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.