Un-Silent Night

December 14, 2005

Here's an odd column from the Baptist Press. FIRST-PERSON: A noisy world - (BP) The columnist argues:

"Slow down. Look beyond the noise. Find a quiet place and consider the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace. Give Him room in your heart and celebration. Spend less and love more. Let our complaining of busyness and fatigue fade, and lift our voices in praise to the newborn King. Come down long enough to sing 'Silent Night' and experience its peace and comfort. You will be glad you did."

That is his main point, and it is a good one. However, in the column he also supports the fight to make stores say "Christmas" and not "Holidays." He writes:

"Merchants have forever secularized and commercialized the grandest of celebrations. Now they seek to totally abandon and, with an in-your-face approach, strip every hint that this is a sacred and holy time. Christianity continues to slide into obscurity in our culture. Despite our big buildings, big budgets and megachurches, the culture becomes increasingly secular. Even secularists can’t acknowledge Christmas without affirming the reality of CHRISTmas. So they stop speaking the word. But from the founding of this nation, Christmas has been a time of celebrating the Christ Child. America, founded by Christ-honoring leaders, has always acknowledged the holy day of Christmas. Yes, I can hear the ACLU and other liberals complaining that we should not propagate religion -- but acknowledging is not propagating."

Not only is he wrong about America always celebrating Christmas (the Puritans were against it, and it was not a federal holiday until late in the 1800's), but he also completely misses the point. He claims that he wants us all to slow down and enjoy a silent night, but then praises the thing that is keeping this Christmas season from being silent. Ironically, he justifies his support to fight stores in exactly the same language I would use to urge Christian that there are more important things to worry about:

"Today, our noisy and self-absorbed culture continues to ignore the significance of the Christmas event. In fact, we are very close not only to ignoring the central figure of Christmas but also abandoning the very idea of Christmas itself. ... Bethlehem was not the only place a noisy people ignored the meaning and significance of Christmas. Our culture does the same. But the most important question is not for the culture, but for the Christian. Will we become so caught up in our going, giving and celebrating that we forget the real meaning of Christmas?"

Fighting for Christmas misses the point of Christmas! Fighting stores over what they say buys into the commercialization of Christmas rather than opposing it. Arguing over what to put on store banners distracts us from the real meaning of the season. So yes, let's have a silent night this Christmas (maybe even more than one night). But that means we must stop fighting stores and complaining about what they call the day (after all, I would much rather stores call it a "Happy Holidays Sale" than a "Worship Jesus by buying an X-box 360 sale").