Thursday, December 26, 2013

ALTERNATE CHRISTMASES



There are inherent incongruities about Christmas that border on a double standard.  We sometimes forget that Christmas celebrates the entrance of a Savior, and that the entire story begins with a manger in a barn. 

It’s the tale of alternate Christmases. There is the story of the birth of Jesus, not as king, but as beggar and worker, entering this existence amongst animals, poop and feed.  Eventually it’s a story of Christ’s triumph over death, and his transcendent proclamation of love, life, peace and joy. 

Then there are the other Holidays, both the Commercial spectacle, and given the ”Christmas  Messages”  from figures ranging from the Pope, The Queen, the President, and even Edward Snowden, a media opportunity.  Each year it gets worse, with talking heads of all flavors leveraging Christmas in order to further their politics, ideology, and theology. 

Amid yet another instance of implosion among reality TV figures over bigoted remarks, we have seen the endless lunacy of data being stolen from Target, the NSA spying on everybody, and this year’s whopper, the declaration by Megyn Kelly of Fox News that Christ just had to have been a Caucasian. With that moment, went my dwindling hopes that Social Media and the Blogosphere and Cable News and Talk Radio would give us a brief respite from the “Nattering nabobs of negativism”, that Spiro T. Agnew once spoke of. 

Americans are raised to believe there is “Separation of Church and State”. At least since the mid 1970’s we have not had one in politics. In fact it’s the opposite.  We have a classic “pox on both houses” scenario dominating cyberspace and popular culture. Those of us most invested in politics are actually the most extreme cases of why politics and religion should not be mixed. For starters we can all be hypocrites. Our inconsistency is unavoidable and so very human. All of us have double standards.  Failing to practice what we preach, while looking down on those doing the same exact thing is amongst the most human of traits. 

On the left, we wallow in “political correctness” while congratulating ourselves on open mindedness. There is a line between being politically correct and respecting all people regardless of race, age, gender, sex, or religion. Open mindedness is another story. The Duck Dynasty drama was partially a story of a man speaking about his religious beliefs.  Phil Robertson’s comments certainly were disrespectful, and an example of racist homophobia to many. The truth lies between the extremes. Palin’s quote that she loves the “commercialization” of Christmas , Megan Kelley’s claim Jesus was white, or the use of  “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” are just a few examples from the conservative side. 

We too often forget the true reason for the season of Christmas. It’s a time that is wonderful for Christians, that does not have to be imposed upon the rest of America.  Citing the alleged “fact” that this is a “Christian” nation and “always has been”, we as a society have too long been swept up in a culture war against certain sins, while others get a pass. 

Sin is sin. The materialism and greed that takes over this most sacred holiday is as big of a concern as sexual conduct.  Many assert America is in decline. If it is, it’s more about our national preoccupation with wealth and power than any social agenda, with our lack of concern for the poor and the suffering more than “gay marriage.” 

Jesus most likely would be a “selectee” at a TSA checkpoint. As a matter of geographical origin, his parents were of Middle Eastern descent. In his ministry, Jesus consistently hung around with the afflicted and outcasts such as Samaritans, and Gentiles. He consistently criticized his society’s sins of greed but the way we celebrate his birthday loses sight of this.

Jesus came to bring peace and reconcile nations and people. What does it mean? I have no idea. But we do know that we are at minimum called to respect and care for those with whom we disagree. It means perhaps quieting ourselves and living out this life in daily humility and service to others.

There are more people doing wonderful things for others over Christmas than we realize.  More people than not, chose to be are non- combatants in the “culture wars” and “hate speech.”  Each and every one of them will never get recognized enough, because at the end of the day, the media portrayed conflict right up to the “Yule Log” and the “Christmas mass from St. Peters.”  Whether pro-right or pro-left, it’s about inciting chaos and leveraging the hot topic of the day.  Ultimately Christmas can be too easily lost.  If it means anything today, then let it be a day when we all calm down and celebrate the entrance of that miracle that started in a barn.

MANY BLESSINGS - NOEL 


FROM LOVE ACTUALLY