Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Holidays: the War on Christmas, part 2

For some years I worked in advertising. Among the many blots on my soul was the fact that I pimped Christmas and the Baby Jesus to sell worthless shit. Now I discover, thanks to Bill O'Reilly, I was doing the Lord's Work.

Now that it's December, Fox News and its various reptilian talking heads are once again hard at work promoting the War On Christmas. Bill O'Reilly kicked off this holiday tradition a few years back. It's like the Right Wing's Charlie Brown Christmas -- they trot it out every year since they know it's a surefire ratings booster. It's most visible form is flogging various retailers who choose to say "Holiday Sale" instead of "Christmas Sale."

This strikes me as odd.

I have a hard time seeing how using the label "Christmas" as a marketing tie-in is promoting the beliefs of Christendom. If anything, it serves to further secularize a Holiday/HolyDay already weighted down with a vast collection of warmed over pagan traditions (or did you think Christmas trees, holly, wreaths, the yule log and the like actually had something to do with the birth of Jesus?).

Just how does linking the orgy of consumerism that has become the focus of the holiday season promote the message of the Christ?

Much has been written about "Secular Christianity" -- and usually this term is bandied about by the religious right for people who, in their inspired vision, are insufficiently filled with the spirit of God. So how does demanding advertisers say "Christmas" instead of "Holiday" when marketing something wholly unrelated to Christianity fit into all this?

The inimitable Tom Lehrer wrote a little Christmas ditty a few years back that sums it up nicely.

Recently another voice has arisen - the Advent Conspiracy - to combat rather than encourage commercialism during the holidays. Their message: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. Their FAQ explains more. Among other things, they are encouraging people to donate to world relief causes rather than spending money on stuff that ends up in closets and landfill within the year.

If there is a war on Christmas, I think I know which side I'll be on.

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