Friday, December 09, 2005

Happy holidays!

Chalk me up as someone not too overly dismayed over the use of “Happy Holidays”, a verbal usage trend that that is hardly days, but decades old.

Far more provocative was this excerpt from Bush comments at that lighting of the National Christmas tree:

“Each year, we gather here to celebrate the season of hope and joy – and to remember the story of one humble life that lifted the sights of humanity. Santa, thanks for coming.
Glad you made it.”


Those fulminating over “Happy Holidays” went a little mute on this one – apparently we are talking political and religious conservatives here – over the Bush remarks and the lack of anything Jesus or Christ honoring on the White House Christmas card.

The American Family Association does have a point, however. It is a bit disconcerting that Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville, Wisconsin recently sponsored a “Winter Program" featuring a secularized version of "Silent Night":

Cold in the night, no one in sight;
Winter winds whirl and bite.
How I wish I were happy and warm,
Safe with my family out of the storm.

"At the same time the school has changed the religious songs to secular," says a now involved lawyer, "their so-called 'Winter Program' has included decorating classrooms with Santa Claus, Kwanzaa, menorahs, and even Labafana -- a term I'd not even heard of until this year." Labafana, he says, is "apparently a Christmas witch." (link here)

Unquestionably, instances like these are dismaying. But let’s face it, Labafana, “Happy Holidays”, and Santa replacing Jesus are hardly 2005 issues. This sort of thing has been going on for years in the public circle. And while we can blame the rabid secularists and the liberal behind every bush, we may as well admit it – it is the fault of evangelicalism – it is our fault.

While many of our churches refuse to have services this Christmas Sunday, we might want to reflect on how many of us have shared Christ with a friend or associate in the last month. Or, how many of us compassionately reached out to the hungry, the poor, the disenfranchised, the unborn, the imprisoned, the elderly this week (something Jesus apparently thought a requirement of those heaven-bound cf. Mt. 25:31-46) How many of us have called legislators to impact family-friendly (or unfriendly) legislation at our state capitols or in Congress? How many of us have given above our church tithe (if we even do that) to causes that our on the cutting edge of the culture wars in this nation.

Et cetera.

The truth is, we too often love to tackle “Happy Holiday” type issues because in all likelihood it obfuscates the truth of our lives. We are evangelicals without evangelism, Christians without compassion, saints without sanctifying presence, holy ones without an urge to spread wholesomeness.

It is our fault, this secularization of culture. Let us be about changing that root cause before intensifying our efforts against “
Holiday” trees.

15 Comments:

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger Thinking in Ohio said...

I'm not sure what the motive is behind the "Happy Holidays" push--to appease atheists and spread diversity within our culture or to anger and upset millions of "cultural conservatives" (I won't even say, "Christians" because not all protesters are in the true sense of the word).

I was recently asked about this issue by a layperson in my church. I told them it seemed petty and ridiculous that anyone would attack the phrase, "Christmas" or the traditional songs of the season; but, it seems even more outlandish witnessing the widespread uproar within the culture. Is it really this important? I'm sure it matters--but, still! Do we even have our priorities straight? We won't lift a finger on any number of issues... but go after our "traditions" and LOOK OUT!!

"Liberals" must sit back and laugh at us... reminds me alot of the whining and complaining we hear about the Supreme Court descision to remove "prayer from the public schools" when long before that, the vast majority of Americans (evangelicals included) abandoned prayer in their homes without even a warcry or a fist raised--and all it probably took was the television, no Supreme court decision.

Great article, Matt, thanks for making us think!

 
At 8:15 PM, Anonymous JZ said...

I must say that I am impressed with this article and the comments it provoked. While I've never considered myself "rabid", I am an atheist and a "liberal". When I looked at the title of this article I thought it would be a call to arms. But to my shock I have found reasonable and common sense positions being taken on this touchy issue. Thank you for helping me see that logic and reason has not faded completely from the religious conservatives in our country. Anyway, keep in mind that "Christians" never celebrated this season at all until they were introducing the religion to pagans who already had a tree-worshiping cult going. Thanks for not blaming me (the non-believer/liberal) for this trend. It's a refreshing change!

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger the serrach said...

i don't believe that the "happy holidays push" is to please athiests at all. on the contrary, it seems to be an attempt to please people of all faiths during the holiday season (starts with thanksgiving, ends with new years, hence the plural sense).

while the secular giving of gifts is clearly the most popular holiday in our country, jews and other folks celelbrate important holidays at this time as well. so if a business owner, corporate or otherwise, decides to try and please everyone who may shop at his or her store.. then.. what's wrong with that?

and this fuss about the trees... decorating evergreens has nothing whatever to do with Jesus's birth.

 
At 6:49 AM, Blogger Newton said...

I wonder if boycotting christians realize what they have asked for. Think about this......a business(your option)is owned by non Christians. They do not advertise Christmas because they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Feeling the pressure of Christians demands, and the loss of millions of dollars, they change their ads to suit us. In effect, they are lieing and we have demanded they do it! What does that say about us?

We shop at these stores all year long and boycott at Christmas because they won't say "Merry Christmas" Or call a pagan idol (Christmas Tree, read your history), a Christmas tree.

One more thing.....do you really believe that all this shopping madness at Christmas time is really about Jesus????? We find Jesus in our hearts, not in advertising, stores, songs, plays, decorations, etc. What you are doing is freeing people to go spend, spend, spend, charge, charge, charge. Take that money that you would have spent at Target or Sears, or Wal mart, or lowe's or Home Depot, and buy a few blankets and pass them out to some homeless people in Philly. Go to McDonalds and buy a few combo meals and take to the local shelter. I'll bet you stand a much larger chance of finding Jesus with these people than you would at Wal mart.

Merry Christmas to all!

 
At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Joseph A. DeInnocentiis said...

Matt,
The correct name is "La Befana"! And please do a google on the name before you mention it again! Millions of Italian children have grown up with the tradition of La Befana. She is associated more with the feast of the Epiphany (Jan 6) than Christmas. If you were good, you got gifts, usually candy etc. and not the high priced toys kids get now. If you were bad you got ashes!
She is not associated with Christmas in a negative way whatsoever!
Boun Natale!

 
At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Additional info on La Befana: The story goes that La Befana was visited by the magi looking for the Christ child and invited her to come along. She turned them down because she was busy doing chores. She felt guilty later and went after them, but never found the magi or the child. She flies on her broom each Christmas even now searching for the child, visiting each and every house leaving gifts in hopes that one house might be that of the Christ child.

Mat Staver and AFA should have looked into this before the article was published.

And a big AMEN goes to Matt Friedeman on his comments. On the mark.

 
At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is apparent that "JZ" posted his/her comment here to show the world how wise s/he is. The statement that s/he found "reasonable and common sense positions" in your article would assume that s/he could recognize such positions in the first place.

Consider this article.

 
At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to know to what degree the secularization of America reflects on the failure of Believers to be a salt and light, and what reflects on the fact that the darkness hates the light.
Regardless, Christians have failed to consistantly display what the world is looking for... "peace on earth and good will toward men".
I believe you would find my Sunday message on this very topic very interesting (entitled: Whatever happened to Christmas)- http://www.stonebrook.org/media/media.asp?intTypeID=1

Tim Borseth

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Thinking in Ohio said...

To the "anonymous" critical of "JZ":
Given the tone of the article you linked to... I'd say the charge of arrogance lies with your friend. JZ made a good point when he noted the fact that it was the Church that baptized pagan traditions in an attempt to make them Christian.

 
At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see nothing wrong in wishing happy holidays. I see everything wrong with the Fundamentalist forcing businesses and people to say Merry Christmas.

 
At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christians will whine about anything.

 
At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a Christian since I was ten years old (I'm now 44) and christmass always bothered me even as a young child. What did santa claus, reindeer, and elves have to do with Jesus' birth??? and since most of the country celebrated it, then all the country MUST be "christian" - even mormon relatives and the atheists down the street.

When I was old enough to understand and do the research (including reading the bible straight through for myself), I found christmass was a pagan holy-day celebrating the birth of tammuz (who is mentioned - not favorably - in the old testament) The entire christmass holy day and ALL the traditions surounding it is paganism with "christian" (ie: catholic) terms added to make it acceptable to luke warm followers of Jesus. Every instance where ancient Israel incorporated paganism with worship of G-d was condemned by G-d. By celebrating the pagan holy day of tammuz' birth and calling it "christmass" and calling it "a celebration of Jesus' birth" is NOT acceptable to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. PERIOD.

Celebrating christmass makes as much sense as celebrating the satanic holy day of halloween. Neither is acceptable to the One True G-d - the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob) (and as a side note - the celebration of ishtar [easter] and the sunrise service [which is mentioned - unfavorably - in the bible] is NOT accepyable to G-d either)

It is about time Christians wake up and stop celebrating pagan holy days and pagan "gods" just because their ancestors have since constantine mixed the paganism with "christian" terms. They need to choose between their pagan "god" they are actually celebrating at christmass and ishtar (the "sun god" tammuz) or they need to stop celebrating the pagan holy days, repent of their sin, and worship G-d the way HE said HE wanted to be worshipped.

Happy Hannakuh!

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger girlsmom4jesus said...

I have to agree. Christians need to take responsibility.

 
At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you are arguing over such silly things when America's government is enslaving its own people.

 

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