"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, November 20, 2017

What's in a word?

I'm actually sympathetic to this argument.  I'll go further:  I agree with this priest.

“I am simply asking that space be preserved for believers for whom Christmas has nothing to do with Santa and reindeer," he said. “My religious experience of true Christmas, like so many others, is very deep and real – like the air I breathe. But non-believers deserve and need their celebration too, it’s an essential human dynamic and we all need that in the toughness of life.”

“I’m just trying to rescue the reality of Christmas for believers by giving up ‘Christmas’ and replacing it with another word,” he added, noting that if Christians don't take action,  “secularization and modern life will continue to launder the church."
It's an interesting inverse from some 400 years ago, when Puritans who came to this country denounced "Christmas" in no small part because the word derived from "Christ mass," referring to the Catholic observance of the birth of Christ with a special mass.  It was the reference to the mass the Puritans objected to, as they objected to anything having to do with the Church of Rome.  They didn't win that round (obviously) and now we have a President who speaks of "Two Corinthians" as a book in the Bible and asks church pastors if they are Christians, because he knows he's supposed to be one, and he doesn't want to be talking about the wrong religion with the wrong people.  And he insists we will all say "Merry Christmas!," as if his word was a royal edict we ignore upon pain of death.  Yeah, that's fixing the"problem"!

That he doesn't understand that "pastor" is a Christian term is the smallest part of the problem.  But if the Church cedes "Christmas" to the secular world, what word will replace it?  And will the Churches that close on Christmas Sunday (when Dec. 25 falls on a Sunday, as it does about every seven years or so) re-open because that day is no longer "Christmas"?

The priest is right:  we (we Christians) have lost both the words "Christmas" and "Easter," although the origins of Easter are unknown and it's a word we could easily give up for Pasch, which I've always liked better. We've lost the words, I mean, and we might as well let them go and quit fighting over "Merry Christmas" and keeping "Christ" in "Christmas" (it was Christians who invented "Xmas," knowing their Greek better than we do today).  We aren't going to launder the world; the world is only and ever going to launder us.  Same as it ever was, and one of the reasons for Luther's theses 500 years ago.

Now, what do we do without them?  It could be liberating.  Sometimes giving something up is not a loss, it's releasing a burden.  If we don't have to fight about how people use the word "Christmas," if we no longer care what they do with it because it has nothing to do with our religious observances, wouldn't that be a good thing?


Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

I prefer Garrison Keillor's opposite POV that the non-believers should buzz off.

The priest is also a psychologist-author, those guys are always looking for ways to get in the paper and on TV. The Guardian is always looking to give them space.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

"Christmas" is not going away as a holiday, and the 'war on Christmas" and putting "Christ back in Christmas" is a tedious drag.

I'm okay with letting the word go and divorcing the Santa Claus/Christmas tree celebration from the Christian celebration by changing the word. It would be nice to make the distinction clear in what is, after all, a post-Christian world.

Although we have a substitute for Easter (Pasch) which suits the season better; not sure what we replace "Christmas" with, but it would be nice to distinguish Advent from the 25 shopping days before stuff in a way that's simpler. Even the argument distinguishing one from the other gives the secular world the default upper hand.

Seems to me, anyway.....

8:12 AM  
Blogger rick allen said...

Not that "Christmas" is or should be going anywhere, but there's always "The Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ according to the Flesh." Or just stick with the Spanish "Navidad."

12:53 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I like either one. "Navidad" is especially nice.

"Nativity" would work, too, based on your suggestions.

1:14 PM  
Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

I agree, excellent suggestion.

2:17 PM  
Blogger JACKIESUE said...

I celebrate Christmas because I always have.even if I don't believe in the occasion.

4:24 PM  
Blogger rustypickup said...

On my Facebook feed this morning:
Rather than putting "Christ" back in "Christmas", I'd settle for putting "Christ" back in "Christians".

1:23 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Best line of the day. Best laugh, too.

2:25 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home