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Christmas is no time for war PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 18:50

Our Christmas wish for all Americans:
    That we may celebrate Christmas in any way we think appropriate to the meaning of this day and that we may express the kind wishes it inspires in any words we choose to use without being hectored or criticized by those who have hijacked Christmas as a battlefield in a political and cultural war of their own making.
    The arrogance of those who trumped up the “war on Christmas” as a means to force their pinched orthodoxy on Americans is breathtaking in a nation that guarantees its citizens freedom of speech and freedom from government-imposed religious requirements.
    Yet they carry on, chastising those who use words other than “Merry Christmas” to express wishes of the season, threatening boycotts of businesses that don’t promote the Christian aspects of the holiday, demanding that Nativity displays be placed on government and school grounds, justifying it all as a righteous defense of Christmas against anti-Christian forces.
    For people who have turned “Merry Christmas” into a battle cry, these holiday scolds don’t seem very merry. Americans as a whole, on the other hand, in their great, sprawling mix of beliefs and ethnicities, are happy to celebrate Christmas. A survey published last week by the Pew Research Center found that 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, a number that hasn’t changed in years.
    The survey also found that for a majority of Americans, it doesn’t matter what words are used, whether by individuals or businesses, to express holiday greetings. “Happy Holidays” is just fine with them. As in much about Christmas, it’s the thought that counts.
    One of the holiest days on the Christian calendar and a federal holiday observed by people of all faiths as well as those of no religious faith, Christmas is also a state of mind that for a few days each year unites most Americans in the spirit of kindness, generosity, empathy and respect for other members of the human community.
     The loudest of those who rail against the imagined war on Christmas come across as incapable of understanding that spirit, preaching words that threaten to sow the season with discord and spite and, in some cases, more than a whiff of hypocrisy.
    Concerning the latter, the TV performer given credit for inventing the term “war on Christmas” and turning it into a talk show franchise is the former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly, who was fired for sexually harassing co-workers. It was reported that he paid more than $32 million in hush money to his accusers. There was no report of how much he gave to charities carrying out the mission embodied in the Christian ethic emblematic of Christmas.
    The head-scratching mystery of the phenomenon that contributed to O’Reilly’s fame and fortune is how those claiming to defend the Christian heart of the holiday could have missed the message of the man whose birth Christmas commemorates.
    One of the bright spots in this year’s tiresome war on Christmas discussion is the public response to a three-minute video made by a Catholic priest in California on that subject. More than 10 million people have viewed it on mic.com and great numbers of them have expressed their support in emails.
    Father Kevin O’Brien, dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, begins the video with these words: “I don’t think Jesus would care much about whether we say Merry Christmas.”
    And then he lays bare the fundamental phoniness of the war on Christmas: “More important than just saying Merry Christmas is to live it. That is, to live as Jesus did, to live a life of simplicity, a life of generosity, a life of service, a life of welcome and hospitality to others.”                O’Brien has a simple explanation for the popularity of his short Christmas sermon: “We’re tired of war.”

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