Denver Gentleman

Commentary, Arts, and Letters from the Heart of the Rocky Mountain Empire.

Month: December, 2012

An Argument for Canceling Christmas

The annual December debate in the United States about how America should recognize the holiday season seems to have grown stale. Although the usual contenders in this battle continue to become indignant and hysterical, the rest of the country seems to be doing its best to ignore the fracas and get on with business as usual. And business is really what people are getting on with, buying enough goods to support stores for much of the year, booking flights, sending packages, advertising, fundraising etc., until the country shuts down for the federal holiday still nominally known as Christmas.

Conventional wisdom on the holiday debate is that liberal secular humanists play the part of the Grinch, doing their best to limit public displays of religiosity. Conservative Christians on the other hand are expected to defend the use of taxpayer money to erect manger scenes and keep Christ in the public arena. Upon reflection on this expectation there seem to be many compelling reasons for Christian conservatives to come down on the side of not only preventing endorsement of Christian Christmas symbols, but canceling the federal holiday altogether.

The first reason for stopping the federal, public observance of Christmas is that it is supposedly unconstitutional and discriminatory. Christmas is a Christian holiday. By enforcing a federal mandate that this day be a respite from work shows a bias towards Christianity, which arguably violates the establishment clause of the US constitution as interpreted today. To be fair, we would have to establish federal holidays recognizing the holy days of every heathen and infidel in the country such as Al-Eid, Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year etc. Any attempts to secularize Christmas do not solve this problem. First, any winter holiday that is instituted near the 25th of December would be unable to deny its Christian roots as a replacement for Christmas. Secondly, the government would then be endorsing secular humanism as a kind of state religion. Secular humanism has its own set of dogmas and saints that should not be forced on the citizens of a free society. Endorsing any kind of belief system becomes deeply discordant in a pluralistic society. Most federal holidays are somehow connected to religion. Thanksgiving was established by puritans and implies that there is some higher entity that we owe our thanks to. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister. Presidents Day honors the cult of personality that surrounds the practice of patriotism and July 4th is obviously a blatant form of country worship, insensitive to immigrants living within our borders. If we truly want our government to embrace cultural relativism, all federal holidays should be abolished.

Canceling all federal holidays is a splendid idea. First of all, it would reinforce the American work ethic. Many allegedly socialist secular countries in Europe function on a calendar that is absolutely riddled with religious holidays. Even in Germany, where the churches are empty, one can add Whit-Monday, Ascension Day and Corpus Christi to the already vast stretches of federally protected paid vacation enjoyed by workers there. In Spain , universities stop classes in honor of the patron saints of their schools and academic departments have their own saints on whose holy days classes are cancelled. In cultures where church attendance is almost non-existent, it seems that the logical explanation for continuing to recognize these holidays is an aversion to honest labor. America ’s relatively few pauses in the typical workweek allowed us to become the prosperous, productive country that we once were up until recently. Canceling the remaining holidays that we do have would perhaps help to find the competitive edge we once held over the slacker countries in the rest of the world. Conservatives especially should be eager to embrace this. Who is the government to interfere with the business of America ? When the postal service shuts down, that is one more delay in getting things done efficiently. When public schools close, that is another week or two that our children are falling behind or getting into trouble. The massive amounts of traveling cause delays in the air and on the roads and workers with their minds on vacation are rarely working at full capacity. The government should purge itself of self-serving lay-a-bouts and find people who are actually interested in serving the needs of the people all year round.

Traditional defenders of crèche scenes should embrace the canceling of Christmas because the federally recognized holiday is bad for Christianity. The American government has done more for the re-paganization of Christmas than Wiccans could ever have hoped to achieve. By ridiculously trying to reformulate Christmas to be inclusive of believers and non-believers alike, they have irreparably damaged the observation of Christ’s birth. The government has decided that public nativity scenes are only acceptable if they include menorahs and plastic Santa Clauses. That is to say, public religious displays are acceptable only if besmirched by outside traditions. Far from defending them, religious people should be adamantly opposed to such displays. The secularization of Christmas distorts the entire holiday. The four weeks of advent leading up to Christmas are supposed to be a penitential season of reflection and quiet anticipation. Instead, they have become a frenzy of materialism and familial obligation. A holiday that is nationalized, just like the nationalization of any aspect of life, loses its independence and effectiveness. Christmas has lost much of its mystery, mysticism and majesty at the hands of those for whom it has no meaning other than to profit monetarily or use it as a day of drunken overindulgence. Holidays that have not been nationalized yet, such as Ramadan, allow its observers to stand apart from society as holy people. Christians should keep this holiday as their own and not allow it to be co-opted by hostile forces.

The conservative defense of the recognition of Christmas in the public sector is ultimately against the values that conservatives hold dear. Conservatives should want less government involvement in private matters, especially religion. Spending taxpayer money on anything, much less the tacky decorating of public buildings, is something to fight against and limit as much as possible. Government regulation of a celebration that transcends this world should worry Christians. It’s our holiday and we should take it back. Make Advent the model, a quiet, reflective time packed with meaning that nobody who doesn’t go to church regularly ever pays any attention to. If Christians would withdraw from the worldly hullabaloo that the season has become they might be more inclined to remember the true meaning of Christmas: that the Lord Almighty came into the world as the helpless newborn child of two Middle-Eastern Jews to redeem a fucked-up broken world. Amen.

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Another Arrow in the Quiver

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When it comes to politicizing tragedies, both sides of the gun debate are typically ready to pounce whenever violent events fit into their respective narrative. It usually works in the following way. Every time a single mom at home alone with her baby blows the head off an intruder, the pro-gun folks point to her as an example of how the cops would never have gotten there on time and it is because this lady was a responsible gun owner and knew how to aim and shoot that she and her child remained alive and unmolested. And they are right. And every time a loser whose been playing too many video games and reading too much Nietzsche goes on a spree and shoots a few, or a lot, of people, the anti-gun people point to him as a reason why we need to ban guns from private ownership. And they are wrong.

This weekend the anti-gun people responded predictably to to the weekend murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. During halftime of NBC’s coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Dallas Cowboys, NBC Sports analyst Bob Costas made a plea for gun control quoting a column by Jason Whitlock.

“‘Our current gun culture,’ Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy. And more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows?  But here,’ wrote Jason Whitlock, ‘is what I believe — if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Cassandra Perkins would both be alive today.’”

But another less publicized act of violence occurred the same weekend at a community college where a murder suicide ended the life of instructor James Krumm.

Krumm’s 25-year-old son, Christopher Krumm, stabbed Arnold to death at the home she shared with James Krumm. Passers-by found her dead in the gutter of her street. The younger Krumm then went to his father’s computer science class and shot him with an arrow in front of a handful of students, who escaped unhurt in the ensuing chaos. Christopher Krumm also stabbed his father and himself. They both died in the classroom.

Since none of the pro-gun people have politicized this tragedy yet, I’ll take it upon myself to do so. This is the rare example of a school killing spree that the left would rather you not know about. Why? Because this spree jumped narratives. The left are constantly rolling their eyes when pro-gun advocates make the argument that if people didn’t have guns they would still find a way to go nuts and kill people. Well, (here it comes) WE TOLD YOU SO! I have now exploited this tragedy for political purposes and man did it feel good.

I know, I know what you’re going to say (you emasculated urban liberal pansy): “well it could have been a lot worse if he’d had an AR-15.” Not likely. This guy seemed to have killed all the people he was planning to kill. Presumably he could have launched a few more arrows into the class room if he was really on a rampage, but instead he stabbed himself to death.

So there it is. Point made. That crazy guy in the theater could have barred the door and burned everyone alive with gasoline. People are horrible and they don’t need guns to do horrible things.