Wineke: The real war on Christmas

Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:18:40 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 20 2013 05:41:28 PM CST
Bill Wineke

There is a war on Christmas, but it’s not the war portrayed by those who seek to profit by arguing that the holiday is being subverted by liberals.

The real war on Christmas can be best described by the fact that a year after a troubled young man killed 20 children and six teachers and administrators in Connecticut, this nation refuses to lift a finger to control guns and seems remarkably untroubled by the fact that an additional 30,000 Americans have died of gun violence since the Sandy Hook massacre.

Mother Jones magazine estimates that 194 of those victims were children.

The real war on Christmas can also be described by the fact that, next week, more than a million unemployed Americans will exhaust the Unemployment Insurance benefits. Some of them will be just fine. Some of them will no longer be able to feed their families.

The real war on Christmas is being waged right now in the United States Senate by politicians -- both Democratic and Republican -- who are trying to cut the knees from under those trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement to Iran’s nuclear program. Those negotiations may not succeed -- but they surely won’t succeed if Congress passes legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran.

And if the negotiations don't succeed, what is the alternative? The alternative is, sooner or later, for the United States to wage war on Iran. When nations wage war, children die.

So, one might ask, what have issues like gun control, unemployment insurance and international negotiations got to do with Christmas? Just this: Christianity's central religious tenet that at Christmas, almighty God chose to become man. It’s called the "incarnation."

When we make Christianity merely a matter of spiritual piety -- as, for example, insisting that people say "merry Christmas" rather than "happy holidays" -- we undercut the theological premise of the incarnation.

God became man in Jesus, Christians believe, and the man Jesus spent his days preaching justice for the poor, comfort for the afflicted, a blessings for the peacemakers.

To be sure, Christmas is more than just a religious holy day. It is a secular holiday, as well.

In fact, the placement of Christmas at roughly the time of the winter solstice is a symbol of that secular influence. The Bible doesn't really say when Jesus was born, but theologians are pretty sure he wasn’t born at the end of December. We Christians share the holiday with society. Happy holidays.

But Christmas is, for Christians, a holy day, not just a holiday.

And if they are going to keep the occasion holy, then they will have to care about the people Jesus cared about, the lowly, the oppressed, the victims of poverty, war and injustice.

There is a war being waged against Christmas, but it's not the one the professional agitators are trying to combat.