Good question, Jon Stewart.
On the December 3 edition of The Daily Show, Stewart engaged in what he acknowledges is a yearly “dance” with Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News bloviators about the supposed “War on Christmas.” I’ve blogged my feelings about this faux war in the past, but what was compelling about The Daily Show’s latest entry in the “World War C” chronicles was that their satire clearly revealed the biggest threat to the meaning of Christmas is from those who most loudly claim to protect it.
Stewart called out O’Reilly and others for their rants about department stores that have the temerity to substitute “holidays” for “Christmas.” The underlying message of Stewart’s biting commentary was this: Why are Christians so concerned about what department stores are doing, anyway? Isn’t materialism sort of antithetical to what Christmas – and Christ – are all about?
Soon came a clip of Sara Palin saying, “I love the commercialization, it spreads the Christmas cheer.”
Stewart’s mock exasperated response: “So commercialization is what’s spreading Christmas cheer? All right. I’ve been so confused about the message of that holiday for so long. I thought it was about opening one’s homes to friends and family not opening one’s present then returning it for store credit.”
The coup-de-grace of The Daily Show piece was setting Pope Francis against the supposed defenders of Christmas. “Look, if the true spirit of Christmas is best spread and expressed by commercialism and materialism, then anyone who denounces those things is by the transitive property waging war on Christmas. Sara Palin, Bill O’Reilly, meet your newest nemesis . . .”
What followed was a montage of news clips about Pope Francis denouncing commercialism and materialism.
Jon Stewart shook his head and asked, “When will the pope stop his war on Christmas?”
Brilliant! It’s sad, though, that it takes a secular program with a Jewish anchor to remind Christians that we’re way off track with our wailing about the “War on Christmas.”
If there is such a war, it is not that stores have “Holiday Sales.” It is that those stores and their sales have become so important in the first place.
“Christmas magic” is a great price on a big-screen TV.
Without mindful attention, that gaudy magic threatens to overwhelm the real miracle – the miracle of God become human, born not to a family who could have afforded to shop, shop, shop, but to an unwed mother and laborer father. God become a human who would grow up to be a homeless man.
Perhaps rather than worrying about how the Target cashier greets us, we would better spend our time meditating on this work of art, recently blessed by Pope Francis, which says more about the meaning of Christmas, and about Christ, than all the pious utterances of the stalwart “defenders of Christmas.”