An internet acquaintance of mine, the Rev. Charles Austin, wrote this last week for the op-ed page of The Record, Hackensack, New Jersey:
The spirit of the season
Friday, November 23, 2007
By CHARLES AUSTIN
I SHALL PROBABLY step into the pulpit some Sunday morning soon and thank God for the retailers, Hollywood movie-makers, the media and the inventor of this year's hot toy. I will thank them for the way they have secularized and commercialized Christmas.
Austin goes on to detail how the "commercialization" of Christmas in no way undermines the meaning of the holiday for those who believe:
Much hoopla and mania invades these weeks before Christmas. But rather than ruining the religious side of the holiday, they give us something, not to oppose, but to push against and to balance.
How refreshingly reasonable! But what a strange concept--that someone else's attitude or actions about something, in this case Christmas, somehow, mysteriously, exist apart from my own attitudes and actions! Wow! This is like a breakthrough...as if I don't have to bounce around like a cork on the sea based on others' pronouncements or prejudices about...well, golly, anything, when you come right down to it!
It's almost as if...almost as if I can think for myself. And simply ignore those who think or behave differently, and go on thinking for myself. It's almost as if...almost as if my validation comes from within, and not from society.
How perfectly strange.
He wraps up:
So have at it, you retailers, moviemakers and television producers. We'll still buy lots of your stuff, go to your movies and enjoy the pop-rock versions of "Angels We Have Heard on High."
But when your kind of holiday gets too loud and tiresome – and it will – we will remember that there is something else about this time of year.
Read the whole article here.
Of course, as my sarcastic comments above indicate, I think that my acquaintance, though dead right philosophically, is wasting his breath. (Not that there's anything wrong with that: Readers of these posts know that I do that sort of thing all the time.) I'm solidly convinced that there is a considerable element among Christians (as well as "Christians")--if not a majority then at least an appreciable, and vocal, minority--that must always have an enemy. I've opined on the subject before, in other contexts. It works to their advantage to portray Christianity as "under seige" or "under assault" or somehow getting the short end of the stick all the time. Why? It stirs the faithful into a lather and induces them to reach for their wallets to help "defend" Christianity against these attackers (mostly liberals and Democrats, you know). And it generates headlines, which further rouses the rabble, and opens more wallets. Onward, Christian soldiers, and don't forget to drop your pledge card in the plate as it comes by!
And so on.
So, Austin's voice of reason--and mine, too--to the contrary, it's now just a matter of hours before the red-faced hordes start to scream about the dubious need to "put Christ back into Christmas," and to lambaste retailers for starting their holiday sales "too soon" (one wonders how many of the red-faced hordes refuse to do their Christmas shopping till...well, till whenever it's not "too soon" to suit them), and to call for boycotts of merchants who have the temerity to wish shoppers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," the heathens!
Which is just as well. If they didn't have someone to rail against, well, neither would I, I guess.