The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

Why the "War on Christmas" Doesn't Translate Across the Pond

I’m not sure we can quite get our heads around the latest ‘war’ being waged in the United States – the ‘war on Christmas’.

Visions of the 101st Airborne heading towards the North Pole abound. Anti-reindeer defense weapons, covert elf anti-merriment operatives and a unilateral ban on all copies of A Christmas Carol (in its various media iterations)? Is that what we have come to?

Surely — and thankfully — not, but given some of the rhetoric that is thrown around in the media at this time of year, you might be forgiven for thinking so!

Given that most reporting about religion in the UK and Europe usually includes the phrase “an increasingly secular country," you might think that the "war on Christmas" back on the old sod is even more sustained and sophisticated than in the United States.

Picture heavily fortified nativity scenes being assaulted by atheist flash mobs chanting “HAPPY HOLIDAYS!” if you will.

Well, I’m sorry to tell you that I’ve yet to witness such a terrifying scene on the streets of London.

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The Gospel According to Charles Dickens: Christmas as Ebenezer

An ebenezer is a reminder. It tells the story of God’s faithfulness and our repentance. It is a marker for transformation and conversion.

Dickens, I would assume, did not give Scrooge the first name “Ebenezer” without reason. While the word has fallen out of common use (the hymn “Come Thou Fount” is often sung now with the word “altar” in replace of “ebenezer”) it is still powerful with meaning.

“Ebenezer” is the marker that commemorates the moment that everything changed. In difficult times it is the reminder that what was true at the time of the original change, namely God’s faithfulness, is still true today.

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Green Card is the Green Light to Jobs

Every 100 immigrants with advanced degrees who worked in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields created an additional 262 jobs for U.S. natives according to Zavodny’s research. The numbers increased even more when those immigrants had degrees from U.S. schools.

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The Immigrant Days of Christmas

I noticed this Christmas season, for the first time, that not only were Mary and Joseph forced to migrate under Rome’s census; not only was the Incarnate God born into a humiliating space — but, as they fled to Egypt, they never registered in Bethlehem with the census. A dream, an angel, told the migrant father to gather his family and run from the authorities. Unaccounted for in the empire, baby Jesus’ first movement in this world was a government-evading trek through the desert by night.

I think about this as, right now, my friend Estuardo is probably crouching in the dark somewhere in the desert along the Mexican border. At the same time my wife and I hang electric Christmas lights on our tree, get out our nativity sets, and read familiar illustrated books about the stars in the sky above the shepherds. Estuardo has told me, from previous voyages across the border by night, how clear the stars are when hiding from the border patrol lights.

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A Parable for Christmas

Sen. Jim DeMint recently released a plan to cut the federal deficit with $4.2 trillion in spending cuts. And guess what he wants to cut? 

Seventy percent of the cuts would come from safety net programs that assist low-income people, including eliminating the earned income-tax credit and child tax credit.

Even an analyst for the American Enterprise Institute objected, saying, "It's comprised completely of spending cuts and no tax increases, but then targets the lower-income programs while sparing the big middle-class programs. They could have designed a spending-cut program that was more balanced …”

The news brought to mind a parable from the mid-1800s.

In the opening scene of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is approached by two earnest gentlemen. "At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,'' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, ``it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.''

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The Top 10 Stories of December 22, 2011

Quote of the day.
"We can''t afford another lost generation of people that don't complete high school.  We are really trying to figure what is the next strategy with various systems that interact with children." - Leslie Strnisha, senior program director of a foundation run by the Sisters of Charity that started a Promise Neighborhood in Cleveland, one of more than twenty programs modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone.
(USA Today)

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Hit the Hallelujah Button: From the Junior High Lunch Table

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today Handel's "Hallelujah" is brought to you by the junior high students from Oostburg Christian School in Oostburg, Wisconsin.

Oost!

The OCS kids stated their own tween version of a "Hallelujah" flash mob in the school cafeteria. The resulting video of their impromptu-ish performance is heartwarmingly earnest and awkward. Just like junior high itself (in its best moments.)

Watch the video inside...

 

 

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A Christmas Gift

I love the lights and the love, which somehow seems a little easier during this season. Most of all I love the message: God made flesh, becoming human, and dwelling among us.

Our giving and receiving of gifts is most of all a reminder of the good gifts that God has already given to us. There is an old Sunday School saying that goes, "You can’t out give God."

No matter how much we give to those around us, it can never match the Light of the World entering into the darkness to be with us. Emmanuel, God with us, is the gift that can’t be out given.

In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, don’t forget that. And don’t forget the people that you are especially thankful for.

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Hit the Hallelujah Button: Cathedral Style

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today, a classic, rousing rendition of Handel's chorus from the choir of Westminster Abbey from 1982.

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Seasonal Videos of Awesomeness: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

Whether it's variations on familiar holiday tunes, cartoons prancing around on screen, or watching kids open terrible presents, treat yourself to a break from the day to take in a little holiday cheer.

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