Existential Ramble has moved: http://davidandpatrick.com/erblog/

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Posturing and Staying out of the Cold

Red Dirt has offered a topic for some discussion and my good friend Chase has offered some thoughts that were, as usual, clearly presented. Chase brings to mind two points that I would have about the question of the vocabulary related to these winter solstice celebrations.

Cutting to the Chase: "Here ye, for I say to both the Religious Right and the Secular Left: A pox on both your houses!"
I can't agree with this one completely. The Montague and Capulet houses were equals with an implication of equal blame in their Verona feud. It is not reasonable to propose that the Religious Right is on an equal playing field with the Secular Left. In fact, it is precisely this that is my first point. The posturing of the Religious is amazing in their protestations of persecution in the United States. They have the advantage of capital, assets both liquid and real, and numbers that are leveraged off the enormous moderate Christian community. When Franklin Graham makes the statement Chase quoted, he is engaging in a manipulative polemic. The long history of fear-based politics requires a sense of attack. As Chase so eloquently put it,
"much of this current outcry ... is ginned up by the Religious Right for the chief purpose of stretching that so-called cultural divide. Empowerment and righteousness do not arise from complacency. Those things come from having your back against the wall. Those things come from being in the fight."
When you are the establishment, however, it is not possible to be the persecuted. When the power structure of this country swings all the way from its current position of sympathetic support, through constitutional neutrality, to a policy of aggressive attack, then we can start talking about the persecution of Christians. In the meantime, it is nothing more than a shameless attempt to aggregate power. Furthermore, I do think it is possible to recognize the long and storied nature of this season without maudlin references to "the real meaning of Christmas." As Chase aptly points out in reference to the Christmas tree, the thing has pagan origins. This holiday season is a time to celebrate in order to remind us that the darkness of the winter solstice is a passing time that will be replaced with the bright light of spring. So, we celebrate with plants that remain green through the dark of winter such as the pines and the Live Oak. It is wonderful that the Winter Solstice means Christ Mass to millions. For them. It is not any less a wonderful celebration because I do not see the meaning in the celebration of a birthday that is unlikely to have occurred at this time (not that this is significant since we move birthday celebrations all the time). As a final point, I would observe that these rather insignificant discussions are actually a big part of traditional winter activities. When you are holed up with your tribe in a Manhattan cave during the ice and snow and dark, arguing about what you call that 200 year old recently-killed pine tree in the front yard can be quite a way to pass the time. :-) May the years bring to your chosen family the reflection of the cool winter night and the warmth of the bright summer day. Happy Winter Solstice!

Find more posts in the monthly archives.