Sarah Palin launched the latest offensive in the war on Christmas with her book, “Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.” I would suggest “offensive” is exactly the right word for what she has done.
She asserts, “The war on Christmas is the tip of the spear in a larger battle to secularize our culture and make true religious freedom a thing of America’s past.” True religious freedom apparently consists in store greeters and cashiers saying,“Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”
Perhaps Palin does not know that “holiday” comes from “holy day” and thus is not a secular greeting at all! It is, however, an inclusive religious greeting. And I would say “inclusive” is what “true religious freedom” is all about.
Perhaps – since Palin’s family left the Roman Catholic church and she herself worships at an independent Protestant church – perhaps she does not know that wishing someone a Merry Christmas derives from “Christ’s Mass.” Definitely a Christian greeting, but I wonder if Palin knows she is giving an indirect shout-out to Roman Catholicism!
Saying we need to “protect” Christmas just seems silly to me, as silly as John Gibson’s 2006 book: “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.” His book was hyped as a “shocking expose” and a “stunning revelation.” Silly, straw-man arguments may sell books, but they don’t convince agnostics and atheists of the truth of the gospel. Plus they are an embarrassment to thoughtful Christians. And hey! I didn’t think we were called to “protect” the gospel anyway … I thought we were called to proclaim it!
Truly proclaiming the gospel during the “holiday” season might be challenging to Christians! Consider this classic meditation excerpted from Lawrence Ferlinghetti:
Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck creches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey (excerpt from A Coney Island of the Mind)
Contemplating the cross as our “tree” at Christmas, we might decide not to make war on secularism, but to make love to the secular world as Christ has called us to love.