My wife is going to hate me for again using one of her best friends as an anecdote, but I can't help it. She's a living, breathing object lesson. This friend, an evangelical, had a conversation with my wife yesterday lamenting that Jesus is the "reason for the Season" (if someone says that to my face, I'm going to punch them in the neck ... or I would if I wasn't non-violent). In the same conversation she talked about how she's getting a thousand dollar gun safe for her husband and spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on their already spoiled son. Plus, she complained that her husband probably wasn't going to get her anything good for Christmas.
In the later course of the conversation, my wife mentioned to her that we had tried to cut down on presents this Christmas and had given $400 to our son's school. Before you nominate us for sainthood for doing so, realize that we did it because it was smart, not because we're Warren frickin' Buffet. You can donate to Arizona public schools ($200 for one person or $400 for a couple filing jointly) and get a dollar-for-dollar credit. This is way better than a deduction in that it is money directly off of your tax liability. Plus, you can direct into which programs that it goes. In this case, we told them to use it for any arts-based extracurricular activities.
My wife's friend said that sounded interesting but they just couldn't afford to do that ...... wah? This is the same person who 10 minutes earlier was talking about the thousand-dollar gun safe. For someone to say something like that with no apparent sense of irony is incredible. And, unfortunately, it is not rare. Talking out of both sides of one's mouth is an art that I'm having less and less patience for. Being "Christian" seems to be more about a political movement than a religious one. The bible is selectively touted to justify your prejudice but ignored when it comes to the passages about caring for your neighbor and the poor.
On leaving one of my clients this week, she commented "Merry Christmas ... I AM going to say "Merry Christmas" regardless of what anyone says." She had worked herself into a lather ... not at me, but at "them"." She'd obviously must have just watched the O'Reilly Factor or had received some action item e-mail from Focus on the Family.
This was another of those instances where I just wanted to scream. If I have one more person complain about the "War on Christmas", I may just have to renounce my vow of non-violence. Have you ever complained about someone saying "Merry Christmas" to you? Who has ever known someone who complained about someone saying "Merry Christmas" to them? No one. It's a nonexistent controversy. People can say "Merry Christmas", "Happy Hanukkah", "Happy Holidays", "go piss up a rope", whatever. It won't bother me, because I know, generally, that they are all meant as a kind greeting. But this lady, and others who are so weak-minded as to believe anything they hear, are using "Merry Christmas" as a rallying cry. You'd think they were blacks marching in Alabama in the 60's or were breaking down the Berlin Wall. They can't accept they are the pampered majority so they have to make martyrs out of themselves. But I didn't say any of this to the lady. It would have just reinforced her martyrdom. So, I just said, "Taqabbala Allahu minna wa minkum" and "Joyous Yule" ... OK, I didn't, but I should have.
I think if the true message of Christ was followed by Christians, you wouldn't have screwed-up stories like I just recounted. But people believe what they want to believe. If they don't want to be giving, they'll think up a way to justify that. If they don't want to be tolerant of other religions, of gays, of minorities, they'll think up a way to justify that. And there will be focus groups and pundits who will be more than happy to create controversies that reinforce their beliefs. Because they have a vested financial and egotistical interest in a stoked-up culture war. It's political, not religious. It's not about religious freedom - it's about freedom to shove your particular belief down everyone's throat. Why don't you worry about real injustices in the world instead of creating fake ones?
"That's the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me." -- Seinfeld