let nothing you dismay

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 18, 2006

In December of 1998, back when the war on Christianity was comparatively tame, George Will was inclined to dismiss the contras as a negligible fringe:

Christmas in America nowadays is largely an artifact of nonsectarian figures such as Charles Dickens, who poured a syrup of sentiment over the event, thereby making the fun of it accessible to all and offensive only to those who enjoy taking offense. This is one way a pluralistic nation accommodates religious differences -- by allowing some religious matters to be treated as desacralized bits of the common culture.

This "syrup of sentiment" has been considerably thinned out in recent years. New Agers, brights, sexual anarchists and abortion partisans (among others) have focused their hostility against Christianity with much greater intensity. Not only do they hate to see Christians enjoying themselves, but a natalist feast such as Christmas is particularly galling. Hence the ratcheting-up of the acrimony.

The new hostility is not entirely a bad thing. When the neutral ground -- what Will calls the "desacralized bits of the common culture" -- disappears, many people will be forced to consider deeply for the first time what their sentimental Christianity really means. Some will drop it altogether and join the contras, but others will be moved to take a stand, however modest, for the Faith.

In the case of the cruciform pendant on the necklace of that British flight attendant, anti-Christian controversy turned a piece of jewelry into a badge of conviction. By the same token -- trash that cliché; by the same non-token -- a number of half-Christian fifth and six graders, puzzled by the black-out on these particular carols, may ask about the meaning of the words and, in so doing, may find themselves re-examining their own commitments. Some will cave; some won't. Paradoxically, even the most saccharine Christmas carols and Christmas cards now begin to take on an edgy quality. Dead images start to live again. The prophet Simeon, looking at the newborn in question, told its mother: this is a sign of contradiction, a sword that will slice deep. Hidden loves and hidden hatreds will be laid bare.

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