All posts in Social Commentary

The War on Christmas: A Festivus for the Rest of Us!

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It’s as certain as candy canes, evergreens, and Starbucks gingerbread lattes every year at this time–it’s the annual squawking about “The War on Christmas.” Certain people are getting into an indignant kerfuffle over the fact that some retailers and even regular people might actually say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” To wit, I offer the following from the news:

• Back in 2005, John Gibson, who now hosts a radio show on Fox News, came out with a book  titled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Holiday is Worse Than You Thought. In this book he talks about how “secularists” have tried to ban the word “Christmas” from stores, schools and government as a means of pushing Christianity back underground. This year, Sarah Palin has joined in with her own book, Good Tidings of Great Joy which offers essentially the same argument. Bill O’Reilly keeps running a segment on his Fox show on how the “War” is going.

•  The American Family Association calls for annual consumer boycotts of stores that advertise “holiday” specials instead of explicitly using the word “Christmas.” This year, it’s Radio Shack who’s getting the Christmas kaibosh (I know what you’re thinking, because it’s the first thought I had…People still shop at Radio Shack?).

• Some tree retailers have gone to selling “holiday trees” rather than Christmas trees. Though, as one California Christmas tree grower says, “I don’t care what they call them as long as they buy them. Call them a weed if you want to.” No word on whether the trees stay greener when called “Christmas” trees vs. “holiday trees.”

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The Week Magazine: A Review

the-weekOr, “What I Learned During Lunch.”

One of my favorite lunchtime pastimes is sitting down and thumbing through one of the magazines I get in the mail each week. I look forward to reading my Christian Centuryfor example, which is always thought-provoking. I love Biblical Archaeology Review because it touches the historian in me. Mental Floss is an absolute hoot, filled with facts and origin stories of the stuff that makes the world tick. My favorite, however, has to be the The Week magazine which comes, well, every week. Inside every issue is a summary of the previous week’s news, which is perfect for our over-saturated, 24 hour news cycle lives. Reading The Week provides me with an overview of everything important that has happened in the world, along with summaries of commentary by people with different perspectives on the news. The editors do a great job of balancing summaries of columns from such divergent news outlets as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The National Review and a variety of others. You’re not getting polemic in these pages, just the news.

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Weeping for the Children

I had just finished officiating at a funeral yesterday when I came into the office and heard the news about the horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. Death is the enemy that stares us all in the face on a daily basis, but there are certain days that make it seem like the enemy is winning.

As I watched the news coverage, it struck me that this tragedy is especially difficult because of it’s proximity to Christmas. A season that we expect to be all sweetness and light has turned dark for the families of the victims and the family of the mentally disturbed shooter. It’s painful to imagine the unopened presents, the incomplete child artwork meant for Christmas cards for mom and dad, the empty places around the tree that families will be dealing with during this season that’s supposed to be about peace and joy.

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The Real Path to Power and Greatness

Romney-obamaMatthew 20:20-28

Well, we’re coming closer to the end of the political
campaign season. We’ve been hearing the debates, then hearing the pundits tell
us what we heard.  We’ve heard the
arguments from both sides—each candidate’s vision for the country and the
world. A lot of people have invested heavily in this process, trying to make
sure that their guy gets into power for the next four years. The increasing
nastiness of the rhetoric, not just from the political parties but from regular
people on the street and online, makes me look forward to the whole thing being
over in a couple of weeks.

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A Reflection on the Debate: Living Above The Line

A few years back, I was reading Brian McClaren’s trilogy of
books, A New Kind of Christian, which
challenged my thinking in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to the
formation of a particular worldview. McClaren used a simple continuum to
illustrate the lenses that Americans through which people in general (and
Americans in particular) tend to view the world. The continuum looks like this:


On the left (A) side of the continuum you have, well, The
Left or “liberal” worldview and on The Right (B) side is the “conservative”
worldview. The two sides represent a set of magnetically charged opposites that
tend to exert a significant pull on people and groups toward one or the other. We
become identified by the candidate bumper sticker on our car, our position on a
social issue, the news channel we watch, and we locate ourselves (or are
located by others) somewhere along the continuum. The only place you really
can’t be on the cultural continuum is in the middle. To be a moderate, to be a
compromiser, is to insure that you won’t get invited to the party, let alone
get elected.

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