Wednesday, December 14, 2016

‘Bringing Christmas Back Down to Earth’

It’s puzzling to me why so many Christians support a president-elect, taking from his rhetoric, who has racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic views. It seems to Palmer and me not a place where Jesus “would feel welcome and at home.”

Parker J. Palmer, writing for OnBeing, begins his column, “. . . For a lot of folks I know who celebrate Christmas — not the store-bought version, but the holy day itself — this year is proving to be a challenge. How do we celebrate the Good News at a time when the news is so relentlessly bad, celebrate the light at a time of deepening darkness?

“A friend of mine thinks he’s found the upside. He says that Christmas, 2016 can give us a taste of what the first Christmas was like, when King Herod the Great [sic] hovered in the background, commanding what legend calls “The Massacre of the Innocents.” That may not qualify as encouragement to you, but it’s a bracing point.

“The discouraged people I’m talking about, including me, aren’t Christian naïfs shocked by the fact that bad news keeps dragging us down at ‘this festive time of year.’ They are folks who’ve long been involved in trying to shed light in the darkness — people working for racial justice and against all forms of violence, for the wellbeing of children and against the ruination of the earth, for civil dialogue and against xenophobia. This ain’t their first rodeo. And it ain’t the first time they’ve seen the darkness they’re resisting emanate directly from Washington, D.C.

“But in a way I haven’t felt since the late 1960s and Vietnam, they and I are feeling like strangers in a strange land. Their question, my question, is simple: how do we celebrate Christmas at a time when it’s hard to believe that its core message of love and peace is anything more than pious prattling that will not reach or touch the Powers that Be — and may in fact provide cover for their growing compendium of crimes against decency, sanity, and humanity? After all, many of them claim to be acting under God’s guidance, though some of us believe they’re listening to the Other Guy.”

Palmer ends his piece:

“May this Christmas be a day when we Christians resolve to ‘be not afraid’ as we stand by those who have been marginalized and even brutalized. That would be a Christmas worth celebrating and a birthday party worth attending — one where I hope Jesus himself would feel welcome and at home.”