaged by inclusive language.

So happy holidays everybody.

Philippians 2:3-11
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

No comments:

Post a Comment