Friday, December 14, 2018

Craziness at Christmas

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As more than 2 billion self-identified Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ---the only begotten Son of God, God Incarnate, the Messiah--the secular Left erupts with craziness.

Inverting Jefferson's explanation of "separation," secularists are trying to protect the government from the church.

Atheists are suing and schools are banning everything from "fir trees" to the "color of green and red" to"elf on a shelf" to "candy canes."

What's really behind the craziness?

Be informed.

The examples of craziness are myriad. But this one may be the craziest.

An elementary school principal sent out a memo recently with guidelines as to what would be considered appropriate for classroom decorations and assignments during the holiday season.

The list of "not acceptable" practices include:

  • Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets
  • Christmas trees in classrooms
  • Elf on the Shelf - that’s Christmas-related
  • Singing Christmas Carols
  • Playing Christmas music
  • Sending a Scholastic book that is a Christmas book - that’s Christmas-related
  • Making a Christmas ornament as a gift - This assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas.
  • Candy Cane - that’s Christmas-related. Historically, the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.
  • Red/Green items - traditional Christmas colors
  • Reindeer
  • Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies”

The principal’s “acceptable” list included:

  • Gifts to students
  • Snowmen, snow women, snow people
  • Snowflakes
  • Gingerbread people
  • Holidays Around the World
  • Sledding
  • Hot chocolate
  • Polar Bears
  • Penguins
  • Scarves, boots, earmuffs, and hats
  • “Yetis” and “Olaf” (the snowman from the movie Frozen.)

Following much pushback from parents and the community, the school district responded with a memo saying, "This does not reflect district policy" and placed the principal on administrative leave.

TV News 7 in Omaha reported that the school district explained to their news team "that the principal, Jennifer Sinclair, is a new principal and did not consult with administrators about school policy concerning the handling of religious holiday themes."

Shouldn't anyone qualified to be a public school principal have enough insight to avoid all this craziness regardless of their personal beliefs, or lack of them?

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently asked a question that comes to bear on the Christmas craziness---even raising the question of whether it's "craziness" or a deeply held polarization of beliefs.

He writes:
Here are some generally agreed-upon facts about religious trends in the United States. Institutional Christianity has weakened drastically since the 1960s. Lots of people who once would have been lukewarm Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers now identify as having “no religion” or being “spiritual but not religious.” The mainline-Protestant establishment is an establishment no more. Religious belief and practice now polarizes our politics in a way they didn’t a few generations back.
What kind of general religious reality should be discerned from all these facts, though, is much more uncertain, and there are various plausible stories about what early-21st century Americans increasingly believe. The simplest of these is the secularization story — in which modern societies inevitably put away religious ideas as they advance in wealth and science and reason, and the decline of institutional religion is just a predictable feature of a general late-modern turn away from supernatural belief.
But the secularization narrative is insufficient, because even with America’s churches in decline, the religious impulse has hardly disappeared. In the early 2000s, over 40 percent of Americans answered with an emphatic “yes” when Gallup asked them if “a profound religious experience or awakening” had redirected their lives; that number had doubled since the 1960s, when institutional religion was more vigorous. A recent Pew survey on secularization likewise found increases in the share of Americans who have regular feelings of “spiritual peace and well-being.” And the resilience of religious impulses and rhetoric in contemporary political movements, even (or especially) on the officially secular left, is an obvious feature of our politics.

Dr. Jim Denison, after reading Douthat's column, asked, "How do we reconcile our persistent spirituality and our declining religiosity?"

He says "the increasing secularization of our culture is turning holy days into holidays and Jesus into Santa. Nearly half of younger America say they have no religious affiliation; it seems unlikely that they will raise their children to become more religious than they are."

Steven D. Smith, a law professor at the University of San Diego, has written a book titled, "Pagans and Christians in the City: Culture Wars from the Tiber to the Potomac."

In it, he claims we are returning to the pagan religious worldview that predated the rise of Christianity.

This worldview locates divinity inside the world rather than outside it; God or the gods are part of nature rather than an external Creator.

This old/new kind of spirituality allows for a belief in the supernatural and eternal, but it focuses on the material and temporal.

This religion is therapeutic, a means of seeking harmony with the world and with ourselves. This under the banner of "unity."


This kind of religion finds meaning, not in divine revelation, but from within---a discovery of one's own truth within one's self.

Denison says:
"A pagan culture would much prefer spirituality that requires no repentance and offers only affirmation. That's why much of today's most popular teaching in churches seems to focus more on personal therapy than on biblical theology."

This leads to a generation deciding what they believe about the sanctity of life, human sexuality, right and wrong, heaven and hell, the Deity of Jesus Christ and sin itself based on how they feel, and the experience of others.

William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army, predicted:
"The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell."

This may be right about at least a part of our culture, but it doesn't have to be right about you personally.

In the coming days, let's cut the noise around us, and "Come, Oh Come, Let Us Adore Him."

Be Blessed.