Christmas Ruminations and More
Linus Evades the Censors: Charles M. Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip had the clout to present a distinct Christian theology in the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas. In the special, an exasperated Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows the true meaning of Christmas. Linus obliges, and begins to quote verbatim from Luke 2, explaining, in effect, that the birth of Christ is the locus of meaning for Christmas. Jared Bridges points out that “no show created today could pull off such a display of overt Christianity and get away with it. It’s amazing that the show still eludes the media censors who might pull it lest it offend someone. With Christmas a completely secular holiday in our culture, A Charlie Brown Christmas is an oddity that Christians should applaud and seek to emulate.
The Pope Has a Christmas Tree: The most difficult things about a Christmas tree have traditionally been the decision between real and fake, getting it in the stand, and putting the star on top with out knocking it over. This year, we have county offices and school prohibiting Christmas trees as religious symbols. I thought they were originally pagan symbols. But wait, the Pope put up a tree this year. The World Magazine Weblog says:
Pope John Paul II, the first Pontiff to display a Christmas tree inside the Bernini colonnade, called the traditional holiday decoration a symbol of life offered in Christ: “The message of the Christmas tree, therefore, is that life is ‘ever green’ if one gives not so much material things, but of oneself.” Originally, Christmas trees were a remnant from the pagan worship of nature on the winter solstice. Is John Paul II stumbling through syncretism in assigning a new righteous significance to an old pagan icon? Or is he operating squarely within the longstanding and holy Christian practice of debunking idolatrous nonsense with redemption rather than abstention?
A Jewish View of American Christmas: Interesting to see some Jewish perspectives on the current assault on Christmas. Read a number of good thoughts on this at A Nice Jewish Boy Weblog. He writes in part:
Something strange is happening this Christmas season. There is a war against Christmas. The complainers with the freest speech in the entire world, the ones who are the most narcissistic and have the most rights are doing what they do best, complaining that they don’t have enough rights or that others have too many rights and they not enough. The secular left, including the the ACLU which is made up of many but not entirely Jewish lawyers and radical liberals, have waged war against celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus in the public arena.
As a Jew, the ALCU makes me wretch. Grinches who don’t like Christmas need to shut up. I am Jew and I love Christmas. I am a Jew who’s best friends and allies for the Jewish cause are both Jew and Christian. American Jews need to open their eyes before it too late. The people of this Christian American country are the best friends of the Jewish State of Israel. This is the very first, the one and only Jewish- Christian alliance in history. It is a uniquely American revolution. If you don’t like it, if you like the old school Jewish-Christian relations of Europe, then that is the place for you.
St Peter’s Basilica now has its own rooftop coffee bar. Though it opened several months ago, its existence has only just become public. “Located on the terrace at the base of the cupola designed by Michelangelo, it commands a breathtaking view of St Peter’s Square all the way to the Tiber River and beyond. It is open to tourists who have already visited the top of Michelangelo’s dome and who want to stop for a coffee or soft drink on their way back down to earth.”
Legal Holiday Greetings: You may have already seen this Legal Holiday Greeting, which is making the blogger rounds. I first saw it at Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing. Very funny.
I wanted to send out some sort of holiday greeting, but it is so difficult in today’s world to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So I met with my attorney today and on her advice I want to say to all of you:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, nonaddictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2005, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only “America” in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
Weigel asks why, in the aftermath of 1989, Europeans failed to condemn communism as a moral and political monstrosity. “Why was the only politically acceptable judgment on communism the rather banal observation that it ‘didn’t work?’”
The answer, says Weigel, is that Europe has lost faith in God. And when you lose faith in God, you lose faith in humanity. Like the great Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said in his 1983 Templeton Prize Lecture: “The failings of the human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century.”
Take a look at the entire piece.
Have a wonderful Christmas weekend.