War on Christmas?

As usual for this time of year, conservatives have trotted out their War on Christmas meme. Well, let’s say FoxNews has trotted it out, because I can’t find that much about this supposed war from other conservative sources. But, considering how ubiquitous Fox is on the conservative front, that’s not really saying all that much. They’re full of shit, of course, and this year Jon Stewart isn’t alone in saying so. There are plenty of people pushing back against the idea. However, I’ve come to believe there is a War on Christmas; just not the one Fox is talking about.

The war I’m seeing is waged by a society that puts more emphasis on feeling good about itself than it does about caring for those in need. The more I think about the original Christmas story, the more I don’t get how we celebrate Christmas in this country. I really begin to feel that when I read a little ditty we’ve come to know as the Magnificat. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth after an angel told her she was carrying God’s baby, she broke into song. Or poetry. Or whatever. Anyway, she said (among other things):

He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy,
just as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.”

This proclamation of God’s intent for the child in Mary’s womb doesn’t mince words. Jesus was meant from His conception to bring comfort and relief to the poor and oppressed of this world, not to help the rich and powerful. And, we celebrate this by making the rich and powerful more rich and powerful? Like I said, I just don’t get it.

In a piece for The God Article (also published on The Huffington Post and Sojourners), Mark Sandlin talks about how the Christmas story has been hijacked by the dominant culture. That same argument could be made for Christianity in general. A story (and a faith) meant to bring relief and comfort to the poor and oppressed of the world has been whitewashed and sanitized not only to make those in power more comfortable, it’s being used to further their aims. Don’t think so? Then, why is the Christmas buying season so important? It’s because it fills the coffers of corporations and lines the pockets of the wealthy. If we’re going to celebrate the birth of Jesus, wouldn’t it be better to do it by reclaiming the faith we’ve founded on His teachings? And, by that I mean bringing relief and comfort to the poor and oppressed. Because that’s what this season is really all about.