Tuesday, September 2, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Point of Brew: Greetings from the Western Front for Christmas

MichaelLewisW

By
From page A11 | December 20, 2012 |

May I wish you all a Happy Christmas or, as one might say in Wales: Nadolig happus i chi gyd! Perhaps I shall not be able to bring you that greeting in future years unless we prevail in the War on Christmas.

I understand from certain well-known conservative commentators on Fox News (spotted, accidentally, while channel surfing) that there is a War on Christmas. I suppose this is a part of the War on Christianity that these same commentators detect and that itself is perhaps a part of the War on Religions.

However, by the same accident of channel surfing I ran across Pat Robertson making the same War claim; but in his case Pat made the specific assertion that atheists are responsible. Pat says atheists are so miserable themselves this time of year that they want to make Christians miserable, too. Frankly, I know a number of atheists and they enjoy this season to the full; they are far from miserable at this time of year, engage fully in the festive season and they don’t much care what Christians do in their private spaces.

Now, I don’t know if this idea of War on Christmas and Christianity is a sort of self-inflicted victimhood that some Christians enjoy or if it is a figment of conservative imagination perhaps intended to interest or even excite the deeply conservative, especially evangelical, base that forms so much of Fox News’ and Pat’s audience.

But, either way, I think it is nonsense.

Since I was a small boy I have been a churchgoer; in the early years, of course, I was dragged to church by my Dad who took churchgoing very seriously and made sure I was properly, if reluctantly, introduced to the Christian faith. Later, I went to church most willingly because a certain beautiful young woman was there to whom I became deeply and, later, permanently, attached. She still keeps me going.

But of all the times to be a churchgoer (even if only twice a year), Christmas is the best time, because of the decorations and candlelight, warmth and excitement and good humor and tradition and the rousing and rising organ music and singing of the grand old carols and listening to the familiar and beautiful old story as told by the Gospels. It’s charming and lovely and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Now, if I have to describe my Christianity, I would say (to use a minimum number of words) that I’m a Reluctant Deist. I didn’t actually think much about this until I came to the United States of America and began reading the writings of the founding fathers of this nation; I would say they were Thoughtful Deists.

Now and again I look at Jefferson’s Bible (though he did not call it a Bible), which is available online and is the unadorned life and moral teaching of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels. I read what Jefferson distilled about the birth of the Christ Child for this column.

Turns out Jefferson’s Deist view of the nativity story can be contained in one sentence thus: “Joseph and Mary, who was pregnant, traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be taxed, but because there was no room at the inn they stayed in a stable where Mary laid her baby; the child was circumcised and named Jesus.”

This account, mostly from Luke, does away with all the trappings of the traditional story (Jefferson called this “nonsense”) but Deist Thomas must have struggled to omit these words of the Angel (fantasy): “… and on earth, peace, goodwill towards men” that is the main focus of the Christmas and indeed Christian message.

Christmas is, of course, a religious construct, but in a secular or perhaps Simple Deist form it is also an idea and a concept, a principle and a message, even a way to life; it is not a thing, not possessed by any one group; it is not contained in any package, nor any one place or time, and is neither rich nor poor.

The message or spirit of Christmas is one of love and compassion, of warmth and kindness, of inclusion, of gentleness, of patience, of honesty and fair dealing, of magnanimity, and ultimately, of peace on Earth. No atheist that I know has any problem with any of those ideas and indeed atheists take the same joy in Christmas that I, a Simple Deist, do.

So what of this War on Christmas? Are the warriors and enemy in that war the mass of ordinary folk uninterested in religion who, nevertheless, shop till they drop to bring gifts to those they love? Are they the contrarians or atheists or those of non-Christian religions or even patriots who defend the Constitution by asking that religious symbols and, at this time of year, crèches representing the Nativity, not be placed on public ground?

Or are the villains, the Grinches, really those for whom the message of Christmas falls on deaf ears; these most prominently, it seems to me, are the commentators of the Opinionista, Fox News and Pat Robertson and perhaps those evangelicals who pay them mind, who have forgotten that Christmas is not merely an event or a show owned by the devout, but is a message, a call, even a demand, not for conflict but for peace that all may enjoy.

And what more perfect symbol for that message than the birth of a child, any child really, and the beginning of a new life for which and of which anything is possible.

Merry Christmas to all! Nadolig llawen i chi gyd!

— Reach Michael Lewis at cymro@sbcglobal.net. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

.

News

 
Davis is not immune: Are you ready for a big quake?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Planning begins for Davis Neighbors’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

Sword-attack suspect awaiting trial in Davis

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
6 militants killed in U.S. strike in Somalia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

San Francisco is first to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Learn about RNA at Science Café

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Google Glass will be discussed, demonstrated

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Tickets still available for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Cuddle up at Project Linus’ meeting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A3

 
International folk dancing offered Sundays

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Rose garden bricks to be dedicated Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

It’s About Time plays Davis Farmers Market’s Picnic in the Park

By Anthony Siino | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Register year-round at Davis Chinese School

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
.

Forum

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

 
Have the facts before you judge

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Tesla has state walking a tightrope

By Tom Elias | From Page: A4

 
Special-needs passengers ignored

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

A cure for Davis’ problems

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

 
A good use for the MRAP

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

Marriage vs. male instinct

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

DHS boys looking to replicate a big cross country performance

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Life without MacDonald starts Friday for DHS

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Clark recalls his hole-in-one — the first at Davis Golf Course

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Fruits of their Labor Day

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggies edge Quinnipiac in overtime

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Sports briefs: Hot Shots basketball tryouts coming up

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Baseball roundup: Aces end River Cats’ season

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

Junior Blue Devils strong in home debut, winning 3 on the field

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Elaine Dracia Greenberg

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7