December 20, 2006


Caption: Christmas or not, I'd avoid any manger these guys hang out in.
(Note: please excuse any weirdness of format and spacing. The "improved" version of blogger is turning out to be a, well, goat rope.")
This is the second post in a series on the bogus "War on Christmas," which is in El Cabrero's opinion merely a cynical diversionary movement in the long term war of attrition against Mardi Gras.
If this is your first visit, please scroll down to the previous entry.
You may have noticed that some people work themselves into a frenzy of imagined martyrdom when someone says "Happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."
That's pretty jacked.
At a moral level, there is something pretty perverse going on when a person claiming to be a follow of Jesus walks into a big box store where the products were made by women and children in sweatshops who live in miserable conditions, is waited on by a person who probably doesn’t earn a living wage or have health insurance, and only manages to get mad if the worker says something other than “Merry Christmas.”

This is the kind of thing the real Jesus—remember him?—called “straining at gnats and allowing camels.” In fact, I don’t think any of the gospels quotes Jesus as saying “Thou shalt get royally ticked off if the occasion of my birth is not marked by everyone exactly according to your liking.”
Maybe I missed that part.

At a religious level, there is something pretty blasphemous about thinking that the current annual Saturnalia of materialism, greed, commercialism, and over-consumption in a world where billions of people are desperately poor has anything to do with the person or birth of Jesus. As I recall, when Jesus himself was exposed to the commercialization of sacred things in the Temple, he started overturning tables and raising a ruckus.

The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was probably onto something when he said that true impiety consisted of “attributing to the gods the ideas of the crowd.”

At a semantic level, there seems to be some confusion about persecution and how to deal with it. Jesus was literally persecuted to death. When he warned his followers to expect the same and told them to bless and pray for their persecutors, he probably didn’t have the greeting “Happy holidays” in mind.

Maybe a real example of persecution would help clear things up. About 25 years ago, three American nuns and a church worker went to El Salvador to stand with oppressed people. They did this because they took Jesus’ teachings about justice for the poor seriously. (Apparently these teachings have been excised from some versions of the New Testament.) They were kidnapped by the Salvadoran National Guard and were raped, tortured, shot, and buried in an unmarked grave precisely for being faithful to the Gospel.

That was persecution.

Equating a generic holiday greeting with persecution is an insult to thousands of authentic Christian martyrs from the stoning of Stephen to the present day.
Next time: history.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What can I say? I agree 100%