Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Don't Leave the "Christ" Out of "Crass Consumerism"

By Conrad Spencer

People have said "Happy Holidays" for as long as I can remember, which is roughly a quarter century. As a kid, I always interpreted the phrase to be shorthand for "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Now I am being told that "Happy Holidays" is actually shorthand for "May I and my black-cloaked brethren please sacrifice your children upon the alter of Baal?"

Or so you would think, the way the torches and pitchforks come out at the mere mention of a "holiday" (or "Holy Day").

A word to Christians -- no one is trying to steal Christmas from you.

Granted, "holiday trees" are silly. An evergreen decked out in tinsel and lights and glass balls by any other name is still a Christmas tree. And perhaps a few teachers and principals have made missteps, but who among us envy them in walking that church/state tightrope?

From a little silliness, we've come to Bill O'Reilly chastising those retailers he feels are not making sufficient use of Christ in their Christmas ads (and what says "buy this" better than endorsement from the son of God?).

Christians, Christmas was stolen long ago -- not by the mainstream media, ACLU, or any other miscellaneous liberal do-gooder organization -- but by those fat, cigar-chomping capitalists. "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men" translated from the Greek to mean "Buy more shit for your loved ones."

It's not just the presents. Every product has its seasonal tie-in. It's seems almost quaint these days to deride the commercialism of the season. I vaguely remember a time when that subject got a lot of press, but now it's too commonplace to warrant remark.

Given recent conservative commentaries, it's OK for families to charge themselves into bankruptcy, just so long as they are making Christmas purchases and not "holiday" purchases. With this manufactured front in the culture wars, the moral militia claims to be preserving the "true meaning of Christmas" while usurping the holiday to their own ends.

What better way, after all, to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior than to make up a wedge issue to divide one American from another? What better way to recognize the Spirit of the Season but with petty bickering and, if the Spirit truly moves us, a bit o' hate mongering?

You've met those folks who find seek out ways to "define" themselves for the world. They buy coffee mugs and vanity plates and bumper stickers and novelty toys to tell the world they lawyer for a living, fish in their spare time or burn the midnight oil to study the finer points of Klingon grammar.

Christians are no different, and many, particularly in the fundamentalist set, define themselves by their religion. Group persecution -- whether real or imagined -- fosters group solidarity. The Us-Versus-Them mentality builds a community and creates an identity, but at the expense of the larger culture.

Back when I went to Sunday School, I remember being taught that you shouldn't have to tell people you're a Christian, they should be able to see it from your actions -- What would Jesus do?

He'd probably wish us all a happy holiday.


At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for adding some sanity to an upside down world.

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous drew said...

Amen, brother.

Did you know that Fox News should have actually been on his naughty list?


At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A word to Christians -- no one is trying to steal Christmas from you."

Dude, tell me you're not that out of touch.

That sounds like some doublespeak propaganda line from Oceania's government. Just make a bald assertion that's a lie, and hope no one will notice right?

Look, people can see and hear what's happening for themselves -- and the reality isn't pretty. It's happening all over the nation, so there's no need for paranoia.

Your Orwellian assertions aside, reality has a way of confronting us with, well, reality.

At 1:36 AM, Anonymous anycollegestudent said...

What's funny is when Christian people in this debate say that their free speech is being taken from them. I'd have thought that maybe the intent is to make everyone more receptive to all cultures, not simply to push down one or the other. And as if taking the word "Christmas" out of public places means you can't have Christmas at home with your friends and family, the people who matter during the holidays (sorry, Christmas) anyway.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Conrad Spencer said...

Anonymous—I may have been too hyperbolic. There may indeed be a handful of nefarious atheists out there intent on scrubbing Christ from American culture. However, there are hardly enough to warrant the ink devoted to the subject.

My point is that Christmas has been secularized, but it has more too do with the pursuit of the dollar than any disdain of religion. Bill O’Reilly (among others) wants to keep the “Christ” in “Christmas” and he wants to keep the “Christmas” in, of all things, advertisements. Christ threw the money changers out of the temple; Mr. O'Reilly will let them stay, just as long as they appear sufficiently devout.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Bob said...

Has Anonymous been told by anyone in a uniform, wearing a dark suit with glasses and an earpiece, sitting behind a tall counter at the friendly neighborhood bureaucracy or, well, just anyone, that he is forbidden from saying "Merry Christmas" or celebrating the birth of Jesus? We invite you to share.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

it actually warrants defending to say that no one is trying to steal Christmas from Christians?

Give me a break.

I'm all for free speech and whatnot, but flat-out stupidity on these parts will not be tolerated...


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