Leftist: Christmas would be nice if it weren’t for all the icky Christian stuff

I’m not Christian, but I’ve always been grateful to live in a country where people so generously share the season’s beauty with me. However, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that “the reason for the season” is the birth of the man that super-Catholic Joe Biden describes as “a child Christians believe to be the son of God.” In other words, Jesus Christ. No Christ means no Christmas. However, for one British woman, what really spoils the otherwise lovely Christmas season is all that icky Christian stuff.

Polly Toynbee, a regular columnist at The Guardian, Britain’s left-leaning newspaper, wrote a column entitled (for real), “Christmas comes with good cheer. The tragedy is the religious baggage.” Yeah, it’s a real shame about the reason for the season.

Toynbee opens her article by celebrating that Christianity is dying in Britain. “This is the first Christmas since time immemorial [note: actually, since the seventh century] that most people in this country are not Christians.” She might be less enthused about this decline if she contemplated the fact that, as Christians vanish, the number of Muslims swells. Using data from Wikipedia, I compiled a little chart about Islam’s growth in Britain:

That’s a pretty impressive growth curve. Toynbee will be surprised to learn that, when Islam is the majority religion, you don’t get to write cute little columns saying, “That Eid al-Fitr party was great but why all that stupid religious fasting before it?”

From that inauspicious start, Toynbee’s column goes straight downhill. She admits to enjoying the traditions and good feelings, especially that bit in It’s a Wonderful Life. You know the one:  “[I]ts belief in collective good at Christmas overcoming the ogres of Pottersville capitalism—never mind Clarence the angel.”

She concedes, too, that a bit of fun in the middle of the winter is good, even necessary. But the carols? Blech.

The dense theology of carols inculcating bizarre concepts skates past most singers – “veiled in flesh the godhead see, hail the incarnate deity” and the sheer impudence of “lo he abhors not the virgin’s womb”.

It’s apparent that, given the choice, Toynbee would infinitely prefer this woke carol that one British church sang:

But then Toynbee begins to hone in on what really gets her goat: Christmas is “loathsome.” She dislikes the focus on Christ’s martyrdom, which is “a repugnant virtue.” She finds it “impossible…to worship an all-good yet all-powerful God the father, God the king, who inflicts random horrors on his people while demanding praise, thanks and glorification.”

I have no idea where Toynbee thinks the nihilism of leftism (100 million dead in the 20th century alone) or the deadly charnel house that is Islam is going to be better, yet those are her options. To the extent she’s not comfortable with mass murder and slavery, that’s because she was raised in a modern Christian tradition, whether she believes it or not. When that ends, you choose between Hitler and ISIS.

And then, of course, there’s Toynbee’s core gripe: “The greatest myth of Christianity is that it was a force for civilisation that drove out pagan brutality.” According to what she read in Catherine Nixey’s The Darkening Age, a book about fanatical early Christians, “monotheistic religions are most prone to causing extreme religious terror.”

What these two ignorami mean is that monotheists have indeed waged religious wars, with Christians ending such wars in the 17th century and Muslims continuing to the present day. While it’s true that Pagans didn’t wage religious wars (except for Antiochus’s religious war against the Jews), that didn’t mean they weren’t deadly. Indeed, they waged war with a ferocity we didn’t see again until that modern pagan, Adolph Hitler.

Don’t believe me? Check out the first few chapters in Steven Pinker’s excellent The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Human civilization was a slow process, and the Enlightenment version of Christianity helped speed it along (something that Pinker, himself a man who’s not enchanted by religion, fails to recognize).

Pagans believed in human sacrifice, and that might makes right. Like all pre-modern people, they vigorously supported slavery (when you conquered a country, you killed or enslaved all of its residents). Indeed, slavery’s end came about due to the combination of a revival of the core messages of the Bible and, of course, fossil fuel, which made slaves unnecessary. And when it comes to that fossil fuel, our ability to use it was generated because the Western mind is an inquiring one, something that comes from the West’s desire to discover the mysteries of God’s world.

Toynbee is a very silly person with an incredibly narrow, ill-informed view of the world. I would have laughed harder at her article if it weren’t for the fact that I know how many people agree with her.

Image: Nativity by Let Ideas Compete. Public domain.

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