I stopped by the Costco store in midtown Kansas City along about Halloween and bumped into all kinds of Christmas displays. I've quit rolling my eyes and sighing at such season-rushing stuff. I've lost this battle, just as I've lost the battle against the misuse of the word "hopefully," which is used properly only about .01 percent of the time.
The Bill O'Reilly types in the world who get all huffy about some alleged "War on Christmas" make me much more upset than seeing retailers trying to take economic advantage of the birthday of the one we Christians call the Prince of Peace. If there's a war on Christmas, some of the people fighting it are Christians themselves who want to make sure there's a Nativity Scene on the lawns of courthouses -- along with Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus.
Why in the world would Christians give control of their most powerful religious symbols to the state? Let the state worry about the flag and the eagle and let us Christians worry about the Nativity Scene and the cross.
In that spirit, a friend recently shared this war-on-Christmas piece by a pastor named Chris Gilmore. Here's part of what he writes:
The North American Church has wasted far too much energy on this issue and it is to our detriment. Somewhere along the way we have decided that our culture owes us something. We’ve somehow come to believe that the way Target makes its billions of dollars needs to cater to us and our beliefs, and everyone else just needs to get on board. We’ve made a decision that anything short of that is unacceptable, sinful, and/or proof the world hates us.
I am not suggesting that you can't find some hostility to Christianity in this country or some actual persecution of Christians in other countries. (In fact, oppression of Christians in certain countries is a serious problem.)
But Christians remain by far the largest segment of the American population and experience very little that can legitimately be called persecution. (No, when someone simply disagrees with you about some matter, it is not persecution.) So when you see Costco, Target, Walmart and other big retailers trot out their Christmas stock on Halloween, just roll your eyes and move on.
* * *
THE PURITANS' WAR ON CHRISTMAS
And speaking of the war on Christmas, here's an RNS post that suggests we'd all do well not just to ignore the current red cup Starbucks controversy but to go back and read actual history books that tell how the Puritans once outlawed Christmas. Why, those crazy, pinko, commie, anti-American Puritans. What were they thinking?