Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

First my apologies to the three people who regularly read my inane ramblings. Frankly I ran out of things I really wanted to say. 'Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.' I think Jefferson said it... regardless, it is wisdom I attempt to live by, usually unsuccessfully.

On to more pointless religious stands.
In a trend that started last year as best I can tell, there seems to be an undercurrent of complaint about the use of the phrase 'Happy Holiday's' instead of Merry Christmas. It seems to be a major affront to some Christians who then go to great lengths to defend the use of the term 'Merry Christmas.'
I see these as the growing pains of living in a post-Christian era in the U.S.
By post-Christian I mean that we are decreasingly able to live our lives with the assumption that our neighbors are 'Christian' in the broadest sense of that word. We now more than ever work with Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists. In a business culture that is more and more globalized we may speak by phone or have e-mail correspondence with people who live in distant lands, country's that are largely Muslim or Buddhist or Sihk or Hindu.
To boldly proclaim 'Merry Christmas' to someone who does not recognize Jesus as the Messiah is rude and insensitive. It does not mean that one is ashamed of one's faith, but instead that one respects other faiths to offer the wish of a Happy Holiday. While I would not be offended if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah or a Joyous Ramadan, it really would be pointless since I do not practice these holidays. Which is why 'Happy Holiday's' is such a beautiful phrase. Every religion has 'Holy Days' which is where the word 'Holiday' comes from. I may not be sure of someone else's religion, but wishing a Happy Holy Day honors and respects their religious beleifs and acknowledges the fact that there are more religions in the world than mine. To doggedly bark out 'Merry Christmas' to any and all regardless of their faith is insensitive, intolerant, and paternalistic.
And it is a pointless stand. perhaps what we should be standing for is a return to the meaning of our Holy Day which is Christmas.
When Mary sang the magnificat, she sang of Jesus bring relief to the hungry and poor
When Zechariah sang of the birth of his son John he spoke of justice and mercy, again, for the poor, the oppressed and the hungry.
Jesus own first sermon in Luke quotes a passage in Isaiah which once again
highlights the Messiah special concern for the poor, malnourished and impoverished.

Yet we will spend close to $500 Billion dollars on Christmas gifts in the U.S. according to some statistics. To truly honor Christmas and keep it holy, would'nt we make a better proclamation of the true meaning of Christmas by offering relief to the poor and sick and hungry?

No comments: