No 'war on Christmas'; declare war on poverty
Of all the hypocrisies evident during the holiday season, few are as blatant as the obsession and outrage of the religio-political right regarding the so-called "war on Christmas." Instead of focusing on the symbolism and dogma of their faith, perhaps this segment of conservatism might consider channelling energy into something substantive and ethical.
How about engaging in a genuine war on poverty? That would certainly please the Jesus they seek to honor.
The prophet Amos described our basic and only religious duties: act justly, love compassionately and live humbly. An exclusive, belligerent, tribalistic and triumphalist Christian disposition is sharply inconsistent with the winsome, humble, compassionate demeanor exhibited by the man of Galilee. It is difficult imagining him throwing a temper fit over the observation of his nativity.
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One of the central metaphors of the birth of Jesus in the Christmas mythos is that of challenging the power of wealth and lifting up the weak and the poor. Perhaps recognizing this central emphasis of the Bible and supporting socio-political policies consistent with that vision would be the best move in ending the real war on Christmas, which is a war against the poor, evident (among other things) by cuts in food stamp funding.
The Hebrew-Christian ethic was not simply personal, it was a communitarian social vision. The failure to recognize this truth is one of the critical deficiencies of the Christian-political right.
What's really important
Our family tradition is to write a Christmas list and send it to Santa. This letter accompanied my husband's list this year. I am reminded that I am one lucky girl and that this is what it's all about:
"Dear Santa, I really don't need any of these things. My family is healthy, as safe as we can provide for them. We eat three meals a day, girls are doing well in school, I have a wonderful wife who loves me, great mom, great dad, great brothers and sisters-in-law, great mother and father-in-law, great nieces and nephews across the board.
"Life just keeps happening, ups and downs, new jobs, new paths, every day has a new surprise, sometimes subtle sometimes huge. Sometimes we give gifts to show we care when a big hug, phone call or special visit will mean so much more. This is what I need to remember at Christmas as well as the rest of the year.
"What I want for Christmas is for all my family to know that I love them and think about them often. We have a busy life that is sometimes hard to catch up with so the phone calls don't always get made or visits get completed but never think it is because we don't care.
"Santa please send everyone a big hug and warm thoughts this season."
Wish: end to gun violence
What a wonderful time of the year to celebrate with family and friends. It's time to buy that special gift that says "I love you, not just at Christmas, but all throughout the year." It's time to make treats, to trim the tree while little voices fill the air with carols. It's time to set the table with a meal prepared with love. It's time to make our list to Santa.
This year I want to give my list to our elected officials.
There are far too many empty chairs around our nation's holiday tables this season, due to the epidemic of gun violence. There are far too many echoed laughs from children lost forever to the senseless tragedies that are devastating our families.
My Christmas wish is that our elected officials enact sensible gun laws so that next year no parents will have to suffer the absence of treasured memories.
It's time to put our children's safety above the National Rifle Association political contributions. It's time to put our children's safety ahead of partisan issues that have rendered our Congress ineffective. It's past time for sensible gun laws.
Reason for the season
What does a bearded man in a red suit, brightly decorated trees, mistletoe, holly and candles have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ? I have four children and they enjoyed these symbolic images of the Christmas season, but I came to realize over the years our focus should be on the birth of Christ.
We profess to be a Christian nation, yet I can't help notice the media proclaim "Happy Holidays" during this time of year. If we are going to be a Christian nation, is this our message to convey?
Happy birthday, Jesus. And thank you for the love shown to us by dying on the cross for our sins.