Thursday, December 10, 2015

The inevitable Christmas essay by me

I can't help it.  I've been trying not to do this, but I guess my desire to editorialize at Christmas is too strong to resist.  Music is coming after this post, so feel free to skip this essay.  ("Sure thing"??  Hey, wait a minute.)

Well, we've all heard that Jesus is NOT the "reason for the season" (It's the winter solstice, dude), and that Christmas is a rip-off of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.  But now an additional claim of the same type has emerged.  (At least I think it's new--maybe not.)  Namely, that Christmas never had anything to do with Christ.

I'm not making this up.  Now, I don't know through what process of logic'n'reason anyone concluded that the festival of Christ's birth has nothing to do with Christ, but....  Well, actually I do.  You see, the logic'n'reason folks seem to be limited to a single logical thinking template: namely, debunking.  They take claims and test them.  For instance, "we Christians" will claim that Jesus is the reason for the season, and they'll test that claim and conclude that, no, Johnny Cash is the reason for the season.

The problem with the debunking approach is that it simply "tests" common wisdom.  At most, it tells you what select portions of the public think about one topic or another.  Now, if you want to know whether or not Christmas is about Christ, logic dictates that you consult the scholarship of holiday experts--and there's a ton of same out there (paging Jack Santino).  In other words, if you want to know what's up with some aspect of cultural history, you check out the scholarly consensus.  DUH.  Or, if you if have absolutely no respect for yourself or the people who love you, you Google Bill Maher or Penn Jillette to find out what they think.

And the scholarly consensus appears to be that Christmas is about Christ.  Therefore, those folks who insist otherwise have a pretty substantial burden of proof to deal with.  That's how these things work.  For instance, those who insist that global warming is nothing to worry about have to contend with the consensus of climate scientists.  And those who claim Christ has nothing to do with the festival of his birth have to contend with the consensus of serious scholars.

Did I mention that the scholarship in question (largely Christian scholarship) dates back to the 19th century, if not earlier?  None of this stuff is new.  The mess media makes it its job to treat old controversies as if they sprung up last week, but they're idiots--ignore them.

For instance, the controversy over the choice of Dec. 25 for the celebration of Christ's birth dates back nearly 1800 years.

Holidays evolve.  They change in form, sometimes drastically.  They merge.  They have their original themes altered when they turn up in a different portion of the year than when they were originally conceived.  And so on.

After all these centuries, the celebration of Christ's birth is still going.  Those who consider that a bad track record need to keep whatever they're smoking away from my person, because I don't want to be sniffing any of the fumes.



Cory Gross said...

Personally I'm just glad that the seasonal round of "Jesus never existed" type articles have started their roll-out. It was a nice interruption to the news cycle of "Trump is bad for saying that Muslims should be banned even though I've said repeatedly to anyone who will listen that all religious people should be hung by their toenails". Plus, before that was the "hah hah silly Christians, there is no war on Christmas" stuff a couple weeks ago. It's gratifying to see them 180 on that one.

Richard S. said...

Well said!

And even if you are a militant Anti-Theist (one of those who says, loudly and arrogantly, that anyone who believes in a god of any sort is an idiot), don't be a shmuck and rain on other people's parades!

(by the way, thanks for sharing all the great Christmas music with us over the years!)