Defenders of the faith: Warriors of the absurd


Puritan's war on Xmas

Christians should not fight wars, according to my Quaker/Anabaptist faith and beliefs, so this whole war on Christmas thing has become a question not only of faithfulness, but of integrity. I mean, how can I fire the shot-heard-afore-Thanksgiving against Christmas if it is, at its very heart, intended to do violence against Christmas. On the other hand, I'm not sure how Jesus' statement that Christians should expect to suffer and be mocked for their faithfulness makes sense in a context where the biggest form a persecution Christians face is the fact that people are just sick of their crap.

If the first casualty of war is truth, the reality may be that American Christians have become the most colossal liars in the culture wars. It is remarkable that those who follow a man that stated they should not take oaths consistently take oaths, and then lie under oath anyway, but I digress. There is evidence of this claim that is easily observed by all as it occurs within the context of the so-called war on Christmas narrative. Fox News and Southern Baptists insist a secular humanist state will round us up and put us all in a giant hand-basket, only letting us guess where we are headed.

There are two major lies that are being pushed upon the American people by these defenders of the faith. If not examples of lying, then there is no better example of having eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear.

The first lie is that there is a war on Christmas, or that atheists and government are conspiring against the public celebration of Christmas. There may well be atheists trying to do away with Christmas in the public square – I don't doubt that – but it is unreasonable to think they are succeeding. The fact that my son tells me 24-hour Christmas music begins on two radio stations next week, and that Christmas stuff is already on sale at Walmart indicates that the leading arms suppliers for this militant seasonal spectacle are ready to take advantage of the messianic-military commercial complex. The marching music is being broadcast to muster the troops.

The very fact that Christmas lights are already being hung up, and that Christmas purchases are already being made indicates that America's moral fiber and religious identity is still held firmly in the iron fist of Christian consumers. If Fox News and Aunt Jane insist Christmas is under attack, Christians understand that we sacrifice; we must dig deep and purchase an extra $12 string of lights, stomp our enemies in pursuit of a good deal on electronics, and undoubtedly, consume as much energy as we can by lighting entire neighborhoods with enough wattage to land Santa's Airbus filled with violence. Most Christian consumers, were they upfront about the nature of their consumption, would realize that saying Santa has a sleigh betrays any reality they think the elf still represents. Santa couldn't fit half of some family's haul of presents into an ore carrier, let alone a quaint relic of rural transportation.

I believe that, if we as persons of faith are honest about Christmas, we must discuss the possibility that our Christmas has become anti-Christ, a consumer war on the nature of the Jesus' birth and the circumstances in which it took place. Fellow believers, you've been had. You've been hoodwinked. You've been sold a bill of good – you've been bamboozled. You have been led to believe that you are celebrating the birth of the Messiah when in fact, you have become the ceremonial slaves of corporate paganism. Christmas is representative of an unmitigated spiritual disaster. The co-opting of a pagan holiday has become the co-opting of the story of Jesus to fit a capitalist narrative. You should be ashamed.

But the much bigger, and much more dangerous lie, and I believe this is the boldest lie, is that Christians are somehow persecuted in the United States and this war on Christmas is the primary piece of evidence. Listen, Jews were persecuted by about every regime they have been unfortunate enough to run across (or that has sought them out). When the time comes that Christians are being gassed in the United States, they can claim persecution – but watch out. Usually it has been Christians doing the gassing. Germany with the Jews, and Germany, France, England, and the US all gassing each other is the reality of history, but somehow that history has no chapter based on the Americna continent unless you count training our own soldiers. Folks you are not being persecuted – people are just sick of your whining, and your tendency to overdo everything. If the cross is Jesus' example, and resurrection is his victory, it is all lost upon your Christmas celebrations.

Real persecution is this – you cannot worship in your home or churches, but are arrested for trying. Real persecution is being executed for being baptized. Real persecution is being unable to earn a living because of your faith, or wear the religious clothing you are called to wear. Real persecution does not allow for homeschooling or sectarian schools to exist, or for public funds to be used for your Christian college education. Real persecution prevents you from holding elected office, and does not allow you to vote (most war on Christian warriors do not even know it was once against the law for Catholics to run for public office in many states). Unfavorable rules concerning public service does not indicate persecution when you have the mechanisms at hand to make changes, or, to simply serve the public in other, private ways. I mean, Christians are always talking about the private sector.

Real or attempted persecution tends to happen against others and is often initiated BY Christians in this country – though this persecution is nominal at best, unless you consider the lies told by Christians intending to shut down persons of other faiths or organizations that violate some strange and mostly unbiblical sense of morality. This should not be surprising to any of you – two things happened when Constantine began the state sanctioning of the faith. First, within one hundred years of the last Christian martyred by Rome, the first was executed by the church for heresy with the support of the government. The next thing that happened, Rome was sacked. So much for state religion receiving God's unmerited favor. Christianity was never intended to be a state religion, and there is nothing in the biblical narrative that suggests it was to ever be a religion in charge. The faith is one of sacrifice, it is a faith of the cross.

Finally, if there is a plot to undo Christmas as we know it – good - but more importantly; if it is a war against Christmas – Jesus commands we not fight it. I'm not sure if the movement against consumer Christianity is an example of evil for it might be best for all of us as persons of faith. However, if it is an example of evil, we are called not to resist evil. We can only respond as Jesus would. We will celebrate the birth of Jesus in our homes and churches, we can decorate, we can have feasts and festivals, we can do whatever we choose. But please, please, please, do not ask government to put up a creche with all-white Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

You see, none of those Jesus and Mary folks were white – and you still wonder why people are sick of it all. Christmas has become nothing more than representative of the politics and nation that we want to have, and nothing to do with the truth of Christmas. Christians still work harder to get government to promote a commercialized civic religion that they do to accurately reflect the nature of the birth of a messianic movement – and the beginning of a story that intended to turn the world upside down despite the fact of empire, and not in coordination with it.

When you celebrate Christmas this season – do it with those who have none. When you remember Jesus, remember God incarnate, not the sale on Halo 2 video games. When you think of celebrating Christmas this year, think of how to make the world better, not making for a better haul of presents for your kids.

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