Blessed Advent and Joyous Christmas!

Archbishop Chaput of Denver, a guy that strikes me as the coolest episcopos since
Fulton Sheen, has suggested that Christians
stop using the phrase “Happy Holidays”

“We don’t celebrate a generic excuse for gift-giving. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Elijah, a fellow who posts to a Yahoo group I belong to, shares Chaput’s dissatisfaction

In the United States, those of us who celebrate Christmas get
constantly hit with a barrage of “Happy Holidays” which some
businesses claim is about diversity, but is mostly a “Commercial

I don’t begrudge the Jews Haunakah or the African Americans Qwanzaa.
However, saying Happy Holidays disses Haunakah and Qwanzaa as much as

The truth is that its an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas and
he’s really the reason for this Season. The only reason for peace and
goodwill is that Christ was born. Take that away and its out of
control spending and stress run amuck.

I struggle with how I deal with this issue. My pastor’s wife will
tell people who tell her Happy Holidays, “NO THANK YOU. Merry
Christmas to you.” My pastor will just say loudly, “MERRY CHRISTMAS

At my workplace, such a response out of the question. I usually don’t
even acknowledge a “Happy Holidays” and will never dare use the term
with a customer. However, my workplace is ultra-PC, they’re into
diversity big time. They have a big tree downstairs for you to take
tags and buy presents (Christmas Presents I guess) and they call
it “The HOLIDAY Tree” while referring properly to the Menorah as such
and not just the “Holiday Candlestick”.

The LDS people at work think its absurd and one of them mocks it but
carefully as to not get into trouble. What do you think?

I’m all for dropping “Happy Holidays” (except for when I’m singing Andy Williams songs 😉 ). While we’re
at it, we need to purge “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Easter”, and
a few others.

If Christians are to regain their identity in society – be in this world
but not of it – we need to understand what we celebrate and why. “Merry”
implies partying and perhaps debauchery to me (as in “eat, drink, and be merry”),
not celebration of the birth of the Word Made Flesh. “Easter”
is derived from a pagan fertility goddess’ name
. Perhaps we should take inspiration
from other languages and use phrases that mean something like “Happy Nativity”
and “Joyous Pasch”.

Leave a comment with your thoughts and suggestions.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

7 thoughts on “Blessed Advent and Joyous Christmas!

  1. Leo Wong

    “When the early church converted the pagan populations of the West, to make the new creed intelligible and congenial, Christian rites and holidays were adapted to existing customs. Saints took the place of local deities; Christmas, Easter, Rogations (the springtime blessing of the fields) re-enacted the original pagan festivals. Hence the Puritan hostility to Christmas, forbidden by law for 22 years in 17th-century Massachusetts and, in our day, by the Truth Tabernacle in South Carolina (125 members), who hanged Santa Clause in 1982 to make the point clear.” — Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, p. 22.

  2. Jerry Nora

    I don’t think of debauchery when I think of being “merry”–Dickens, who popularized the term, probably did not have such a connotation in mind either when he used the phrase in “A Christmas Carol”. Even if Dickens, though, was a drunken hedonist, I don’t think of that when I wish someone a merry Christmas.

    Likewise, while I know of the pagan Anglo-Saxon roots of the term “Easter”, that is the English word for the greatest day in history. Divorcing that word from its Christian meaning and using some foreign term like “Pascha”, however “theologically correct” it may be to some purists, would just make the real meaning of Easter more remote than it already is, and we’d just make American culture more secular and alienated from Christianity by up and performing major surgery on our language.

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