Monday, December 01, 2008

Putting Thor back into Thursday (Or Taking Him Out)

Every year a few weeks before Christmas I start getting those mass e-mails which I am supposed to then forward to every Christian I know, all regarding the great offense whereby the phrase “Merry Christmas” has been changed to “Happy Holidays.” I usually don’t participate.

I suspect that the “Christ” part of Christmas means little more to many people than the “Thor” part of Thursday does to us Christians. But regarding our Hindu and Jewish and Muslim and non Christian neighbor, well I understand the discomfort of the name of “Christ” being all over their celebration of a winter holiday. In a secular and diverse nation it is almost inevitable that this issue would erupt every year. I’m fine with "Happy Holidays" myself.

The change of names for the holiday season is of course deeply distressing to many believers in Jesus. The sands seem to have shifted and they are feeling more and more marginalized. Indeed, there has been a seismic cultural change and the influence of Christianity upon our culture and national psyche is in decline.

However, as much as this cultural shift may be upsetting to many Christians, I think Christians should be equally upset by the obscenity that our celebration of Christmas has become. I wish there were some way to separate Advent from Christmas so that our religious celebration of Advent would not be polluted by the grotesque commerciaiam of the Christmas season.

So, instead of trying to put Christ back into Christmas let’s do one better and take Christ out of Christmas altogether. Let’s give Christmas to the pagans and take our Advent elsewhere before we ourselves are crushed by the weight of the materialistic orgy it has become. Then we can celebrate the first Advent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a way that pleases Him. We can keep many of the customs and songs, just pick a different time. Maybe July? Then our Southern Hemisphere neighbors can have their own snowy Advent for a while! We don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, so it really does not matter when we celebrate the day of his birth.

To my pagan neighbors who may wish to change the name of the official national holiday from "Christmas" to some other thing, like maybe "Winter Solstice Day," well, let’s make a deal. How about we take Christ out of Christmas and you can agree to take Thor out of Thursday and Woden out of Wednesday and Tyr out of Tuesday (and so forth), just to make it fair. OK?


Betsy said...

Good thinking. Christ remains on His throne. This cultural shift has been happening for a long time. I don't think it's a concession of faith to respectfully allow other to call it what their beliefs validate, as we expect the same respect. We as Christians need to be salt and light. There are battles worth fighting...those for the hearts of people Christ came to save.

John E. Powell said...

I stopped 'believing' in Christmas many years ago.

I was challenged to study the origins of the celebration and what I found was a parallel to what is happening in modern church: attract pagans into the fold by dressing up their own traditions and calling it Christian.

I believe Christ to be crucified, but only once. To put his name together with the term mass goes against scripture.

I cannot find in the Bible any evidence to support the spiritual masturbation that takes place every year in December. The fruit of the spirit is not manifested by the fury of spending, displays of greed and for some, a cold depression which typifies the season.

Last year, for many reasons, I took a solo trip to the Smokies on December 24th. On the 25th, I hiked the AT. I missed being around my family, yes, but the trappings of gifts, trees, carols and ridiculous 'birth of Christ' symbolism were not missed.

My experience is liberation. I am free to excuse myself from Christmas and I will continue to do so. Its a wonderful feeling.

The Bible warns us to not add, nor take away from the Word. To put so much effort, time, money and emotion into Christmas, there must be a mandate from God to do so. I challenge anyone to show me that mandate.

Good post, Joel. Thanks.

Michele said...

I have a draft of a similar post waiting for me to have the time to finish it. Yours is good stuff, as always. :)

Carol said...

Joel, you make a vey solid and valid point for the tolerance (or intolerance) of the greeting "Merry Christmas," as opposed to "Happy Holidays." I prefer "Merry Christmas," becase to me, it is the season which celebrates my Savior's birth. That being written; I have no problem wishing my Jewish friends "Happy Hannakuh. My own father is of Hebrew descent; although his family were Christian Jews. My Mother was Protestant; so my siblings and I are Protestant by bith. Judiasm is passed on through the Mother's bloodline; not the Father's. I am not offended if someone wishes me "Happy Holidays." I respect the celebrations of Ramadan and Kwanza and etc. Two thousand years ago; no one could have imagined the diverse cultures and Religions (and Atheists) of the world. As a Christian, I celebrate the birth of Christ...hence my preference for wishing people a "Merry Christmas!" My intention is not to offend anyone; any more than I am offended if someone wishes me the glad tidings of their own religions. As your friend, let me wish you a very "Merry Christmas!" and a prosperous and joyous New Year!

Carol said...

And I totally agree...for those who want to take the "Christ," out of Christmas, then they should be willing to cheerfully remove the "Thor" out of Thursday. As for me and my family...on the first of December my Advent Wreath comes out and gets lighted each Sunday until Christmas Eve; on which night we choose to light the last candle and read Luke and the story of the Christ child's birth! It is very special to us....and our father was born on Christmas Eve; so we all tend to think God sent another son of Dec. 24,l924...and we mean no disrespect to our Savior. It's just that Daddy was one of God's "Angel's Unaware." He was such a kind, good soul, who refused to see the evil in anyone. We unabashadly adored him! :)