I don’t normally listen to Christian radio. For whatever reason, though, I had the new local station on during my drive to class. After the morning’s Scripture reading from the Book of Psalms, the anchor said, “And remember, Merry Christmas. With a capital ‘C.'”
Sunday morning in worship, during the epically-long greeting, the welcomer said, “Now we’ll do something that you probably haven’t done very much. And forget being politically correct. Say this after me, ‘Merry Christmas.'”
This morning I received an e-mail, purportedly shared by Ben Stein on CNN (although it did resemble a lot of SPAM/urban legend-type e-mails: SNOPES says a variation is true). The message was from Ben Stein:
I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish, and it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautifully lit-up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are — Christmas trees.
I’m trying really hard to be “merry” this Christmas season. For the past half-decade (maybe longer), I have been bombarded with academic work in the days leading up to Christmas. It’s been a struggle to find joy in that kind of a season! I still have class this year, professors are still assigning papers and exams, but I am trying hard. Then I realized that maybe my trouble finding joy is more about the “church” than about me.
Every time we turn around, someone else is fighting for “Christmas.” Fighting? For Christmas? We can worship in our churches and celebrate with our families any way we want. Ben Stein said he’s not offended. A quick history lesson:
In 1492, King Franz Ferdinand and Isabella finally “cleansed” the Spanish countryside of the last Muslims and the nation become solely Christian. What came after that? [Yes, fourth grade history wizards, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.] The Protestant Reformation came next right on its heels. The voice of a new kind of Christian that was not concerned with everyone worshipping the same way. This voice wanted to give everyone freedom of worship, and a separation of the Church and the state.
If the Church keeps fighting about Christmas, there will likely be a new Protestant Reformation. According to Phyllis Tickle, it will happen, if it’s not happening already. Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to celebrate Christmas without hearing about a fight.