The scene is a classic one in terms of cinema. Depicted is an army defending its position with muskets or rifles drawn as the adversary marches steadily closer. To maintain awareness of the situation, a commanding officer reminds those under his authority to remain steady and not to fire until explicitly ordered to do so. Inevitably with the tension so thick, a trigger will release and a weapon fires before the desired moment.
Observers of America’s cultural situation witnessed something similar in the developments that unfolded surrounding the 2015 Starbuck’s Christmas cup. For whatever reason, the purveyor of shockingly overpriced caffeinated beverages decided to go with a plain red cup unadorned by any additional ornamentation with the exception of the company’s mermaid logo. Absent were the snowflakes or decorations of Christmas cups past.
Christian Evangelist Joshua Feuerstein responded that this design alteration was akin to removing Christ from the celebration of His birth. Most Christians shrugged off such a reaction with a laugh or two, remarking that they really didn’t care as they never purchased a $7.00 cup of coffee in the first place and weren’t about to begin doing so now.
Others such as Lutheran theologian Chris Roseborough reflected that it is the duty of actual Christians rather than retailers to take the true meaning of the holiday to the broader unbelieving world. Still others such as Southern Seminary President and former Southern Baptist functionary Richard Land assured that there will indeed be a boycott of Starbucks nevertheless just to assure the captains of commerce that conservative
Christians are still capable of exerting economic influence. Yet an additional perspective contends that, since lack of a snowflake on a red cup has got to be the flimsiest of evidence of a war against Christmas that one could come up with, that must mean the war against Christmas must be about as real as flying reindeer. However, children born the day I published my first column regarding the effort to undermine Christmas are now nearly old enough to legally spike their eggnog.
These deprivations of liberty and subversions of culture have occurred with such regularity that I was able to assemble a sufficient number of these holiday-themed columns into my first book published in 2006 titled “Yuletide Terror & Other Holiday Horrors” and am well on my way to completing an even longer sequel. Among these apparently non-existent incidents ranked students denied the opportunity to attend a performance of “The Christmas Carol” because of the work’s holiday-specific content, municipalities terrified to refer to their celebratory greenery by the traditional nomenclature, and students forbidden from distributing to classmates something as simple as a candy cane accompanied with a card interpreting the confection’s origin from a religious perspective.
Even more disturbing than either Christians that don’t celebrate Christmas over objections as to what they perceive as the holiday’s questionable origins or outright unbelievers wanting to censor the Gospel message because of the offense of the cross comes an additional outlook that is apparently aroused by the prospect of cultural subjugation. This particular viewpoint was articulated in a ChristianPost column titled “Why Christians Should Lose The Christmas Culture War” by Jared Byas. Of his particular bias, Mr. Byas writes, “For me, defending God means letting go of ‘Merry Christmas’ so my non-Christian neighbors feel respected when I invite them to the holiday table. For me, keeping Christ in Christmas is not about winning the culture war — but about losing it.”
If that is how Jared Byas gets his Christmas jollies, that is his own business. But just because his mental lights exhibit the symptoms of a loose bulb, there is no reason the remainder of us must also. If your neighbor is such a burro excretory orifice that they have a mental breakdown at the sight of religious symbols or even decorations where the religious meaning might not be quite as obvious, is there really much of a point in inviting them to this hypothesized nonsectarian holiday table? If we are to gradually set aside the traditions that characterize this particular season, perhaps the first to go is pretending to care about those that you barely give the time of day to the remainder of the year.
It might be one thing to tone down one’s in your face religiosity in the attempt to reach out to an acquaintance overtly hostile towards true spirituality. However, this attitude of abject surrender is not without profound consequences.
Those such as Jared Byas elevating nicety to the status of something akin to the Prime Directive from Star Trek have failed to realize that God establishes different missions or objectives for what are conceived of as the distinct social spheres or what might be referred to as orders of creation in Augustinian theology. For example, Romans 13:3-4 stipulates, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil…For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: for he beareth not the sword in vain for he is the minister God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (KJV).”
However, for someone that is thought of as a traditional minister in terms of church office that administers the sacraments or delivers the public proclamation of God’s Word to draw a sword to settle an acrimonious debate on what color the new carpet in the sanctuary would be or to resolve a heated doctrinal disagreement in Sunday school class would be for such a pastor to overstep the boundaries of appropriate authority. Translated in terms of the Christmas issue, it might be in good taste that, if you invite the adherent of another faith over for Christmas, you don’t berate them up one end and down the other as to the shortcomings of their errant belief unless they first proceed to attack you in like manner.
However, a culture or nation cannot necessarily afford to be as lenient in terms of its standards and foundational assumptions. For example, those that do not share in the assumption that values Christmas as a cherished celebration should be allowed to verbalize that they do not, articulate the reasons why, and pretty much allowed to continue along in their affairs without bodily harm or without fear of such to an extent that a person steeped in a common sense realism would deem sufficiently reasonable. However, that does not mean that the majority that value, celebrate, and derive meaning from the comprehensive narrative source from which Christmas is derived should be required to cower in silence for fear of upsetting those that do not or of receiving punishment for having done so.
In the attempt to position themselves as profoundly pious, it is quite evident that some fail to comprehend the full implications of what they are actually advocating. Jared Byas writes, “For me, keeping the Christ in Christmas is not about winning the culture war — but about losing it.”
As in any conflict, sometimes the battles go on for so long and become so acrimonious that the involved parties can end up forgetting that for which they are fighting. The term “culture war” gained widespread notoriety in Pat Buchanan’s speech at the 1992 Republican convention. In the address, the political analyst and former presidential candidate gave rhetorical voice to the proverbial Silent Majority noticing then that the embrace of progressivism and permissiveness on the part of various institutions such as academia, media and government was resulting in symptoms of noticeable decline throughout American culture and society.
Therefore, in calling for a surrender in the culture war those of the viewpoint shared by Mr. Byas think that what they are calling for is a truce on the part of all parties to simply play nice on the part of all parties irrespective of creed. What they are inadvertently giving the green light to is an anything goes mentality that will eventually result in the worst depravities and possibly even atrocities imaginable.
The veracity of this observation is already playing itself out in regards to the gay marriage issue. After standing up for years against the steady drumbeat to normalize this particular moral corrosion, many sincere Christians finally relented. They essentially said, “Fine, go ahead and do as you please in the privacy of your own bedroom. Just don’t expect the remainder of us to stand around applauding in approval.”
This armistice of don’t ask don’t tell did not last long in terms of history’s lengthy reach. For throughout this unfolding cultural revolution, the propagandists and social engineers insisted that the love between a couple of any combination imaginable was not dependent upon a piece of paper. But nearly as soon as those attempting to order their thoughts and their lives in compliance with the sanctified and the holy began to make peace with the fact that much of society was going to recognize such unnatural couplings as perfectly ordinary, additional blows were landed by the ephors of the judiciary that those objecting to the solemnization of wanton carnality would also be required to render the legal equivalent of acceptance and adulation.
In a court ruling upholding the right of conscience for the marrying couple but apparently not for the objecting merchant, a baker was threatened with financial ruination and the profound psychological trauma resulting from such for doing little more than refusing to bake a cake for a wedding that the baker believed to be an abomination in the eyes of God and for a couple not even likely to remain faithful to one another within the next couple of years anyway.
Libertines will snap why can’t the baker just go ahead and bake the cake? Traditionalists can retort why can’t the couple simply find another baker (which shouldn’t be too difficult given that those of the couple’s boudoir proclivities are often quite skilled in those crafts requiring a creative flair).
So what other freedoms and liberties is Jared Byas willing to surrender when he hoists the white flag in the culture war? Edmund Burke admonished that all it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing.
At the University of Mississippi, not only has the word “Christmas” been banned because it “connoted too much Christianity on campus” but so has the traditional color combination of red and green, having been replaced with red, blue, and silver. Commissars at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville decreed that in the future staff and student organizations must eliminate all religious themes and cultural allusions associated with designated celebration periods commonly referred to as holidays. But do such acts of censorship also apply to Muslim or secularist Jewish populations as well?
One waits with anticipation to hear of the commencement of orgies and human sacrifice. Think that remark goes a little too far?
It must be pointed out that the Nazis were also big on removing Christ and Christmas in favor of generic winter celebrations venerating nature, the state, and the COMMUNITY. As to the orgies, the University of Mississippi has changed the name of its celebration from the festive yet dignified “Grand Ole Christmas” to “Hotty Totty Holidays”. And with a name like that bringing to mind drunkenness and lewd behavior, academic administrators will still gawk on dumbfounded and flabbergasted at the expansion of the alleged rape culture supposedly reaching epidemic proportions on campuses across the country.
From the way Byas formulates his argument, it is assumed that insisting that the existence of Christmas be recognized is an inherently selfish act. This is evident in the phrase …laying down my demand that the coffee shop I share with my non-Christian neighbors ‘privilege’ my religion.” The word “privilege” was no doubt deliberately selected in the attempt to link this issue with the revolutionary fervor of the Black Lives Matter movement with its constant drum beat of “White privilege” in the hopes of eroding resistance to increasingly extravagant demands. But are the motives for demanding a generalized respect for Christmas necessarily an either/or dichotomy between selfishness and altruism? Why can’t it be a little bit of each?
In “The Wealth Of Nations’”, Scottish economist Adam Smith hypothesized that it was through the enlightened self-interest of numerous individuals making decisions on behalf of their own particular needs and desires that the great invisible hand was able to manifest the will of providence. This particularly brought about the distribution of a finite quantity of goods and services.
However, this theory can just as properly be applied to a Christian approach to the controversy surrounding the Christmas issue. In his call for abdication along this front in the culture war, Jared Byas believes that he I upholding the Biblical admonition to esteem others more highly than ourselves. And that principle does indeed have a place in adjudicating the relationship between specific individuals.
For example, if someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” and they seem sincere in their extension of the sentiment, there is no need to go “Old Testament” upon them calling down holier than thou condemnation in how you go out of your way to maintain the theological formalities of the holiday. Such stridency might do more harm than help in advancing the cause of Christ.
However, what about addressing the attempts of unbelievers demanding that their own animosity towards traditional expressions of religion be granted a place of privilege so militant that in order to be satisfied an entire civilization is expected to lay down in what amounts to ritualized suicide? Therefore, provided one goes about it in a levelheaded manner, each time that you speak out against a censorship or deprivation of Christmas even if as little as letting someone know how much these radical activists tick you off, you are not being selfish.
You are in fact defending the right of someone else to enjoy Christmas unabashed in compliance with their particular convictions. Even more importantly, you are also lighting a candle against a pending Dark Age bent on plunging the world into an engulfing and pervasive tyranny.
Dr. Frederick Meekins