By: Susan Knowles
Two of the most familiar and most sacred of Christian holidays are the celebrations of Christmas and Easter. Christmas is celebrated on December 25 each year by billions around the world to commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Easter is celebrated in the spring and denotes the death and resurrection of Christ. If Christmas is such a holy celebration, then why has Christmas become a time in which many Christians are uncomfortable with the custom of saying Merry Christmas?
Years ago, the introduction of political correctness, which involves using language that is less offensive, became part of the American culture. Since its introduction, some believe that it has been used to curtail free speech protected under the First Amendment which grants individuals the right to speak freely without interference from the government and also prohibits the government (not private citizens) from establishing a religion. Thus, each person has a right to practice (or not to practice) any faith without government interference.
Unfortunately, it’s the Religion Clause of the First Amendment coupled with political correctness that seems to have caused many Christians to take pause in freely celebrating their own beliefs. Christians have become so concerned about not offending others that their own religious freedoms have been eroded. The mere mention of the words Merry Christmas have some Christians convinced that they may be prohibiting others’ religious freedoms.
Some Christians are too willing to accept the notion that saying Merry Christmas is no longer an acceptable salutation because it may be offensive to non-Christians. They have become so concerned with offending others that they have unwittingly inhibited themselves from freely practicing their own faith and Christian customs. However, most non-Christians and Christians alike that I know wouldn’t take offense if someone greeted them with a “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanza” if they were not a participant in those particular faiths. They wouldn’t feel that their own religion was being negativity impacted.
Quite the contrary, many would just nod their heads in an approving thank you and take no offense at all. Even if someone is offended because they happen not to agree with the tenets of your religion, is it a good reason to stop practicing your own faith? Being forced to choose which traditions to follow or not follow for the sake of appeasing others can eventually lead to a tacit surrendering of all Christian principles and should be avoided, according to many.
Additionally, others would argue that many aspects celebrated at Christmas contain both secular and Christian themes and that it shouldn’t matter to Christians whether they say Merry Christmas or refrain from saying it. They site Santa Claus, Christmas trees, saying Merry Christmas, and exchanging Christmas gifts as examples of traditions acknowledged by Christians but which do not necessarily pertain to their faith.
However, many Christians would argue that these are a part of the culture of Christianity and that the gesture of saying Merry Christmas is a part of their traditional Christian faith. Saying Merry Christmas is an integral part of Christianity that many feel should be passed along from one generation to the next because not to teach this part of the culture to children would be eliminating a long-standing Christian practice.
As Christians, our faith and what practices (secular and/or Christian) we choose to follow are all part of the Christian culture and tradition. Some may argue that the definition of culture does not include religious aspects but relates only to social, ethnic, or age groups (Dictionary.com). Therefore, culture is not a part of Christianity. I would disagree. Culture by definition includes the social aspects of any group whether religious or otherwise. Christianity is a faith shared by many ethnicities as well. Therefore, any and all aspects taught within the faith itself would be considered a part of the culture. A large number of Christians as a whole have always celebrated the Christmas season by exclaiming Merry Christmas.
Reciting Merry Christmas has significance far beyond the cultural aspects of Christianity that must be preserved. When Christians greet others with these words they are not merely using it in the same way they would use the word “hello.” Christians are openly expressing to the world that they believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. This does not mean that they are requiring others to believe the same by forcing them to hear the words “Merry Christmas.” Just as someone in the Jewish faith who says Happy Hanukkah isn’t demanding that Christians or non-Christians convert to Judaism. Some would argue, however, that this is exactly what is being attempted by a particular religious or cultural greeting. Even if that were true, it has no bearing on what the person hearing the greeting does or doesn’t do. The choice is up to the individual.
The significance of teaching Christians to say Merry Christmas as part of their faith stems from Jesus’ words to his people that “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). We as Christians are not to be ashamed to proclaim our faith in Jesus. We are not required to say Merry Christmas but we should feel comfortable in saying it if we so choose because we are affirming our faith in our God.
So, the next time, you as a non-Christian hear a Christian saying Merry Christmas remember that it is that person’s way of expressing his/her faith. It is their way of proclaiming to the world that they are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. There is no offense intended. You may ignore them, respond with a Merry Christmas of your own, or respond with a part of your culture that you would like to share.
Susan Knowles is an author, psychotherapist and former practicing attorney. Her latest book, a political fiction, is entitled, “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember” available on Amazon.com. Her website is www.susanknowles.com, where this article may also be found.
Hat Tip: BB
The People’s Cube
Since A&E’s Duck Dynasty proved to be a lot more popular with Americans than their messianic president, the A&E Network is now working on a substitute series that will be just like the indefinitely suspended Duck Dynasty, only with the Obamas – a progressive Washington family running a growing government business out of the White House while pretending to have American values.
David Axelrod says about the new show, “If this doesn’t improve the President’s failing ratings, nothing will.”
By: Lloyd Marcus
Rather than asking you to read a long wordy post from me, I will make this as concise as possible. I love you. For the past five years, we have weathered numerous storms together including the Democrat’s and mainstream media’s deplorable irresponsible on-going campaign to brand you as a bunch of red neck racists.
I have traveled the country on 12 national bus tours; Stop Obama Tour, Tea Party Express and Rebuild American Defeat Obama Tour. On one occasion we held our breath as Ray, our bus driver inched his way up and down steep mountains in the snow because the main road was out. One misstep would have sent our Tea Party Express bus over the cliff.
Another time our bus had to be towed out of a sinkhole. The late Andrew Breitbart was on board when protesters egged our bus. Then, there was the time a coward smashed a full bottle of beer on our bus and ran off.
I have been away from home so much that our greyhound, Sammy, gives me the cold shoulder when I return.
You have spent tons of money traveling to rallies, hotels and meals. You have generously supported conservative candidates. Yes, we have been through a lot together.
Well, the battle for America is not over; miles to go before we sleep.
But for now, please enjoy this music video my wife Mary put together. It is me singing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. The images were taken by friends which includes photographer Mary Pearson who traveled with us on most of the tours. The music is produced by Frank Starchak, my dear friend and music producer of 20 years. Enjoy folks: http://bit.ly/1ftZwsp
God Bless, Lloyd
Lloyd Marcus, Proud Unhyphenated American
Chairman: Conservative Campaign Committee
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or just daily life. This week’s question: What Do You Think The Meaning Of Christmas Is? What Does It Mean To You?
The Independent Sentinel: For me, Christmas means getting together with family and friends to celebrate the birth and life of Christ. He modeled and exemplified the virtues I strive to attain. It is a time to give generously and wish people well in his name.
For all the people on the left, he was not a socialist. He was a religious leader and, for some of us, he is God. In either case, he was above politics.
Christmas is a National Holiday and should be above politics. It should be fun for everyone. It has historical significance because of who our Founding Fathers were.
There is enough that is secular about it to make it acceptable to everyone if they will allow it. One can have a black Santa, a winter tree… it doesn’t matter.
People should be glad for the day with loved ones and have a good time.
Liberty’s Spirit: I have gone through a bit of an evolution about Christmas in my lifetime. Being Jewish we did not celebrate Christmas in any way shape or form growing up. We did not sing carols nor participate in the Christmas programs in school. And yes they had Christmas pageants in our public school. I grew up in the deep South, my family having moved from New York. We moved to Memphis one month after MLK was assassinated and after the Supreme Court had made prayer illegal in public school. Not that anyone in any of my schools paid that Supreme Court ruling much heed.
During my first year in Memphis, my parents informed the school that my sister and I, the only Jewish students in the school, would not be participating in the Christmas pageant. From that moment on, the teachers decided to torment us. We were not allowed to participate in music class and during the school-wide presentation of each class’ song, my sister and I were singled out, sent to sit by ourselves away from the other children into the back of the auditorium. The following year they didn’t even bother to bring us to the auditorium, we were told to stay in our classrooms, alone, without adult supervision until the school assembly was over. That particular teacher that year, enjoyed reading from the Bible the one line passage about how the Jews killed Christ as well. When I objected, she retorted that I didn’t know what I was talking about and I should sit down and be quiet before I got into trouble. The following year, my sister was beaten up by a boy in her class because she refused to kneel. The teacher looked on and did nothing. Simply turned around and walked out of the classroom while my sister was attacked. We were respectively in 3-5th grade during those years.
So what effect did it have on me, this antisemitism around the Christmas holiday? Well it did not predispose me to the season at all. I not only grew to resent the season but those who were religious Christians as well. For every carol sung I felt the sting of hatred that happened to me as a small child. I felt they tried to make me ashamed of my Jewish heritage but infact all they did was reinforce in me the desire and need to be Jewish. But what it also did was to make me feel a stranger in m own nation. The country that my father had fought for during Korea and that I had been taught to love and respect didn’t want me. I think that is what I resented the most. That someone out there thought they could try to take from me my rights as an American because I was Jewish.
Life has a way of changing your perspectives. Not because the sting of the ignorance I faced has faded. Not by any means. But in reality over the years, some of the people who have been the kindest and most endearing to my children have been religious Christians. When you have a child, especially one with special needs, you seek out those who are best for your child. It turns out that the village we created for my sons had people from every walk of life, every religion, every race and most creeds. That I saw all the professionals, work so very hard to enable my sons to have a true future, that to me was more important than holding on to the feeling of the marginalized little girl from so many decades ago. I also learned from these people what it meant to be a real Christian and live those values.
But you know what also changed? I think America as a whole changed too. There is more acceptance of all religions. Its as simple as hearing a Hanukkah greeting on the radio or television, having the children learn Hanukkah music at holiday time in public school, studying in some manner the Holocaust, seeing Jewish politicians, Jewish captains of industry and even when a Jewish Senator ran for Vice President. It’s having May designated Jewish history month too. It’s an acknowledgement that Jews were, and are, an integral part of the American landscape almost from the very beginning of our nation’s history. (As an aside I did read in a history book when I was in 7th grade about Chaim Solomon, a Jewish merchant who gave up his fortune so the American colonies could buy what it need for the Continental army. Little did I know at the time, that I would one day grow up to marry one of his descendants.In truth that little blurb in a history book helped that little Jewish girl living in the deep south who had been so wrongly treated. I remember at the time feeling pride and knowing that noone can take away my American heritage from me, no matter how hard they tried.)
So what does Christmas mean to me now? It is a holiday time when the majority of Americans celebrate a joyful holiday. Decorations are abundant, happiness and hope is in the air. It is a time when the impossible could become possible. It’s a reminder of the human spirit and what humanity could accomplish if it actually wanted to.
As far as what do we, a Jewish family do on Christmas Day? Well we do what most Jewish-Americans do… go to the movies and order in Chinese food.
Bookworm Room: First and foremost, the meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. It makes no difference that Christ was probably born around March. December 25 is his official birthday, and he deserves a big celebration.
Second, Christmas is about bringing light to winter’s dark days. It’s no coincidence that a 3rd century pope blended the Celtic Yule and the Roman Saturnalia, both celebrated around the winter solstice, into Christmas. The dark days force contemplation, but they also demand celebration.
Third, Christmas is about generosity. At the religious level, Christ grew up to give his life to save mankind, which is the ultimate generous act. At a less rarefied (or, should I say, deified) level, Christmas is about presents. Unfortunately, though, most American parents have realized that their generosity is just the flip side of their children’s sense of entitlement. To me, though, there’s a more fundamental generosity around Christmas in America: American Christians share this holiday. You don’t have to believe in “Christ the Savior” to enjoy the music, the lights, and the festivities. I don’t put lights on my house, but I’m free to drive around and admire other people’s house. Unlike certain other countries that shall go nameless, America’s Christians share their holiday with me, rather than foisting it upon me with social pressure or violence.
I adore Christmas. I love the music, I love the lights, I love the happiness that fills those people who aren’t bogged down in the whole commercial aspect, and I love living in a country where I am free not to celebrate Christmas but, instead, can freely celebrate others’ joy.
JoshuaPundit: I don’t mind at all admitting that I really like Christmas.
Not for the usual reasons, probably. I don’t celebrate it per se. There’s no religious context for me, although I certainly find the faith that others express moving. The thought of slogging through a mall any time of year let alone Christmas sees me gritting my teeth and think ‘hmmm, flight,or fight?’
My main thought about the lights and decorations, honestly, is that they’re kinda pretty but I’m very glad I don’t have to put them up, although I confess to being moved by nativity scenes here and there and some of the wonderful art that this holiday has inspired over the years. I can’t imagine anyone with an ounce of musical taste listening to Handel’s Messiah or some of the carols in the right setting and not being moved. Christmas trees? I’d rather see one live out in the forest.
Yet the irony is that all of these things contribute to what I most like about Christmas.., they are sort of triggers for the spirit that seems to permeate everyone during this time, including me. At least, unless you consciously choose to close yourself off from it.
People are easier, nicer to one another. They give of themselves. They smile more, and treat each other with more courtesy, generosity of spirit and decency.. The cop who ordinarily might ticket you for going 35 in a 30 mile zone to meet his monthly quota will say ‘Heck, it’s Christmas. Just be more careful, OK?’ People go out of their way to do favors for you or help you out in ways they ordinarily wouldn’t because it’s, you know, Christmas.
I suppose, in a way, what people are trying to do is to imitate how they view the behavior of Jesus Christ to the extent they can. That’s a beautiful thing. And being a Jew, I have to admit that I’m far more comfortable with non-Jews who embrace that spirit as opposed to those who don’t.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: A celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ the Saviour. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever will believeth on Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life” St John 3:16
The Glittering Eye: The basic belief that Christians hold is the transcendental made immanent. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son”. There’s no use in trying to rationalize that belief. It’s irrational. It’s mystical. Christmas is our celebration of that mystery.
That Jesus came among us as weak, helpless, and poor is a reminder to us of just how great that love was.
The basic vocation of Christians is the imitation of Christ. We are to imitate Jesus in humility, in love, in caring, and in healing.
It is at this time of year that I am reminded most forcefully of what a poor excuse for a Christian I am but that the new year is an opportunity for me to try and do better.
May we all see the love and grace of God in our families, friends, and all those we meet this Christmas season and may be do our best to show that love to others.
Well, there you have it.
Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.
It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it.
Hat Tip: BB
I like my duck crispy – Peking duck, hmmmm. Will be on our table for Christmas. Just sayin’.