Every single year, its the same tired statements that arise:
There’s a war on Christmas! People are trying to take Christ out of Christmas! Christmas is a Pagan holiday taken by the Christians to gain converts!
Blah, blah, blah.
Over the past five to six years, I have penned a few blog posts making statements about how there is no war on Christmas, and that it really does not matter where Christmas originated. Its not about which religion it belongs to, it matters what is in your heart.
And that two sentence statement will be all I have to direct towards that. Because the truth is – no one is listening. Particularly on the internet.
What we have with the internet is a vast echo chamber, where people shout into it – expecting to hear a chorus of echoes on what they have shouted. They are not shouting to make a statement, rather they are shouting to be heard. And yes, I am quite aware that I am utilizing the very platform I am criticizing to make this statement.
Take a long, very detached look at the campaign of Donald Trump. He makes wild statements about various topics. Many of these statements are incendiary in nature. The kind of statements that old BBS users would liken to “flame-wars” or “trolling”. When people agree with him, they create the giant echo he is wanting to hear. When people disagree with him openly, particularly people who have some aspect of celebrity status that generates headlines, he berates them and insults them. This tactic is about drawing the message away from his statement, and placing the individual in a position of defending themselves against his baseless accusations. In my many years on BBS “debates” (I am reluctant to call those rolling arguments that wasted hours of time and effort a “debate”), I found this to be a strong tactic of those who were looking for the echo chamber, not a discussion.
But Trump is only a single example of this. A shining example, because of the oxygen that the media give to his claims. That stuff generates web-clicks, and issues sold…stuff that corporate giants need to infuse their systems with the lifeblood of money. Let’s face it folks, the internet has left the idea of being a free exchange of information and ideas long behind its current wake as a monetary intravenous system for companies. Furthermore, platforms such as Facebook – where many of you will click to read the entirety of this blog post here on WordPress – provide the perfect environment for shouting into the Echo Chamber Void that exists. We share memes that quote “famous” people on topics we agree with or in manners which showcase those same celebrities as being wrong-headed about some topic. But a short fact-finding mission can turn up these same quotes attributed to some other celebrity or politician or what-have-you. When your Druidry notes that seeking the truth is an exercise that one should undertake at any time, these confusing aspect of the memes that are quoted becomes extremely suspect. Even when the memes seem to be on target, or have a particular degree of snark that makes them darkly humorous.
Individual: How are you?
Echo: Doing great!
Individual: How’s the wife and kids?
Echo: They’re doing great too! Thanks for asking!
This was a routine that Disney put out at one time when I was a kid. My father recorded this particular album onto a cassette tape, so we kids could hear some Disney on the long trips through Europe in our family vehicle: a 1970s Ford Pinto.
On the internet, this is the kind of discourse that many folks do not want. A give and take conversation. They want the people to click the “like” button, and occasionally make a “me too!” comment. After all, knowing that others share your perspective is a powerful way of affirming who you are, what you believe, and provides support for one’s internal question of “why do I believe this.” I’m not immune from this anymore than anyone else. When I attended events such as the ADF Imbolc Retreat in south-central Texas, or the OBOD East-Coast and Gulf-Coast gatherings, I am spending time with people who believe a similar manner to myself. We are not completely the same in our beliefs, but our core values are much the same. Gathering with folks like these, talking with them, discussing/debating/arguing topics with them, and gathering together in ritual – all of that helps me to realize I am not alone in this world with my faith and beliefs. But I am also among folks who will hold me accountable for my statements and actions according to those beliefs as well. In discussion, they will question my reasoning, and help me to place my thinking onto solid ground. Its similar to the Echo Chamber Void that I mentioned, except that there is interaction of a critical analysis nature. Very rarely do you see that within the Echo Chamber Void of the internet.
So, back to the annual Christmas debate thing. This year, I decided not to write a post about why both sides in the fray are wrong-headed. Rather, this year I am choosing not to wade into that fray. No one is going to listen. The shouting there is to merely be heard for the sake of being heard. Neither side is going to resolve the entire issue. Furthermore, its almost a proxy war for other issues.
[initiate dream sequence]
After all, if our side can win the Starbucks red-cup debate and get “Merry Christmas” and a manger scene depicted on the side of the cup; it stands to reason that we can tackle our next major topic of getting the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, right? And once we tackle and win that topic, we can then petition Congress to set forth legislation that makes America a Christian nation. All people would need to bend their knee to Christ, and profess their faith or get the hell out of our Christian country! Yes! ::crowd roars approvingly::
[end dream sequence]
Yeah, sorry to disappoint some, but I have no desire to play in the internet proxy war throughout the social media platforms. If Starbucks wants to depict a manger scene on their cups, and emblazon “Merry Christmas!” all over it – more power to them. If I am in your store, and you wish me a “Merry Christmas”, a “Happy Yule”, or whatever else you might think of – I’ll smile, say “thank you, you too!” and carry my purchases out to my car. I will celebrate Yule as the Pagan that I am. And have no desire that you do as well.
I have no need or desire to shout into the void any longer. Rather, I have a belief system that works just fine for me, a strange triad of Gods and a Goddess that I work with, and no desire to be a Christian of any shape or form. In the end, if my choices concerning this bother you, you may need to re-evaluate how your faith works for you…rather than trying to force it to work for me.