et alia: Again with this?!

As virtually everyone in Armitage world enters into Hobbit frenzy, I find myself in a kind of funk I’ve named Hobbit Hiatus as I grade like a madwoman to finish the fall semester by Friday.  In the midst, seeking a breather, I took a scroll through my RL Facebook feed….whoops, that was a mistake!

**What follows is an irritated rant that is in no way related to Richard Armitage and only tangentially related to the ancient world, so feel free to abandon ship now.

If, however, you’d like to hear about what is currently burning my buns…

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^^^^THIS, or something very similar to it has appeared on my RLFB at least three times in the past few weeks and it’s really starting to frost me.  This is the kind of exclusionary arrogance of thought that gives Christians a bad name.  I’ve got nothing against Christians per se..regular readers will know that I consider myself among their ranks.  Heck, someone even turned a Christian pulpit over to me recently and no one ran out screaming “heretic at the helm!!,” but….

Sometimes I really wish that my fellow Christians would take a minute to learn a little something about the religion before they insist on imposing it on everyone…whether the imposee practices it or not.  For instance:

ONE: Virtually every culture on the planet holds some reverence for the winter solstice (December 21st-ish)…many have established a holiday to mark the event.  Christmas is not the only, or even the oldest of the holidays connected to the solstice

TWO:  Apparently little known fact among HTT (holier than thou) Christians asserting greeting exclusivity as a statement of faith:  Christianity has zero inherent connection to December 25th.  Nobody…that’s right, NOBODY, knows the precise date on which Jesus of Nazareth was born.  Not now, and not then.

In fact, for the first three hundred years of Christian development Christmas was nowhere to be found on the calendar and there was a great deal of resistance amongst the leadership to any sort of celebration marking Christ’s birth since that was considered dangerously close to pagan practice.

Any accurate record of the actual birthdate long lost, church officials argued back and forth until the 4th century BC when they landed on December 25th. In a time when Christianity was seeking to actively integrate with imperial Rome, it was a date that conveniently syncretized a Christian celebration to a Roman festival honoring Sol Invictus which was in turn connected to the solstice.

So much for any exclusive claim to December holiday greeting lingo rights!

FINALLY:  As long as a Christian holds G-d and Christ in his or her heart, the verbiage of the greeting is irrelevant.  It’s a quintessential “It’s the thought that counts” moment.

The next time I see one of these things I’m simply going to share this one in response:

Indeed.

Indeed.

 

 

End Rant…whew – I feel much better now!

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19 comments on “et alia: Again with this?!

  1. judiang says:

    *wild applause* THANK YOU for this. Arrogant exclusivity says it all.

  2. fedoralady says:

    Well said, my friend! What’s so funny is I just wrote a story on the origins of Christmas for the paper and emphasized the pagan roots, winter solstice and Saturnalia, the worship of trees and how the Church basically took over that already established feasting date when trying to convert Romans to Christianity. I discuss how many ancient pagan traditions were give new Christian symbolism and so forth. Yes, we’ve adopted it as our “official:” date to celebrate Christ’s birth, but we definitely don’t have exclusivity rights. That kind of thing gripes me, too. Merry, Merry EVERYTHING! 😀

    • obscura says:

      Exactly! The Saturnalia was a much more ancient solstice festival (the Romans weren’t ones to leave a day uncelebrated when it came to religious festivals). Given their aversion to paganism, it’s an odd (but ultimately expedient) choice. The fact that people still argue about the how’s and the why’s of the placement of Christmas is strong indication that nobody really knows the full story…so I think an ease off on the greeting grab is a good idea. Imagine….practicing Tolerance. I wonder if anyone ever suggested that? Oh…riiiiight!

  3. linnetmoss says:

    Totally agree with you Obscura! It is more or less a pagan holiday. I too work in a university environment where a lot of people are not Christians, yet many of them feel that God is “welcome in their house.” And others, like me, are secular people. We are proud to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday 🙂

    • obscura says:

      I have no issue with the notion of what started out as a politically expedient syncretism of two traditions evolving into something that is widely recognized as a religious celebration. I imagine that was the ultimate goal to begin with.

      Christians should wish each other Merry Christmas to their hearts’ content, but why that necessitates the negation of any more inclusive, multi traditional greeting is beyond me. It seems symptomatic of a growing trend of “it’s my way or no way” mentality in virtually every sphere that I move.

      To assert that saying “Merry Christmas” for a few weeks out of each year is a defining principle of one’s faith? Ridiculous.

  4. Servetus says:

    Like with everything in the culture wars, somebody took a basic idea that had a low objectionability rating (many people think Christmas is supposed to be a religious holiday) and spun it out into a ridiculous conclusion (No one should ever wish anyone anything but Merry Christmas!). I had a British friend tell me once that you weren’t supposed to say Merry Christmas b/c that implied drunkenness, so you should say Happy Christmas … what sort of surprises me about this particular episode in the culture wars is that it’s so closely tied to capitalism, i.e., what people want is for cashiers to wish them Merry Christmas. Usually historically capitalism is thought to break down religious hostility (can’t sell to people who you’ve just annoyed with your religiosity) …

    I wished a Muslim student a pleasant winter solstice yesterday and he laughed 🙂

    • obscura says:

      I hadn’t even considered the economic angle yet. Honestly, the number of issues conflated into this is dizzying. Part of it feels to me like an ever increasing insistence, across a vast scope of humans, on being offended…it’s exhausting.

      To me it’s fairly simple. We live in a multi cultural world. I know people of many races, nations and creeds. If I take the inclusive path and wish them all a whatever winter solstice holiday you practice, “Happy Holidays,” I haven’t undermined my faith.

      If some Christians believe that acknowledging difference and practicing tolerance are in some way a threat to Christianity, I’d suggest they go back and take a closer look at what actually *is* well documented Christian tradition…start in the Gospels. (Those are at the beginning of the back section of that book they all keep thumping but apparently only read selectively)

      Happy Chanukah! 🙂

  5. Humma H. says:

    ….EXCELLENT RANT!!!!!..”.H-A-P…..MERRY CHRISTMAS, OF COURSE!!!! THANK-YOU!!!!!”

  6. If I know someone celebrates Christmas, I say “Merry Christmas” if I know they celebrate Hanukkah I say “Happy Hanukkah.” If I don’t know, I wish them “Happy Holidays” assuming they will apply my good wishes to whatever observance they follow! I don’t mean to imply my two examples are the only choices, only that for people I know they are the most common.

    I believe the important point is that you are giving another person good wishes 🙂

    Happy Holidays!

    Tree

  7. Leigh says:

    I completely agree with you! Wishing you and yours joys of the season 😀

  8. jholland says:

    I’m not big on political-correctness, which these days tends to dictate the Happy Holidays greeting to everyone. I generally say Merry Christmas, merely out of long-habit, though: it’s not because I want to say it as a way to honor Christ. However, if I know for sure they practice another religion or no religion, I *try* to remember to say something more generic. I do hate having to hope they don’t get mad about it, whichever greeting I use. It’s annoying when Christians get their noses out of joint about anything other than Merry Christmas, just as it’s annoying if non-Christians get annoyed by Merry Christmas. I don’t get mad if I’m wished Happy Holidays or any other well-intended greeting- if it’s other than Merry Christmas, I say exactly what the flow chart dictates: Thanks! And you as well!

    • obscura says:

      Yeah, given the state of the world in general, why anyone needs to get bent out of shape about a well intentioned holiday greeting – however it is phrased – is beyond my

    • Servetus says:

      In my experience, it’s extremely rare that members of minority religions get annoyed enough by a wish of Merry Christmas from someone they don’t know well to indicate that publicly. It’s the expected holiday greeting, and if you’re in a religious minority living in a majority society you know this. I think what’s annoying, frankly, is when someone who’s known me for five years in my workplace and knows that I am Jewish because he has had to take over work for me due to Jewish holidays wishes me Merry Christmas. It’s not something I’m going to get my nose out of joint about, because why bother?, but it does sort of indicate a kind of lack of thought — that doesn’t matter from a stranger, but does matter if it comes from people I know. I do think it can be indicative of a kind of unthinking cultural hegemony — because it’s not like I go around wishing everyone I know Happy new Year! on Rosh Hoshanah. That would be seen as crazy (where as we excuse the reverse as a matter of politeness).

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