The war on Christmas that is. Yes, it's that time of year again, when Conservative groups insist there is a War on Christmas. I'm of two minds about this whole thing. On one hand it seems like one big pain in the butt. Fact is, Christmas has always been part religious, part reason to party. This goes back a thousand years, possibly two. There has long been a tendency to embrace our inner hedonism at this time of year while Church leaders desperately try to emphasize the religious aspects. That age long battle has ebbed and flowed through the centuries. In America, the biggest threat has apparently come from the rise of our retail industry. As consumerism and commercialism elbowed their way into the season, a growing intolerance for a faith based on the humble beginnings of a baby born in a manger started to show. By the early to mid 20th century, let's face it, most new Christmas songs were long on chestnuts, Jack Frost, and nose nipping, and short on angels, Mary, or Jesus.
By the 70s, when I was old enough to pay attention, I could watch as television stations began to subtly change the exclusive Merry Christmas greeting with the more inclusive Happy Holidays. Various groups, reminding us of wrongs done in the name of religion (read: Christianity), and aided by secularists who still dream of the eradication of religion from the world, gradually pushed the religious aspects of the holiday out the door. In addition, the SCOTUS added to the fray by giving public educators the feeling that the less said about the holiday formerly known as Christmas, the better.
By the 1990s, Christmas had been replaced by Holidays, that baby was occasionally talked about but never mentioned by name, Holiday Pageants were all the rage in schools, and most stores were happy to hang 'Seasons Greetings' across their doors. So what happened? Why all of a sudden is there this 'war'?
FOX News maybe? Perhaps, though FOX was around when the secularization was already well under way. If I were a betting man, and I'm not, I'd bet that it was probably the decision a couple years back of a few stores and retailers to forbid their employees from saying the 'C' word. Americans are funny, and typically rebel against overt censorship. A store deciding to hang up a non-committal holiday banner to increase the almighty profit is one thing. A store telling devout Christians that they are forbidden to speak the name of their own holy day publicly, even though the store has every intention on exploiting said holiday for its own god Mammon, was too much. In stepped FOX News and other conservative outlets, and voila! You have a seasonal guarantee as reliable as the media's annual 'Jesus was just a myth' stories.
In addition, some believers in modern atheism, which to me is more of a personality disorder than an intellectual movement, have decided to jump in and basically act like the proverbial prepubescent spoiled brat. With giant signs more or less giving a big middle finger to Christmas (don't expect similar signs aimed at Muslim or Jewish holidays, for cowardliness is another trait in many modern atheist circles), they are adding to the flames and doing their best to be the living carpet tacks on the easy chair of life that modern atheism has become.
So when stories like this run, which more or less comes down on the side of not much to see here, I come close to agreeing. Close that is. Because on the other hand, I admit there is an itch many secularists and Leftists have to just push traditionalists and Christians out the door, even if it takes the iron hand of the government to do it. That, more than Walmart's worship of the divine dollar, troubles me. But as for the rest, I'm not some sentimental type who thinks this is new. Most of what the holiday has become is an orgy of greed, materialism, consumerism, and the depression, worthlessness, and hollowness that such a life brings. I don't need a culture enthralled with such superficial tastes to help me navigate the spiritual meaning of the season. If it happens to coincide with my faith, fine. If it wants to choose to chuck my faith and leave me with a time for God, Church, family and friends, that's fine, too. My only problem will be when various folks decide it's time to take it to the next step and ask Big Brother to tell me I can't express my faith freely. Then I will draw the line.
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