attack on Christmas
The following article was originally posted at: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4437550.html
Reprinted with permission.
What is it about the explicitly Christian Christmas card that we find so offensive? Adam Ch’ng is baffled by attempts to purge Christ from Christmas.
With Christmas fast approaching, employers around the country are distributing ‘approved’ Christmas greetings for employees to forward onto our clients.
These greetings are sure not only to be grammatically correct but more importantly, politically correct and sanitised of any references to Christianity whatsoever.
The last thing that Collins Street corporates would want is to unnecessarily ‘offend’ a client by suggesting that Christmas is somehow related to, well, Christianity. In fact, HR departments across Australia almost certainly exchange a handbook titled, Christmas Cards: Prohibited Words and Phrases. This list undoubtedly includes ‘Christ’, ‘Christmas’ and even words with vague religious overtones like, ‘blessed’.
So acute is society’s rejection of Jesus Christ that even mentioning his name is considered ‘insensitive’, ‘offensive’ and ‘politically incorrect’. It looks like Lord Voldemort has stiff competition – Jesus Christ is the new ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’.
But what is it about the explicitly Christian Christmas card that we find so offensive? Why do we feign moral indignation at the mere mention of Jesus Christ? Indeed, there must be some plausible reason why we seem so offended by and even afraid of a Jewish baby born in a cattle trough over 2,000 years ago.
So violent is our opposition to Jesus Christ that in last year’s Sydney Morning Herald, Rob Brooks engaged in first-class mind-bending reality inversion by attacking the ‘cynical attempts by Christians to hijack the whole fiesta for their own religious ends’. Now you don’t have to be the most puritanical Christian to wonder how that makes any sense at all.
But then again, being criticised by Rob Brooks is, as Paul Keating would say, like being flogged with a warm lettuce. The simple truth is that Brooks and others in the commentariat join a long line of cultural elites throughout history who have hated Christmas and the one whose birth it celebrates. Indeed, King Herod was so threatened by the first Christmas that he ordered the infanticide of every male child under the age of two in Bethlehem and the surrounding regions. Such opposition is nothing new.
King Herod was then, like many are today, threatened by Jesus Christ, the newborn child of a carpenter and his wife – the incarnate God. Let’s be clear, the incarnation of God did not represent some divinely painless birth of an inoffensive caricature of ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’. For Christians across the ages, the incarnation of God heralded the triumphal and yet humble coming of the King of Kings for his subjects. It marked the centre point of human history where the creator God became created man to ‘bring good news to the poor … to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, …to comfort all who mourn’ (Isaiah 61:1-2).
For the shepherds who watched their flocks by night, for the kings of Orient and for all who celebrate the birth of Christ, the first Christmas was then and remains today the best news in the world. As the world struggles to comprehend the darkness of the human heart and the horror of the Newtown shootings, the Christmas message of humanity’s reconciliation with God and each other could not come soon enough.
And therein lies the great offence – the reason why so many seek to purge Christ from Christmas. The incarnation of God at Christmas calls our bluff and exposes humanity’s underbelly. It shows us that something in our world has gone seriously wrong. And above all else, it demonstrates that we are not as in control as we would like to think we are. The first Christmas was (and still is) offensive because it demands reception of a King, acknowledgement of our corruption, acceptance of a Saviour, and faith to trust in the baby Jesus Christ who is both Saviour and King.
In her article, ‘Decaf Christmas‘, Justine Toh rightly observes that many of us opt for a ‘decaf Christ’, a Christmas without the strong and at times discomfiting caffeinated message of Jesus. Others take it further still and attempt to redefine Christmas as the inoffensive chai latte of holiday festivities. Censoring Christ from every Christmas greeting may escape offending our clients but it deprives us all of the hope that the parents of Newtown (and by extension the rest of us) desperately need.
So this year, I intend to send the most politically incorrect Christian Christmas cards that I can find. For the Christmas message with one hand exposes the inconvenient and offensive problem of humanity’s dark underbelly; but with other, it provides the answer by proclaiming peace on earth, and goodwill among men.
Adam Ch’ng is a graduate at a law firm in Melbourne where he principally practices employment and workplace relations law. View his full profile here. The views expressed here are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of his employer or any other organisation.