Simplicity of holiness

lost in seasonal rush

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Christmas is hardly an ideal time for irony, but our society seems intent on forcing it upon us. My evidence? The “war on Christmas.” It does exist, but not the way its loudest complainers seem to think.

One poll supported by a conservative Christian organization indicates that only 8% of Christians “share their faith” with non-believers. If this is so, then what are the complainers actually saying? “If you don’t believe as I believe (or at least acknowledge that I’m right), you’re bad” is hardly sharing faith; it’s a demand for power. And which belief? Another poll shows that only 24% of Americans believe that the Bible is all factually true. In the case of Christmas, three of the Gospels have different versions of the Nativity story, and one doesn’t mention it. So if I insist that you say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” is that Christ-like?

And yet the complainers do have a point: Christmas seems today for many of us less holy and inspiring than it used to. But why? What we actually experience today is not the sense of impending innocent epiphany, or even the prospect of families enjoying togetherness, but a flood of “Buy! Buy! Buy!” all day, every day. “More!” The very thing that the holiday is supposed to represent — the holiness of simplicity and the simplicity of holiness — is lost to the lures of competition and greed.

I have no easy answers. I am happy that people have jobs and wages, and that the sun will, just before Christmas, begin to return, and happy with the ways Jesus said we should value and treat each other, although I often fail to obey. Each year — each day, actually — is another chance for us all.

Kenneth Bradford


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