The 'Christmas' Wars

The cry goes out to Target shoppers, 'Happy Holidays!' Walmart bans 'Merry Christmas' from employee lips. Government provides 'Holiday trees' for our 'winter' viewing in the public square. Even a cheery 'Happy Holidays' from the annual White House holiday card. Despite what are understood as the best of intentions, much 'Holiday' celebrating has hit the public with a decided twist this year, as angry Christians detect a not—so—subtle increase in 'Holy—day' secularization. Yes, happily, awareness of the de—Christianization of public life has reached new heights this 'holiday' year.

Of course, the assault on the Christian holy days is nothing new. It has been a traditional seasonal activity for many decades. Only last year in this space I commented on the subject in 'Yes Virginia, there is a Kwanzaa.' But unique to this year's 'holiday' season is the immense attention paid to the subject by media and punditry alike.

Scores of commentators have discovered a vast treasure trove of entertaining material, as they notice and largely ridicule the latest stupid, crude, and clumsy attempts by the anti—Christmas crowd to attaini their goal of eradicating religion from the seasonal consciousness. The over—kill nature of some misbegotten school board excluding the simple tune of Silent Night from a ACLU approved 'Winter Celebration' (as occurred in Wisconsin) is but another delightful example.  Harassed officials censoring Frosty from simple music playlists for fear of offending the largely mythical thin—skinned Buddhist have become so pathetic as to be funny. In fact, long pieces by media pundits often consist simply of gleeful listings of the most outrageous examples.

But it is not funny.

The great writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote that the danger in not believing in something is that rather than believe in nothing, one will believe in anything. Humans are believing beings. A cursory scan of history will reveal this, explaining every mystery from Marxism to Nazism to Aztec human sacrifice. A quick review of the present scene reveals intense belief of all stripes, especially among people who would scorn the appellation believer. Their belief colors just about all they do and unconsciously directs their words and actions. It is who they are, and in many cases, their self—defining feature, it exposes them in ways that they themselves are blind to. But that others see all too clearly. Hillary believes in power, France in appeasement, Islamo—fascists in terror, The New York Times in homosexuality. In each case you find a passion for their belief, shown in their nearly every utterance, every move, every act, often to the point of self—defeating irrationality.

It is this way with the X—Mas crowd. They have wounded their own cause with their blindness. They prefer to portray themselves as righteous defenders of the Constitution, or as compassionate protectors of the put—upon non—believer. Civic courtesy no less, they argue, demands that we not injure the minority who may have tender feelings hurt by a mis—directed 'Merry Christmas,' or callously offend other religions by allowing a Nativity scene on the local Library lawn.The same folks that see great 'art' in a sacrilegious Mapplethorpe exhibit and approve public subsidies for its display would be the first to decry a public performance of Handel's Messiah in the city square. Surely, a sincere, genuine, concern for the encroachments on 'the separation of church and state' does not explain the banning of Jingle Bells from government school gatherings. This is self—evident nonsense. And everyone knows it, really.

The intense mania of the anti—Christmas crowd, a mania that leads them to do things that even they must realize will appear ridiculous, but nonetheless are driven, Ahab—like, to do, betrays a rabid hatred and, above all, a fear. Fear is the crucial motivating factor, and fear is the heart of the matter. Not fear of Santa, or of pretty crhes, nor even of Religion. The fear is of Christ, and, I dare say, all He represents. It is Him they hate. And it is Him they wish to do away with.

The 25th of December is the ancient Feast of the Incarnation, the celebration, by believing Christians, of the Word made flesh. The birth of the Savior of the World, the incarnate Lamb of God, born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, and arguably the most stupendous event in human history. Like it. Hate it. There it is.

As Christians, as we prepare to celebrate, we ask only for simple respect. Do not ask us to pretend that our Faith is something offensive, something to hide.

Of our neutral friends, or of non—believing foes we ask only the following; Celebrate joyously with us, respectfully ignore the day in peace, condemn and deride our ignorant superstition, but do not, please, do not confuse our wondrous celebration with some vague and condescendingly meaningless 'holiday season.'

Andrew Sumereau is a frequent contributor.