Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Another Christmas Round-Up
Don't try to tell me that it's about the commercialization of christmas; it's about much more than that.

Say 'Merry Christmas' while you still can: "In one New Jersey school district, the annual trip to see Dickens's A Christmas Carol has been cancelled after threats of legal action. At another New Jersey school, the policy on not singing any songs mentioning God, Christ, angels, etc, has been expanded to prohibit instrumental performances of music that would mention God if any singers were around to sing the words. So you can't do Silent Night as a piano solo or Handel's Messiah even if you junk the hallelujahs." That's just absurd, and pathetic—and completely unrelated to commercialism.

And EJ Dionne gets his fisking: "But while the old Dionne would have written about the need to make space for the religious in public life, today's column makes only a glancing comment about intolerance among the anti-religious and spends most of its column-inches denouncing those who want to see some mangers, trees, and actual Christmas carols as 'pounding' those of a different tribe."

UPDATE [12/22/2004 - 10:20]: Lileks responds to a fisking of his earlier christmas column. Once again, he does a great job of expressing my interest in the subject: "For that matter I suspect that 98.025 of the population has no trouble with Merry Christmas shouted long and loud and clear this time of the year. Why, then, do the retail giants and big corporations seem to get a frozen Joker-smile when you bring it up? Yes, I know. Macy's says 'Merry Christmas' in tiny type on their website; dandy. But Southdale, the nation's first enclosed shopping mall, hung MERRY CHRISTMAS in six-foot tall letters in 1963. This year? Not a word. Big candles, though. If you don't think that's an interesting development, or wonder why it happened or what it means, fine."

Let me make it clear once and for all: I do not feel in any way threatened by society's current unwillingness to say "Merry Christmas," or by the exclusion of Christmas from public life. Why am I not threatened? Because I am strong enough in my own faith that I don't need everyone around me to share or even recognize it to bolster my self-confidence. Like Lileks, however, I find this evolution of societal rules interesting; and perhaps a little more severely than Lileks, I find it sad. I think it's too bad that so many are disturbed by the traditional public display of the Christmas season. I think it's silly, and ignorant, to pretend that singing a Christmas song in a public school is a dangerous activity. I think we are reaching the point where we so shelter our kids that in a few generations they will be unable to deal with the real world. We are overly protective of every aspect of life now, and so worried about offending other people that we go too far. When you can establish for me that Christmas is a dangerous influence on non-Christians, I'll shut up. But in the meantime, it's silly to be so hyper-sensitive.

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