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Mon, Nov 21 2005

Friend or Faux?

I don't quite understand this things that seems to be breaking out over Jerry Falwell, Liberty Counsel and the Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign involving stores that wish us "Happy Holidays" instead of using the word "Christmas". It reminds me a bit of the fight that ensued when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore decided to display that monument depicting the Ten Commandments in the state's Supreme Court building. In the same way I don't quite see that monument as the actual, full set of 10 commandments, I don't quite see how defending the December 25th issue is something for Christianity to pick up on as a church/state issue.

Judge Moore's version of the 10 Commandments—though I haven't seen the actual monument— doesn't include the complete 4th commandment. As presented by Judge Moore, his particular set of commandments is likely referring to his belief in the keeping of Sunday, which is the first day of the week. (Judge Moore, you are welcome to correct me if I've misrepresented your beliefs.) The keeping of Sunday in place of the original Sabbath has generally been recognized through history as a sort of nod from Christianity to pagan believers who wanted a day to honor the sun. It was a compromise of sorts. (Some also see it as a day chosen in honor of Christ's resurrection, but it was not commanded to be done.) Would it be worth defending that compromise as the only acceptable Christian choice if one was touting Bible beliefs? It wouldn't make sense to me, but perhaps others would do so.

Along much the same vein we're pretty sure that Jesus wasn't born on December 25th. I think it's fairly commonly understood that observing Christmas on December 25th is the result of yet another sort of nod from Christian folks to pagan folks (who are probably focusing on the celebration of the Winter Solstice that time of year).

Of course, there's no commandment to keep Christmas, but there is one to "remember the Sabbath day". If Jerry Falwell wants folks to boycott a store, wouldn't it make more sense for him to tell people to boycott a store because it sells things every seventh day—every week of the year? At least then he'd be defending a real Christian day which is spoken of specifically in Scripture in the 10 commandments. But maybe I have faulty logic there. Telling people to boycott that day would only make sense if he recognized the seventh-day commandment. If he told folks to boycott stores who sold on Sundays he'd be championing a substitute day (again).

Someone who's done their research can probably document all this much better than me. I'm just trying to figure out why Christian leaders would want to expend so much time and energy on pagan-appeasing misrepresentations of the original events—and why they feel the need to push for boycotting stores that don't have those exact misrepresentation of the real events spelled out and strung across the store.

Completely aside from the specific days and their original meanings, I've always thought that part of wishing someone a Merry Christmas is wishing them the fun of knowing a spirit of grace and wishing them the hope that comes with hearing the of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. A gift is something offered with no expectation of the other person living up to some mark we set for them. If the idea of Christmas is something I want others to catch onto and appreciate I'm going to think long and hard before I boycott the places where they make their living.

Actually, I usually go in and do something nice for hard-working store clerks along about December 24th. And I've had a great time doing it. Jerry Falwell and Liberty Counsel may know something I don't know about the successes of their technique of boycotting—at least on a grand scale. But I know what fun it is to see an exhausted store clerk's eyes fill with tears when you hand her a card that tells her you stood in that long line to let her know what a great job she's doing and that she should take an extra breath or two before moving on to the next customer. One young man told me he couldn't wait to get off work so he could go home and cook dinner for his mom, who was recovering from surgery. He had been slamming things around and frowning until I walked up to the counter and made him look me in the eye for his greeting. When I walked away he started yelling, "Wooo, Merry Christmas! Who's next?" Pretty soon he was causing some smiles of his own with his renewed attitude.

I'm only guessing here, but I really doubt you'll ever get those kinds of fun results from shunning people with a boycott.

posted at: 12:28 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

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