Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"The War on Christmas"

As my long-suffering family knows, I have a perennial gripe about the secularization of Christmas - somewhat odd for a member of a church which does not formally acknowledge the Christmas holiday, the small-c church of Christ. (More on that below.)

Possibly the silliest politically-correct excision of Christ from Christmas of all time was the decision by my beloved Chicago city government (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek) to ban a loop from the movie "The Nativity Story" from being shown at the annual Christkindlmarket on the grounds that it might offend non-Christians. I guess these touchy folks were undeterred by the festival being named for the Christ child (in German, it's true, but the name is still kinda prominent there), and managed to swallow the life sized Nativity scene, but the movie was just too much.

My main complaint has been the lack of actual Christmas carols in the Christmas music/muzak tapes in stores and on the "Holiday Favorites" radio stations. One time I actually bothered to keep track for a while - I quit counting at 22 consecutive secular Christmas songs. I guess "Silent Night" was worn out from overuse while "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is still fresh and new?

Well, the worm may have turned. I have noticed a recent trend, or so it seems to me, back towards religious Christmas music and use of the word "Christmas". Last year the "Holiday Favorites" radio station included noticeably more carols in their rotation, including my favorite of all, "What Child Is This?", and it seems like the word Christmas is more prominent than it has been for some time in the stores -- I've seen signs for "Christmas" where in the past they had "Holiday" or "Seasonal".

About the church of Christ and religious holidays: the pattern for worship in the bible neither commands nor implies a special annual celebration of any of the events of Christ's life. This is significant in that the old law of Moses did have a roster of annual observances; it is therefore logical to believe that if the new pattern of worship instituted by Christ was to have annual observances, this would be specifically commanded. Another problem is that December 25th is not the date of Christ's birth, by all the evidence: the details of the story, with the flocks in the field, etc., seem to point to a date in March or April. In the case of Easter we do know the date is correct since Christ was crucified during the Passover; but in the church, Christ's crucifiction, burial, and resurrection is remembered every first day of the week, not especially at Easter.
Therefore, many members of the church are strange bedfellows with the secular PC crowd on keeping their "holiday" activities strictly non-religious.

Needless to say, I am not of the keep Christ out of Christmas crowd. I think since there is no prohibition on celebrating/remembering Jesus' birth outside of formal worship, then there is nothing wrong with it.

No comments: