I write this article trying to explain what is happening in our culture, behind and below the headlines, at the deepest spiritual level. A case in point: we have all noticed that the word "Christmas" is avoided in public discourse-more or less. On my local "cool Jazz" radio station, the cool host wished us "happy Holidays," and then played "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Oops!
Surely sanity, fair play and the good old days of Christmas past will return! My sense is, though, if our social handlers and media moguls have anything to do with it, we are fast approaching the "last Noel." The "Give-A-Christmas" charity drive has become the "Holiday Fund." After Thanksgiving, we do our "holiday shopping," to fill our children's "holiday stockings," when we get back from the office "holiday party."
The sociologists saw this coming. "We used to be a Christian nation," said sociologist Alan Wolfe of Boston University in 1998. "Recently we have become a nation tolerant of all religions" -except Christianity. Behind the diversity and tolerance lies the view all religions are ultimately the same. Since this is not the Christian message, Christmas will not bring us together, so Christmas must go. But not only Christmas.
Winter and Spring Break now replace Christmas and Easter. The Ten Commandments are banished from the public square. Academics no longer refer to history as BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini), but with the meaningless BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era), thereby eliminating Christ as the center of history. One apostate theologian predicts that in the future the world will begin redating history, replacing the year 2000 with GE 1, year one of the Global Era! At the street level, according to Barna, only 8% of Americans are evangelical. All this spells the end, not just of Christmas, but of Christendom.
The grinches who are stealing December 25 are filling the void with virtually anything. One town hosts a Polar Express Festival, replacing Christmas trees with polar bears! In schools, trees are kept but ideologically renamed Peace Trees, Cultural Trees, or Diversity Trees. With ornaments from the world's cultural, ethnic, and religious traditions, these trees celebrate in coded language the agenda of neo-pagan unity. A teacher explains: "By acknowledging the value of all cultures, we become cohesive and accepting of each other's diversity…we become successful at working toward the motto: 'Let there be peace on Earth.'" Obviously, featuring a Christmas tree and explaining the biblical meaning of peace is clearly not part of the "accepting of each other's diversity."
The new religion of human unity celebrates the season by turning the Christian Gospel on its head. Planned Parenthood is selling its "Choice on Earth" Christmas cards, celebrating "human rights," "equality," "women's health," and the murder of babies. One "interfaith" choir sings "Joy from the world," and a so-called "Christian" feminist theologian declares that at Christmastime "flesh became word." In this religion, there is no divine Word who takes on flesh and provides salvation to helpless sinners. We are not sinners. "Flesh" can help itself, thank you!
As we watch the cultural demise of the American Christmas, it is easy to become nostalgic, even discouraged. But, realistically, during the 20th century while the word "Christmas" was largely used, Xmas had lost most of its connection with the original event.
Our present situation reminds us that we will always be the church militant, struggling for the truth, as at the First Noel. When our Savior was being born, there was no Christmas music playing in the hotels, if you could get into one. The Romans were moving people around for social control, while celebrating the pagan feast of Saturnalia, the birthday of the sun and light. Herod, the half-Arab King of the Jews, in the name of "choice" (his), ordered a mass post-partum abortion of all the male Christmas babies. No one had a clue that it was Christmas, let alone used the word.
The First Noel also reminds us that the reality of Christmas really happened anyway. Into that idolatrous scene of phony "light" and unspeakable cruelty, shone a healing light from the outside. God the transcendent Creator had mercy on his creation, bringing help into a fallen, rebellious world, when we could not help ourselves. Eight centuries before Jesus' birth, Israel was comforted by the mere prophecy of its coming. Twenty-one centuries after Jesus' birth, all who put their trust in him, whether Jew, Arab or Asian, whether male or female, whether rich or poor-look back with joy on the fulfillment of that prophecy:
Comfort, comfort my people,…cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned,….And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 40:1-4).