Sunday, December 28, 2014

America's god goes "HO HO HO!!!"

Christmas is over...  

For the secular world.   America walks around playing with their new handheld gadgets, and Santa is back at the North Pole with his feet up by the fire, smoking a pipe and enjoying a tumbler of Maker's Mark.

For Christians, the feast has just begun

We're now into the 12 Days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany on January 6th.   

Christ's followers built Christianity upon the ruins of ancient belief systems, literally constructing churches upon the foundations of temples in some cases.  Christians appropriated ancient pagan symbols such as rings for weddings, trees and garlands for Christmas, and they planted their feast days like Christmas over ancient pagan observances like Winter Solstice.

Doubters accuse Christians of appropriating old legends as well:  Gods visiting earth, dying and rising, virgins, miracles...  But, who's to say how God works, and what is stamped upon our deep Jungian psyches?  Common threads and forms run through history and through humanity.

Now, in these post-modern times, secularism builds upon the ruins of Christianity, or in Europe, preserves its churches as museums and sarcophagi, waiting for the Muslims to convert them to houses of worship once again.

Here in the US, Christianity survives, indeed is quite robust despite a growing percentage of people calling themselves atheist or agnostic.  Whether you believe in the "War on Christmas" or not, no one can argue that people are working to banish religious displays from public life, and no one can argue that many Americans just don't give a hoot one way or another.

The Neo-Trinity:  In the Name of Santa, Shopping, and Alcoholic Spirits

So, secularism is building upon the trappings of Christianity and appropriating its symbols and stories, especially Christmas.  Jersey McJones stated he had no problem with giving and receiving wishes of "Merry Christmas" even though he is an atheist, and I replied, why should he?  What does our secular Christmas have to do with God or religion?

Christmas, shorn of Christ and bedecked with trees and all the secular fun has passed into popular culture.  Anyone who gets bent out of shape when someone shouts "Merry Christmas!" is a fool.  Trees and lights are not religious symbols, and Christmas as it is now popularly celebrated in public spaces has nothing to do with Christ or any religion.

There is No God but Santa Claus, and Corporate America reaps his Profits

Santa Claus of our secular Christmas has become a proxy for The One True God, and that's a very American thing.  The founders crafted a powerful yet benign image of God, Divine Providence, a non-denominational deity that people of any religion could pray to and imagine him blessing our nation.

The US Constitution became our Holy Scrolls, and town halls and government courthouses stand in town squares, unlike in the Old World, where churches sit at the exalted focus of social life.

So it makes sense that Santa Claus has become the God figure, and 'Christmas spirit' and 'believing in Santa Claus' are a proxy for the True Faith our neo-pagan society has left behind.  Indeed, the very popular name 'Santa' points to something holy.

Movies where Christmas is in danger of being 'cancelled' because Santa is too tired, or people don't believe in him anymore, or a loved one is not coming home points to a Jungian need for the avatar, anxiety he may not show up, and a deep-seated fear of losing faith or an unease that even though we have forgotten him, that maybe The Father has forgotten us.

Shopping, gift exchanges and secular festivities replace holy sacraments and ritualistic worship, secular songs supplant hymns, being extra-nice replaces forsaking sin, lights and displays of reindeer and jolly elves take the place of religious iconography and statuary, and so it goes...

To many Christians, all of this is cause for lament, but it is all also very American.  We are not a theocracy.  So while some use lights, parties, music and secular displays to engender goodwill toward their fellow man (a secular form of iconography and ritual), I don't crab about it.  If it is aimed at Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Man, then like the three kings, it seeks that which transcends our secular world:  God, King and Sacrifice. 

Merry Christmas

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