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So this is Christmas…

Nativity SceneYou can tell it’s Christmas, mainly because of the appearance Christmassy bits on this site, even though they’re new this year and completely different to every other year since the site’s inception.

Of course, it’s also clearly Christmas because of the sudden outbreak of peace, joy, and goodwill to all men. Granted, that might be difficult to spot in the overcrowded supermarkets full of harassed shoppers (not least of all me), but clearly in the good Christian churches of our nation, peace and joy have descended. Or not, as the case may be.

I always though that Christmas was the particular time of year when Christians spread messages of goodwill, love, and faith. Yet I’ve seen so little of this that I’m beginning to wonder if that’s what the Christian church stands for at all. Instead of welcoming new sheep to their flocks, the Christian message of recent years appears to have become a rather aggressive one.

This is the week when Archbishops have started insulting ordinary citizens, phone-ins are dominated by Christians bemoaning the fictitious sensitivities of ‘immigrants’, and every tabloid worth its salt wants to tell us how Christmases aren’t what they used to be.

Just today, the Archbishop of Wales has ranted about ‘atheistic fundamentalism’ leading to the ‘Winterval’ rebranding of Christmas – a perennial myth, which you’d hope learnéd church leaders would know to be false. He claims that ‘virulent, almost irrational’ attacks have been made on Christianity, leaving no room for debate – then cites the example of British Airways’ uniform policy.

He goes onto say that Christianity has a ‘message of joy and good news for everyone’, and that ‘rational debate about the tenets of the Christianity’ is an undoubtedly good thing – then mocks those who view Christianity as ‘superstitious nonsense’ – apparently, such a view is disallowed in his debate. We can only debate Christianity from a starting point that ‘God is not exclusive, he is on the side of the whole of humanity with all its variety’ – except atheists, or so it would seem. That’s not what I call a debate.

This comes in the same week as Rev Jules Gomes called Richard Dawkins and Polly Toynbee the King Kerods of our age, despite the fact that the latter is quite happy to ‘Hail the incarnate Deity’ along with the rest of us, and that neither could be fairly described as a child-killing tyrant. Clearly, the goodwill doesn’t extend to them. And yet Christian leaders frequently tell us that Christianity is supposed to be the very model of religious tolerance.

You may have seen the headline news that a third of 18-24 year-olds couldn’t say where Jesus was born. You’re unlikely to have noticed that almost two-thirds of regular church-goers were also unable to show a basic grasp of the Christmas story – a fact conveniently omitted from the Mail’s report. Perhaps the Church should get its own house in order before attacking the rest of society for its so-called secularism.

And, just to top it all off, the good Christians of the Diocese of Manchester have been grossly insulted by the council’s insistence on calling Christmas ‘Decemberval’ in a recycling promotion. Perhaps they ought to have a word with the local Christian vicar that wrote the promotion, then, rather than moaning to the Mail on Sunday about ‘political correctness gone mad’.

Yet the issue extends further than Christianity. Only this week, a Jordanian website censored a reader who chose to wish others a ‘Happy Hanukkah’, after complaints were received at the thought of wishing Jews happiness – and there was me thinking Eid was supposed to be about forgiveness.

I’ve previously made my religious views known in detail on the blog – essentially, we’re so incredibly lucky to be alive that we’d better make the most of it before we die – and so am in no position to offer Christian philosophy. But it has certainly struck me this year that the Christian church is anything but loving and welcoming to all, and is certainly not as tolerant of criticism as it often likes to claim.

I am, however, in a position to wish everyone – reader and non-readers, supporters and detractors, those who celebrate Christmas and those who don’t – health, happiness, and a truly peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Christmas Scene

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Jonathan Rothwell

    17.09, 22/12/2007

I blame the Daily Mail and other right-wing groups and figures for giving Christians such a bad name. It’s really no different (at least in my view) to al-Qaeda terrorists giving Muslims a bad name.

Comment from Mort Karman

    18.13, 22/12/2007

Thank you, Simon, for printing my greeting to all the peoples of that Middle East region and the world.
If anyone can find something offensive in what I said it explains how crazy this world i
I hope we don’t have suicide bombers after you and I.
All I can say is if we do get hit, instead of the bomber going to spend eternity with 70 virgins he will spent eternity with my ex-wives.
As for me I would rather spend eternity with a camel.
Seriously, this just shows how far we have to go before there is any peace in that troubled land.
My hart goes out to all the innocent people on all sides who will die in the fighting.
At risk of being blown up, I again wish you and all the people of this earth a Happy Eid, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.
And a just, equal peace with dignity for all the peoples of the Middle East

Comment from Mort Karman

    18.42, 22/12/2007

I guess this only proves how seriously the sides are out of sync on the Middle East problems.
I hope you and I don’t have suicide bombers visit us for printing this.
If they do I can tell them that instead of 70 virgins, they will spend eternity with my ex-wives. I would rather spend eternity with a camel.
I will risk both of our lives once again by wishing all the peoples of the word a Happy Eid, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.
May the New Year bring peace with equality and dignity to all people of the orld (and if any outer space beings read this blog-Happy Holidays to you also.
Opps-It is freezing rain-sleet and drizzle outside and most birds are supposed to have flown south to Oklahoma or where ever they go . But a bunch of Blue Jays have pooped all over my car.
Has Al-Quida found a new source of recruits?

Comment from Mort Karman

    21.26, 22/12/2007

Sorry for the almost repeat memos. My computer is not working correctly (It is a HP-what do you expect?) and I thought the first one did not go through.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    22.39, 22/12/2007

It may not have been your computer, Mort – I’m manually approving comments at the moment, so they won’t appear instantly like they usually do. I posted both because some of the jokes were different, and all were amusing 🙂

Comment from Mort Karman

    00.05, 23/12/2007

As far as the jokes go-The situation is so serious that if I don’t joke I will cry.
For as long as I have been posting here I have been posting on the Ralphtips blog. I had hoped my comments and the mostly worthwhile ones from the young people in the Middle East were helping the situation over there.
I have come to the sad realization that there is no solution and we are only going to see more suffering on both sides and more dead people.
The recent $7 billion pledge to get Palestine going will not do anything unless there is progress towards a viable state. Tn order to have such a state you have to get beyond the hatred and move into areas where there can be cooperation.
How is there supposed to be peace if they can’t even stomach a holiday greeting to the Jewish people?
My hopes for a happy holiday are crushed.
Amer, who hosts the site, is a medical student in Jordan.
He told me his father is a doctor.
I really expected he at least would have had the guts to run the greeting and ignore the protests.
I had great faith in the future because of the quality of the young students who will one day become the new leaders of all the nations of the region.

Comment from Mort Karman

    15.34, 24/12/2007

What is going to happen when I send my next holiday greeting?
I hope they don’t have rockets which can reach Michigan or London by Easter and Passover.
And I didn’t draw cartoons or name a Teddy Bear Mohammad.
On the bear one it is a good thing it was not a Miss Piggy.
That would have been enough reason to Nuke London.
And I am supposed to be the senile old man!!

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