Narcissus' Echo

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas: a confession



I must confess that in the days leading up to Christmas, I harbored a seething sense of anger. Anger towards atheists, liberals, the ACLU, and anyone who had a hand in secularizing Christmas into some pathetic greeting of "Happy Holidays," and bastardizing the Christmas Tree into a "Holiday Tree." This cumulated in my decision not to send any Christmas greeting, card or present to anyone who isn't a Christian. One can play this too: it swings both ways.

This led to me being partial to the antagonistic rhetoric of articles such as, Tolerate This!, by sacred cow burgers:




Liberals seem to live by the axiom, "Do as I say, not as I do." No matter what grand ideals they profess, they hold themselves entirely blameless for disregarding them; regardless of how contradictory their words and deeds are.

Take the professed Liberal doctrine of "diversity" and "tolerance" for instance. Ah, such noble, admirable ideals! Everyone will get along just fine if we just accept and embrace that we're all different and we can all get along. Such an idyllic, utopian world view!

And what a frickin' pity that Liberals wouldn't recognize such principles if they reared up and bit 'em square on their ass.

Hell, judging from the conduct of the average ACLUer and their Leftist cohorts in the Democrat party, the only "diversity" they respect is the kind that's put on display by those goose-stepping clowns who parrot the Liberal platform word-for-word. Everyone else of every race, religion and ideology who refuses to kowtow to the Leftist agenda gets marginalized as an "Uncle Tom," "extremist," or "hater."

Add to that mix the Liberal hypocrisy in which they claim that they're "inclusive" and "tolerant" of differing views. They pay a lot of lip service to such virtue, but when the rubber hits the road, these "inclusive, tolerant" Leftists expect everyone in the mainstream to keep their views to themselves while every Left-wing lunatic fringe group gets to monopolize the public square.

The sheer magnitude of this hypocrisy has become painfully apparent in the past several years, especially during the Christmas season. No longer content to criminalize public displays of any and all things Judeo-Christian, Liberals now seek to annihilate any and all public reference to the birth of Christ during the very season in which that birth is celebrated.

Seems these "tolerant, inclusive" people just aren't content with getting the Ten Commandments removed from the public squares of a nation that is over 90% Christian. And these "tolerant" little Liberals certainly weren't very happy about a harmless three-letter word spelled "G-O-D" that was in our nation's Pledge of Allegiance and on our currency. Oh no...now they have to destroy every reference to the reason for the season while propping up fake holidays such as Kwanzaa.

Suffice it to say that I think it's high time that the majority shrugged off the tyranny of this ridiculously small Leftist fringe and told them, in no uncertain terms, to practice some of that tolerance they preach and keep their intolerant, mean-spirited, anti-Christmas bellyaching to themselves.

(Source)


Now, while it undeniable that the article above is a frothing, at times misdirected rant, without any concrete point whatsoever--apart from expressing outrage, the following piece, Christmas is Better Than a Season's Greeting, by Amy Proctor is more coherent, lucid, but no less restrained:


Thanks in large part to John Gibson’s book, ‘The War on Christmas’, public awareness and discourse over Christmassy greetings have sparked controversy because of the terms "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays". Christmas means literally "the Mass of Christ".

Here is a brief history of Christmas in America:

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. The Godly or parliamentary party, working through and within the elected parliament in the 1640s in England clamped down on the celebration of Christmas and other saints’ and holy days, a prohibition which remained in force on paper and more fitfully in practice until the Restoration of 1660.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, did not celebrate Christmas in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. The celebration of Christmas was practiced by Roman Catholics in America and eventually Protestants took up the celebration as well. Christmas was declared a federal holiday on June 26, 1870.

With that established, Christmas is necessary to the holiday. It is not immaterial to complain about the secularization of Christmas nor the attempts to take Christ out of the Holy Day altogether. Indeed, there is no "holy day" without "Christmas". There is no "Season" without Christ.

THE "HOLIDAY SEASON" IS NOT ABOUT KWANZAA

Kwanzaa  is not an African celebration, but an African-American celebration. It is a non-religious celebration strategically coinciding with the Christian Holiday of Christmas. It is celebrated between December 26 and January 1 and focuses on black unity, community and self-determination. Kwanzaa was conceived in 1966 by Dr. Mualana Karenga, although it didn’t catch on as a holiday for several years. Dr. Karenga, a felon and anti-white activist, played a key role in Black United Front efforts serving on the founding and the executive committee of the Black Power Conferences of the 60’s, the Black United Front, the National African American Leadership Summit, the Black Leadership Retreat and the Million Man March/Day of Absence. Kwanzaa can hardly be called a "holiday", i.e., "holy day."

THE "HOLIDAY SEASON" IS NOT ABOUT ATHEISM

Atheism is the belief that there is no god. Atheists cannot celebrate Christmas, then, as we know it by virtue of their own philosophy, but can "celebrate" the Winter Solstice. No "holy day" going on with the atheists. 

THE "HOLIDAY SEASON" IS NOT ABOUT WINTER SOLSTICE

Solstice means "standing-still-sun". Winter solstice is when, because of the earth’s tilt, the northern hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun, and therefore the daylight is the shortest. The sun has its lowest arc in the sky. Winter Solstice includes a 12 day observance that usually begins around December 21 or 22. This period can be appreciated by all but is celebrated by mostly pagans, secularists and some agnostics and atheists. While it legitimately occurs during the Christmas Season,   Winter Solstice cannot be called a "holiday", either.

THE "HOLIDAY SEASON" IS NOT ABOUT HANUKKAH/CHANUKAH (although, getting warmer!)

Hanukkah,  the Festival of Lights, is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for 8 days. The celebration usually falls in the end of November or beginning of December but varies since the Jews base their year on the lunar calendar as opposed to the solar calendar. This year, Hanukkah falls on December 25, 2005 - January 02, 2006 "Chanukah is not a very important religious holiday. The holiday’s religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu’ot. It is roughly equivalent to Purim in significance, and you won’t find many non-Jews who have even heard of Purim! Chanukah is not mentioned in Jewish scripture; the story is related in the book of Maccabbees, which Jews do not accept as scripture. The only religious observance related to the holiday is the lighting of candles." Hanukkah/Chanukah can be considered a "holiday" and is appreciated by Christians since, without Judaism, there would be no Christianity.

THE "HOLIDAY SEASON" IS ABOUT CHRISTMAS!

Some say that the "separation of Church & State" make Christmas problematic.  The so called separation of Church and State is not a constitutional tenet but a reference in a private letter   from Thomas Jefferson to a minister.  In fact, Jefferson  also said in the very same letter:

-"Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty"
-"May God strengthen you.."
-"And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator."

The Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The United States is a government of the people, by the people, for the people   Over 80% of Americans claim Christian affiliation or preference, although whether 80% of Americans act like Christians is still in dispute.  Christians have no reason to limit their freedom expression and worship to their homes. The Constitution allows for freedom OF religion and the free exercise THEREOF, and the church is to be protected by the state, not pushed into their homes to worship out of the public eye.

Attacks on Christmas

To take Christ out of Christmas is to have no "happy holiday", because it is no longer a holy day. It is a federally approved gift giving occasion which the federal government would be hard pressed to support. The "holiday" would cease to exist because it would have no foundation nor merit.  It’s an all or nothing proposition. You cannot minimize Christ in this holiday or it ceases to exist at every level, and all celebrate it in some form or other. 

To deny Christian roots in America is foolish when those roots, like them or not, are what has given the minority of pagans and heathen the safety of expression not afforded many other cultures and countries.  They should thank a Christian every day for public expressions of religion because it affords them their own freedom of expression.

If pagans, atheists and secularists are offended by "Merry Christmas", they should go to work or neglect family during Dec. 24-25. The Christian holiday, Christmas, benefits EVERYONE and even they have the luxury of family time and a paid vacation. They are foolish to complain. There is nothing offensive about Christmas… a newborn baby being born to a holy family.

While some feel Christians are unrealistic in their desire to preserve the salutation, "Merry Christmas", and in fact it is mocked by secularists, all that is needed is a swift look backwards in history to see that the assault on Christianity in America occurs in baby-steps. Prayer taken out of public schools, religious private schools forced to hire personnel whose lifestyles overtly contradict religious values, the Supreme Court hearing cases to limit the free exercise of religion and the ACLU’s relentless pursuit to abolish it in the public square, despite the undeniable foundation Christianity has played in the formation of our government and law.

If we don’t keep Christmas as it was intended to be, that is, to insist that it be declared (if not celebrated) as the birth of Jesus Christ, then no one will insist and it will decline into a secular momento. The fact is that all other groups who could be offended by a friendly "Merry Christmas" depend upon the holiday to celebrate their own beliefs, or else December 25th would be a working day as any other. The sharing, gift giving and "peace on earth" is ONLY the Christian message. 

So don’t be afraid to give Jesus His propers this "holiday season".  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

(Source)


I could have gone on and on, playing the "us versus them" game until New Year's and the year after (ad infinitum, until the year I die), but for Father Paul L. Locatelli's Christmas message:


Dear Students, Staff, Faculty and Friends:

This season, so sacred to Christians, offers a precious opportunity to inspire people of all religions to appreciate our diversity as a blessing. I see this holy season as a time to set aside permanently our differences and to see others as gifts to us. Together, may we hope for the day when the knowledge of the Holy One will cover the earth as water covers the seas; when people of differing faiths, races, orientations, and national origins can sit down at the same table to share food and drink, stories, ideas, and gratitude for each other.

In this spirit, I want to wish you and your family and friends a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, a festive Kwanzaa, the blessings of Ramadan which ended recently, or the peace-filled experience of your own religious tradition.

We all understand that God is not found in the frenzy of shopping, much less in the hurtful language of political invective. Rather, we discover God when we reflect on who we are as a human family and how we can become good neighbors to each other. God is in the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus as the entrance of God into human history. So too God can be found in the Muslim celebration of Ramadan, their month of blessing marked by prayer, fasting, and charity, and in the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, the festival of lights. The Kwanzaa celebration, which reaffirms traditional African values of family and community, offers important guiding principles about how we should live in the world.

We all can point to national examples of where God is not found. As the shopping day after Thanksgiving approached, major networks reported how retailers were taking Christmas out of their marketing strategies and stores. In some stores, even Santa Claus was in jeopardy. Upset, some people called for boycotts of retailers like Target and Wal-Mart. Their fear: Christmas was becoming too secular. Then we saw on the front pages of newspapers and on television photos and reports of the shopping frenzy on that so-called "Black Friday." "Ugly" best describes the selfishness, greed, rampant consumerism, and uncouth behavior as shoppers pushed aside and even stepped on others to get first crack at some discounted item. Suddenly I was glad cautious retailers had distanced the notion of shopping in their stores from Christmas and the holiness of this season.

In the name of civil liberties, some politicians have also strained to keep even the smallest allusions to God out of public displays. In Massachusetts, for example, controversy brewed over whether to call the tree in the Boston Common a Christmas tree or a holiday tree. For now, the mayor of Boston declared it is a Christmas tree. In the future, who knows? In Florida, two different city councils tried to prohibit the display of a Nativity scene in the public square while permitting a Star of David and Menorah. Why? Because, as one lawyer argued, the Menorah is not a religious symbol. What was he thinking? How do some miss the point so badly? Why are we so divided? Why not let any legitimate religious symbol related to a holy day be displayed? It would not violate the principle of separation of church and state, but rather foster religious freedom and the Constitution’s guarantee of the right to express one’s views.

God is not discovered in contentious debate about trees or holy days or the commercialization of holidays. God is discovered in the sincere expression of religious love. On a daily basis God beholds us and gives us grace for our prayer and work. In fact, God’s grace is constantly and powerfully at work in our world, especially when people of diverse backgrounds cherish each other as one human family and use their gifts for the good of the community. God is visible in our love of our families and in our love of neighbor – be it a co-worker, a recent immigrant from Asia and Latin America, the gay and lesbian, the poor who lost their homes in New Orleans, the African suffering from AIDS, the friend dying of cancer, the wealthy reaching out to victims of poverty and natural disasters . . . the list could go on. But in the end, we personify holiness in our world when we love tenderly, act justly, and walk humbly together with God and each other.

We see the hand print of God as well as signs of hope and peace in the worldwide response to the terrible natural disasters of the last year: the desire to accompany, to pray for, and to send help and funds to the victims of the tsunami in South Asia, the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and in Central America, and the devastating earthquake in Kashmir. These human gestures are visible signs of our love of God and God’s love for all people.

My prayer for you this year is that God’s great love be felt by you and those you love and that God’s love will increase your recognition of, and hope in, the goodness of others. Through that goodness may God help us to bring unity and tranquility to our troubled world. Then will we see, as the ancient prophets envisioned, people of all nations streaming toward the holy mountain of peace.

Blessings of the season,

Paul Locatelli, S.J.


(Source)


Reconsidering my defensive stance, I ponder, is it so bad that the spirit of Christmas takes a step back from the mindless consumerism that has afflicted this holy day? What does Christmas mean for the average child? Time with God in church? Or is it, "What can I get Mommy or Daddy to buy me?" What goes through the average adult's mind during the Christmas season? Does it have anything to do with church? Does it have anything to do with helping those less fortunate? No, it is, "How can I get all my shopping done?" And "Do I have enough money to get all the presents I need to get?"

Is this Christmas?

Have you ever been in a large store, with Christmas carols blaring over the PA system, and looked about you at the mindless hordes searching for more to buy? I was in Fry's Electronics when it happened. There was nothing remotely related to Christmas in the experience. At the end of it all, it doesn't matter whether the sales clerk wished me, "Happy Holidays," or "Live Long and Prosper." Thinking about it now, having him wish me, "Merry Christmas," would only be a mockery.

The artist, Nick Cave, penned the following lyrics to a song, Oh My Lord, (which I often quote):


Be mindful of the prayers you send
Pray hard but pray with care
For the tears that you are crying now
Are just your answered prayers
The ladders of life that we scale merrily
Move mysteriously around
So that when you think you're climbing up, man
In fact you're climbing down



Perhaps the atheists, liberals and ACLU are doing Christmas a favor. Christmas does not belong in the retail store. In fact, the spirit of Christmas has been absent from stores, shopping centers, malls, mega-malls, for many decades. Christmas should not be fueling consumerism. It is a perversion of the greatest proportions that the celebration over a baby born in a manger should be responsible for the unnecessary consumption of billions of dollars in products and service (a large proportion of them on credit), year after year after year. It makes one wonder, have we lost sight of Christmas? Or are we now unwitting slaves to Mammon? Or perhaps vanity and envy are our new gods?

And so, I wish all of you a very merry Christmas. You know those signs you see in parks, "Leave this area cleaner than you found it"? Well, I put it to you, for Christmas, to make wherever you have passed through, a better place. Let that be Christmas to our inner selves, and whoever our charitable acts benefit.

Felis Navidad!


Mission Santa Clara de Asis on a rainy Christmas evening.


Close up.


Inside.

2 Comments:

Blogger crufty said...

For one thing "Happy Holidays" is much shorter than "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Kwanzaa"...

As for the actual celebration of X'mas, I concur that metropolitan areas tend to over-emphasize on the consumerism aspects of the festive season and have totally lost the plot. You certainly won't see Buddhists drinking themselves silly and engaging in debauchery during Vesak Day.

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES to Christmas trees. YES to our pagan roots of the Church of Rome! YES to Jesus who we all should model our life after! NO to abortion! NO to the death penalty! YES to liberal capitalism, globalism, democracy and NO to libertarians and neocons. YES to classical liberals! And NO to the dumbing down of America. YES to diversity! God Bless Italy and the Pope! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

12:42 PM  

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