Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Plea to Ignore the "War on Christmas"

Around this time of the year certain sectors of the ostensibly Christian community will start getting really worked up about the "War on Christmas". My earnest plea to any Christian of any sort that might read this is: please, please, please don't make a fuss about this. It's really not worth it. From a Christian perspective, properly speaking, there's only one important thing: union and communion with God. That's it. That's the point, the end, the telos, the goal, the whole enchilada.That's the only thing that matters. Everything about being Christian, the prayers, the church-going, the fasting, the icons, all of it is aimed at union and communion with God. So everything you do should be done with that in mind. So when your local sales clerk says "Happy Holidays" and you want to make an issue of it, ask yourself: does what I'm about to do help or hinder this person and other persons in attaining to union and communion with God? Is this bringing them closer to Christianity, which you and I believe is best for their souls? Or is it painting Christians as a bunch of dickbags? If it's the dickbag outcome, maybe you had best not make an issue of it.

Having said that, I can already anticipate the response: "We can't just act to please other people. Where does that lead us? It leads us to watering down the faith to please humans, that's where." And, do you know, I agree that we can't just act to please people. But if we're going to piss people off, we should piss people off for good reasons. We should use our time for profitable things. Imagine if all the effort put into making sure everyone says "Merry Christmas" was used to battle the porn industry, or  was poured into prison ministry, or some such?

I'm also not suggesting we shy away from making objective claims. We can and should joyously tell the world that God has, in an act of incredible love, taken on the nature and form of His own creature. We don't have to be postmodern about it. But there are better ways of sharing this wonderful news then angrily organizing coalitions to make sure the local supermarket clerks say "Merry Christmas".

Besides, there isn't actually a war on Christmas. There are a lot of people who don't like Christians, fair enough. Some of them don't like Christians for reasons related to the Christian reaction to the whole wretched "Happy Holidays" issue. But I have trouble believing there's a bunch of people out there who have assembled together with the mission of taking down Christmas. It'd be a losing battle anyway, reactionaries or no reactionaries. Christmas isn't going anywhere, I'm quite sure.

Glory be to God, who, in His unfathomable love, has brought healing to mankind through His glorious Incarnation! Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Taking Socrates's Advice Seriously

Socrates was a big fan of admitted what we do not know. In fact, he claimed that most of what made him wise was the fact that he was always fully aware of the limits of his own knowledge, and the fact that he was willing to admit to these limitations.

 Following this, I have recently been attempting to only have opinions on those things I actually know something about. I've largely stopped having political opinions as a result of this. After all, people go to school for years to study economics and political science. What makes me think that I can intelligently comment on such matters because I watch The Daily Show and read every once in a while? I haven't the slightest clue if Obama's policies will work out or not, so I choose not to pretend as if I do.

But I have found that I have a great many opinions about things I know nothing about. I've been reading about the phenomenon of fandom for my Mass Media class. Once upon a time I had strong opinions about people who would dress up and go to Star Trek conventions, most of them negative. In retrospect, I had, and have, very little experience with those individuals and that kind of behavior. What makes me think I can evaluate their actions? This recent trend in my thought has been most freeing. I find that the fewer opinions I have, the less I have to be stressed about. I would encourage my readers, for the sake of their own wellbeing, to do their best to dispense with any opinion of theirs that is not based on adequate experience and information. If you are anything like me, you will be surprised to find how many of your opinions are of this kind.