Christmas Notes, Part Deux

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.

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2 thoughts on “Christmas Notes, Part Deux

  1. How does that phrase go? You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.
    Christmas is already a highjacked holiday, it being far older than any Christian spin put on it of late. The world and the people in it were hardly sitting around waiting for Christians to come along and give the solstice meaning. So, feel free to make it as holy as you need it to be by imagining godly births and manger scenes. For the rest of us, we’ll make it as funny, inspiring or commercial as we want it to be. Probably see you at the mall, eh?

    1. Hi, Alex! Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Certainly, you’re free to celebrate Christmas, or not, as you see fit. The solstice has been happening since the planet formed, and Christmas began only about 2000 years ago. The events are unrelated other than falling near one another on the calendar. There’s a hoary debate over whether the traditional date for Christmas was intentionally positioned to supplant the solstice observances, but it goes pretty much nowhere. Pagans continue to celebrate solstice, and Christians observe Christmas, mostly on a non-interference basis these days.

      Again, I’d like to see a little less emphasis on the commercial stuff, which in my opinion, distracts not only from the true meaning of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but also from the spiritual themes that resonate throughout all traditions that celebrate at this time: Light shining through the surrounding darkness, hope, generosity, and transformation.

      Any irritation I have with how my culture purports to celebrate Christmas ultimately reflects back on myself, because I’m part of the culture, and I certainly have room to do better.

      If you happen to live in the Kansas City metro area, yes, I probably will see you at the mall.

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