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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2004 10:15 pm 
O'Reilly, Scarborough, and Limbaugh have all been pushing the idea of a secularist plot against the Christian side of Christmas. Anyone know any good stories on this point? Most particularly, stories that actually reflect a trend, rather than some isolated senior bureaucrat's moment of cowardice or laziness?

Here's James Wolcott's humurous take on the issue . . .

Quote:
Christmas Kvetchers
Posted by James Wolcott
Every year we hear the eloquent whines of the "put Christ back into Christmas" chorus. Every year without fail we're told that Christmas itself has become a charged phrase, un-PC, fudged with euphemism. I'm not sure how we could put any more Christ into Christmas this year. Jesus was on the cover of Time and Newsweek, US News ran a cover story on The Power of Prayer, CNN is broadcasting a documentary tonight on "The Two Marys" (Madonna and Magdalene), and Mel Gibson's The Passion is at the red hot center of so many year-end roundup essays. Yet right on cue comes James Lileks, a beloved blogger in the daycare community, wondering why everyone's afraid of two simple words that say so much.

"Maybe it's just me. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. But when I wish a store clerk "Merry Christmas!" they often appear stunned and flummoxed for a moment, as if I've just blabbed the plans for the underground's sabotage of the train tracks in front of the secret police...

"I don't get it. There's this peculiar fear of Christmas that seems to get stronger every year, as if it's the season that dare not speak its name."

I think he's right. It just him, he is overly sensitive, and he doesn't get it, whatever "it" is. But then Glenn Reynolds takes a time-out from drooling over digital cameras to poke his head out of the badger hole and amen Lilek's observation. "I've noticed the same thing," he posts, before lowering periscope. So that makes two of them.

This "fear of Christmas" is a phantom menace conjured every year so that certain crybaby Christians can adopt victim status and model a pained expression over the sad fact that not everyone around them isn't carrying on like the Cratchits. This thin-skinned grievance-collecting gives birth to all sorts of urban legends and rumors about big institutions being hostile to Christ's birthday, such as the one that swirled on WOR radio last week about how Macy's employees had been instructed not to say "Merry Christmas!" to shoppers. A fiction that was put to rest when the host hit Macy's website and saw its "Merry Christmas" greeting, and Macy's employees chimed in over the phones to say there was no such policy. To read conservative pundits, you'd think everybody was wishing each other Happy Kwanzaa! and averting their eyes from oh so gauche Nativity scenes. I've got news: Even here on the godless, liberal Upper West Side, people wish each other Merry Christmas without staggering three steps backward, thunderstruck and covered with chagrin.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 18, 2004 11:07 pm 
The real problem with the martyrdom of the early Christians is that modern Christians feel like they need to live up to it. Many devout (or at least outwardly devout) Christians feel the need to make themselves look like victims.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2004 1:02 am 
gwalla wrote:
The real problem with the martyrdom of the early Christians is that modern Christians feel like they need to live up to it. Many devout (or at least outwardly devout) Christians feel the need to make themselves look like victims.

But we are a culture of victims, aren't we? Groups and factions all over pick up on the rhetoric of the 60s reform movements and claim they are the one's really being picked on. So I'd say the right-wingers pushing this agenda are getting most of their inspiration from other modern political/social factions, with older Christian symbols thrown in.

Also, as with almost all of the discussions on this issue, I would emphasize that it is not Christians who claim to be the victims here, it is populist conservative-mostly white American-evangelical-activists. This group includes only about one in every three American Christians and a tiny fraction of Christian believers world-width. However, many decades ago, they began falsely using the adjective "Christian" in a misleading context, describing the views of their faction as though they where the only Christian viewpoint or the dominant Christian viewpoint. This didn't mean much until about 1980, as right-wing evangelicals were politically on the fringe and mainly talked to each other. After the "Christian Right" became a political force under Jerry Falwell in the 1980s, the Catholics, Mainline Protestants, the Eastern Churchs, and the secular press took this opportunity to show their ignorance of the power of language in propaganda. Without any noticable objection, they allowed spokesmen of the Christian Right to routinely misrepresent themselves as the voice of all Christians. Now the usage is part of our culture.

A more traditional viewpoint was summed up in one of Mark Twain's quips: "He was as confidant as a Christian with four aces." Non-evangelical Christians were at or near the top of the American social ladder until society became deliberately more secular in the 1950s. Until then, they didn't really need a language of victimhood.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2004 3:11 pm 
You might want to read Howard Tayler's livejournal about his recent experience with secular christmas taking over. Other than that, I don't care. :p

http://www.livejournal.com/users/howard ... 58247.html


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2004 11:03 pm 
Kazriko wrote:
You might want to read Howard Tayler's livejournal about his recent experience with secular christmas taking over. Other than that, I don't care. :p

http://www.livejournal.com/users/howard ... 58247.html

Hmm . . . no mention of the nativity in a church program? This isn't a conspiracy of secularists, it's a conspiracy of weenies.

These are the same kind of people who wet themselves and put "Evolution is only a theory" in their science texts whenever an Evangelical barks at them. Or whimper and shake their heads and suspend kids from school for a month for bringing drugs to class when they find an asprin in their bookbag. Utterly spineless!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 4:55 pm 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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As long as I get presents.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:08 pm 
Indeed Jeremiah, indeed.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:14 pm 
Something I have noticed...

What is the original lyrics to "Little Drummer Boy"?

Is it "Little Baby" or "Baby Jesus"?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 5:45 am 
If there is a plot George Bush is part of it.

Happy Holidays!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 12:00 pm 
Gerald wrote:
Something I have noticed...

What is the original lyrics to "Little Drummer Boy"?

Is it "Little Baby" or "Baby Jesus"?

The original version from 1958 appears to have used "little baby."

Bing Crosby's gorgeously toned version of this song was his biggest holiday hit, after White Christmas.

Also, you haven't had a complete musical education until you've heard Bing Crosby sing a musical duet with David Bowie: Little Drummer Boy matching verses with Peace On Earth. Its from a 1977 Crosby Christmas special and comes off very well.

Merry Christmas, all!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 12:08 pm 
Berken wrote:
Gerald wrote:
Something I have noticed...

What is the original lyrics to "Little Drummer Boy"?

Is it "Little Baby" or "Baby Jesus"?

The original version from 1958 appears to have used "little baby."

Bing Crosby's gorgeously toned version of this song was his biggest holiday hit, after White Christmas.

Also, you haven't had a complete musical education until you've heard Bing Crosby sing a musical duet with David Bowie: Little Drummer Boy matching verses with Peace On Earth. Its from a 1977 Crosby Christmas special and comes off very well.

Merry Christmas, all!


That's what I'm wondering. Bing's is "Baby Jesus" (pronounced Hey-Zeus).

Agreed on both counts on Bing's renditions (solo and with Bowie).

Though my favorites by Mr. Crosby were always "Hark! The Herald Angel sings/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

...I don't have any religious inclinations, just they are beautifully done pieces of music.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:44 pm 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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http://www.reason.com/links/links122004.shtml

Quote:
It's a Christmas tradition as venerable as mistletoe and caroling: As the days grow shorter, conservative activists claiming to speak for American Christendom raise their voices, not for a rousing round of "Good King Wenceslaus," but to complain that the roughly 75 to 80 percent of Americans who profess allegiance to some denomination or another of Christianity constitute a cruelly oppressed minority.

[...]

So are we really seeing an unprecedented wave of hostility toward either Christmas or Christianity? Or is it, rather, that the waning of the cultural hegemony to which some Christians have come to feel entitled is perceived as an attack? Many of the most loudly trumpeted complaints in this vein are, after all, complaints about the absence of special treatment: no special spot for the Ten Commandments in the courthouse rotunda; no pride of place for Christmas among those happy winter holidays; no exceptions for the Christian charity.

[...]

The stratagem is so perverse as to be almost admirable: Take a holiday associated with sentiments like peace and goodwill, mix in some well-intentioned attempts to acknowledge it in an inclusive way suited to a pluralistic society, and then use the combination to generate fear, divisiveness, and high ratings. But whether we're impressed or appalled by that cynical ploy, whether we're gearing up for Christmas dinner or just a post-Ramadan pig-out, we can all breathe a little easier knowing that the anti-Christmas "jihad" is no more real (sorry kids) than Santa Claus. Happy holidays.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 7:18 pm 
I think there's a plot for Christmas. Nuts everywhere are trying to take over the world with it.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 6:20 pm 
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Intern
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Joined: Sun May 12, 2002 12:18 am
Posts: 1134
Location: Idaho
Hmmm, if you want to totally secularize the day then think about this...

Christmas = Christ's Mass (no, not a tumor, the Catholic thing)

Holiday = Holy Day

Candycane = Shepherd's crook

Santa Claus = Saint Nicolas

Exchanging gifts = gifts from the wise men to the baby Jesus. The Bible doesn't mention a number, it just says wise men. The "three" bit was cooked up for that song, somewhat linked to the three types of gifts they brought.

So if you want to totally de-religion Christmas, skip the candycanes, skip the presents, toss Santa out on his bum and don't even _think_ the word "holiday".

So, Merry a few days past winter solstice! ;)

_________________
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"I am a machine. I am a weapon of war. I am a destroyer of life in the service of life, the sword and shield of my human creators." Bolo Invincibilus, Mark XXIII, Model B (Experimental) 0075-NKE "Nike".


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 7:01 pm 
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Vorpal Bunny Slipper
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bizzybody wrote:
So if you want to totally de-religion Christmas, skip the candycanes, skip the presents, toss Santa out on his bum and don't even _think_ the word "holiday".


You do realize that it is possible -- frequent, even -- for something to have religious origins and yet end up as a secular institution as the religious connotations are ignored or changed. You know, like the names of the weekdays. Are you seriously insisting that Santa Claus -- a magical elf who lives at the North Pole and flies around with reindeer -- is a religious figure simply because he originated with a saint?

Genius.

_________________
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, grab es tief unten im Keller ein.
Später dann graben es andere aus, und nennen dein Haus das Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, leg auch ihre weißen Schädel hinein.
Mit Beton gießt du es aus, das Fundament vom Knochenhaus.
Scharr, scharr, verscharr das Gebein, da ist noch Platz, da paßt noch wer rein.
Hier tobte sich der Teufel aus, unten im Keller im Knochenhaus.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 10:03 pm 
jeremiahsmith wrote:
bizzybody wrote:
So if you want to totally de-religion Christmas, skip the candycanes, skip the presents, toss Santa out on his bum and don't even _think_ the word "holiday".


You do realize that it is possible -- frequent, even -- for something to have religious origins and yet end up as a secular institution as the religious connotations are ignored or changed. You know, like the names of the weekdays. Are you seriously insisting that Santa Claus -- a magical elf who lives at the North Pole and flies around with reindeer -- is a religious figure simply because he originated with a saint?

Oh, yeah.

Truthfully, you always wind up deciding what degree of nit to pick, no matter what position you have on the topic.

The Santa Claus story as we understand it was cribbed and patched together from Dutch and Scandinavian folklore by American department stores in the 19th Century. The sleigh, reindeer, and costumes of Santa's Elves are taken directly from the equipment and clothing of the Suomi, or Laplanders, a pastoral people from the Scandanavian tundra. Some of their organitzations have filed lawsuits in Europe against what they consider a denigrating image.

Per the History Channel, Lutherans and New England Protestants had no Christmas services or celebrations of any sort until about the 1850s. They picked up on the concept from the Episcopalians and Catholics, primarily because these groups were having so much more fun celebrating Christ's birth that they were drawing converts.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:27 pm 
Besides, Santa Claus is Tim Allen.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 3:26 pm 
bizzybody wrote:
Exchanging gifts = gifts from the wise men to the baby Jesus. The Bible doesn't mention a number, it just says wise men. The "three" bit was cooked up for that song, somewhat linked to the three types of gifts they brought.


It's true that their name and number aren't given in the Bible, and that their number derives from the number of gifts. But the number is traditional, predating the song. Their names in the West are traditionally given as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.

Wikipedia article


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2004 1:31 pm 
Even if I was a christian, I would never celebrate christmas. Jesus wasn't born anywhere near December.

Happy birthday Mithras!

(you know...that one guy who positively reeks of being copied off of?)


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