Monday, December 05, 2005

Thoughts on the Christmas Season

Suzie's stirring the pot again over at Assorted Babble, supposedly exposing some liberal conspiracy to neuter Christmas by ripping Christ out of the holiday. As I often do, I added my two cents worth. Just in case you’re wondering… I don’t think there is a vast left wing conspiracy to take away Christmas. Sure, there are a few radicals out there, but then again, the further right or left one gets from the mainstream, the crazier the folks get. As Christians, we make ourselves look bad when we feel threatened and start shooting from the hip. Such a response isn’t "Christ-like" nor does it bring out the best in us. So I don’t worry about folks trying to take Christ out of Christmas or whether or not the 10 Commandments are planted on the courthouse lawn. (another big issue for this group.)

I think some of the people leading such crusades to keep Chirst in Christmas or to keep the Commandments posted are prideful and want to be seen as the savior of Christianity. But Christianity doesn’t need a savior; unless I'm greatly mistaken and we're all fools, we already have the Savior. Secondly, they feel they are leading a righteous campaign, but in doing so they ignore the greater picture. If they want to be a Fundamentalist, they should realize there are a lot of things in our society that doesn’t conform to the teachings of Jesus—and shoving our symbols down the throats of others isn’t one of them. If we really wanted to be radical as Christians, we’d take serious the teachings of Jesus or the meaning of all ten of the commandments, instead of randomly picking and choosing those we want to follow.

As an example of our picking and choosing, we never hear much about the 10th Commandment—thou shalt not covet. Could you imagine Alan Greenspan telling folks to obey the 10th Commandment? The economy would come to a screeching halt, if people listened (which they wouldn’t). On the other hand, the only hope we really have is to build a society based on needs and not wants, one that doesn’t waste everything in an attempt to "have more."

On another note, as I get older I find that I like Advent hymns just as much as I do the more joyous Christmas hymns. The cry, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" in a minor key, reminds me that we often long for the wrong things and there is a whole lot more for which we should strive or desire. The hymn, "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" haunts me. Everyone should have an opportunity to hear its tune, "Picardy" played on a decent pipe organ in a gothic setting.

Christmas is a time to be with family, to watch the faces of children as they discover the excitement, to celebrate our lives and to do what we can to make the lives of others easier. It’s also, for many people, a time of great sadness. In High School, I lost one of my best friends the Friday we got out of school. He was riding on the back of his brother’s motorcycle and someone ran a red-light, crashing into the bike and throwing him across the intersection. It was a strange Christmas—to go to a funeral two days before the holiday. That was a long time ago, but it also reminds me that as we celebrate, we need to pay special attention to those who are not joyous.

There are big fluffy flakes coming down right now--it's looking a lot like Christmas!

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention, but I DID NOT say I felt the Liberals were conspiring...I stated I felt a small group including the ACLU! There is a difference in what I wrote and what others did....I posted a quote for someone's views on John Gibson's book-War on Christmas.

    Christmas to me means what it is! Our Savior's birthday...plain and simple.

    Sending you back that big smile!!!

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  2. "As an example of our picking and choosing, we never hear much about the 10th Commandment—thou shalt not covet. Could you imagine Alan Greenspan telling folks to obey the 10th Commandment? The economy would come to a screeching halt, if people listened (which they wouldn’t). On the other hand, the only hope we really have is to build a society that’s based on needs and not wants, one that doesn’t waste everything in an attempt to "have more.""

    Hoo boy - isn't that the rub? Getting that balance. You said it so well.

    If the fundamentalist Christians would concentrate on poverty and greed, just imagine the amazing transformation of the world. All that energy going into the things that Christ emphasized. The G.O.P. would have a fit that they have been abandoned by all but their corporate cronies and manage to blame the liberals, or Clinton, I guess.

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  3. My family celebrates Solstice and not Christmas. My tree is a full of folk art decorations that speak of this tradition.

    That hasn't always been the case but my brother and I are very much into celebrating Solstice. My parents and my sister and my other brother celebrate Christmas (without Christ).

    For us, it is all about family. It's about appreciating one another and taking the time to make sure we all know that.

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  4. Suzie, I am sorry that I misread your post. I wasn't sure what were your views and those of the folks you quoted, but as I read it, I felt you were advocating the view of a conspiracy (granted, not a large one like I suggested).

    Laurie, thanks for your support! It seems like lately there has been a renewed attack in the "conservative media" on "liberals." I wonder if it is a smoke-screen to divert attention away from our nation's real enemies--radical Isalmist--for whom our current war efforts have probably done as much or more to help as hurt. By blaming liberals on things--they have an enemy they can control and take away attention from the mess they've made in the world.

    Dawn, how do you celebrate Soltice? And do you feel threatened by Christmas songs and greetings? Thanks for posting.

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  5. Outstanding post and very true. I've included a portion of your post in a post on my own blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Very well written! Even if I were in disagreement with it (which I am not), it is much more convincing that starting off with a quote about "liberal plots" to take Christ out of Christmas which loses the half of the crowd that you are trying to convince. Then you are simply "preaching to the choir" with the rest.

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  7. The "Scribe" has some interesting post that I would recommend, but I couldn't get there from the link above, so try this one:

    http://scribeokc.blogspot.com/

    Be sure to read the post about Fox News (it's the one before the "attack on Christmas.")

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  8. Sage, I appreciate you re-reading my entire post this time, apologizing and making the correction....at least in the comment section. Thanks!

    However I am curious in knowing what your regular readers feel about this issue since you posted 7 am yesterday...other than a couple obvious extremists. With Ed, he made a small opinion at Mike's but other than that danced on the issue w/the same rhetoric.

    I am glad we are all friends and can voice our opinions w/out anyone taking it to heart! (smiling)

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  9. I read that link that you posted. Being classified as an Independent who has voted both ways, I always feel lost in the middle. Both sides slamming each other and lumping every one into one big catagory before making some bizarre accusation just wears on me to the point where if I see someone group everyone who disagrees with them into one classification, I stop reading there and move on to something else. I have been politically disenchanted for some time now and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I keep hoping that someday, we will get some strong middle of the road candidate who can win and doesn't have to cater to the extreme left or right.

    Suzie - I like debating with you and Mike because neither of you take it personally. Once upon a time I got into a debate on a communist blog out in California and man was in for it. There was nothing rational there!

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  10. Sage, I read what you wrote at Scribe's. It seemed to me you got caught up with him featuring your post and ignored his attack on me, wishing you would have noted your mistake.

    His nasty remarks about "Saving" and "Christ-like" were totally un-called for along with many other untrue and hateful things he said. It made me wonder if you were too caught up in promoting your blog and previous postings to state the error. Due to what you wrote about me, is the reason he posted it.

    Ed, I appreciate your comment concerning me and I AGREE with the majority of this statement.

    "I keep hoping that someday, we will get some strong middle of the road candidate who can win and doesn't have to cater to the extreme left or right."

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  11. Suzie, I don't think those remarks were directed at you--they were directed at people who are really hyping up the theory that there is a grand conspiracy to take Christ out of Christmas.

    Maybe Subjective Scribe pin contains a bit of vemon, but certainly not anymore than those he's critiquing. And I know that by some of his post resonating with me, I may have been less critical than i should have been. (I hope that makes sense)

    I recently read Brian McLaren's book, A Generous Orthodoxy. I liked it and recommend it. I like the way he critiqued the fighting spirit within many churches. The battle isn't FOR CHRISTMAS... The battle has been won (there's an old easter hymn about that), the important thing isn't that we fight for our rights as Christians, it's that we present Christ and ourselves in a way that others would want to know Christ and want to be with us.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS and I am about ready to call a ceasefire!

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  12. Suzie, how was my post an attack directed at you personally? It certainly wasn't intended to be directed at you, unless you identify yourself with that group of Christians who place political issues as a higher priority than those things Christ actually commanded us to do.

    I am an evangelical Christian who finds myself increasingly disillusioned by our political leaders and our Christian leaders. Up until the Spring of 2004, I was a registered Republican. I have since abandoned the party that claims to represent Christian values, but whose fruit is desperately lacking. I am profoundly disappointed that prominent Christian leaders have crawled into bed with the politicians, a corrupting influence. I heard one pastor describe it this way: You can add ice cream to crap and it doesn't much change the quality of the crap; if you add one drop of crap to the ice cream, the whole batch is tainted and unedible.

    The Democratic Party itself isn't much better. That's why I'm now a registered independent, who unfortunately is shut out of much of the electoral process because of an obsolete closed-primary system, something the political parties aren't inclined to change.

    I am much more critical of the Right and the Republicans because they are the party and politicians in power and they claim to be the "more moral" party, as evidenced by the blind support of the Religious Right. I am more critical of Christians who don't hold their own political leaders to the same standards they want to hold the rest of the country to.

    True, my rhetoric is sharp-tongued, but it's driven by my disgust and anger at where I country is and where it's going. And I'm embarassed as a Christian at how Christianity is presently represented in the national spotlight.

    I hope that better explains where I'm coming from. I certainly did not intend personal offense to you, Suzie, and I certainly didn't intend to put your credibility in question, sage, for recommending my post.

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  13. Sage, I don't mind sharing with you what we do. We probably do many of the same things that you and your family do to celebrate Christmas.

    We put up trees...but they are either Solstice trees or Yule trees. We make it a day of appreciation of the earth. We take a hike (since Sedona is so close) or we go sledding.

    We spend the day with family - a good dinner and whatnot.

    We all actually love Christmas music and sing it. We don't feel the need to discount it simply because it follows a religion that we don't.

    I don't tend to call this the Christmas season. I call it the holiday season. There are many holidays during this season, of which, Christmas is but one.

    In recent years, even though we have young children in our families, we haven't given gifts. We tend to donate to charities in the name of the person we would give gifts to (and we often take a full meal to the local women's shelter so they have one less thing to worry about). If we do give gifts, they are usually only to the children and then they are savings bonds (towards their futures) and not toys or commercial items (except, sometimes, educational items like books).

    So, that's our celebration in all of it. :-)

    BTW, thank you for visiting my site and for welcoming me back here, as well. I appreciate it.

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  14. Scribe, I agree as I posted earlier that you did not attack Suzie personally. I haven't wanted to come back to this debate, so I wrote the above post, reflecting on some of the ethical issues involved. I still enjoy your blog (as I do Suzie's)

    Dawn, thanks for sharing and risking it all by coming into these comments and offering up an alternative vision that is foreign for many of us. I do hope you, and especially the children in your home, have a wonderful holiday.

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  15. An interesting "Politically Correct" Christmas link:

    http://www.meish.org/tis/from_cliff.php

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  16. Wow! Fascinating and civilized. I am Jewish and considered liberal, though many of my views aren't really.

    I have a blog, and was just going to comment on a comment Sage made on mine.

    Then I became caught up in the posts, very beautifully written, and the comments on this thread.

    I also write for a political blog, and many of the comments feel like being caught in the middle of a boxing match with nobody able to aim properly.

    With that winning the longest intro to a comment in 2005 blog award:

    It's very difficult for me to read many blogs because they place blame on new minority groups taking Christ out of Christmas, as a New York Jew I have never encountered that type of prejudice before.

    I am also confused as to who are new minority groups, as my family has been here for over a hundred years.

    But Scribe two of the people I am closest to on the Internet are evangelical Christians, and to say that I respect them would be to understate it by much. One still is a registered Republican, though he is very happy he didn't vote for the present administration; the other has never been a Republican.

    Since meeting Doug and Belinda, I have learned how frustrating it is to be a true evangelical Christian at this point in our nation's history; and stopped using the term "radical Christian right," as the radical right consists of so many different people

    Sage I think that it's lovely to have a Menorah as I believe that we should respect and teach kids about other traditions, religions and values.

    A Menorah isn't a holy object that has been blessed. I'm not big on religious decor but do keep mine out all year because it's so pretty. Truthfully eight candle holders could make a menorah.

    Chanakkuah(can't spell to save my life) is a "minor holiday." "Minor holidays," mean that a person can work, drive, and do all the activities of normal daily life.

    My parents didn't get presents on Chanakkuah; my sister and I got seven little ones and a bigger present on the eighth night. Now Channakkuah is celebrated almost as if it were Christmas so that kids won't feel jealous

    I don't know if that's right or wrong. I do know that I find this generation of kids to be amazing in their respect for others and their lack of prejudice.

    My sister doesn't have a tree, or Channakuah bush as many people call them. We didn't have one growing up, but even though we lived in Queens and Long Island where Jews are plentiful were always reminded by our parents in word, spirit or action that we were supposed to be 100% American.

    My sister wants her daughter to be proud of heritage, and not feel less than as we sometimes did just because when we left New York for vacations were very much reminded that we are a minority group.

    That said we like the Christmas season, and would never dream of filing lawsuits etc. Some years I do have a small tree

    Yet I can understand how frustrating it must be for Jewish and other families of different religions who live in areas where Christmas is the only holiday celebrated.

    Sorry Sage I didn't mean to get so carried away here!

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  17. I'm a Christmas loving Atheist. Most of the 'holiday' rituals are pagan in origin, but whatever...I like to give presents, and this is the one time of year that I have a great excuse to do it without seeming strange, over-eager to make friends, or just a blazen ass kisser. It's a fine tradition.

    There is a difference in being intolerant of someone elses beliefs and not having any idea what those beliefs might be. If I say 'happy holidays', that doesn't mean I hate Jesus. It could mean that I want you to enjoy all of the holidays that fall between November and January. It could mean that I don't know if you're Jewish or Catholic or Druid, but I hope you enjoy any celebration you might partake of. More often than not, it simply means I hope you got to use all of your vacation days before the end of the year.

    Merry Whateveryoumacallit Sage! I always enjoy your musings~

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