Thursday, December 22, 2005

Keep Christmas "Christmas"

By Mitchell

It's the title of a terrific piece by Deroy Murdoch at NRO today. He's no right-wing Bible-thumper; in fact, he's a non-believer. But he says "the idea that Christmas is offensive offends me."

People debate the reality of the "war on Christmas," but for me it boils down to these paragraph:

The Orwellian impulse to hammer Christmas into the generic "Holiday" is
mainly a project of far-Left, militant secularists as well as corporate marketers whose courage can be measured in thimbles. Fearful that "Merry Christmas" might make someone "uncomfortable," they instead antagonize the 95 percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas, according to a Fox News poll.


Americans who busy themselves bleaching Christmas into "Holiday" are the same folks who otherwise preach tolerance and celebrate diversity. Well, how about tolerating those of us, Christians and otherwise, who advance diversity by observing Christmas, just as other Americans mark Hanukkah and assorted occasions this season? "Holiday" does not recognize these separate practices; it swirls them in a conformist blender. The meaningless puree that emerges satisfies no one. Christmas is a cultural expression as well as a religious one. It should be preserved as such.

That's it in a nutshell. I think what really riles those of us who see this as a "war" is the feeling that we're not really fighting the secularists, who at least know what they believe. It's the sense that the real opponent out there is someone who has no beliefs whatsoever, who wants to go through life attracting as little attention as possible. In short, what we miss is the old-fashioned value of courage.

It takes courage to be a follower of Jesus. It takes courage to be counter-cultural, to stand up for what a Christian knows to be right. At best, it leaves you open to riducule and ostracism; at worst, martyrdom. And while nobody's suggesting that capitulation to "Happy Holidays" is an outward act of denial, it reeks of something else: cowardice. What we see it those who so readily give away a culture's traditions in the name of inoffensive diversity is an unwillingness to stand up for a larger belief system. It is the insecurity that one finds in those who, when they state anything that approaches an actual truth, hasten to add that it's only their own "personal" belief. Well, if you're that timid in expressing your beliefs, you don't have to worry about trying to convert anyone else.

Some wonder just how important Christmas really is; the radical secularists know how important it is, and that's why they fight it. The corporate marketers know how important it is, for in the message of poverty that Jesus preaches, they see a direct threat to the rampant materialism that they preach. So they rename it something more bland, in hopes that we might not be distracted from our spending. In each case, it's the opposition of these groups that justifies the importance we attach to Christmas. It really does mean something; otherwise they wouldn't give it the time of day.

For me, and surely others, "Silent Night," Saint Nick, and Christmas cards (not "Holiday" cards), conjure up fond memories of drinking egg nog with relatives at grandma's house, wrapping gifts with my mom and cousins, waking up at dawn to see what Santa Claus brought me and my sisters, and assembling train sets and Hot Wheels race tracks with Daddy. By laundering Christmas right out of December, the "Holiday" Police condemn these formative experiences as evil. Shame on them.

The Catholic Church, the body most responsible for rescuing Christmas from the Puritans, recognized that the sacred and secular could exist side-by-side, as long as the sacred was always understood, preached, and lived. For me, I will always celebrate the secular, even as I worship the sacred. Today's new Puritans, those who would prefer that you worship the individual, the sensual, the commercial, the here-and-now - they would have you do neither.

And that we cannot allow.

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