Christmas has been kicked around quite a bit in the 21st Century. For a while there the anti-theists seemed to be gaining ground. It was all “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” everywhere and all the time. Unless you were leaving the church hall following services, the sound of “Merry Christmas” coming from a live human being was about as likely as getting someone to hit your website when it is listed on page two of Google.
It’s funny how all those little things during the hustle and bustle of the Advent season can start to grate on you, and before you know it, you begin to feel more like the Grinch than someone anticipating the birth of the Savior.
The Grocery Greeting
The Safeway in our little village decided that the best way to expand was not to enlarge the store – but to make the aisles smaller. It has become a snug little environment, where only one cart may pass at a time. Thus, you are likely to talk the entire shopping trip. Comments like, “Oh, sorry,” “Pardon me,” “Oops, can I get by,” ring out often. Then there are the Scrooges: “Why do they make these aisles so damn small?” “Can you move your cart now, please?”
While barreling down grocery aisle 11 at a breakneck pace, I ran into another woman who was doing her own version of “speed shopping.” She ended our little exchange with “Merry Christmas!” Taken aback I began to observe my many bumper cart moments and, lo and behold, almost all seemed to end with “Merry Christmas!” By the time I reached the car, I had counted 14 of them. And they weren’t the mumbled-under-your-breath ones like “I hope I didn’t just offend someone.” No, no, they were hale and hearty greetings.
This event was preceded by a grade school orchestra belting out “O Holy Night” as we were making our way through an airport. Then there was the canned airport music which rang out with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”
Ho, Ho, Ho. Could this be a trend?
Remember when candidate Trump said over and over that he was going to say “Merry Christmas”? Was this a gateway drug to a kinder, perhaps even more free Christmas? Pondering this question, a seed of joy began to emerge somewhere down deep. Well, you can guess what happened next, I’m sure.
Someone sent me this picture, which was blocked from Facebook for “graphic content.”
So, Santa kneeling in prayer and (horror of horrors) perhaps even worshiping the Baby Jesus has become “graphic content”? It was apparently so egregious that Facebook covered the image, so it appeared like this:
The folks that pull the strings on these social platforms must have their algorithms set too high – just like when everything beeps while going through airport security. Aunt Agatha’s hip pin – beeep! Freddie’s metal ankle plate – beeep! You get the picture. Here, they see Jesus and prayer and beeep! Their sensors go into censor mode.
It’s ironic that the internet is largely becoming more oppressive and regressive than what we are beginning to experience in the public square. Even the corporate world seems to be loosening up a bit. One Christian website lists “the good, the bad, and the ugly” regarding Christmas censorship. They track merchants who are willing to use the word “Christmas” in advertising, promotion, on the web, and in their stores. Among those in the “good” category are:
- American Eagle Outfitters
- Bath and Body Works
- Bed, Bath and Beyond
- Big Lots
- Hobby Lobby
- Home Goods
- JC Penney
- JoAnn Fabrics
- KB Toys
- Linen N’ Things
- Lord & Taylor
- L.L. Bean
- Mrs. Field’s Cookies
- Neiman Marcus
- Sam’s Club
There are still plenty of outrageous obstructions hindering the free expression of Christmas and its meaning in America. They are still there.
In the spirit of Christmas, perhaps those of us who celebrate the holiday as a holy day may be able to offer a bit of unmerited grace to those in the social censorship world as they wrestle with their inner demons while playing cyber-god. Let’s not permit these petty little cyber-gods to steal our joy this Christmas, especially when we can justifiably feel a bit buoyed by the few baby steps toward freedom and liberty we see happening around us.
Oh, and one last thing: