War (noun) 1. a state of open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations
2. a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism Merriam-Webster Dictionary
I give up. I surrender. Better yet, can we just declare a truce in the so-called War on Christmas?
Yes, its back, like that ugly Christmas sweater Uncle Jack always wears to the party. Like the 24-hour Christmas movie marathon thats been running on the Hallmark TV channel since July 5th. Like the Christmas decorations that show up on the shelves at the local CVS the day after Halloween. I hope and pray every December that this yearly chapter in the culture wars might just fade away, but no such luck.
This war stubbornly and annoyingly returns every December.
Politicians from the President on down declare that the war is on, that we fight because some want to threaten treasured holiday traditions. We cant say Merry Christmas anymore! We cant sing Christmas carols in school anymore! We cant go to Macys or JC Penney for a Christmas sale anymore because they now have the gall call it a holiday sale! We go to Starbucks and their annual holiday cup says Merry Coffee! We have to call the Christmas parade the Holiday parade!?
Forgive me for not getting all huffed and puffed up about this attack on Christmas. I mean, I kind of know Christmas, and really well. I have been in the business of Christmas, of preaching Christmas and teaching Christmas and declaring Christmas for more than 30 years as a local church pastor. Id like to think that if there was an actual war on the sacred traditions of my faith or on the birth story we so love or the hymns we so enjoy singing in December: Id know it.
In three-plus decades, not once have my religious freedoms around Christmas been threatened or taken away, not for me, not for my church, not for one person of my faith that I know. Not once have folks complained to me that they cant put a candle in the window or sing Silent Night or set up a home nativity set or light Advent candles or serve the poor on behalf of a poor little boy born some 2,000 years ago.
Yet still the war rages on in places like Charleston, West Va. The mayor of that city recently decided to rename the Christmas Parade down there the Holiday Parade, in her words, to make it more inclusive and reflective of the religious diversity in that place. Not everyone celebrates Christmas as a holy day or even a holiday, right? Is it really such a bad thing to recognize this truth?
Apparently, yes, at least according to the aggrieved and angry and rage-filled folks who overwhelmed the mayors office with nasty phone calls and filled up her Facebook page with diatribes and threats of recall, who so overwhelmed her with fierce opposition that she relented and went back to the old name for the parade.
As one group of red-hot righteous state senators wrote in a press release protesting the mayors decision, Radical liberals in Charleston want to eliminate Christ from our Capitol Citys annual Christmas Parade [they] renamed the longtime Christmas Parade to Winter Parade and banned the Freedom of Religion for parade participants in an outright assault on our Constitution. We are calling on Mayor Goodwin and her liberal allies to end this madness and allow our citizens to freely and fully exercise their Freedom of Religion with a CHRISTMAS PARADE.
Wow. Its hard to know how to respond to such a harsh screed. I can see why the Mayor finally gave up and surrendered.
Heres the irony of this whole war. Its being waged on behalf of one who is called the prince of peace by those who embrace that religious tradition. One whose birth was heralded by a choir of angels, who sung for all to hear, of Peace on earth and goodwill to all people. The war is being fought in the name of one, whom some believe, came not for the kings or the politicians or the power brokers but instead to love the least of these: the poor and the lonely and the war torn and the orphans and the widows and the lost.
If you think about it, a war on Christmas is actually against everything Christmas is supposed to mean. So, my advice: ignore the war. Its more heat than flame, more smoke than fire, and more bluster than truth.
A war? No. But peace? Yes.
The Rev. John F. Hudson is senior pastor of the Pilgrim Church, United Church of Christ, in Sherborn (pilgrimsherborn.org). If you have a word or idea youd like defined in a future column or have comments, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Dover-Sherborn Press (Dover-Sherborn@wickedlocal.com).
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