Happy Holidays (The War on Christmas Is Over)

Onward, Christian soldiers: the war on Christmas is over, and the good guys won. Just ask Fox News host Bill O’Reilly:

You may remember about 10 years ago, “The O’Reilly Factor” began spotlighting companies that refused to say the words “Merry Christmas.”

In fact, some of those businesses actually ordered their employees not to say that. Well, that culture war issue ignited. And we won. Most companies stopped the nonsense and Merry Christmas became a common greeting once again.

Under pressure from the American Family Association, the newsman reported, more and more companies have become “Christmas-friendly.”

1843 Christmas card
From an early Christmas card – Creative Commons (Wikimedia)

Sure, unrepentant holdouts like Barnes and Noble — which dedicates a mere four aisles in my local store to Bibles and other Christian books — persist in their Happy Holidays-ing ways. But fear not:

According to the AFA, those companies are not in the Christmas spirit. And that’s bad news for them, because Donald Trump is on the case.

“We’re going to start saying Merry Christmas again!” he told a rally earlier this week.

You might wonder why the president-elect of the United States cares about this. (Or why he’s holding a political rally a month before Inauguration Day.) But O’Reilly quotes Trump accurately:

“How about all those department stores they have the bells and they have the red walls and they have the snow but they don’t have Merry Christmas? I think they’re going to start putting up Merry Christmas.”

Then O’Reilly adds one of the famous satirical touches for which he’s well known:

Or they will be deported.

Hilarious! I mean, after all, we’re talking about a leader who will stop at nothing to keep companies from leaving the country.

“But seriously,” continues O’Reilly,

does the Christmas deal really matter? Since the War on Christmas has basically been won, this is a cleanup operation. But the information is valid. Many Americans celebrate Christmas because they believe that Jesus is the savior and his birth should be honored. And because it’s a federal holiday, there is no reason to diminish Christmas or insult those who believe in it. Don’t like Christmas? Ignore it.

Sure, “some on the far left actually denied there was any controversy at all and claimed that I fabricated it.” But what would you expect “from a crew that is incapable of telling the truth”?

Alas, I have to confess that I was one of those who thought this was a trumped-up non-controversy.

Not so much because I’m one of the congenital liars of the Left, but because I believe that Jesus is the savior.

Not just because its remembrance is a federal holiday, I wanted Jesus’ birth to be honored by something more meaningful than a two-word formula muttered at the conclusion of a commercial transaction by an employee of a corporation that has been subject to economic coercion.

But that’s what I get for clinging to Pietism, with its foolish quest for “a more authentic Christianity: not inherited or assumed, coerced or affected, but lived out through the transformative experiences of conversion and regeneration” (as someone once wrote). Spend too much time around Pietism and you’ll start to think “nominal” Christianity is actually a bad thing. You’ll even have the sinking feeling that winning a “culture war” might actually do nothing to advance a kingdom whose Lord is not a blustering demagogue but a suffering servant.

But then, you don’t have to be a Pietist to have these reservations. Perhaps you’re as Reformed as my blogging colleague Kristin Du Mez, and this season of the church year inspires you to ask, “What Christianity can strengthen believers to refuse to seek their own interest first, to refuse [to] place others outside the fold?” You might even join her in concluding that “Christianity is a faith centered around the incarnation, the greatest paradox. It is about divesting of power, not claiming power. Of emptying oneself. Of sacrificial love.”

But take care: such an attitude will tempt you to give up your own need to hear yet another “Merry Christmas” and instead wish happiness to non-Christian neighbors celebrating their own holy days.


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