Sunday, November 20, 2005

Yes, Virginia, There is a "War" on "Christmas"

When I attended Eden Seminary, language was a major concern. It's actually a philosophical concern, too, which is why it boiled over into the seminary in the first place. "Lord" was a banned term, because it was "hierarchical" and almost "patriarchal." Papers which were submitted using the male personal pronoun in place of "God" were turned back for correction and, if not corrected, were not accepted. The only exception was the KJV of the "Lord's Prayer," and even then the preferred title was "The Prayer of Our Savior."

I went out of seminary using that title in my worship bulletins. One of the most vociferous complaints against me was over that change in tradition. A woman brought in several years worth of worship bulletins, to "prove" the change was "wrong." She even derided it as "Catholic," the worst epithet she could muster.

"Christmas" suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Puritans, eager to distance themselves from the dominant church of Europe. The word, they pointed out, included the Rcman Catholic term "Mass," and therefore could not, and should not, be uttered by God-fearing Puritans.

The more things change, the more they remain the same:

The American Family Association called Thursday for a Thanksgiving weekend shunning of Target stores, saying the chain was refusing to allow the phrase "Merry Christmas" on in-store promotions and advertising.

"I don't know where they're coming from," Target spokeswoman Carolyn Brookter replied. "We have no such policy on Christmas. You can see it in our stores."

At one local Target, in Colma, most of the in-store advertising offers a generic "Gatherround." One of the few advertising mentions of the C-word is above a Christmas card rack that says, "Celebrate Christmas."

That's not good enough for American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, who wants to see "Merry Christmas" signs displayed prominently "if they expect Christians to come in and buy products during this so-called season."

And he isn't worried if they offend people who aren't Christian.

"They can walk right by the sign," Wildmon said. "It's a federal holiday. If someone is upset by that, well, they should know that they are living in a predominantly Christian nation."
Granted, this is the most extreme position, taken by the most extreme group out there. But "Merry Christmas" is now a required "Christian" term that, if not used, insults Christians? And, of course, since it is a federal holiday, that means it has the imprimatur of Caesar on it, and is even more hallowed.

Ironically, nowhere in that article does anyone complain about the "commercialization" of Christmas. The whole "Charlie Brown Christmas" aspect of Christmas is completely swept away in one-upsmanship and power plays, boycotts and litigation.

Wonderful way to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. The irony is so sharp they've cut themselves on it, and never felt a thing.

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