...but as the angel said to the shepherds, fear not: It’s for other people: those who are offended by the Christian nature of Christmas.
There are at least two categories of persons whose teeth gnash at the Christian content of Christmas: left-wing activists and militant atheists. (Muslims don’t like it much either, but they constitute a separate psychosis that demands its own study.) Those two groups spend much of December in a state of barely leashed hostility toward three-quarters of America: the three-quarters that self-identifies as Christian and refuses to back away from it.
The Left is the easier group to understand. The Left demands that all things be political – i.e., that there be no aspect of human existence that lacks a political attachment. But Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind, has no such attachment despite the efforts of numerous leftists to characterize the Savior as some sort of First Century social-justice-warrior.
Worse, the Christmas season is one that promotes good will toward all men, regardless of their politics. Leftists can’t have that! The enemy must be given no rest, and no quarter. So leftists endure our Christmas celebrations in a kind of subliminal misery. It usually lifts some time around January 15.
Militant atheists present a more troubling case. Generally, upon encountering someone who appears consumed by hatred, your Curmudgeon will try to help him. Buy him a drink or six, so he’ll relax. Get enough alcohol into such a person and he’ll eventually confess that it isn’t really the New England Patriots that offend him so, but that Tom Brady went and took Gisele Bundchen off the market. A typical day offers the man of good will many opportunities for such acts of Christian charity.
But the militant atheist cannot be helped in such a fashion. His cause, as he’ll tell you in apocalyptic tones, is rationality. Why do people persist in such lunacy? It’s unreasonable to believe in a God scientific instruments cannot detect. It’s even less reasonable to believe that He once donned human flesh so He could sweat, suffer, and die along with the rest of us. The apostle of Reason Uber Alles will have no truck with such fantasies. You needn’t bother to show him the documentation; books have been wrong before, don’t y’know.
None of that will change no matter how much Jack, Stoli, or Seven & Seven you lavish upon a militant atheist. It’s forbidden by his faith.
Yes, his faith. The more amiable variety of atheist allows that while he doesn’t believe in God, he can’t prove his conviction any more than a Christian can prove his. The militant’s faith is a Church outside which there is no salvation. Either join or be condemned eternally to...uh...well, wherever theists are supposed to go, though in the absence of an afterlife there’s obviously going to be some difficulties with that.
A militant atheist who concedes even once that he might be wrong will be read out of the tribe more surely and swiftly than an Orthodox Jew found munching a Ham & Swiss on white bread with mayo, or a Mormon caught patronizing a Starbucks.
So your Curmudgeon has a sad for these folks. But it doesn’t last. Neither does the Christmas Octave. And while it does, it’s best to shower that good will stuff widely and indiscriminately:
- Don’t say “Happy Holidays;” say Merry Christmas!
- Keep it up until at least the Feast of the Epiphany (Orthodox Christians call this the Theophany), which is at the foundation of the Christmas gift-giving tradition.
- Wish everyone, however sour-faced, a Happy New Year.
- And always add “May God bless and keep you and those you love.”
It’s the Christian thing to do.
(Yes, it’s hard to be properly Curmudgeonly at this time of year.)