Monday, December 24, 2007

It's Okay to Eat Falafel

For the last hour and a half, Anna and I have been cuddled up on the couch watching The Polar Express - a bit scary for me, I mean for kids - on the ABC Family Channel, "Family" here being apparently defined as "conservative." I guess it makes sense: liberals believe in abortion, and therefore never actually have children.

The message is one that Anna's been exposed to a lot over the last couple of weeks. Skepticism is evil. Believe! The characters in all these movies travel from doubt and misery to faith and happiness, only it's not exactly faith, is it, if the reason you now believe is that the object of your skepticism comes flying up in a sled pulled by magic reindeer and gives you a pat on the head and a Tonka truck.

The ABC Family Channel specials are punctuated heavily with commercials, a fine example of preaching one message but then clearly demonstrating another. Granted that most of the commercials seem to be for things like a trial subscription to a 17,462-CD collection of the most inspirational worship music in the world. Cancel at any time!

But the one that got me was a commercial for buttons. "It's OK to say Merry Christmas to me!" is emblazoned across these cheerful red-and-green ornaments you can wear proudly throughout the holiday season. You can get it on a bumper sticker too, but you'll feel kind of stupid come mid-January.

Ya know, I wasn't raised, and am not, religious. Still my family comes from a Protestant Christian background and we do celebrate Christmas. People tend to celebrate something or other at midwinter, preferably involving sparkly things, alcohol, and mistletoe, but at its heart about reinforcing overall goodwill and a sense of community. And for good reason. Especially in northern climates, the middle of winter was probably the point where everybody about wanted to kill each other.

Christmas is part of the culture I belong to, but it's not a religious holiday to me. But for those for whom it is a religious holiday, doesn't it kind of undermine the meaning to try to stamp out other religions' and cultures' celebrations of the season, and get everyone, generically, to say "Merry Christmas," whether they mean it or not? I don't get this.

It's okay to say Merry Christmas to me, or Happy Hanukah, or Season's Greetings or Joyful Yule or Felicitous Kwanzaa or whatever. Honestly, as long as people are expressing good wishes to one another, it seems kind of silly to quibble about the details. The buttons carry a nasty unwritten implication that wishing Merry Christmas to those who don't believe the way the wearer does will probably get you punched in the face, because we all know how joyless and hypersensitive non-Christians are.

Why didn't they get Bill O'Reilly to be the commercial spokesman? Perhaps he was busy. Listening to inspirational worship music in the shower, probably.

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1 Comments:

At December 27, 2007 7:21 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Well what is now ABC Family was once CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by Pat Robertson. They still show the 700 Club in the mornings.

 

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