Neutering Christmas

” The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless. The United States today is the most tolerant and diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced countries in Europe, are unique.”

“Yet more than 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and probably 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. Christmas Day is an official federal holiday, the only day of the entire year when, for example, the Smithsonian museums are closed. Are we to pretend that Christmas is nothing but an orgy of commerce in celebration of . . . what? The winter solstice? ” – Charles Krauthammer, “Just Leave Christmas Alone

(Thanks, Dappled Things)

Comments 4

  1. John wrote:

    As a counter-point: I would like to put forth “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

    It’s certainly not a materialistic tale. Its moral is that we should take this time of year to love our neighbors and to rejoice in that love.

    It is profoundly secular, but is also profoundly beautiful in its message.

    Secular Christmas is much more than just an orgy of comercialism.

    Posted 20 Dec 2004 at 1:59 am
  2. theomorph wrote:

    I have no problem with Christians celebrating Christmas as the birthday of Jesus.

    Why should Christians have any trouble with my celebrating Christmas as something else? Is it because I still call it “Christmas” instead of something else? In my humble opinion, who cares? Here is language. It changes. Words take on different meanings. Things move and shift and fluctuate.

    Just because “Christmas” comes from “Christ mass” doesn’t mean no one else has a right to call it “Christmas.” The word is just the Christian one for a holiday that has a much longer and broader history than just the one within the church.

    Besides, culture changes. Maybe the majority of Americans claim Christianity as their religion, but I’m willing to bet that there are more people than ever (even a higher percentage) who claim other religions or no religion at all. Why not acknowledge that and marvel at the fact that we can all live together in peace (so far, fingers crossed), instead of moaning and complaining over other people celebrating holidays for different reasons, in different ways, or without heeding our own ideas about them?

    Posted 20 Dec 2004 at 2:48 am
  3. Jerry Nora wrote:

    I have no problem with that, Theo, and in fact find your ways of celebrating the season (detailed on your blog) to be very good. Again, I point you to my definition of secular, which you would not fall under, given your search for truth and so forth, and higher-meaning. If you find my definition faulty or question-begging, fine. That’s why I tried to detail how I defined it, to lay my cards on the table, and to make my inclusiveness explicit. I readily acknowledged that many may celebrate the spirit of Christmas without being Christian as such. What’s the problem?

    Posted 20 Dec 2004 at 3:43 am
  4. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Well, Dr. Seuss pointed to something transcendent in his story, though he had no explicit theological references. When there is some “spirit” of Christmas, however diffuse, that supercedes material things, I’m not sure how secular it truly is. (This depends on how one defines secular. I’d define it as being non-religious, being more caught up with the purely political and material order of things.) The “spirit” of Christmas may be an ecumenical thing in that it appeals to many of the best parts of humanity, but by pointing to transcendence, I’m allergic to calling it secular. Ecumenical, sure, in that it appeals to many faiths and whatnot, but not purely secular. And certainly the secular world can catch some of that Christmas spirit and be redeemed or transfigured by it, but the good of Christmas is not to be found within secularism itself.

    Posted 20 Dec 2004 at 2:07 am

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