Over the course of our friendly debate about the “Christianity” of Christmas there has been a number of different opinions presented; One suggests that the secular world, fueled by the “New Atheism”, is determined to remove any vestige of religion or spirituality from the public sector . Another suggests that Political Correctness is sucking the true meaning out of this Holiday season, homogenizing the story of God’s incarnation in it’s attempt to appease all faiths. There are those, some Christian, some Atheist, some Pagan, who point out that this is not a Christian holiday at all and should be identified for what it really is– a celebration of hope in the darkness of midwinter.
I have been of the opinion that, although all of the above suggestions are true to some extent, what many of us now call “Christmas” or the “Holidays” is something completely different, more along the lines of an extended holiday version of of the Memorial, Independence and Labor Day sales of the summer. It has been co-opted by commercial interests and the fervor to publicly stamp Jesus’ name on them is misspent energy. In fact, considering his anger in the temple, why would he want to be associated with advertising campaigns designed to only increase profits? As I said last month;
Well if you have collectively already captured the Christian market for this holiday ( we are going to go shopping, no matter what) then how do you increase your business? Expand your market to include non-Christians and you help accomplish that by sanitizing the religiousness out of it. Heck I’ve known people that have had Hanukkah trees years ago, exchanging ‘winter’ gifts and all that. And now we have a tremendous influx of Muslims and Hindus into the country with a fair amount of income at their disposal. So let’s make Christmas a ‘universal’ holiday – let’s get everyone to buy gifts!
Well, apparently someone else agrees with me. In the December 31st issue of National Review (not yet online), Jonah Goldberg says this in an article entitled “Merry Holidays” (page 12):
…conservatives in America very rarely pay attention to the fact that, while the extremists of the Left seek to purge the public square of Christmas in its entirety, the Right – in the form of capitalism – seeks to water down Christmas almost everywhere else. Each year a Wal-Mart or a K-Mart, a Sears or a Home Depot, arouses the ire of patriots for Christmas who cannot stomach the use of “Holiday Trees” on its signs or “Happy Holidays!” in its TV commercials. Often these Yuletide partisans will try to suggest that Big Business is caving to political correctness. And there’s some truth to that, to be sure. But there’s something else going on: Businesses like to make money from everybody. It is in their interest to appeal to as many “holiday” shoppers as they can, be they Jews, Muslims, atheists, or pagans.
…Jesus’ question—What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his sown soul?—seems ecumenically apt enough. Some things aren’t for sale at any price……..Wal-Mart couldn’t care less about menorahs or crèches in the public square—so long as they were bought you-know-where.
National Review is not known to be adverse to capitalism or conservative religious causes so I think Goldberg’s take here is very much on Target’s.