Obama and the meaning of Christmas – and some advice for Christmas sermons

You have to wait until minute 13 of this 18 minute video to hear it, but President Barack Obama, in a Dec. 21 visit to the Washington D.C. Boys and Girls Club, does a little evangelizing about the “reason we celebrate Christmas” after reading the Polar Express to the kids and listening to a litany of multimedia acronyms on their wish lists. He does a good job, and when one child talks about giving gifts instead of just receiving them, Obama delivers a little Three Wise Men theology. Anyone who still clings to the “he’s a Muslim in hiding” conspiracy theory would do well to check it out.

I love Christmas, and it isn’t because of the presents. It’s because of the story. (GodBlogging warning: If you’re not into Christmas, are a non-believer, or just Grinch, stop reading here.) Christmas is the theology of God loving us, nothing else. We didn’t (we don’t) have to do anything except accept that love and grace and love back. It is very hard to describe. I mean, I could tell you the story, connecting the verses in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, bringing the annunciation of Gabriel and the tax-registration in the City of David and the shepherds and the wise men and Joseph’s dream and the manger birth and the Wise Men’s visit as done in popular media, but I cannot express what happens deep within me when hearing the Biblical recitation or when setting up my family’s Nativity scene.

So, I offer you this article about having a Merry Christmas and, for clergy who might be wondering how they can make their Christmas eve and Christmas day sermons great, you could do far worse that take a page from this guy’s message.

In other news, the Vatican’s official paper gave props to The Simpsons on Tuesday, according to this report in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. I love it when the Catholic Church does something like this because it throws people off. I have never liked Homer and the gang because the show seems overly crude most of the time and the kids are ridiculously disrespectful to their parents. But I’ve only watched a handful of shows, so I am not seeing what many fans see and, especially, I’m not seeing what the Vatican did, which is the possibility of a “Simpsonian theology.” Still, cool to see that someone in Rome pays attention.

From Philly.com comes this trenchant piece by Christine M. Flowers about her irritation over non-believers’ irritation over Christmas. (Two of the best lines: “Call them atheists, agnostics or seculars. They quarrel among themselves about terminology, trying to find paper-thin layers of distinction in their godless philosophies.”) She argues that nonbelievers hate Christmas because “it reflects a joyous celebration of the divine that society, for all of its materialism and flaws, is unwilling to abandon. They hate the fact that so many are willing to give God (or Yahweh, or Allah, or Buddha) the benefit of the doubt.”

This is somehting that bugs me as well. OK, so you don’t believe – then don’t celebrate Christmas. But don’t sit there and try to claim that this is a secular holiday, because it is not. It is the anniversary of Jesus’ birth, something that, if it were a mere hallucination, would have faded out a thousand years ago or so. Yes, marketers (yay for captialism???) will take advantage of any holiday they can get their hands on and we stupid humans will buy into it (no pun intended). But that doesn’t negate the fact that the reason this whole thing started was to mark Jesus’ birth. (Yes, yes, I know it was moved out of what was probably a spring celebration into the deep of winter to merge and/or convert Pagans with their winter feasts of light, but that doesn’t negate the fact that there was an original annual marking of the birth of Christ by the early Christians.)

On the other hand, for those who might be wondering about the “faithless”, here’s a very interesting audio from NPR from the author of Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe.

Finally, in my Christmas cards this year, came one from the former city editor of the Tucson Citizen. She included her new business card: Diane Luber is now Development Manager at Interfaith Community Services. I knew she’d gotten the job, but to have the business card fall out of her Christmas letter cemented it for me. There are still a good number of former Citizen employees who are unemployed – as are many folks in Tucson – and although it has been seven months since Gannett shut down the paper, sometimes it is still hard to believe.

Yes, TucsonCitizen.com is here, and has offered lots and lots of local writers a chance to get a start in their blogging careers. But, for the most part, it isn’t a place of breaking news, it isn’t competition for the Star and, as is true of many blogging sites, no one gets paid for their work. (For those who doubt blogging is work, read this. Which is why yours truly’s blogging was pretty much daily through September; once I started school, there were no hours in the day were left to blog.)

So, it was good to see that Diane has landed on her feet and I wish all the unemployed (especially my son’s girlfriend, a recent mechanical engineering graduate) luck in finding positions in their fields here in Tucson in the New Year. Blessings to everyone, and I’ll be back here on a regular basis beginning Jan. 5.

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25 thoughts on “Obama and the meaning of Christmas – and some advice for Christmas sermons

  1. Hey Hefty: Religion the opium of the people? Gee. I’ve never heard that one before. <g>

    And speaking of stealing other people’s lines, ‘What would you know about suffering, Ted? You’ve never really really suffered in your life.’ If you want suffering,  just ask one of the 40 millon or so of their fellow Russians that your heros Lenin or Joe Stalin murdered during the Soviet reign of terror. We won’t even get into the 30+ million that Mao purged during his cultural revolution.

    I’ll bet you’ve still got you’re little Red Book, right, comrade?

    Anyway, Merry Christmas (belated)

    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    1. Who dookied in your cereal this morning?

      Lenin is certainly a hero; Stalin not so much.  Why assume that I revere everyone that ever flew the socialist flag?  Do you revere everyone that ever ruled a capitalist country?  Obama? Pinochet? Papa Doc?  I going to guess that, in your mind, the crimes of Joe Stalin are typical of socialist economics, whereas the crimes of Third World juntas are an aberration of the capitalist model. 

      Who’s Ted? 

      Merry Winter Solstice, comrade.

      1. Comrade Lefty,  I believe it was your other hero Stalin who pointed out that while a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.  Both Lenin and Stalin racked up some formidable statistics in the courses of their numerous purges of anyone who dared dissent.  Unlike you, those dead Russians did not live in a country where free speech was a guarantee. That’s sure some hero you picked.  Lenin was an elitist of the highest order, as well as a dictatorial killer to boot.  Lenin’s pronouncement that  the very theory of socialism emanated from the socialist intellectuals is cause enough to nail him squarely as an elitist of the highest order.



        I had a teacher once tell me that you can identify a person by the company they keep and the people they admire. “Water seeks it’s own level.”, is the way it was put.  I don’t think you have left any doubt where your level is by the types you admire, or the company you would like to keep if you were able.

      2. So in your humble estimation, I could improve myself by thinking more like you?

        Lenin’s victims could fairly be classified into several groups: agents of the monarchy, white army terrorists and supporters, counter-revolutionaries and, of course, your basic conservative types.  So, no real tragedy there.  You just can’t have those types hanging around.  It brings down the property values and gives the neighborhood a bad reputation. 

  2. Hey Lefty: Obama may be ruling a capitalist country now, but give him and Nancy another year and we’ll be living in The Peoples Republic.

    God love him (Don’t worry, it’s just a figure of speech), he took down the Clinton Maschine before Bill & Hill ever knew what hit them. It’s almost other-worldly.

    Ike hit the nail right in the head when he warned of the takeover of our governmement by the Military-Industrial Complex back in the 1950’s.  Once elected, Barry learned that soon enough.

    His democrat controlled congress is bought and paid for by big business, and I just wonder whether he has the personasl chasrisma to sway enough votes back into the fold to further his obvious socialist agenda.

    It must have come as a great shock to a guy who hadn’t even run a candy store previously to suddenly discover that there are two streets in America:  Main Street and Wall Street. And with over 17% (real) unemploymement in Main Street, Wall Street gave themselves over $27 Million dollars bonuses this year. Is this a great county or what?

    And there’s not a damnd thing that he can do about it.

    Ted later.

    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  3. Why am I always hearing the POTUS spouting “Happy Holidays” at every event?  Is our Kenyan-in-Chief  just being oh so politically correct as not to offend any of those kids he went to school with back in that Islamic Indonesian school? Your guess us as good as mine. Has he gone on recordwishing anyone a “Merry Christmas”?  I’m not a typical Christian by any means at all. In fact I consider myself a multi-faith Christian-Jewish-Islamic-Buddhist-Hindu-Taoist to name a few, but still I find myself feeling our president is marginalizing Christians in general by his obvious omission.
     
    Has anyone heard our president wish anyone Merry Christmas yet?  If he has, he ought to be doing it a whole lot more.

    1. I think he does a lot of what he does just to irritate people like yourself, Ado.  It seems to be working anyway.

  4. The problem we have with this administration is the fact that they are too PC.  I saw on StateBrief.com (an AZ site) that the White House called the Christmas tree a “People’s Tree”.  WHAT?

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