Friday, December 31, 2004

The Christ in Christmas

To make up for days of slacking off on posting, two in one day! :)

Andrew M. Greeley wrote an interesting editorial about Christmas as a holiday. I don't agree with everything he writes; I for one like to hear O Holy Night and other Christmas hymns mixed in with the secular holiday music on the radio, and I'm indifferent to whether or not there are public displays of the nativity. I like both the secular and the religious aspects of the holiday. That said, I think he makes a very good point in contrast to the recent move by some evangelicals to boycott stores with secular Christmas greetings. He writes:

So with all due respect to our "evangelical" brothers and sisters who fight to "take back" Christmas, I am arguing, with some irony, that they've got it all wrong.

We don't have to take it back, because no one has ever taken it away (even the New England puritans who kept public schools in Boston open on Christmas in the late 19th century). Nor can anyone ever take it away.

The Light came into the darkness, and the darkness cannot put it out.

I don't know. I like my blended holy/secular holiday. But I also completely agree with the idea that we Christians don't have to force our holy day down the rest of the world's collective throats.

I also have to smile at this bit of almost-snark from Mr. Greeley:

(Patently, I use the word "Christian" in an extended sense and not in the sense of the Bible Christians for whom most of the rest of us who follow Jesus of Nazareth are not really Christians, especially Catholics.)

You go, Andrew! I'm more worried about putting the "Christ" back in "Christian" and rescuing that term from the evangelicals than I am putting the "Christ" back in "Christmas" and rescuing what is largely a secular holiday anyway from non-believers.


At 10:29 AM, Blogger BobW said...

Greeley makes the point that seems to me to be almost or entirely overlooked by the more vocal promoters of Put-Christ-Back-In-Christmas:- He's never been taken out of it so long as He is in each of us and, though He told us to render unto Caeser, I don't recall Him demanding of Tiberius or Pilate that he be given a public platform at government expense.

That said, neither did Tiberius or his judiciary and educational establishment consistently issue decrees singling out Christianity or any other religion/faith for unequal treatment. Pilate himself no doubt knew of Joshua Bar Joseph' existence and ministry; let it run for some three years and, weak reed though he proved to be, was the only one come Good Friday who made an effort to judge impartially. I am not at all certain that our own civil authorities, much less those of Europe, are doing likewise. There are still too many accounts of menorahs, crescents and other religions' imagries in public displays where crosses and creches are forbidden. My personal opinion is that this singling-out reached bottom some years ago; but it is still an injustice that calls for redress.

When later Roman emporers and governors turned against Christianity, they also turned against Judaism. There can be little doubt they'd have done the same for a monotheistic Islam would not recognize their own putative divinty or the Roman pantheon. Yes, we have in many ways fought selfishly, and in many ways hurt our own cause. But it may well prove in the long run that in keeping Christ in the public Christmas, we also insure that YHWH is kept in Hanukah, Allah in Ramadan and Id El Fitre and, for that matter, the Sun God in Solstice. Here's hopin'.

By the way: All three verses of "O Holy Night," please!

At 1:17 PM, Blogger catholic_girl said...

I adore Andrew Greeley.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

I had to cheat because I'd only ever heard the first and third verses of O Holy Night.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger BobW said...

That's how I learned them, too.


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