Dancing on the Head of a Pin

There is a legend of St Thomas Aquinas asking "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" At this blog we ask all questions dealing with our faith and spirituality. Some are down to earth, rubber meets the road questions, while others are more lofty...like, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Yes Virginia

I write a bi-weekly column for the local newspaper. I'm not supposed to write about religion, so I end up writing silly social commentary stuff (read - I try to be Lewis Grizzard, whom I'm not!). However, I think I'm allowed one religious column every now and then. I would never think that I could come close to Francis Church's editorial in the New York Sun in 1897, but here is my attempt to re-create it:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that stores and governments are trying to do away with Christmas. Papa says, “If you see in in the True Citizen, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there really a war on Christmas?
- Virginia O’Hurley

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the inconsistency of an inconsistent age, where people are outraged and insulted for the sake of being outraged and insulted. The words we say and the things we do are at war with one another, Virginia, and not toy stores and Christmas. Christmas is under attack, but not by Wal-Mart or Target, or by Holiday Trees, or by the ACLU. Christmas can never go away because of words. Remember, Virginia, as important as words are, they lose their power when our actions betray them. It doesn’t matter if stores wish you “Happy Holidays” and if courthouses take down their Nativity Scenes. Christmas is not found in governments or in capitalism, it is not found in cards or in presents wrapped with bows. Christmas cannot be suppressed just as your prayers cannot be stopped. For how can someone stop you from praying? Can they enter your heart and mind and sever the connection you have with the One who made you? Christmas is not going away, just as the stars that guide captains and their ships are not going away. For the essence of Christmas is not found in seasons’ greetings or even in earnest displays of Wise Men and shepherds. It’s not found there at all. Yes, Virginia, there is a war on Christmas. But be careful, Virginia, for we tend to show the most outrage over things of which we ourselves are inwardly guilty. We are quick to find fault in the world around us but are slow to participate in change. Would a child your age who is starving rather have a protestor marching against the horrors of poverty or kind hands handing her a plate of food? Your friends are right about one thing, Virginia, there are many people who are greatly concerned about the celebration of Christmas in our country. They are worried that governments are trying to suppress their expression of faith. They mean well, Virginia, but they are blind to the real battles. The generals leading their soldiers in war on Christmas are those who will fight to the end to have “Merry Christmas” written in lights, but will not be present to hold a hymnal or light a candle on Christmas Day. The real tragedy is not stores that are empty of boughs of holly or wishes of “Merry Christmas,” rather it will be the churches that are empty of people on Christmas Day. The real tragedy is the churches that have closed their doors for Christmas. Your friends are right, Virginia, Christmas is a religious celebration, however it is one that will be celebrated by the few who are religious. Christmas is about love and people loving one another. Christmas is about Incarnation; God came to us so that we might come to God. Christmas will always be safe, Virginia, because the truth of Christmas is found in a smelly stable with smelly animals. The truth of Christmas is found in a manger where a child lay in a box meant for horses and goats, surrounded by two parents scared yet secure. This is Christmas, Virginia, and it will always be safe, even if we no longer say “Merry Christmas” to strangers passing in the street. It will even be safe if only a handful of people celebrate the Christ Mass. After all, Virginia, there were just a handful people at the first Christmas. But if your friends are looking for a peace in the War on Christmas, there is a Prince who can grant it.


Blogger King of Peace said...

Not that you are looking for compliments, but the column is excellent. You write, "The real tragedy is the churches that have closed their doors for Christmas" and it is all too true that this is more disturbing than any government action.


8:21 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Amen, amen!

1:45 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Thank you for a wonderful blog posting. I have linked from my personal blog to this -- those that read my blog hopefully will jump right over and read this most timely article.

4:40 PM  

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