My visits about the state during this festive time of year are immensely more enjoyable because of the Christmas displays and lights, often winking and dancing, gracing homes and yards everywhere.
So many of these enchanting scenes proclaiming the joy of this most special of seasons are breathtakingly elaborate, but even the more modest symbols, as well, seem to say, “This is a birthday celebration we want to share with everyone.”
Disappointingly, though, among the Santas, snowmen, reindeer and elves, the colorfully lighted trees and shrubs and lawns, there are fewer manger scenes with each passing year, even fronting some of the churches where they once were common.
I wonder if these renditions of Christmas in its infancy are becoming rare because Christians are afraid they might offend someone by staging their interpretations of the real Christmas, as opposed to its safer and more universally acceptable secular version, devoid of any religious meaning.
In so doing — that is, by celebrating a mere holiday of gift giving instead of a birthday that forever altered the course of the world — are we not denying Christ, maybe not as directly as did Peter, but denying him just the same?
Is it the fate of the Christian and Christianity, along with the essence of Christmas, to be regulated little by little, year by year, to meaninglessness, this because Christians somehow believe that meekness is the proper Christian response to forces seeking to eradicate it?
Turning the other cheek has about it a certain nobility when little more than the individual ego is at stake, but when the stakes include an entire religion, the country it spawned, the spirit of love and forgiving it spread throughout the world, and the sacrifice of our offspring and their offspring to the nothingness of secularism, well, turning that other cheek is irresponsible and cowardly.
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There is no law, nor should there be in a democratic Christian society, that non-believers have to acknowledge Christ before participating in the festivities surrounding his birth, but believers are certainly beholden, and increasingly so, to refuse to let the meaning of this wondrous season to be surrendered to crass opportunism, commercialism and profiteering.
If being politically fashionable means doing away with public manifestations of Christianity — and increasingly, it does — are not Christians obliged, instead, to do away with political correctness, as it means to affect them, by passing it on to those who find it useful?
Target stores, in a recent announcement unbelievable for its callousness toward the faith of Christians, without whom the chain could not long exist, said it would no longer allow the Christian soldiers of the Salvation Army to set up its kettles, and ring the bells whose every jingle spoke of Christian Christmas charity, at the entrance to its stores.
Should the appropriate reaction by the Christian community to this new policy — and if there is no Christian community, there desperately needs to be one — be to symbolically turn the other cheek by continuing to shop at Target? Of course not.
Real Christians are soldiers, not doormats, and the boycott, at the very least, is the appropriate Christian response. Target needs Christians more than Christians need Target.
Every institution, every corporation wants in on the extraordinarily profitable Christmas bandwagon, even when they cannot bring themselves, in their ads and merchandising, to so much as utter the word. Our governments and schools, too, seem to be slowly but inexorably drifting toward that vacuum of true meaning, and only Christians with backbone can arrest that drift while the Christian idea, the Christian faith, and the Christian holiday of Christmas are still adequately strong.
At a minimum, we must never allow the blessed event behind Christmas to be forgotten. If that happens, everything crumbles, everything. Christmas is a birthday, as my late neighbor in LaFayette, Gene Smith, along with wife Sue, reminded us every year with the flashing sign on their roof at Christmas: Happy Birthday, Jesus. That is the idea.
Tom Theus, a LaFayette resident, is a freelance writer