Thursday, December 08, 2005

Much Ado About Nada

I’m as guilty of self-promotion as the next guy, but when it comes to John Gibson on Fox News, I’m nowhere near as guilty as he. He’s written a book. It’s seasonal and emotional and it strikes a chord in those who know that they have embraced the one, true and exclusive faith. The book is titled “The War on Christmas” and the thesis is that there is this huge, coordinated secular attack on recognizing Christ as an essential part of Christmas. He contends that political correctness and a malicious intent to deny Christianity as the religion of choice for America is causing folks to say, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Well, the foolishness about crèche displays on City Hall lawns has gone on for a long time. Yet, there are plenty of shepherds and Magi being arranged in public places for reminding us about the holiday. I know I’ve used “Xmas” as shorthand for Christmas for many years and somehow knew all along that the derivation of that abbreviation related to the Greek spelling of Christ. It didn’t seem problematic to me.

Christmas trees didn’t originate in Bethlehem, but are a more pagan or Druidic expression of the season. Doesn’t bother me. I enjoy the display.

Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Reindeer and Santa the Fat Guy all seem harmless enough, even though they never appeared in the stable around the manger. They all give me an opportunity to feel good and it’s nice for little kids to have fun with them.

Gift giving is a wonderful expression of love and affection. Families coming together are good whether the reason is a sharing of Christian faith or a Hanukkah celebration or a Kwanzaa teaching of principles of life, or even a Costanza family tradition of Festivus. It actually IS a holiday season and offering an inclusive wish for happiness in no way demeans Christians.

Why then does John Gibson have to flog his narrow-minded book every single day? I mention my books when the subject seems appropriate, but I don’t feel the need to interject “When Thunder Rolled” or “Palace Cobra” into every conversation. Gibson, of course has the benefit of the very bully pulpit of a national broadcast news network. He’s also got the team of willing allies like O’Reilly and Shep Smith and Greta and Geraldo. They mention his book this week and when they have their book released, Gibson will return the favor.

But, it’s all a non-issue. It’s a trumped-up charge. Two nights ago I watched ABC air “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” for the 40th time. Note the title and if you watched the show, you also noticed the very prominent bible quotations solemnly intoned by Linus. This is major network stuff and if there were some sort of war on Christmas, I’m certain ABC would be in on the strategy.

John Gibson is going to sell a lot of books. A lot of concerned Christians are going to studiously boycott Coke for replacing Santa Claus this year with a bunch of polar bears and penguins. (Why Christians would prefer one secular cuteness for another escapes me at the moment.) Wal-Mart is going to sell a lot of Christmas stuff as will Best-Buy, Sears, K-Mart, Circuit City, Toys-R-Us and the other big and little box stores. Many clerks will say Merry Christmas and many will wish us Happy Holidays. The distinction between the intent of the greetings is not major.

That’s why I liked Mike Straka’s brief editorial on the subject. His “Grrrr…” pieces usually hit the nail on the head. The oblivions he routinely identifies won’t change their behavior because of his columns and the religious folks supporting Gibson won’t change their thinking about the secular conspiracy, but Mike says it well and just the way I’ve been thinking about it. Take a look here: Couldn't Have Said it Better

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