In the wake of my little rant about Christmas season irritations yesterday, I was browsing some news blogs and discovered that America’s favorite lovable curmudgeon, Garrison Keillor, had gotten there before me.
The Bard of Wobegon and I don’t see eye-to-eye on most issues, politics foremost among them, but in this column, he got a little exercised, like I did, about the proliferation of Christmas songs that obscure, confuse, or simply out-shout the message of Christ’s birth and its promise of redemption for mankind. The last straw seemed to be a Unitarian “rewriting” of Silent Night, absent any acknowledgment of Jesus. Keillor, displaying some Lutheran vinegar that I thought he’d long abandoned, basically told the pagans, secularists, and their fellow-travelers to shut up and quit meddling with a Christian holy day.
On the other hand, I had to agree with PowerLine’s Scott W. Johnson (who has some interest in Keillor, being from Minnesota) that Keillor stepped over the line in a puzzling preoccupation with Jewish songwriters that missed the point–there are plenty of lousy and/or empty Christmas songs out there from musicians of all ethnic/religious backgrounds, and targeting Jewish composers as somehow responsible for the co-opting of Christmas doesn’t help his plea for more respect of Christian traditions.
There’s nothing especially sinister about reindeer, chestnuts, elves, or mistletoe, and songs about the importance of family ties are certainly appropriate at Christmas, but I’d still like to see a little more balance toward the sacred and away from the commercial. We bend over backward to acknowledge and honor all the other religious traditions and observances–why is it okay to disrespect Christianity?
Well, maybe Garrison and I just need more ketchup in our diet.