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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Meaningful Advent Or "Merry Excessment"?

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In Sarah Palin's book "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas" she laments the fact that holiday shoppers are no longer greeted with "Merry Christmas" but with the more generic "Happy Holidays". To her, this change is a sure sign that "zealot-like atheists" are waging a "war on Christmas" and are driving us toward secularism and the loss of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

William C. Wood, local professor of economics at James Madison University and a member of the Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, sees it differently. He believes our national celebration of Christmas has become so pagan and anti-Christian that we ought to just call it what it is, a "Merry Excessmas", and call the Christian celebration something else, like "Holy Nativity" (or "Feliz Navidad").

Dr. Wood had a piece promoting this idea published in the Wall Street Journal a number of years ago, and has been crusading for this change ever since. Just separating the two celebrations, he believes, would make things a lot cleaner and clearer. Let the rest of the world have the greed-based holiday Christmas has become and have the rest of us observe a true "Christ-mass", an authentic "Holy-day".

Of course, if we are really serious about observing Christmas, we should remember that (according to the Christian calendar) most of December was never intended be "Merry" anyway, but a hopeful and prayerful time of waiting we call Advent. The Advent season ends with Nativity, which begins on Christmas Eve, and continues for the "Twelve Days of Christmas".

So in keeping with our Christian tradition, we shouldn't be greeting anyone with "Merry Christmas" anyway until it actually arrives, at which time we celebrate with abandonment. But not necessarily with a lot of soon-to-be-landfill material--manufactured in Bangladesh factories and wrapped in fancy packaging--around our Christmas trees.

According to Dr. Wood, in defending today's kind of "Merry Excessmas" we may be unwittingly waging a war on Advent, and miss what Jesus' birth is all about.
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