Tuesday, 28 November 2006
10 Bad Reasons to go "Bah, humbug!"
Unlike some of the articles the GN crew write, I usually take time to read Scott Ashley's stuff. Not to say I agree with him much, but judging from past correspondence he's a polite and generous spirited fellow. Melvin Rhodes I avoid. If I wanted right-wing rhetoric and Gingrich quotes (oops, sorry Mel, I mean MISTER Gingrich) I could read WorldNetDaily.
Anyway, in the latest GN Scott has reworked an ancient article from Tomorrow's World (the WCG one, not the pallid imitation from LCG) on why reasonable folk should shun the seasonal festivities of Xmas. I could be wrong, but I believe David John Hill churned out the original version in the early seventies. At the time I was mightily impressed.
So here's Scott's updated Ten Reasons, with some impertinent personal comments attached:
(1) Christmas is driven by commercialism. Indubitably. But so is Mothers Day.
(2) Christmas is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. Very true. Nor is Independence Day, Queen's Birthday, Labour Day or Waitangi Day (feel free to choose whichever relates to your jurisdiction.) Oh, and nor is Mothers Day.
(3) Jesus wasn't born on or near Dec. 25. Agreed. Then again, those of us in the Dominions loyal to Her Majesty (God bless 'er) officially celebrate her natal day on a date other than her actual birthday. Is that a problem?
(4) The Christmas holiday is largely a recycled pagan celebration. Absolutely. But so are the Old Testament Holy Days. Agricultural festivals were deeply rooted in the culture of the Middle East, and versions of Tabernacles, Pentecost and so forth all had their parallels in older fertility celebrations: check out any half-decent reference work. If it was good enough for God to recycle those dubious events, what's the beef with Mithras' birthday? Plenty of precedent!
(5) God condemns using pagan customs to worship him. Yes indeed. But if you take a pagan custom (an agricultural festival in the Autumn perhaps) and retread it with new significance, then it obviously isn't a pagan custom any more.
(6) Christmas is worshipping God in vain. Um, no. Not unless you believe worshipping God with genuine motives is capable of being in vain. If you think that, then you've confused means with ends. Can honest, loving acts of praise and thankfulness ever be in vain?
(7) You can't put Christ back into something He was never in. This is just slogan splitting. "Let's put Christ back into Xmas" is a PR line, probably dreamed up by an American ad agency, and I agree with Scott that it's not a very good one. But hold it, what if we said "let's put Christ back in the center of our family life"? Sound any better? But Christ was apparently a bachelor who on one occasion snubbed his dear old mum and siblings (Mark 3:31-35.) Does that mean that the thought behind the saying is wrong? If people "regard the day" in the sense Paul speaks of, who's to say Christ isn't there for them?
(8) The Bible nowhere tells us to observe a holiday celebrating Jesus Christ's birth - but it clearly does tell us to commemorate His death. The Bible nowhere tells men to wear suits and ties to Sabbath services - but this doesn't worry Richard Pinelli overmuch. The Bible nowhere mentions Winter Sports festivals for teens, SEPs or talent shows. Setting Christmas in opposition to the Lord's Supper is sheer sleight of hand: the two go together quite nicely.
(9) Christmas obscures God's plan for mankind. Oh, come on. If the festivals so clearly portray "God's plan", how come Judaism seems to have missed the obvious? Anyone who thinks this argument holds water should do a little reading on the significance Jews find in their festivals. Regrettably, to quote Scott out of context, the COG festivals are "a hodge-podge of unbiblical customs and beliefs thrown together with a few elements of biblical truth." I mean, does even Scott erect a booth in his back yard to celebrate Tabernacles the Biblical way?
(10) I'd rather celebrate the Holy Days Jesus Christ and the apostles observed. Okay, first valid reason. It's a choice, a preference, and fair enough. However I'm not so sure you could argue that Paul continued to observe the Holy Days, but that's opening up a whole extra issue.
Actually, I'm not fussed about Xmas. Those carols in the stores drive me nuts. But I recollect Xmases past when, as a kid, the extended clan would gather, the smell of pine needles in the house, the excitement of waking early on Xmas morning, shelling pea-pods as my part in the feast of home grown produce accompanying a roast meal, the pulling of Christmas crackers and the cautious consumption of Xmas pudding drowned in custard and cream (cautious because there were "thruppences" buried in that thing and you could break a tooth!) Pagan? C'mon Scott, get a grip.