“The Children Are Listening, when you speak harsh words they will say the same … they will grow up to be bullies.” Lyrics by Peter Yarrow. Google it.
Tis the season for reason, the real reason for the season. A natural event, the winter solstice, the shortest/darkest day of the year, signals the sun’s rebirth, celebrated for millennia on Dec. 21, a shared human history established long before Emperor Constantine legalized Christians to eliminate Mithra/pagan religions and assert submission to one God/church.
Christmas Past: Seventeenth century American Puritans forbade the boisterous celebrations of England. Colonial churches shuttered on Christmas and fined anyone for celebrating. It’s disconcerting, Christians insist putting Jesus back into Solstice season they appropriated to wipe out Solstice celebrations. Can religion own a season? “Happy Holidays” is an inclusive greeting.
Isn’t Christmas too commercial because Christians were in cahoots with capitalism and politics? That strange union begat offspring: venerating shopping, Santa, gifts, feasts and football as focus of celebrations — not Jesus. ”One Nation Under God,” by Kevin Kruse, reveals powerful “Pitchmen for Piety” like Disney, Eisenhower, Hoover, Graham, etc.
The Rev. James Fifield joined the National Association of Manufacturers (1935) recruiting corporate sponsors and ministers for “Spiritual Mobilization,” uniting churches for salvation of free enterprise. Twas a political campaign combating Roosevelt’s ”New Deal.” The ad council (1949) inundated media promoting “Religion in American Life;” corporate sponsors created “Christian Nation” image. Note commercialized holiday wasn’t a secular plot. Retailers happily celebrate anything — it’s all about ka-ching.
Christmas Present: Scrooge’s ghost found Putin’s gift: A Trump White House muddling personal business in the Oval Office, ka-ching. Scrooge’s ghost observes visions of rich/famous style” trickling to hornswoggled miners and low-wage former widget makers. Trump promised such “amazing [patronage] deals”. Counting Trump’s millionaire appointees it’s all ka-ching, forget ethics.
Trump proclaims religion for votes from White Protestant Christian Nationalists. Dominion Theology followers want to dominate “unacceptable people” in our multicultural nation. Apprehension fills stockings of millennials, the poor, LGBTQ and immigrant communities. Many lost rights as a result of Trump power brokers’ nightmare policies.
Millions dread extreme religion’s goal to implement Christian establishment laws, in reaction to dropping church attendance. David Barton and the Wallbuilders peddled revisionary history. Andrew Seidel, constitutional attorney, exposes in “The Founding Myths” why Christian nationalism is unAmerican: the Judeo-Christian fallacy, how Ten Commandments religious code is not the basis of U.S. law, Christian settlements were British/Dutch business ventures.
Sadly, the dreadful season of treason is upon us. Trump/Grinch couldn’t honestly win voter’s mandate. Trump publicly solicited Putin to swing 2016 voters for his by hook or crook coup d’etat. Ukraine coercion, was that a “patriotic act,” America?
America’s painfully divided, like during the Civil War. Shallow “sore loser” rants lack understanding. A Tsunami of trepidation with personal safety concerns. Has hate been authorized? The United States has 892 active hate groups. (See website SPLcenter.org/hate groups.)
Christmas Future: Americans insist on justice for all, pursue Radical Hope! Can Christians accept Nones to help mend America? Find BetterAngels.org, which helps opposing groups to communicate. Consider joining peace and acceptance coalition to foster acceptance. Remember, it’s deed before creed. Be on the side of equality for all.
The meaning of the season is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” reminding us of sickness, of ignoring injustice, others’ needs and greed. Illuminating today’s issues. Bob Cratchit needed a living wage; Tiny Tim needed good health care; Peter needed job training and his family needed assurance of warmth and food.
Visiting New England, Dickens found Unitarians “…a religion of sympathy for men of every creed and ventures to pass judgment on none.”
Dickens lived the social gospel he wrote about. His “Carol philosophy” was a message of social criticism. Dickens helped build/reform social agencies, making a spirit of generosity enough reason for the season. Enjoy a harmonious Solstice season.
Nan Nelson writes from Westminster.