Its the most annoying time of the year…
Well aside from killing your ears by hearing me sing that line with no sense of harmonics, the holiday season running from late October on through to Beltane is just not one of my favorite times of the year. Particularly, the closer we get to Yule…Christmas…whatever you want to call it. I cringe just being out in public during all of this stuff, hearing the constant barrage of holiday well-wishing that accompanies me from store location to store location. And then the awkwardness of trying to figure out how to respond without offending the thin-skinned well-wisher who is covertly shoving their religious beliefs down my throat. At least, that’s the way I used to handle this stretch of holidays.
These days, I have learned to tone down a lot of my animosity towards the large majority of Christians and their over-exuberance in sharing their beliefs. I have had to remind myself that not everyone is truly tuned into how difficult it can be for someone to deal with their desire to constantly share the so-called “good news” with no regard for the recipient’s own beliefs. Nor should they be. People handle their own perceptions in different ways. Sometimes, they have blinders on towards particularly perspectives – sometimes they cannot even fathom those perceptions. So I have become tone-deaf to the “Merry Christmas” tidings that fly through the air, some being the opening salvo on that war front. Because, these folks are only trying to share a small part of their lives with others…even when it wasn’t asked for in the first place. Then there are the ones that are deliberately confrontational and offensive over stuff like this.
I guess it was about six years ago that I first heard of the full-throated concept of the “war on Christmas.” I am not sure if I first heard of it on Bill O’Reilly’s show, Sean Hannity’s show or an interview with “actor” Kirk Cameron – but I know it originated somewhere in there. Of the three, O’Reilly made a better description of the concept and how it could be expanded. Hannity and Cameron were more like small children shrieking and crying because their favorite toys were not being allowed at the dinner table. And in the years since that time, I have realized that both truly are the equivalent of petulant three-year-olds that never grow beyond where they are.
Apparently, secular (defined as anything, not the exact bend of Christianity that the proclaimer is) forces are out to wipe out Christmas because its the celebrated birth of Jesus Christ. That the religious aspect of the Christmas season is meant to be driven underground so that it becomes nothing more than a holiday of gift-giving. Through this insidious plot to drive Jesus out of Christmas, the desire is to eventually destroy Christianity by chipping away at its edges until it is finally broken and shattered into smaller pieces. The old divide and conquer theory.
Kirk Cameron is a devout proclaimer of this concept, touting terrible end-times concepts in his “movies” where Christianity is thrust aside by the masses, and a handful of “true believers” are left to carry out their beliefs in secret, trying to avoid press gangs and hunter squads of non-Christians seeking to incarcerate and/or kill them. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I have watched Pagans go through much the same fears as their lives are torn apart by over-zealous Christian neighbors setting Child Protective Services on them, simply because they practice a belief system that is antithetical to their concept of the 1950s “Leave it to Beaver” concept of the suburban Christian family. The fears of Cameron and others of his ilk are mirrored from within the Pagan community – and I have no doubt that these can also be found within other religious communities as well.
Oh yes, fear of persecution because you live differently from others is quite real. We saw that fear given rise in World War II Europe, as Jews, Gypsies and other “undesirables” were rounded up and sent to camps, treated as lesser than animals. We see it today, in the way that immigrants and gypsies are treated in society within Europe. It’s no different here in the States. We have an underlying, deeply seated current of racism, a distrust of those who have come here from other countries and cultures…we fear the unknown, the people that are not “like us.”
Think I have gone too far? From “Happy Holidays” to the sad manner in which we treat others that are different from us? And by “we”, I mean the collective “we” of our modern society – not you individually. I would submit that there is no “war on Christmas”. Rather, O’Reilly, Hannity, and Cameron (and others like them) are shoving a narrative to set their supporters in a position of being the victim, the underdog, the oppressed, the outsider…all of these are archetypal perspectives that are easy for us to grasp. We understand very well what it is like to have the odds not be in our favor. You find it throughout our entertainment options. The many movies of Rocky Balboa, who never seems to be favored in any fight he takes on, and yet when he wins, we all feel like we’re part of it because we can relate to all the bad shit happening to him. The high school kids in the movie Red Dawn, who face down Soviet and central American forces in the Rockies, while the adult population merely capitulates. Honestly, it is easier to draw up the fight in you when you feel like you are backed into a corner…its a feeling we have all been weaned on.
No, there is no “war on Christmas”. For O’Reilly, Hannity, and Cameron, the beating of the war drum allows for people’s fears to loosen up their wallets and purchase whatever is deemed as “necessary” for the coming battles. Their hard-sell of the underdog in society plays on our worst fears: trapped behind barbed wire, forced to capitulate to a foreign God or Gods. Funny, all of that played out in the boarding schools for the children of First Nations’ peoples. If you want to see what it REALLY looks like, read up on that history. The so-called “war on Christmas” does not even approach that environment. Not even close. If that is not enough for you, read up on what happened in the concentration camps for “undesirables” or even in the ghettos of Poland under the regime of the Third Reich. Or look into the work camps in Siberia or even the prison camps in the southwest deserts for individuals of Asian descent during World War II – a lovely, glossed over moment in American History.
Yeah, there are many examples of what can happen if the so-called “war on Christmas” were given any respectable footing within our society. But it is a process that has many more miles to go before it gets to a critical mass. More closely to a point of critical mass is the manner in which we treat immigrants trying to come here to America – or even in Europe – looking for a better life for their families. Most of these people are seeking solace and shelter from war-ravaged and violent areas. And honestly, if I were in their position, I would be doing the same thing – going elsewhere to seek a better life. No matter how I got there. No matter what it took. Screw the “war on Christmas”. if you were looking for an underdog fight to champion…look no further.