Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What’s so funny about…

…peace, love and this Reason article? Jacob Sullum, a practicing Jew, finds it “remarkable how many people at this time of year will insist with a straight face that they are celebrating a secular winter holiday season, when the reason for the season—the birth of the Christian Savior, whom his followers believe to be the Son of God—is about as religious as things get.”

In one sense this is obviously true, but it also seems obvious that—for many, if not most—Christmas has become primarily about the supposed obligation to swap gifts with family and friends. Jesus, or rather the idea of a Savior born in a manger, is effectively just one ornament among many, a prop of sorts. But the allure of this quasi-religious ritual is apparently so strong that one must provide a justification for a point of view that runs counter to 'our' seasonal mores.
O'Reilly says the Capitol's "traditional holiday display" was "perfectly appropriate since the federal and state Christmas holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem." At the same time, he says "most Americans, even those living in the far-left enclaves, respect uplifting traditions like Christmas, where peace and love is the theme of the great day." He adds, "Can't we all just get along for a few weeks in December?"
The short answer is “yes, we can”. But the ‘War on Christmas’ motif is just too sexy: it gives self-righteous folks on both sides of the divide an excuse to use social pressure in an attempt to steer the broader culture in their direction. After all, “we” simply must all think alike; individualism—whether in thought or deed—cannot be tolerated.

More than the mindless quibbling over which symbols are and aren’t appropriate for the public square, what really puzzles me is the alacrity with which (some) self-described Christians ignore the 'real story' about the evolution of their favorite indulgence of…bread and circuses.

Merry Christmas!