>Unto us a Child is Politically Incorrect

Posted: 22/12/2009 in Christmas, holy days

>I hadn’t expected to do another blog on Christmas, but as often happens I got inspiration. This time it came from a wonderful blog called Say Hello to My Little Friend. This audio is timely and funny. Really funny. So enjoy it. It is a story of all the Birth of Christ and the various nonsensical reactions to it from the secular world.

There is one thing I would like to comment on. At one point in the various people who come to Mary with grievances, one lady has this to say:

Religious holidays are important, but can’t we learn to celebrate them in ways that unite, not divide? For instance, instead of all this business about ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo,’ why not just ‘Season’s Greetings’?”

This quote so wonderfully sums up how much of our culture views the holiday. I am sure that many of Christian peers reading this that are already annoyed with it. I am too. Yet I thought I’d post a few things why. I don’t doubt that we call list of plenty of things that we think motivate this seemingly pious approach to a holiday. I’ll offer two, and I invite everyone to add their thoughts in the comments.

First, I think there is an idea of “neutrality” towards religion as kind of a virtue in and of itself. It is this: we like the idea of our government being “neutral” towards religion. I am sure most Christians like that too. The problem is when people think that because the government is “neutral” towards religion, the rest of society should be too. If people start asserting their own religious communities to much in public, that might mean people are divided and it won’t be long before we start killing each other or something.

Secondly, I think there is a kind of capital “P” religious Pluralism that motivates “Season’s Greetings.” All religious make people nice and happy. They all make people good. So lets all give eachother presents and have a nice “good will towards men” and cut out the messy religious dogma that we don’t all agree on. Let’s all agree the “God” is vague anyway.

Did I mentioned that I get annoyed at this kind of thing?

When someone is worried about division, I wonder what kind of division they talk about. When I say “Gloria in Exclesis Deo” I am not saying it with anyone except those who are already in my religious community. I am not expecting those outside to understand it. Is this divisive? I don’t care. The holy day of Christmas is for Christians and by Christians. I’d rather not have anyone outside of the community offer me ways to improve my own religious devotion. I don’t scorn people outside of it, but please mind your own businesses.

Additionally, I don’t care much for capital “P” religious Pluralism. This is largely because I am not offended or threatened that there are people who are out there practicing religions other than my own. I am not bothered by Hannukkah or a pagan winter solstice celebration. In fact, by all means, celebrate away. I fully support little “p” pluralism: that there are several religions each with own distinctive practices and mutually exclusive claims. Why should I, a committed Christian, feel offended by other religions? Does the devotion of a winter solstice affect my ability to celebrate Christ’s birth?

In truth, I think that the politically correct “let’s not divide on the holiday” approach is really plain insecurity on part of those who endorse it. People either have such little devotion to their own traditions, that they are threatened by those who are deeply dedicated to different faiths. This in turn creates the need for “neutrality” in the public space because they can’t handle it. It seems to want to take the life out of the faith of others because of the lack of faith on their part.

But Merry Christmas.

Anyone else annoyed with “season’s greetings”?

  1. alexan says:

    >I really don't understand people getting all in a tizzy about this. The great thing about freedom of religion is that I can celebrate the coming of Christ, and you don't have to if you don't want to. If I send you a card that says "Merry Christmas" instead of (or in addition to) "Happy Holidays," it doesn't mean you have to go to church on Christmas Eve. It just means I'm thinking about you. And if you wish me a happy Hanukkah or Ramadan or Kwanzaa or Holidays or Solstice, I'll appreciate the sentiment but celebrate as I wish.I think there are a lot of Christians that could be more tolerant (especially among Evangelicals who view the words "Happy Holidays" as an attack on Christianity).I also get frustrated with what I call "Angry Atheists" who are not content to simply exercise their freedom of (from) religion, but actively work to destroy religion in all its forms.So I would ask, "Why can't we all just get along?" but I would add, "Why should we have to water down our celebrations in order to do so?"I think if we know what someone's beliefs are, we should make the effort to use the appropriate greeting. I don't see a problem with "Happy Holidays" as a polite default for when you don't know. And I think if someone gives us the wrong greeting, we should appreciate the sentiment.If I am truly not offended that you don't share my religion, why can't I wish you a Happy Hanukkah/Ramadan/Holidays and you wish me a Merry Christmas and both of us feel good about the exchange?How about I don't water down my beliefs, you don't water down yours, and we all act with respect and tolerance in a "little p" pluralistic society?Also, I sometimes use "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" to refer to Advent, Christmas, and the New Year.

  2. Jin-roh says:

    >Atheists tend to sound whiny to me around the holidays. I think it is because Atheism, by definition, can't express itself without bugging some religion.

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