Friday, December 15, 2006

And A Load of Holiday Horse-Hockey To You My Friend...

I can't even believe that Foxnews linked THIS story from the USA Today. I guess that is fair and balanced. I can see the USA Today Who Can We Make Feel Inclusive running the story, but Fox?

The story is nothing but a put down of how "intolerant" we Christians are when we avoid anti-Christmas stores who want to take our money but not acknowledge the reasons for the season. Of course when a city councilman from Monroe, WI states that 90% of Americans are Christians the writer makes sure to let us know that its actually "roughly" 80%. Thanks, you're right Ms. Stange, that is way less than 90%. Ms. Stange, wanting to inform us, lets us see the big picture, that "The assumption at work here appears to be that, while we are a diverse society, Christmas is a national holiday that trumps all other seasonal celebrations." If I may offer my humble opinion madam, I thinkthe assumption at work here is actually that since this is a major holiday in which Christians are being advertised to, they feel like the holiday should be acknowledged.

Thank goodness gracious (and of course not God, because then we would have to thank everyone's) that the Ms. Mary Stange is nice enough to teach us that "Of course, if you are a Jew celebrating Hanukkah, or a Muslim marking Eid al-Fitr, or a neo-pagan Wiccan for whom the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) is a major observance, you probably had appreciated the more inclusive acknowledgement that the end of the year is a festive time for you, too. " Ah that's right. I wish I remembered how many people Wiccans had on their list for gift giving this time of year! This is a major shopping holiday for them too right? And who can forget Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim Mardi Gras? I certainly cannot. I don't know how they get all that holiday season shopping done after fasting so long.

What if perhaps, just perhaps, those folks weren't doing all that much shopping for their respective holidays and instead us intolerant, irrespectfully full of ourselves Christians were. Sure there are eight crazy nights worth of presents to get for Hanukkah as Adam Sandler tells us, but who is that wild and crazy group paying Target's electricity bill come December time? Might it be Christians (church lady lip pursing action!). So is it too much to ask that our reason be acknowledged without being patronized by "holiday trees"? Honestly, outside of Christmas, who is decorating a pine tree? So I think the patronizing might not be all for us. Are there a bunch of angry people upset that the trees in their airports aren't being refered to as Kwanza trees? Come on Stange, not every one is as offended as you and your kooky out of touch friends. But the terror that is this article of Ms. Stange's did not end there, alas for all readers, you will be bombarded with useless data.

For those interested, evidentley "if you are Wiccan, the matter of being un-included this holiday season must especially sting." I'm so sad. "A group of Wiccan families is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs for the right to bury their fallen heroes in military cemeteries in graves marked with a pentacle, the five-pointed star that symbolizes their religion, much as a cross does Christianity or a Star of David, Judaism." Now, first of all, if Wikipedia serves me well "Because there is no centralised organisation in Wicca, and no single "orthodoxy", the beliefs and practices of Wiccans can vary substantially, both between individuals and between traditions. " Why then does every Wiccan want a pentacle? Every Christian wants a cross, okay got it, every Jew want a star of David, Islamic crescant and so on until...your head explodes because only about 1800 out of over a million people claim to even be Wiccan in the military. Even then how many of these people are really going to be buried in a government cemetary? I have no problem with giving it too them, but was that sob story supposed to make me think "Wow, they are being screwed, this Christmas lets just call it a holiday tree because the Wiccans aren't getting their head stones at Arlington." Come on Mary Stange, this has nothing to do with the "sting" of not having a winter solstice banner hanging in Macy's. By the way, I see from Wikipedia that only about 134,000 people in the US claim to be Wiccan. Isn't that about the same number of people from Australia that a few years ago claimed to be members of the "Jedi" religion? Do you see what I mean folks?

Now for the Shock-and-Awe moment of the story where Ms. Stange reveals the super-dee-dooper secret origins of Christmas that surely no Christian has every heard as she writes "there is a deep, and seasonal, irony here — one that might come as a shock to the "Save Merry Christmas" crowd." Or it might just be a shockingly awful spin of the story of the origin of Christmas. You see according to Ms. Stange "Christmas is, in its origins and its symbolism, perhaps the most pagan-inspired of all Christian holidays." Yes, I see. When Christians first saw the pagans (wiccans of course) giving presents and singing "O' Silent Night" they wept with joy at the inspiration they recieved. They said "Oh Partinicus, I am so inspired. We should take over this holiday and suppress Wiccans everywhere for Jesus." "I think you are right Linicius, I too am inspired for this cause." Or, maybe during the conversion of the pagans (who were probably NOT Wiccan as it didn't exist before the 1920s) the Christian missionaries who were instructed to attempt to allow as much of the indigienous culture to remain as possible, might have taken the pagan holidays and "baptized" them. The missionaries knew that though you can change religious beliefs, you can't change the entire culture of the people. The people will still want to celebrate things that are traditional to them. So, if they still want to celebrate around the time of the old winter solstice and want something to celebrate show them a party concerning their new found beliefs. Now they have a reason for joy, the birth of Joy itself! Could it be that in this fashion it became popular to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ on the 25th of December?

While we're on the subject of Christians-are-really-just-pagan-copiers why not take a look at what Ms. Mary has to offer next. "Most of the popular symbols surrounding Christmas — evergreen trees and other greenery, mistletoe and holly, the Yule log, candles and bonfires and holiday lights, mystical spirits with the ability to fly and to enter and leave a house through its chimney, tricksters who treat or taunt little children, not to mention those elves — all derive from older, pre-Christian Europe."

So sure Christians think that evergreens symbolize the everlasting reign of Christ and blah blah blah, but Wiccans know that they are wrong. I think Ms. Mary may have forgotten that just because something may have its origins as one thing it can still transform into another. For instance, at Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. At the same time, Jews celebrate the Passover. What was once Jewish is now Christian, but with a different twist. This example is a little different as Christians didn't just add to the pagan holiday but changed it. Sure we kept the evergreen, but we changed its meaning. For us, the winter solstice even has meaning, and we're not Wiccan. It can symbolize that even if evil may seem to triumph (the shortest day of light for the year) God and his goodness will succeed (the brightening days to come). As far as the spirits coming down the chimney, I'd like to remind Ms. Stange that similarity does not imply descent. If the story of a Bishop in Myra turns into a story about a man who gives yearly gifts on Christmas and the way he gets into the house is through the chimney, it cannot be implied that because pagans believed that spirits came through a chimney it is the pagan descendant. That's like saying that because some ancient Middle Eastern religions used arches made of gold in their worship then McDonalds must be an ancient cultic temple.

The last paragraph of the article is indeed a work of art (it'll take me another beer just to suffer through it again). "In fact, nothing could be more in keeping with the "Christmas spirit" than to embrace and celebrate religious diversity. And nothing could be truer to the spirit of the First Amendment than to honor American war dead as they and their loved ones would wish. No single group of self-proclaimed Christians holds a premium on the meaning of this magical season. And no government agency should decide what "qualifies" as an appropriate religious symbol." Because nothing says "I am the way, the truth, and the life," like religious diversity at Christmas. And while we're on the subject of Christmas, just go ahead make a statement about the first amendment, its all the same to a Wiccan. Finally, no one could say it finer that Ms. Mary Stange: Christmas time doesn't belong to Christians. I guess you called this one right Ms. Mary, Christ came for all of us, let's celebrate.

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