I do not understand this “war against Christmas” nonsense. Nor do I understand the claim that somehow American society is “anti-Christian.” I don’t see it. I guess that might be true if your idea of Christianity is somehow tribal, or that you believe God and Caesar need to constantly validate one another, or you believe in Christendom and have the expectation that you should live in a “Christian society,” whatever that is.
We no longer live in Christendom. That is not a bad thing, it is a good thing. It allows those of us who truly believe in the Gospel and a calling to live the Gospel to disentangle it from social rules, expectations, coersion [sic] as well as social and political authority. Besides, this “war against Christmas” nonsense is all about Conservatives keeping their popular base motivated and resentful. Because resentment is all Conservatives have, and have ever really had.
Another point re “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.” There is something called manners or politeness — being kind and thoughtful –which are very important and easy to acquire and cultivate, especially in a society where social relationships are not easily discernable by appearance. I do not know who shares my faith when I meet them, and I don’t much care. I know I am not entitled to expect that everyone in the world will cater to me. Why offend people needlessly, especially when the real significant Christian occasion is not the birth of Christ, but rather his crucifixion and ressurection? Why care about what trees are called or what cards or even stores say? Why on earth does any of it matter? ~Charles Featherstone, LRC Blog
Yawn. I haven’t waded into the annual chatter about the “War on Christmas” till now because I haven’t really had much original to add to the usual arguments. Fortunately, this libertarian has provided me with some material. Mr. Featherstone is right in one respect–American society is not so much anti-Christian as simply indifferent to the Faith and committed to the things of the world. There are many anti-Christian people abroad in the land, and it has been activists of this kind who have forced Christian imagery and even the name of Christ out of the public square for decades. That Christians should somehow be indifferent to this puzzles me.
Everyone seeks to bring the society around him into line with his vision of how things should be, his vision of order. Libertarians do this every day, as do we all. If Christians in a land are serious about translating their Faith into action and incarnating their Faith in the world, a Christendom-like arrangement is inevitable. Controlling space and language in the name of Christ redounds to the glory of Christ. It is a fairly recent development that Christians have become indifferent to such glorification, as if it were somehow unseemly to praise God whether in great monuments or the simplest of expressions.
At its most basic level, Christendom is wherever Christians dwell, and a Christian society is what one would expect Christians to have and to seek. To “disentangle” the Faith from social rules and social and political authority is in some very real sense to make it the ephemeral, privatised and internal ’spirituality’ that Rev. Leithart rails against in his book, Against Christianity, and to make it irrelevant to the way we live of our life. I don’t want to go on too much more about this, as I am preparing an article on a related topic.
I will say a little more about the ridiculous appeal to “politeness.” It is not “politeness” for someone to substitute “Happy Holidays” for Merry Christmas–it is usually fakery designed to avoid a lawsuit or personal discomfort. I make it a point of wishing people a merry Christmas, because this is what I am actually wishing them. Not knowing which holidays, if any, they may be marking, I choose instead to wish them a happy celebration of the Nativity of the Lord, not least because He is the Lord of All and not simply “my” God. His Nativity is a cause for them to rejoice as well, and I will not be so stingy and tribal as to pretend that it has nothing to do with them.
To what does “Happy Holidays” refer in reality? It refers to Christmas and the minor-league Jewish festival of Hannukah, which is itself a belated hanger-on inflated far beyond its traditional value to provide Jews with their “own” winter festival. Anything else that has been added over the past 20 or 30 years is so marginal, so irrelevant as to not be taken seriously. To say “Happy Holidays” is to accept the fruits of a marketing strategy for a cultural good rather than affirm the cultural good and festival that “Happy Holidays” feeds on like a leech.
Calling the Feast of His Nativity to mind glorifies Him and reminds others of Him–it is a form of witness. Deliberately avoiding references to Christ and Christmas, whether out of disbelief or “politeness,” is in a very real sense a deliberate denial or rejection of Him. The systematic exclusion of all references to Him is a form of cultural repudiation of Christ–that is what the “War Against Christmas” represents and why it causes such outrage. For non-Christians, I suppose it makes sense that they would avoid these terms. But if we’re going to raise the issue of “politeness” (which is really beside the point), it should follow that it’s downright impolite of non-Christians not to wish us a merry Christmas.