The Unforeseen Consequences of the ‘War on Christmas’

A few days ago, as I was checking-out at a grocery store, the employee who had just rung me up said ‘Happy Holidays’.  The statement was sincere, it was not meant in mockery, and I could tell that the employee was having a good day.  But before I could thank him, someone standing behind me shouted, ‘You mean ‘Merry Christmas’, right?’  At this point I was in shock over the nerve of this person and the employee became defensive.  I shook my head at the customer behind me and simply walked away.  I wasn’t about to get involved in a debate at the check-out line.

My story above is becoming a common one.  But there is more happening here than simply the interjections of a rude person.  In that ten seconds of dialogue, something is lost that is really the tragedy of this whole ‘war on Christmas’ that FOX News has so eagerly forced upon the public.    The loss is the loss of sincerity.  That employee wasn’t trying to insult me, or start a debate, or infuse secularism into our culture.  That employee wasn’t trying to offend the rude person behind me in line.  The employee was only trying to be courteous.  They didn’t know me from Adam and, rather than making the assumption that I’m a Christian, he went with the generic ‘Happy Holidays’.  And by that, as a sane human being, I was able to recognize that he meant he hoped that I had a joyous celebration of whatever holiday I practice.

But as a result of this ridiculous ‘war on Christmas’ nonsense, that employee was castrated by someone behind me; someone he had to now check-out.  Unlike me, who can walk away, he had to stay there and listen to that person rant about how the secular agendas of the socialist government are stripping away the rights of Christians, blah blah blah.  And as a result of that, that employee may be hesitant to wish anyone a Happy Holidays, or a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Hanukkah, for fear of being chastised for it.  All sincerity he had, all the joy he had, stripped from him because some jerk who follows Glenn Beck on Facebook couldn’t mind his own business.

There is another side to this story, though.  Because since that event, every time someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I get a twitch.  Are they being sincere or just nudging me to say something back, just to get a rise out of me, or to start a debate.  Are they being serious?  Sarcastic?  Cynical?  I can’t tell anymore.  My ‘sincerity meter’ is broken.  And that is a real shame.  I love this time of year.  I love the idea of the holiday season.  I like the ideal Dickens Christmas.  It doesn’t have to be religious for me; it certainly wasn’t religious for Dickens.

This season is supposed to be about charity, and good works, and family fun, and feeling new and whole again with the start of a new year just around the corner.  Instead I’m pulling the hood over my head and shadowing myself from season’s greetings because I am afraid to get into a polemical battle of rhetoric over the ‘reason for the season’.    I have to drive behind people with ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ bumper stickers, most of whom have no idea how ludicrous those stickers are really.  I doubt I am the only one disenchanted this year.

The irony of it all is that secularism isn’t trying to take Christmas away; it was secularism that gave us Christmas, the way we celebrate it today, in the first place.  When the Puritans came to this continent, they outlawed the celebration of Christmas.  They didn’t come here for religious freedom.  Religious freedom implies that they came here to start a colony where other religions could practice peacefully.  No, they kicked you out if you practiced any other religion other than their own.  The first place in this country that celebrated ‘religious freedom’ was the colony of Rhode Island (originally Providence) when its founder was kicked out of the Massachusetts Bay colony because he had different religious views.  It was also the first colony to renounce the British during the Revolutionary War period.

Christmas was not a part of American culture.  Protestants didn’t really celebrate it–certainly not the Puritans and Quakers, but Catholics did and Catholics were not the most beloved citizens of the time.  It was not until the Victorian period, until Dickens and Irving idealized Christmas, that it became fashionable to celebrate.  And even still, it was not made a legal holiday until after the American Civil War.  And in a large sense, Christmas was secularized so that protestants could also celebrate it; it was no longer just a Catholic religious celebration but a celebration that became, truly, a universal holiday.  For coverage, I direct your attention to Jon Stewart:

 http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-december-6-2011/tree-fighting-ceremony?xrs=share_copy

In one part of the segment Stewart trusted the History Channel and as a result suffered a pants on fire rating from Politifact (whoops!), proving one again that the History Channel does not live up to its name and, frankly, is untrustworthy (though lay people will continue to trust it, regardless).  Despite this, Stewart is correct about almost everything else.  And he makes his case quite well, even with his one incorrect statement about legislative branch.

Though I would like to make it clear I am not ‘against Christmas’.    In fact I think ‘Merry Christmas’ has a place in the season, just as does ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’.   I have a post on it here:

I am greatly concerned this time of year for the sincerity that has been a part of this season since the late 19th century.  If we don’t act towards preserving it, it will be lost to us.  It will become a cynical season, one where nobody trusts anybody and everyone is more concerned about the polemics of the debate than about giving to each other regardless of religious, social, or cultural backgrounds. It is upsetting to think that this part of the season is doomed.  But if certain people have their way, we can kiss the joy of this season goodbye.

Fox News: Liars, Inc.

And Fox News once again is caught lying:

A CNN correspondent has angrily denied a Fox News report that he and other journalists were used by the Libyan government as human shields against an attack on Moammar Gadhafi’s compound.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin reported Monday that the British military had to call off a mission on the Libyan ruler’s compound because journalists had been taken there on a trip to view earlier bomb damage.

“British sources confirmed that seven Storm Shadow missiles were ready to be fired from a British aircraft, but the strikes had to be curtailed due to crews from CNN, Reuters and other organizations nearby,” Griffin reported. She added that Fox correspondent Steve Harrigan avoided the government-sponsored trip because of concern about being used as a shield.

CNN’s Nic Robertson, who was part of the CNN crew cited in the Fox story, shot back on the air Monday night, calling the allegation “outrageous and absolutely hypocritical.”

“To say it was a human shield is nuts,” Robertson said on Wolf Blitzer’s primetime CNN show. “This allegation is outrageous and it’s absolutely hypocritical…”

And:

In addition, Robertson said, Fox sent a security guard with a camera on the same trip — a detail that was omitted from the Fox report. Fox reporter Griffin admitted later to incorrectly having written that no Fox News representatives had gone on the reporting trip, but she stood by the bulk of her story.

Responding to Griffin’s claim that this was a “propaganda trip,” Robertson said, “When we go on these government trips, it’s for a very simple reason: because we don’t want government officials to film it themselves, edit it themselves and then hand it off to us.”

As for Harrigan, Fox’s war correspondent in Libya, Robertson said he has rarely seen him leave his hotel room.

via CNN calls Fox’s human shield accusation ‘nuts’ – World news – Mideast/N. Africa – msnbc.com.

The correspondent’s’ most apt statement:

“You know, when you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from the dictatorship here. You don’t expect it from the other journalists.”

Right on.

Fox News Says Video Game Causes Rape?

First Fox tries to pretend they’re religion scholars and now they’re sociologists…  stick to the news and stop trying to be experts in things you’re clueless about.  Please?  Thanks.

Some good lines from the article:

Oh Fox News … will you ever tire of trying to terrify our nation?

And:

Of course, Fox doesn’t bother to offer up a study to support such a claim. You know why? Because there isn’t one. […] Also, the FBI says rape is down nationwide. That is, if you want to believe those guys.

via In-Game – Run for your lives! Fox says Bulletstorm causes rape.

And this zinger:

So, what’s to be done about this civilization-destroying madness? The Fox article suggests that the Supreme Court should uphold the (currently unconstitutional) California law that would make it illegal for “violent” games to be sold to minors with fines being handed down to retailers. Because more government involvement in our lives is something Fox News likes to get behind. Hey … hold on just a minute …?

Read the rest.

Bob Cargill to Fox: Stop Acting Like Religious Scholars

I’ve already launched my own ‘please shut up’ campaign on this blog before (via against Glenn Beck and here against MSNBC), but nothing says ‘dilettante’ like this article over at Fox News’ website, and the real scholars are none too pleased with how these dilettantes are twisting the facts.  The media is pretty good at twisting the facts–regardless of which News Network you follow (they all equally suck at history and theology).  But it does seem to me that Fox has a particular habit of shouting religious and theological falsities the loudest…

Read this over at Jim West’s blog:

Really Fox, please, please, just shut up.  Just shut up and never talk about the Bible or Christianity ever again.  Every time you do (or Beck does or O’Reilly does) you all just prove to the rest of the world how thoroughly moronic you are.  You’re not just dilettantes.  You’re far worse.  You’re Fox News.

http://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/fox-news-really-really-is-grossly-ignorant/

Now read this:

i’ve said it before, i’ll say it again: the sooner people at fox news stop trying to be theologians – i’m looking at you bill o’reilly (here) and glenn beck (here and here and here and here) – and stop trying to establish themselves as religious authorities attempting to cultivate some sort of christian version of sharia law, the better off we’ll all be.

just admit that you only want to criticize president obama, and don’t mind using some sloppy biblical exegesis misinterpretation to do so.

don’t you think that a journalist with even a shred of integrity might hear president obama’s speech and say, ‘hmm, that sounds like a verse i know. i wonder if he’s using a different translation?’ nope. instead, this ‘fox nation‘ report (note that the name of whoever wrote that ‘article’ is nowhere to be found) just assumes that obama misquoted scripture and started ranting, betraying both his/her own ignorance of the bible (and its translations) and his/her (religious?) animosity toward president obama.

dear fox news: please stop pretending to be religious scholars, because you suck at it.

dear fox news, please stop trying to be religious scholars, because you suck at it.

Now run off and read the rest over at Bob Cargill’s blog.  These are respected scholars, asking you to shut up before you continue to embarrass yourselves.  So, for the love of Pete, do what they say and shut up already.

Fox Mistakes Iraq for Egypt

Whoops!  This is why I don’t watch the news, I read the news.  I can fact-check things far better than these talking-head pundits can.  I mean, come on.  Egypt isn’t even on the same continent as Iran…

Fox News Doesn’t Know Where Egypt Is [PIC].

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