12 December 2005

Christmas under fire?

The Christian Right is at it again. This time it’s about Christmas, or rather the lack of “Merry Christmas” in certain retailers’ marketing campaigns. Apparently the 80% or so of the country that celebrates Christmas as a religious holiday (to one degree or another) is feeling terribly oppressed by the folks who want to be more inclusive and use terms like “Happy Holidays”.

Boo hoo hoo! The poor oppressed Christian majority!

Give me a break. Nobody’s taking away your own private celebration of Christmas. They just want to make a little room in the public space to allow for the acknowledgement of traditions that might happen to be different from yours. Here’s a thought: In this season of giving, why not consider that approach - the acknowledgement of other traditions, or of no tradition – to be your Christmas gift to the 20% or so of folks in this country who don’t happen to share your religious beliefs?

Oh, and what’s up with wanting to shove the baby Jesus into the mall anyway? It’s as if the “Merry Christmas” advocates are saying that they really want corporations to exploit their religious beliefs in order to make a profit, and that if the corporations don’t crassly exploit those beliefs, they won’t spend their money there. Something tells me that if Jesus were given the chance to weigh in on this one, he’d probably go into driving-out-the-moneychangers mode and give a fiery sermon on the evils of conflating pseudo-religion with turning a profit.

It’s as if these folks don’t really take their own holy scriptures seriously. Not only that, but they don’t even get it when Linus tells Charlie Brown that Christmas isn’t about shopping malls and shiny aluminum trees – it’s about light and love coming into a dark and cold world.

For my money, I’d prefer that commercial enterprises stay the hell away from my spiritual beliefs and practices. I don’t begrudge them the right to make money in the marketplace; I’d just rather they didn’t exploit religion to do so. And I would think that other sincere people of faith, whatever their faith, would want the same.

I won’t even get into the fact that Christmas really is a replacement holiday, conveniently placed at the end of December to fill in for the big pagan blowout party known in Roman times as Saturnalia, and later on incorporating Druidic and Norse myths and practices to make it more palatable to the newly Christianized lands. Well, OK, maybe I will just a little…


kitty cat said...

While I do find this all ridiculous, I must also submit that the phrase "Happy Holidays" sticks in my craw. It smacks too much of getting so damn generic that it makes one forget that there ever was supposed to be a reason for celebrating. I don't want large conglomerates to say ANYTHING to me: if they have to get so watered down from "Merry Christmas" so as not to offend non-Christians, why bother? I would prefer that only the people who actually wish that I would enjoy a merry Christmas say so. The billboard I see on the way to work could be flipping me the bird from Time Warner Cable for all I care.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the Christian Left is at it again. (Turnabout, when it comes to perjoration, is fair play, isn't it?)

What's most interesting to me, however, is how the blogger wants to attack the messenger, not the message. "These people" -- give me a break! If the arguement is truly about pluralism and inclusion, then it only has to be said: let the merchants offer both Holdiay or Seasons Greetings and Merry Christmas. As I understand it, however, the big box merchants insist on only the secular message, to the exclusion of the religious one. Is that inclusive?

Anonymous said...

Um, Mr. Anonymous, isn't commerce SUPPOSED to be secular? When was the last time you worshipped at the Jiffy Lube?

Personally, I don't want the Jesus blow up doll when I supersize my Big Mac Value Meal. So I'm perfectly happy with Happy Holidays when I'm shopping at the Macy's, thank you very much.

I think Dan has it right on.