December 2, 2004
His mother lovingly wrapped him in swaddling clothes and gently laid him in a manger. Some people today want to figuratively drop that same child into the nearest dumpster and walk away.
Take a stroll through the local shopping mall and try to spot the word 'Christmas'. Listen to how rarely the staff will greet customers with 'Merry Christmas', and notice how few advertising campaigns use the word. If you want a real challenge, try to find any kind of reference to the nativity in a public school's 'Holiday' Concert. In some schools, even Jingle Bells is on the verge of being banned.
The motive might be to avoid offending some religiously intolerant person, but the result is open hostility towards Christianity. The deliberate removal of 'Christmas' from public language is a cold shoulder of disrespect that tells believers they are only tolerated if they stay quiet. George Orwell was correct when he wrote that language shapes our thoughts. Replacing 'Merry Christmas' with 'Happy holidays', or 'Christmas tree' with 'holiday tree', or 'Christmas cards' with 'special occasion cards' changes how we think of those items in a way that lessens their value, and that causes far more offence than it cures.
Treating the word 'Christmas' like it is a profanity is an insult, especially when Ramadan and Kwanza get more and more positive media attention every year. No effort is made to suppress the customs of those celebrations and you don't find the media suggesting that they are based on a myth or a lie. Double standards like this are not the way to bring joy to the world.
The fear that merely mentioning the word 'Christmas' is going to offend the multicultural masses is largely false. The number of non-Christians claiming to be personally offended by hearing the proper name for the holiday comes to approximately zero and it actually isn't that hard to find Jewish, Muslim and non-religious families that enthusiastically celebrate Christmas as a cultural holiday.
Although they don't have to, non-Christians can find good reasons to celebrate Christ's birth if they look for them. Western democracy itself is a direct result of the Christian faith of America's Founding Fathers. Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson and so very many others were openly Christian. It was the teachings of Christ, separated from the dogma of a specific sect, which formed the ideological base for the American constitution and Bill of Rights. As President John Quincy Adams said, the creation of the United States of America "laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity."
The ideas found in the American constitution can be spotted in the charter of every free nation in the world today. Americans, Canadians, Israelis, Europeans, Russians, the Afghani schoolgirl learning to read, the Iraqi mother registering to vote, and so many others all have a reason to be glad that Christ was born.
There are more reasons though. In the First World War British and German troops didn't lay down their guns on Christmas morning to play soccer and exchange gifts with each other because they were afraid of getting coal in their stocking. They were touched by something deeper, and so too are many others every Christmas season, regardless of religion. Anyone known to be in need has to put up a pretty good fight to avoid receiving a portion of the generosity Christmas brings out in everyone.
Christmas with Christ prompts us to be better people, to put aside differences, forgive past hurts, change old habits and help those we can. He called on us to not just alter our public behaviour, but to purify all our deeds and even our thoughts, to love our enemies, and treat others as we would have them treat us. He made the world a better place, but too much of that would be lost if December 25th became a day to party just because we like parties.
Christ's teachings continue to shape the world, and that probably has more to do with the drive to strike out His name than anything else. President Bush's faith is no secret, and no sham either. He was returned to office by voters who, Christian or not, hold Christian values dear. Small wonder then that the blue states' post-election temper tantrum has joined the parade of politically correct yuletide insanity.
Target, a retail chain well connected with the Democrats, banned the Salvation Army from their storefronts. In Denver, where Kerry picked up 70% of the vote, a church group was kept out of the annual parade because they were going to sing Christmas hymns and shout 'Merry Christmas' to the crowds. Both Time Magazine and Newsweek, known for their liberal leanings, are running cover stories that paint the record of Christ's birth as a myth. They are comfortable with using His name to deride the red states as 'Jesusland', but not to give credit for Christmas where it's due.
There is probably no religious holiday as inclusive as Christmas. You don't need faith that Christ is the King of kings to embrace 'peace on earth, good will towards men,' nor do you need to believe that wise men sought Him before you exchange gifts with those close to you. It is a holiday open to anyone who wants to join in and people who claim they cherish tolerance and diversity should be among the most vocal promoters and defenders of Christmas.
Each year since has had it's share of stories of people objecting to the celebration of Christ's birth. This year we have examples like the bus driver forbidden to a Santa suit as he has done in years past, children told they can't sing Christmas carols outside a grocery store. But there seems to be less of these kinds of stories than in the past, and in the two mentioned above there were happy endings. The bus driver eventually got permission, and it appears that it was just an employee of the store trying to stop them, not store policy. While shopping I've heard Christmas music, really carols like Away in a Manger etc. playing in the background, and it is nice to see others coming to the defense of Christmas as well like this statement made recently in Canada's Parliment by a non-Christian MP.
Merry Christmas to all of you.