Ten Reasons I’m Not Fighting in the War on Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! I know this issue of the War on Christmas isn’t new this year, but for some reason it’s still lingering and taking a lot of the joy out of Christmas for a lot of people. I think it’s very sad how Christians have let this notion of a War on Christmas steal their joy over the birth of Jesus instead of just enjoying the season, being thankful for God’s gift of Jesus, and maybe having a positive effect on their world. So, I thought I’d post this to help you to relax, be joyful or maybe think a little bit differently. So, here are ten reasons not to enlist in the War on Christmas.

  1. The Puritan leaders, those Founders and Beacons of Judeo-Christian ideals, fought their own “War on Christmas.” This is from History of ‘Plimoth Plantation’ by William Bradford (spelling modernized and ‘ye’changed to ‘the’ but nothing else altered).

On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called them out to work, (as was used) but the most of this new-company excused themselves and said it went against their consciences to work on the day. So the Governor told them that if they made it matter of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led-away the rest and left them; but when they came home at noon from their work, he found them in the street at play, openly; some pitching the bar, & some at stoole-ball, and such like sports. So he went to them, and took away their implements, and told them that was against his conscience, that they should play & others work. If they made the keeping of it matter of devotion, let them keep their houses, but there should be no gaming or reveling in the streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly.

So, not only were these men wrong (“uninformed”) for celebrating Christmas in the first place but also their Theocratic leader banned public celebrations because it went against his conscience. You may say, “Well, they were still allowed to celebrate indoors.” That is true. He reluctantly did let them, and we should take the example of those who were content to do so.

  1. Christmas is still as dominant and ubiquitous as it has always been on TV, in stores, and advertising. It has just changed shape slightly so that the businesses behind these media can attract more customers, which is what it’s all about for them. Kohl’s still sells at least 21 different Nativity sets, and a search for nativity sets on Amazon.com yields over 5,000 results. And TV commercials still use Christmas symbolism and traditions even when they don’t use the word “Christmas.” Here’s an example:


It’s still all about Christmas even though the word Christmas is not used.

  1. Notwithstanding #2, Christmas is not about what the stores do to attract customers. Christians used to despair of the “commercialization of Christmas.” Now, look at what one prominent Christian public figure whom many other Christians admire has said:

“I love the commercialization of Christmas because it spreads the Christmas cheer.”—Sarah Palin

Now, she may or may not have gone on to say that there is much more to Christmas than presents, etc., but this statement is a wake-up call to Christians, I believe, to take a step back and think about what’s really important. Commercialization isn’t inherently evil, but is it the most important thing? Far from it.

  1. The New Political Correctness…Keeping the “Christ in Christmas” is akin to a new Political Correctness. People have been upset over the use of ‘Xmas’ or ‘Holidays’ instead of ‘Christmas’. Well, if we’re going to slice words up, how about this? The Greek letter X or “chi” is used in “Xmas” because it represents Christ. And, the word “holiday” is simply a compound word that combines the words ‘holy’ and ‘day’ to make ‘holiday’. So, we are not losing the religious implications in either of these. But, you may say I’m making something significant out of details. Yes, I am, but so are people who insist on using the word ‘Christmas.’ The word ‘Christmas’ is meaningless unless there’s real thought to the significance of Christ’s birth, and we should be making sure that people know the significance of Christ’s birth and not be so concerned with whether or not someone says “Merry Christmas” to us as we’re leaving their store.
  2. Cynical Christmas Commercials…The New Political Correctness has resulted in store advertising using the word Christmas earlier and earlier (this year I heard it in early October, and I hear that Kmart used it in September). Again, many times this is without any real significance beyond the buying of presents.
  3. The U.S. Postal Service does, contrary to popular opinion, still sell stamps with the Baby Jesus and the Nativity on them. Just check out their web site. There are several of them, and they’re pretty easy to find.
  4. Defending ‘Christmas’ gives Christians a bad name. Given all these other reasons, Christians are seen as whiny and snobby.
  5. There is no War On Christmas. There is not a concerted and combined effort by those who are not Christians and don’t celebrate Christmas to prevent you from celebrating the real meaning of Christmas. There are people who dislike the religious aspects of Christmas, but they are not keeping you from them. And the Baby Jesus came for those people just as much as He came for you. How you respond to them may have an impact on them for the better (see #7).
  6. There are other Holidays during the “Christmas Season” that Christians celebrate…Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year’s….and *gasp* Kwanzaa. They are not mutually exclusive. If you don’t believe it, look it up.
  7. No matter what anyone else does or says you can still celebrate the birth of Christ in whatever way your conscience dictates!
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America Needs Prayer Like Never Before? Really?

This is the headline on a Foxnews.com piece written by Pastor Greg Laurie, Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.  I’m not sure what that is exactly, but apparently they are instrumental in organizing events for the day.

On National Day of Prayer, America needs prayer like never before

Now, the article, which you can read here, goes on to quote several people expounding on the reason America is so much worse off now than ever before.  The reasons are the usual suspects of the breakdown of the family, the shutting out of God in culture, the loss of the founding Judeo-Christian values, etc.  Interestingly, the writer brings back the old “the 1960s started us on a downward spiral” argument.

This purpose of this post is not to argue these points.  The purpose is to question the premise of the headline, and I’ll keep it short because it’s the perfect opportunity to put into practice the purpose of this blog.  I want you, the reader, to think about this.

Are we really worse off now than we were between 1800 and 1960?  Examine those 160 years from roughly the invention of the cotton gin, which contributed to the revitalization of the slave system through a Civil War then the oft-excused, even forgotten, period of segregation.

Is homosexuality, not mentioned in the article but obviously a big target for this observance, worse than the systematic oppression of a whole race of human beings for 150+ years?

Think about it.

And as always, let me know what you think.

 

Dobson and Stowe?

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing RightWingWatch.org.  I’m simply using their video because I didn’t find this clip anywhere else.

I’m also not making a final judgment on Mr. Dobson’s book, Fatherless, because I haven’t read it (yet).  I am going to try my best to read it.

But, independent of the quality of the writing in Fatherless, let’s examine the claim that Fatherless might be the modern-day Uncle Tom’s Cabin (“This is this,” Beck says and Dobson seems to completely agree with the assessment).

I recently read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, so I can speak to the standard set by it.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a complex novel that, while it does not leave its message to interpretation, is complex in its methods.  Stowe uses themes like humility, Christian faith and redemption, and racial and gender roles to tell a complex story.  It’s not just about the cruelest brands of slavery.  It demonstrates how even the slaves’ best conditions were unjust and degrading to everyone involved.

It displayed the everyday life of everyone involved in the slave system.  It had flawed characters, like St. Clare who ultimately achieved salvation through faith in Christ, and it had characters like Senator Bird who believes in the legality of slavery (specifically fugitive slave laws) but takes the opportunity to help a slave escape.

In short, Uncle Tom’s Cabin shows the slave system as it was…right then.  It didn’t speculate.  It didn’t predict.  It was a story of now…in 1851.

Also, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this complex novel so that she could change prejudiced minds.  It was published first in a major magazine read by people who needed convincing.  Fatherless would have to reach beyond a very conservative, predominately Christian audience (and change minds) to have the same impact as Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Fatherless, which is set in the future, is very much open to the inherent pitfalls of speculation and prediction.  Interpretation of current attitudes, economic and political changes, and changes in medical technology are just a few of these.

I definitely hope Fatherless doesn’t ignite a war given these inherent issues.

Again, I can’t say Fatherless is a bad novel.  I haven’t read it, but is it Uncle Tom’s Cabin?  Well, only time will tell.  I guess I have to concede my predictions are open to the same vicissitudes as the novel.  It seems unlikely though.

Has anyone read it?  How does it measure up?

A Good Start

On the About page of this blog, I express, in essence, the hope that at some point, the church will be able to discuss differing opinions on any cultural, moral or political issue civilly no matter what it is.  I hope that this includes the “agree to disagree” principle so that we can come as close as humanly possible to the truth about such things as respect for human life (death penalty, abortion, etc.), the government’s versus the church’s role in providing for widows and orphans, etc., etc.

Same sex marriage is among the issues that I know a vast majority of Christians can’t, under the current church climate, question in their church.  I know there are exceptions, and I hope that this is beginning to change.

Well, I just came across this document calling for exactly this to happen.

A Call for a New Conversation on Marriage

Now, I looked at the list of signatories and am not satisfied with the number of church leaders involved.  There are a few who are to the right of center on the conservative spectrum, and there are a few (“liberal”) seminary leaders and a Bishop in the Episcopal Church.  I applaud these church leaders, but I wish there were more conservatives on the list.

The most encouraging for me is the name of the President of Fuller Theological Seminary.  Fuller has for a long while been a distinctly Christian institution, with a good reputation for facilitating this kind of discussion.

I do hope this document is the spark for a new kind of discussion..

Dangerous New Front in the American Culture War

Watch this video, and keep an open mind.

Look past the “bias.” Look past the fact that it’s an opinion piece, and listen to what the Christians are saying.  There is no way you can take this completely out of context and make them mean something other than the words they’re saying.  Listen to the last words of the video at the very least.

Gospel of Intolerance

Unfortunately, I could only insert a link and not the actual video, but I think it at least speaks enough for itself to at least provoke your thought.

Newtown and Responsibility

I wish I could avoid writing about this because I feel like I’m just adding to the noise.  And, of course, anyone who comments on this tragedy, unless that comment is a direct memorial to the lost lives, runs the risk of distracting from what’s really important.  I’m taking that risk, but I hope there’s been enough time to process and someone benefits.

First, a couple of videos, a comment (at the very end) in context and a (presumably more prepared) follow-up:

Now, I like Mike Huckabee personally even though I disagree with his political statements at least 40% of the time. I think he’s generally a fun-loving, commpassionate, smart guy, and for better or worse he’s not a cookie-cutter conservative.

But, during the election season and in response to the Newtown tragedy, Mr. Huckabee confirmed the worst Christian stereotype. And, I’m afraid many preachers followed his example in their sermons the next Sunday.

He tried to place the blame somewhere that it doesn’t belong. The blame lies squarely on Adam Lanza and anyone who knew of his impaired mental health, was in a position to help him but did nothing.

I actually heard a sermon in which the preacher, after he talked about those who “celebrate what God says is wrong” invited his congregation to repent on behalf of those who were responsible for the nation’s turn from God, which resulted in this shooting. That’s almost a direct quote, and I’m pretty sure it’s not hard to figure out what specific group of people he was talking about. I was frankly appalled.

Now, there are a lot of reasons I believe that what Huckabee said was wrong and that it was the wrong time to say it, but I don’t want to get lost in the weeds here. I think it’s enough, for now, to say that I was disappointed that such an admired Christian spokesman as Mike Huckabee chose to use this tragedy for political purposes.

I’m also disappointed that he chose to use the “God’s Judgment” theme in a way he likely knew would be repeated in churches across America. It’s arrogant and it damages Christianity! God will stay undamaged, but His followers won’t.

To be sure, the Christian Right is not the only group to use the tragedy for their own purposes (notably the gun control advocates), but Christians should be better than this.

Glenn Beck and his ilk

This is a blog about American culture written by me, a Christian.  The underlying goal of this blog is to help bring disparate voices together so the “rank and file” Christian can form intelligent and educated opinions.  I do not want Christians to end their involvement in the culture or even politics, but I do want to see that involvement more effective for the sake of the Gospel.  This blog’s content will question those cultural and political activists who claim to speak for the Christian Church.  Thus, people you will not see a lot of on this blog are:

  • Glenn Beck
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Sean Hannity (though as a Roman Catholic, he may appear more than some others)
  • Bill O’Reilly

and others who do not claim to be Christians or whose commentary is primarily political.  Yes, they influence the Church and speak on moral issues with political implications.  However, this blog is not about whom we should elect but about what we the members of the Christian Church think and who should speak for us.

Thus, you will, most likely, frequently see the names of these and other people and organizations (because people tend to speak through organizations):

  • James Dobson/Focus on the Family
  • Ralph Reed/Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Family Research Council
  • Sarah Palin
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Jim Wallis/Sojourners & the God’s Politics Blog
  • Tony Campolo
  • Brian McLaren
  • Ron Sider/Evangelicals for Social Action

You may notice that the second list includes people who fall all along the political and cultural spectrum.  I envision this blog to, eventually, become something of a clearinghouse of ideas from many perspectives.  In the meantime, though, I believe the first step is to think critically about what those who speak for us, the Church, are saying.  I’ll try to do this by digging into the reasons behind the things these voices say and their implications.

I’ll often draw my own conclusions.  Ultimately, though, the discernment is up to you.

As always, please comment and include people and organizations you think I should have included on my list.  I know there are more, and I know who many of them are.  But, if you want to discuss certain people and organizations, let me know.  Also, feel free to question my own motives, actions, and opinions.  Discussion and discourse contribute to an intelligent, truthful, and effective Church.  Please, just be respectful.

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