The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The War on Christmas

I should confess at the outset that I am not a big fan of the holiday celebrated on December 25th. I won't bore you with the typical complaints about the commercialization or the secularization of the day. Nor will I reproduce the hackneyed "Jesus is the reason for the season." I will say that I think that a person or family would really have to work hard to celebrate the holiness of Jesus' birth,given all of the ads,television movies, parties, shopping days countdown, and other activities that have become inextricably connected with December 25 in the U.S. Those who know me know that I joyously participate in Advent, a season of reflection, preparation, and expectation of the coming of Christ. I am not boycotting Christmas, mind you; I will give gifts to family and friends, but I try not to put on others nor feel myself the kind of pressure that getting the "right" gift brings.

That being said, let me move on to the point of this blog post. Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a resolution (H Res. 847), co-sponsored by 60 Representatives, recognizing that Christians and Christmas are important. Click here to read the full text. The resolution cites national and international statistics that show Christianity to be the largest of the world religions in terms of adherents and expresses support to the Christian celebration on Dec. 25. But what, I ask, was the point?

My guess is that this was just another skirmish in the (invented) war against the "war on Christmas." My earlier comments reflect my observation that the war to obscure the meaning Jesus' birth by sacrificing the faith of Jesus on the altar of American capitalism has already been won. But that's not what Christians who say there is a "war on Christmas" object to. They object to saying "Happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." They want to privilege the nativity scene over other religious and secular displays in the public square. They don't just want to celebrate Christmas themselves as their own religious holiday; they want everyone else to be forced to celebrate Christmas whether they want to or not. They want Christmas as a display of Christian hegemony. So this post, by a Christian for a largely Christian audience, is to say: Christian hegemony is itself un-Christian.

Our faith was never supposed to be the religion of the empire, imposed by force on subject peoples. Touting our numerical and political power around the world betrays the Christ who was born in Bethlehem and died at Calvary. Our faith, more than faith of the creche, is the faith of the cross. If we really want to recognize Christianity's importance, then we Christians ought to participate in Christ's humility.

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