Friday, December 30, 2011

Perplexed by the Language of the Christian Warriors

Now that the whole season of the “War on Christmas” is hopefully over for another year, I do want to raise one question that has been puzzling me. Please bear with me.

Stores are criticized for having employees say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Thus presumably the warriors (those who have declared that a war exists) want employees to say “Merry Christmas” to not only Christians, but also to Jews, Hindus and atheists, among others. What are the words “Merry Christmas” supposed to mean in that context?

The phrase “Merry Christmas” can’t have a religious meaning if uttered as a matter of course to non-Christians because surely even the warriors aren’t saying that stores should proselytize to their non-Christian customers for a month every year. The phrase, if directed to every customer, must be expanded beyond its original religious meaning to mean something like “Happy Holidays” – it’s just that the warriors want Christian customers to be directed to have happy holidays in words that are familiar to them and if that means that non-Christians are directed to have happy holidays in words which originally had a specifically Christian meaning, then that is okay.

If I am correct, then the phrase “Merry Christmas” in the warriors’ minds must have at least two meanings. One specifically religious, to be used while keeping Christ in Christmas and uttered by Christians to each other as they leave church on December 24, and another non-religious, general meaning when used out in the world where people may be followers of different religions or no religion.

If a phrase that is so special that it contains the Christian’s savior’s name can be used in multiple ways, why can’t the word marriage similarly be used in multiple ways with one meaning describing a religiously blessed union and another describing a legal union available to all?


kayeross8 said...

I enjoyed your blog if I don't necessarily agree. I am certainly am no "Warrior" but prefer "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays" just because I am not ashamed of my christian heritage. We all have a heritage be it Islamic, Jewish, Buddist, Christian whatever. The trick is not offend others. The truth of matter is all of us including the Secular types have a bias. Why can't we all not wear our feelings on our shirt sleeves. Agree that we don't to have agree.I've never understood the need to convert or proslitice(sp) to another. Anyway Merry Christmas friend, I am so happy we don't have to agree.

lucette said...

Note that the employees who have to say "Merry Christmas" again and again are not necessarily Christians. There are other commercial faux pas that can be more hurtful. On mothers day, imagine what it is to be told, or to have to say again and again "happy mothers day" if you are desperately trying to have a child or if your child just died.

Gary Berg-Cross said...

For a cute cartoon on the War on Christmas as promulgated by Fox News pandering see

lucette said...

Marvelous cartoon! Thanks Gary.