Christmas and Mohammad the Bear

There is a British woman, a school teacher, who just stood trial in the Sudan after being charged with “insulting Islam, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs”. Her crime was that of permitting her students to give the classroom mascot, a Teddy Bear, the name of Mohammad. Mohammad is very common in the Sudan, with numerous boys in the class sharing this name.mohammed-the-xmas-bear.jpg

But apparently it is offensive to Muslims to name animals, even those that are stuffed with fluff, after the Great Prophet. It is considered sacrilegious and a violation of divine law and nothing demeaning should be associated with the name of the one that means so much to the Islamic people. This school teacher stood to receive 40 lashes and 12 months if convicted. She was found guilty and sentenced to 15 days in jail followed by deportation.

In the West we are aghast at the idea that religious zealotry could exact such brutal punishment for an infraction of such triviality. But is our astonishment really generated by the zealotry or is it more likely due to the extreme punishment?

Every year there is a holy war waged by certain elements of the Religious Right to get Christ back into Christmas. Or so they say. Today a long list was read over the radio by James Dobson naming all the retail stores that refer to the Holidays instead of the Christmas Season, suggesting a mass boycott. Almost daily, the American Family Association sends out blast e-mails identifying another merchant that has chosen to ignore the Christian roots of this holiday. We are exhorted to write the CEO’s of these corporations, threatening to withdraw our patronage if they don’t tow the line.

But it is a free country, even for businesses. By what evangelical imperative do we go about demanding merchants use the Greek version of Jesus’ title of Savior in their marketing schemes? Does Christmas, as this country has come to celebrate it, have anything at all to do with the Gospel? Spend spend spend -sell sell sell – buy buy buy – more, bigger and better. What does any of this have to do with Jesus? It’s these same stores that commercialized the Christmas holiday in the first place. Why are we now expecting to see Jesus’ retail stamp of approval on them?

The holiday traditions can be great fun – Bing Crosby and “White Christmas”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “A Christmas Story” with Darrin McGavin, eggnog, pine trees, candles, friends and family – these are all things to enjoy. But they have little to do specifically with Jesus, any more so than any good thing at any time of year does. Let’s be realistic – this has become a secular holiday for most of the country. Time to pick some better battles.

How does it look to non-Christians when they see us trying to bully people into respecting our traditions, especially when everyone knows that those traditions were purloined from the pagans? Of course there is no law that citizens must conform to specific Christmas traditions. But there have been (and still are) certain ‘blue laws’ on the books that have nothing other than Christian sensitivity as their goal. Whether Target, K-Mart, PetsMart, Lowes or the Gap label their most profitable season after Jesus seems sadly trivial when compared to the greater challenges now facing the nation and the church.

Kind of like making a federal case out of a Teddy Bear’s name.

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  1. #1 by Christian on December 3, 2007 - 7:24 am

    Not that point,, Love. This one;

    “I am pretty sure JC would be pissed at people making a buck through misrepresenting Him or dishonouring His Father by making His Son’s Name into an excuse to sell more toys…”

    As far as Christmas devaluing other celebrations go, I am no too sure about that. I know plenty of folks who celebrate Christmas and Kwanza. One’s a religious holiday, the other is cultural. Hints at the point Brent was making.

  2. #2 by tam on December 3, 2007 - 12:20 pm

    Well I’m sure I’m not gonna say anything different that anyone else has already said here.

    Quite a thought provoking post Christian! I just commented on Darlas blog that I really could care less anymore what words they refuse and replace. (ok, maybe I care a little!) but the fact is…THEY cannot take away my ability or right to honor Him. Period! WHENEVER I want. Go ahead, take Christ out of Christmas. Was He really in it in the first place? The more important question that this has raised for me is, “Is Christ in my every day?” It’s not up to Target or Lowe’s to keep God in the headlines. They’re a business! They’re in it for the profit!

    Now the PC thang? Down right pisses me off! I asked yesterday when will “they” get offended and file a lawsuit against the city for all the electric poles that are in the shape of a Cross? It is truly that bad around here. That is what sends me into the little white bouncy room with a Prozac drip!

  3. #3 by Christian on December 3, 2007 - 1:29 pm

    Don’t you see that they are just trying to upset you? Ignore them and they will get bored and leave you alone.

    You just reminded me of the old International Tuberculosis Congresses logo, the Cross of Lorraine:

    That always looked like a electric pole to me.

  4. #4 by lovewillbringustogether on December 4, 2007 - 12:41 am

    Chris? ‘Don’t you see thay they ( i assume you mean the ‘pc’ ‘crowd’??) are just TRYING to upset you????’

    Surely that is a teeny tad myopic? Do you Truly believe that that is what ‘those’ who are pc are ALL about?

    Do you deny that WHO is doing the upsetting is solely and wholly IN US? Our Self – our false beliefs – our ego?? Come on dude – lets keep a little balance in our ‘perspective’ going, shall we?? 🙂

    I can get as mad at ‘stupid’ pc dictators as the rest of us but at least i can see that it is not just the pc’ers who have got something so very badly wrong – it is frequently the monkey-man who stares back from my mirror who is the worst culprit.

    First cats then pc’ers (or was it the tother way ’round??) are you having a bad day like me or what? 😉

    Lorraine reminds me of the one with an extra crosbar on the top three limbs.. anyone know the name for that and what it origianlly symbolised?

    love

  5. #5 by inWorship on December 4, 2007 - 1:10 am

    Hey Love – The problem for me is that the PC’ers tend to get their way. Even if we are civil and patient it is still completely frustrating the the voice of a few tends to determine the freedoms of the many…

  6. #6 by lovewillbringustogether on December 4, 2007 - 1:22 am

    Frustrating! – Ever it was thus. PC is only a very recent and comparitively minor continuation of long held injustices of the few over the many. Personally, i think many pc’ers are actually doing what they can to put things ‘righter’ by recognising that there exist some in our multicultural and integrated or semi-integrated modern societies who deserve not to be oppressed into following the way of the masses since the masses are mostly mindless sheep anyways but still…

    Did I mention people think me a little crazy at times? woo-hooo 😛

    love

  7. #7 by Christian on December 4, 2007 - 1:22 am

    Love, must I always resort to using ‘smilies’? You missed my joke? I was teasing Tam. Although I try my best to not offend or to use words that might place me in a stereotypical perspective – I cringe whenever I hear a someone correct another for not being politically correct. It’s like a citizens thought-arrest.

  8. #8 by Christian on December 4, 2007 - 1:32 am

    See, there is such a thing as polite conversation. If one holds to this form then there is little danger of being politically incorrect. Got that, you dinkum drongo?

  9. #9 by lovewillbringustogether on December 7, 2007 - 2:00 am

    must you always resort to using smilies – only until EVERYONE undesrstands you were making a joke without one! 😉

    ( is easier with a smiley – wonder if jason remembers smilier-guy – where did HE go??)

    and your ‘Aussie’ is appreciated if not altogether ‘convincing’ – Mate!

    Dinkum is similar in meaning to ‘True Blue’ or ‘ridgey-didge’

    ‘For real’ as some in the US might describe it.

    A drongo is one who makes little sense – a dill, or a drop-kick. i think there was a compliment, albeit back-handed somewhat, in there somewheres and i thank you for it as a brother in Spirit.

    Aussies can poke fun at another while reviling anyone who tries it from ‘outside’.

    We accept anyone who is ‘real’ ( we hate phonies) and open and honest with us.

    in the interests of continued American-Aussie understandings 🙂

    love

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