Thursday, December 15

A Pox on BOTH Their Houses

Both the Left and the Right are at it again.

To hear the cranks from the far periphery tell it, a boogeyman is about to get us all. The world is going to come crashing down at it is our fault for not doing something about the problem.

As we can all glean from just turning on Bill O'Reilley or Fox News for a brief instant, the Right wants us all to fight against a “War on Christmas” that is going to cause our country to fall into a pagan orgy that would put Caligula to shame.

And as we can all tell from the film list at local library's throughout the US, the Left wants to make sure that none of us shop at Wal-Mart.

Funny thing, that. The Right does not want us to shop at Wal-Mart either. Maybe the Right and Left own stock in Target ...

Both of them are full of balderdash and hooey. There is no War on Christmas and Wal-Mart is not evil.

Let's talk about the Right's cause d'jour first. My next post will talk about the Left's bullpucky.

In a country where the vast majority of the people identify themselves as Christians, who celebrate Christmas and among virtually omnipresent in-your-face reminders of the holiday on December 25th, suddenly we have a “War on Christmas.” Why a war? Well, the clerk at Wal-Mart said “Happy Holiday's” while bagging the Christmas Tree decorations, Christmas Cards, Christmas Tinsel, and Christmas Presents purchased at the large Red-and-Green Christmas Display in the front of the store.

A War on Christmas? Are you friggin' kidding me? I can't turn around after Thanksgiving without seeing another reminder of Christmas and another “Remember the Reason for the Season” billboard while driving around town.

Oh, yes – the public schools did have a “Holiday Programme” and they probably did not sing any songs that mentioned the word “Jesus.” That First Amendment certainly is a sticky wicket, no?

Well, I am sorry that you feel that the public schools are a place for a parochial education. I send my children to public school to receive an education, not to study theology.

Just a question; if the public schools were to be more parochial, would you object if they taught a theology that differs from the one taught by your priest, pastor, reverend, bishop or imam? After all, the Vatican recently announced that Intelligent Design had no business being taught in science classes. Also, I seem to remember that Catholic and Protestant theology differ on a few points. Which version of Christianity do you think the schools should preach?

In any case, there is a great place that your children can go to perform in a Christmas Program. It is the program put on by your church.

When it comes down to it, this manufactured crisis is obvious attempt by the Right to throw some "Red Meat" at a base of voters that were getting upset at their betters. After all, they derailed the Harriet Mier nomination! What better way to assuage their hurt feelings than to defend Christmas. Who would oppose Christmas?

And if it gives some people more opportunity to stick it to the Jews, why not?

War on Christmas, indeed. Bah, Humbug!


GeeGuy said...

This is an area where you and I disagree, Aaron.

Part of it, I think, is perception. My wife is a Christian and she says she notices less and less ornamentation each year. You don't. I don't know if there is an objective 'truth' here.

As far as the schools, I think you have picked a losing example. First, I heard Jewish and Kwaanza songs this year. I heard only one overtly religious song (Silent Night) versus the secular stuff (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer). If I can listen to my little Protestants sing "The Dreidel Song," smile, and think "how cute," can't you listen to your kid sing "We Three Kings," and think the same thing while you and I have a cup of coffee together, enjoy each other's company, and praise our little Pavarottis?

I think the sensitivity over this issue arises out of an overall 'war' on Christianity and religion. If you can't see such a thing occurring in our culture, I have to argue you're just not paying attention. The Christians/religious are consistently portrayed as extreme, fringe dwellers who want to rule the world. Even though I am not technically one of them, I'd be pissed too. Like it or not, our culture originated with a Western, Judeo-Christian heritage. It's part of who we are as a country. And it's not a bad thing.

As far as your suggestion that our schools are teaching theology, I think we all need to lighten up a little. By your theory, we can celebrate no holidays. Ooo, Easter, that's a Christian holiday. No Halloween, that offends the Christians. Didn't they pray at Thanksgiving?

Can't we all just get along? Wasn't that the true message of the King? (Rodney, that is.) :)

Treasure State Jew said...


I did think it was cute when my daughter sang "Children Go Where I Send Thee" last night.

However, I still don't think that religious songs -- from any religion -- belong in a public school. As for holidays, part of my problem is the fact that not much instruction happens during December. It just becomes a waste.

Take yesterday. School started at 8:20. After about 10 minutes of classtime, the whole school went down to the gym for a dress rehearsal of the program. That took a few hours. Afterward, the entire school went out for a combined recess, followed by lunch in the classroom (the gym, auditorium and lunchroom are all the same room).

After lunch, it was time for the show. That took until about 2:30. Fifteen minutes of classtime and it was time to go home.

Twenty-five minutes. I am sure they covered a lot of curriculum during that time.

To be fair, there is an educational benefit to be conveyed by teaching kids to perform in front of an audience. However, there aren't enough days as it is to teach the curriculum.

Halloween, Easter, Passover, Chanukah, Christmas, etc. are all wonderful things. However, I wonder why we think that they should have a place in the school. Is there any wonder why our educational system lags behind the rest of the free world?

GeeGuy said...

I agree with you, to a point. There is only so much time in the day, and the more time we spend teaching tolerance and diversity, the less time there is for teaching 'readin' and ritin'.

It seems like we ought to have room to enjoy some of the cultural indicia we all share while still educating our kids. Good teachers recognize this intuitively.

The Raving Norseman said...

I'm not so sure it's a war on Christianity so much as an insurgency. ;)

I don't fear for Christianity, but I do definitely see a militancy that's becoming more shrill in our information-overload world.

Reviews of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe refer to themes that are "unavoidably Christian" or highlight Disney's brilliant niche marketing of the film to suggest they're aiding in open evangelism (no mention, of course, of Gay Days).

Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson are warts on the butt of Christianity, but they're presented by many on the left as only slightly atypical. Some on the left portray them as downright mainstream. They don't appear to intend to smear Phelps and Robertson so much as those who find the left's secular agenda less than palatable.

Attempts by activists to enforce only half of the First Amendment (forgetting about that whole "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" thing) have begun to stretch to private property.

"War" on Christianity? No. But there's something going on.

Full disclosure: I went to the doc for a "procedure" this morning, and the Xanax has fully kicked in. I hope this is remotely coherent, and now I'm going to merge with the couch.

Treasure State Jew said...


I like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think it is a great story.

Whatever you say about the movie, there is no way to avoid the fact that it was written as a Catholic allegory. CS Lewis wrote it as such. Disney is marketing it to evangelical groups for that reason.

Reviews should mention that it is a Christian movie. So was Mel Gibson's movie last year. Not mentioning that fact would do a disservice to the film.

The fact that this movie was even produced and is a success is partially a testament to the desire of many to go to Christian themed movies. To my mind, it is better for a Christmas-timed movie to be really religious, instead of just using Christmas as a marketing ploy (Ernest Saves Chistmas, redux.)

I look at it as further proof that there is no war.

a-fire-fly said...

C.S. Lewis was very religious, and at the time he wrote the book(s) the idea of a "War on Christmas" would have been unthinkable.
I heard several discussions when Harry Potter came out. They had to do with with magic and scorcery incouraging non Christian beliefs.
Now we have a Christian Fantasy, complete with magic and scorcery. Hmm.

Treasure State Jew said...


The interesting thing about that particular load of bullpucky is that Rowling herself is very religious. In fact, she has alluded several times that the Potter series is a Christian allegory.

Don't believe me? Look at some of these links.

The Raving Norseman said...

Oh, don't get me wrong, Aaron; I know the movie's chock full of Christian themes on purpose, and I agree Disney would be foolish to not market it to the same people who went to Passion but who do not otherwise go to theatrical movies. That's just good marketing.

It's the use of terms like "unavoidably" that get me. Your saying that there's no way to avoid discussing the Christian themes when reviewing the movie isn't the same to this particular pedant as a the reviewer saying that the movie itself is "unavoidably Christian." It'd be like saying The Ten Commandments is "unavoidably Jewish." This may factually be the case, but that phrase in an article enumerating the pros and cons of a film does carry with it the implication that this is a problem with the movie. That particular review, and others like it (but admittedly not all) seem to be written from the point of view that the Christian themes are unfortunate.

It's the posts on movie message boards --"warning" people that the movie is churchy and that it might therefore be unsuitable for thinking people-- that get me.

It's the misplaced --and in some cases I think feigned-- ignorance of Disney's other niche marketing ventures whose inclusion in the discussion would prove beyond a doubt that Disney is not complicit in any kind of conspiracy except one to sell more tickets for Disney's benefit.

No, there's no "war" on Christianity, and yes, Disney's decision to be involved with the production of this movie is pretty persuasive of that argument. But this isn't to say there isn't a fair amount of stuff going on in the media, in the public arena and on the intarweb that shouldn't annoy and alarm Christians.

Anonymous said...

What he said.

Keep posting Raving Norseman.