"Keeping Christ in Christmas..." Really?

Why do we fight so hard to hang on to some sort of meaningless cultural dominance? I was reading an article the other night at school, and it got to me. Here's my rant...


21 comments:

A. D. Hunt said...

I totally agree. I wish that the Nation would declare some sort of American "Holiday" that is completely secular. Then (some) Christians could just freakin' get over the longing for the "good ole' days" when everybody was a Christian and pure as the driven snow.

Brandon K. Baker said...

Hey Pete,

Can you post transcripts with your video posts? No worries if it's too much work.

BKB

Peter said...

Ha. Brandon, that would entail me actually thinking through what I'm going to say, ahead of time!

Jesse Turri said...

Good stuff man. I've just recently started reading your blog, I found you through the Transform community. Looking forward to more of your rants!

Luke Sumner said...

Peter,

Well said my friend. I have always wondered why there is such a fight to keep Christ in Christmas. Like a people can forcibly remove him or something. I mean, I like to think Jesus is a tad bigger than Christmas.

I have actually been thinking about this today, and even wrote about it. Then I hop on facebook and see this. Funny. You can read and let me know what you think, I put the link below. I do enjoy reading your stuff man, even if I am not so good and responding and interacting. I blame schoolwork.

http://discussionsontheway.blogspot.com/2009/12/taking-christ-out-of-christmas.html

Luke

anthony said...

"The gospel is not about validation." Right on. That is one for me to reflect on for quite a long time. Makes me recall the Zen quest to be "a person of no standing." Like Jesus, Mary, Joseph in Bethlehem.

gracerules said...

Peter, I couldn't agree with you more. I was particularly irked by the Focus On The Family campaign "Stand For Christmas" In case you haven't heard about it, here's how it is presented:

"Millions upon millions in our nation deeply value the great truths of Christmas and the holiday's inspiring place in American life and culture. We hope you will take a moment to "Stand for Christmas" by sharing feedback about your Christmas shopping experiences.

We're asking YOU to decide which retailers are "Christmas-friendly." They want your patronage and your gift-shopping dollars, but do they openly recognize Christmas?"

Does that make you sick or what????

Peter said...

grace, I wasn't aware of that campaign. Amazing.

What exactly does "Christmas-friendly" mean? I'm sure it has nothing to do with poverty-friendly, or least-of-these-oriented, or other-welcoming.

Yes, I feel a little queasy...

elly said...

@ gracerules: I checked out the FOTF "Stand for Christmas" website that you mentioned. It felt like eating three gingerbread houses and washing them down with a gallon of egg nog. I wrote a short, semi-sweet e-mail asking why they're promoting materialism instead of encouraging families to spend the holidays serving those in need, and got this response--thought you might be interested in their clarification. Here it is:


Thanks for your e-mail to Focus on the Family Action.

It was good of you to contact us with your frank reaction to our “Stand for Christmas” campaign. Honest feedback like yours is always welcome here at Focus on the Family Action. Allow us to respond with some clarification of our perspective.

First, we want you to know that, generally speaking, we are in full agreement with the perspective you represent. Like you, we feel strongly that it is not words, names, or commercial practices that ought to occupy our attention at this time of year, but rather the true meaning of the season. Whether or not December 25 represents the precise date of Jesus Christ’s actual birth, the important point is that His Incarnation is central to the Christian faith - and, as we believe, to all of human history. Throughout the past sixteen centuries Christmas has always been regarded as a specifically Christian holiday. For believers, it’s more than just a holiday. It’s a holy day. Our involvement in the social, community, and commercial aspects of this issue is in no way intended to detract from this vital aspect of the discussion.

Our campaign has been prompted by the significant number of businesses, schools, and municipalities shying away from use of the word “Christmas,” thus apparently caving in to the larger societal trend toward “political correctness.” Simply put, we are concerned that the elimination of the phrase “Merry Christmas” from the contemporary observance of the “holiday season” is symptomatic of a broader, more pervasive removal of all references to Christianity from the public square. We realize that there are many people who do not view Christmas from a Christian perspective, and it is not our intent to force our beliefs on anyone else or denigrate other faiths. Neither are we trying to mandate that businesses must acknowledge Christmas. But we would like to point out that retailers who seek to avoid “offense” by eliminating the word “Christmas” from their vocabulary have in effect created a situation in which even implicit references to Christianity must be regarded as “unacceptable.”

In light of this, we’ve simply reminded Christians that we do not have to stand idly by while our faith is marginalized or, in some cases, even insulted. We can choose whether to patronize certain establishments based on how those companies treat our beliefs. If a corporation makes the decision to deliberately avoid acknowledging the background and purpose of Christmas, then why shouldn’t we as Christians be allowed the choice in return to take our business elsewhere? In doing so, we may be able to make a point and impact future corporate decisions.

On a final note, we’ve heard from people who point out that Christmas is already over commercialized to begin with, and, thus, it seems rather incongruous to try to emphasize the “reason for the season” by protesting the actions and attitudes of retail stores. Some have argued that a better course of action would be to refrain from any participation in the modern “materialistic mania” that Christmas largely has become in our culture. We’ll concede that there is some merit to such observations. At the same time, the giving of gifts has long been a traditional aspect of the celebration of Christmas, and we see no reason to stop that practice completely.

We hope this response has given you a clearer understanding of our perspective. Thanks again for contacting us. God’s blessings to you - and Merry Christmas!

***** ******
Focus on the Family Action

Peter said...

Elly, props for following through with FOTF! Hard to argue with that watertight logic. But it's the fruit of their message that's bitter. Every good try bears good fruit, and in my extensive (lifelong) FOTF experience, their fruit isn't good.

Thanks again for the follow up - what do YOU think about that response? You humbly didn't insert your own appraisal...

elly said...

Haha, Peter... "lifelong FOTF experience!" I grew up on Whit's End and eagerly awaited my BRIO magazine every month. *sigh*

Anyway--what struck me from looking at the Stand For Christmas web page was its slightly tacky, sensationalized message. "For millenia, CHRIST has been the reason for the season.

Really? Millenia?

You can rate the stores you shop in as: Friendly, Negligent, or Offensive. I couldn't find any information stipulating what constitutes as "offensive"--maybe you would use that rating if the store has no mention of Christmas in their advertising, yet offers a "Kwanzaa Discount Day" or some menorah decorations?

Anyway, the response I received was surely intended to reassure me that FOTF still has a good head on their shoulders and hasn't crossed over to the dark gods of materialism. Fine.

Labeling it as a "campaign" is just a bit too much. Christians are already more well-known for their moral policing than for being on the forefront of social change--and I think this is yet another unnecessary use of spiritual energy.

I think that, as Christians, if we are going to involve ourselves in a "where should we shop" discussion, it would be more responsible for that conversation to address issues like waste, consumption, debt, sweatshops, fair trade, child labor, supporting local--and international--artisans (whose trades will become extinct if we continue as we are) and buying organic goods. (As opposed to discussing which stores include the word "Christmas" in their catalogs)

What would it look like if FOTF had started a website positively promoting ethical shopping? They could have a state-by-state directory of locally owned shops, as well as information about where stuff comes from--maybe a link to: http://www.storyofstuff.com/ so that people can be educated about where all that gift wrap and plastic packaging ends up after the holidays are over.

But this conversation should come alongside an emphasis on other important, Christmas-y things. Like GIVING. And SERVING. And LOVING.

I appreciate FOTF swiftly responding to my query, but it wasn't what I was hoping to hear. I guess it's too late in the season (only 8 shopping days left, folks!) to begin a new "campaign," but maybe next year...?

So that's my humble appraisal. :)

elly said...

Gak. There were some missing quotation marks at the end of paragraph two.

Anonymous said...

you must be a god damn idiot.

its CHRISTmas, why shouln't jesus be in it?

go to hell

A. D. Hunt said...

Anon,

What a way to demonstrate the reason for the season!

Peter said...

Awesome ;)

Existential Punk said...

Is Anon. being cheeky or serious? If serious, then i don't want to follow his G-D, FOR SURE! Where's the love in that response? Not one Jesus would like, IMHO! Sorry you are so angry, Anon! i hope you have a Merry Christmas.

Warmest Regards,
Adele

Glancing Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

Weird, I was just accidentally signed in as my wife.
Anyway...

Adele, Anon is quite serious.

Merry Christmas to you my friend!
Love,
Peter

Nate said...

Interesting perspective Peter, it does make sense. I suppose I see both sides of the coin.

Actually, there are two events celebrated (in essence) on Dec. 25th; "Christmas" and the "the Holidays," the latter of which I tend to assume is celebrated my Macy's and the mall.

Nonetheless, my sister was dating an orthodox Jew not too long ago. He actually wanted to convert her (didn't happen, thus a break up). I wonder if it would be ok for him to be irritated should I go out and buy a big screen on yom kippur and pretend like there is no sacred connection to the celebration on Sept. 17th?

I don't know...i know that historically the 25th is pretty much arbitrary, but it is of personal significance to many devout Christians. I'd rather some hallmark holiday like "buy people stuff" day be created to rid 25th of the capitalistic agenda, and perhaps focus more on the celebration of the birth of Christ.

All that being said, I'm not going to give Joe atheist crap for buying his kid a wii on Christmas (unless he can't afford it, in which case he should just buy him something cheaper).

cool to see the video and put a face/voice to a name.

Peter said...

Nate, thanks dude. I hear you. And I think we can get along just fine. I still feel, post-colonialist that I am, that the responsibilities of those acknowledged and represented by Empire (white guys like me) are drastically different from the responsibilities of those who are not. I can't/won't presume what the responsibilities of your Jewish almost-bro-in-law are.

I only know that my own Christianity is tragically wrapped up in principalities and powers, and the most constructive thing I [THINK I] can do is try to unravel, untie, unwrap, and take responsibility for the damage these kinks and knots have caused.

I don't want to lose the meaning of Christmas. But I would argue we already lost it - centuries ago. Naming "Christ" and putting up Nativity billboards on the freeway probably isn't helping us regain what's been lost.

Maybe beating myself up isn't all that constructive either, but without repentance there can be no remission.

Thanks for the visit. Stay in touch, bro!

nate said...

cool,
i'll try to remember to swing by. I got burned out on the whole blogging thing (besides beer, of course).

As long as my kids can still find the charlie brown christmas special, i'll hold hope that the spirit of christmas hasn't been pandered away to consumerism.
Cheers!
nate

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