Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The War on the War on Christmas

The "War on Christmas" has started with another "controversy" in Rhode Island over whether to call  it a "Holiday tree" or a "Christmas tree."  A controversy I might understand if the word "Christmas" in this context had anything to do with Christianity; but it doesn't.  I'm just going to link to Media Matters, by the way, because it's easier on me, and I don't mind linking there anyway.  MM also tells me this "War on Christmas" is, as well, a war on Christianity.  Which is where the whole thing starts to get weird.

First, the "Christmas tree" is no more Christian than the Easter bunny and easter eggs.  Yes, I do know a lot of churches that sponsor Easter Egg hunts on Easter Sunday, and that's a good thing.  Kids love it, anyway.  And yes, I do know a lot of churches that put up Christmas trees; some even put them in the sanctuary (the same ones that put up national flags somewhere in the choir, usually).  But even those churches usually only put them up because they are covered with "Chrismons" rather than glass pickles, Star Wars and Star Trek figurines, and other items from popular corporate culture that reflect the true meaning of the season.

Even then, they are not "Christian," any more than the national flag is Christian because it is given pride of place behind the pulpit.

I'm guessing Fox's "War on Christmas" has failed to get any traction over the years, so they'd had to escalate this year and make it an explicit war on Christianity.  Gretchen Carlson all but goes there in the videotape, which ends with her seeking reassurance they aren't nuts, that there really is a war on a holiday.  I think, however, Dick Hughes is right:

No, government isn’t waging a war on Christmas. The American people already have. And, unfortunately, they’ve won.

Were we to rewind the time machine, we would be reminded that Christmas is about neither Christmas trees nor holiday trees. Nor is it about how many baubles can be purchased at bargain prices or how many festive decorations can adorn a home or how many times the cash register will ring. Stripped to its essence, Christmas is the gift of God’s Son to the world.

It is dangerous to imply what Jesus might think if he were walking the streets of Salem today. But may I humbly suggest that he wouldn’t care one whit whether decorated Douglas firs were called Christmas trees or holiday trees. He might, however, have a few words about those who sought to profit by keeping that false controversy alive.

He likely would question how one of the richest nations in the world could allow so many people to remain hungry and homeless. He probably would grieve that humankind has achieved centuries of technological advances yet remains unable to conquer the traits — ambition, envy, greed, mistrust and the like — that rend families and breed conflict.

May I suggest that instead of debating a phony and irrelevant War on Christmas, it would be more beneficial for us to wage peace within our communities.
Which is the real irony of this "war;" it's being conducted the name of the Prince of Peace, but has nothing to do with him or what he taught, at all.  But then, by and large, neither does our celebration of Christmas. 

Personally, I think Lawrence O'Donnell pretty much had the last word on the subject.  Well, and Ricky Gervais, who wished:  "Peace to all mankind, Christian, Jew, Muslim, and Atheist."  I'd include all non-Christians and all non-believers in that, but it's a good sentiment either way.

Christmas is about gifts, and about giving; but its not about squabbling over vocabulary, or about getting the best bargain on the best items in the stores.  It isn't really about those gifts at all, but if it is, that's fine; it just really can be about much more than that.  What it can't be much less about are the adjectives used to modify certain nouns in the last month of the year.  If there is a "war on Christmas," it's because we fight it, and ignore the poor and the desperate even more heartlessly than Ebenezer Scrooge ever imagined he could.  "War on Christmas"?  No; Christmas should be a time of war on our complacency, and our lack of compassion.  Or at least the moral equivalent of war; in the name of the rebel Jesus.


  1. Windhorse6:29 PM

    LOVE the graphic. And what could I possibly add to the analysis that either you or Niebuhr hasnt already said much more eloquently (as usual)?

  2. Jesus died on a tree.
    At Xmas we put up trees.