Christmas Brings Out The…

November 19, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More

The curmudgeon in repose observes the feckless maunderings of the primates in their dispeptic self-justifications.  Christmas is coming.  You can see it, feel it, sense it.  Not only in the more pleasant garnishments appearing too early (and hopefully) in stores and streets, but in the renewed efforts of those who can’t get past their own distorted misapprehensions and so fling the feces of their discontent at the crowds.

A couple years ago I received one these from an anonymous source.  It purports to be a letter from Ben Stein, based on a broadcast he did one Sunday on CBS.  From the page you’ll see that it was added to, taken out of context, and corrupted.  The source from whom I received it this year surprised me, so I shot back the link to this site.  Naturally, the person in question was miffed.  No one likes to be told they’ve been a patsy.

There’s an ugliness to this kind of thing that upsets me a lot.  Basically, it is the linkage of No Prayer to Ruin and Death.  All those people in New Orleans, in this formulation, lost their homes and lives because people elsewhere had stopped praying.  So god let the waves in to punish us—and then didn’t bother to tell us that’s what he’d done.

Never mind the whole dubious connection between prayer and anything remotely like the salvation of a whole city from a hurricane.  I recall once seeing a news broadcast from Italy of a priest standing adamnantly flinging holy water at approaching lava from a volcano, as if it would do anything to dissuade the destruction to avert.  Coincidence and serendipity account for enough weird conjugations in this world so anyone with a mind toward conflating unrelated events can point and say “See!  It Works!”  But really, all this attests is the cloying desire to feel that something in the universe actually cares other than your next door neighbor or the dog.

Basically the notion here is what?  We have barred public prayer from public school classrooms and tossed a couple of creches off public property and the result is that god, irked, inundates a city?  Or just allows it to happen?  And why would that be when the overwhelming majority of citizens in this country profess to believe in god and pray a good deal?  Once again we are told god is some kind of emotionally-stunted adolescent who needs our total attention, lest he throw a tantrum and kill a few hundred thousand people every now and then.  And then we go to church and are exhorted to give thanks to a god who “loves us” so much that…

I don’t need to address in detail, you all know what I mean.

Come on.  Do people really buy that?  I mean, the whole Christmas decoration thing is irritating and I can understand people not wanting their holiday messed up with politics, but to make the extra leap and suggest that we’re being punished over some superstitious equivalent of not throwing salt over our left shoulder when we spill it is a bit much.

Yeah, I know, some people really do think that way, but a lot of other people just tacitly let it go by as challenging it might make them look like Scrooge or something.  It’s such nonsense.  Why shouldn’t we be able to call something like this garbage without looking like curmudgeons?  It’s ugly.  It’s false.  It’s a lie on its face.  But some people just have to let the rest of us know how much we’re Not Getting It.  Some people have to send these lovely missives out just so we don’t get the feeling that Christmas is a time of love and good cheer and giving and that we should feel better about the world.  Some people just have to act like the midges they are and try to make us the same way.

Sigh…. and just when I was starting to feel festive.

So the holiday season begins.

Bah Humbug.


Category: American Culture, Culture, ignorance, Religion

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (4)

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  1. Dan D says:

    Reason's greetings, man.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Mark: I went back and read Manger Arbitration in tandem with this post. You've crystallized things well, I think, with this:

    [I]t hasn’t been about salvation for a long time. The essential religious message, for better or worse, has been “revised” into a secular message that basically comes down to “You done all right for a year now, it’s time to set aside being Scrooge and enjoy Giving.”

    When I read this, I was reminded about how little anyone talks about Jesus at Christmas gatherings, except to occasionally say that we shouldn't forget "what Christmas is about." The heavy artillery, of course is conspicuous consumption, much of it done for the conscious purpose of expressing either closeness or obligation toward others. Either way, it is an expression that that other falls within one's realm of concern.

    I see it an extraordinarily visible attempt to simultaneously express one's social ties and status. Christmas is a lek. And yes, it's a time when a lot of sexual selection is going on. And social climbing. And social testing. All the things that people usually do, they do extra during the holiday season.

    As far as those tacky gifts, maybe it's not that they are gifts, but they are so often tacky. And the problem with the Christmas music is not that it is music, but that it is so often BAD music (by which I mean cheesy versions of classic tunes pumped through stores, or tinny versions coming out of an electrified Christmas card.

    Tonight my daughters and I watched a choir rehearse in a large Catholic Church (St. Louis University College Church, in midtown, St. Louis). They were still working out the kinks in a few of their pieces, but even the bits and pieces were lush; even the mistakes were captivating. When they rev it up in full dress in a few weeks, it's going to be a superb musical offering to those in the church and to each other. Now that's a worthy gift–doing something difficult well, for others. That's my idea of the spirit of the season.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Mark: According to David, Henninger, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, our bad national attitude toward Christmas is responsible for wrecking the economy:

    This year we celebrate the desacralized “holidays” amid what is for many unprecedented economic ruin — fortunes halved, jobs lost, homes foreclosed. People wonder, What happened? One man’s theory: A nation whose people can’t say “Merry Christmas” is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Something else in the Christmas tradition worth noting:

    Saint Nicholas, (a.k.a. Santa Claus, a.k.a. Sinterklaas, ) is most famous as the patron saint of children, but he is also the patron saint of wine and merrymaking, sort of a Christian answer to Bacchus.

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