Christmas Broadcasting Traditions
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 21, 2016 at 06:20:02 AM EST
It is time to once again note the preposterous-but-malevolent claims that there is a War on Christmas. The annual revival of this repulsive anti-Semitic tradition begun by Henry Ford is carried forward today primarily by the Christian Right and the dour propagandists at Fox News.

But fortunately, even these provocateurs cannot not drown out authentic and beautiful celebrations of those who seek to honor and enjoy Christmas in all of its dimensions.

Chip Berlet wrote in 2007 about the repulsive roots of the War on Christmas propaganda.

Here is a gem from the past:

"And it has become pretty general. Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone's Birth."

Where and when did this appear? Take a guess. Bill O'Reilly? Wrong. Again. World Net Daily? Nope...
Here is some more of the text:

"Easter they will have the same difficulty in finding Easter cards that contain any suggestion that Easter commemorates a certain event. There will be rabbits and eggs and spring flowers, but a hint of the Resurrection will be hard to find."

Still not clear?

"Now, all this begins with the designers of the cards. And even in this business one comes upon that same policy of declaring Anti-Semitic everything that is Christian. If Rabbi Coffey says the New Testament is the most Anti-Semitic book ever written, what must be the judgement on an Easter card that is truly an Easter card?"
Getting an inkling? How about this text?
"There has not been any 'persecution' of the Jews in the United States and never will be any, but all that the Jews have had to carry in the way of misunderstanding has been the result of the leadership which has misled them into paths of bloated ambition, instead of substantial human achievement."

Year? 1921. Source? One of the nastiest antisemitic tracts ever published in English: The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, Chapter 36.

Originally published as an article, "'Jewish Rights' to Put Studies Out of Schools," THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, issue of 19 March 1921.  Collected in: Henry Ford and the staff of the Dearborn Independent, The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem. 1920-1922, Vols. 1-4. Chapter 36: "Jewish Rights" to Put Studies Out of Schools.

I am always a little surprised that as a society we do not do a better job in response to the false and divisive claims that there is now, or ever has been a war on Christmas in any sense of the term. (There are notable exceptions of course, such as here and here.)

And as shocking as it always seems to be, the politicization of Christmas is nothing new or even unique to the United States. The Smithsonian magazine for example, has a remarkable article about the lengths to which the Nazi Party in Germany went to redefine Christmas into a festival of German White Nationalism.

While demagogic and divisive traditions left over from the worst of the 20th century live on, there are other Christmas traditions in which we can take heart.

One such bright and lasting quarter century broadcasting tradition that honors and celebrates Christmas in a remarkable and joyous fashion. My local public radio station, WFCR - FM (Five College Radio, operated by the University of Massachusetts, and Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Hampshire, and Amherst Colleges) joins in the annual airing of the Christmas eve BBC broadcast of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge.

Former WFCR classical music host John Montanari wrote

No two hours in New England Public Radio's entire yearly schedule are as eagerly anticipated as are 10:00 to noon, Eastern Standard Time, on the 24th of December. That's when one of the oldest continuing traditions in broadcasting, dating back to 1928, is renewed for new and old audiences alike. We could or would no more not broadcast A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols than we could or would forestall the lengthening of days following the winter solstice.

Like all beloved traditions, "Lessons and Carols" remains comfortingly consistent, while also constantly refreshing itself with new elements.

It is aired nationally on hundreds of public radio stations by American Public Media.

If you love Christmas music it is a wonderful Christmas tradition that will undoubtedly be resolutely ignored by the crew at Fox. I wish them all a Merry Christmas anyway -- and a Happy Holiday season too.




Display:
... by how much most of the religions have in common.

You have the fundamentalists, who all as a rule want to wear their religion on other people's noses.

You have the "true believers", for whom everything is dour and there is a need for (coerced) discipline.

Then you have the positive side, where good things are celebrated and freedom and care for the Other are more than a bywords.

I think that the Creator (if there IS one, as I think there is) would approve of the positive aspects of Christmas and the Holiday season (and they are many).  I do know that most religions have a celebration around the winter solstice, and that much of what is taken today as "Christmas" is a syncretism of many different practices and beliefs.  I love the beauty, the positive "vibes" from a lot of people, and the other things that make this season so vibrant and pleasant (including less  hot and humid weather here!).

Those "Christmas warriors" need to go back to the Birth story and remember what the shepherds supposedly heard - "on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (it can be argued that means all mankind) and get away from "God is ANGRY at you and will DESTROY YOU if you don't repent, become like us, and OBEY US!".  In other words (to follow another line in the Bible - look to those things that are good - and stop focusing on controlling others!  (If they want to control anyone, they need to control THEMSELVES!)

To all, I would say "Happy Holidays", as well as "Happy Hanukkah" and "Merry Christmas" (or whichever greeting is appropriate).


by ArchaeoBob on Wed Dec 21, 2016 at 12:52:09 PM EST


Bob Allen of Baptist News Global picked up on our story.

While Bill O'Reilly and Fox News get much credit for seasonal claims of a "War on Christmas" waged by the secular left, a progressive blog site says the perennial cultural clash finds roots in a brand of early 20th century anti-Semitism propagated by automobile manufacturer Henry Ford.


by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Dec 24, 2016 at 05:42:14 PM EST
If they would stop and consider the things we discuss (and take a long look in the mirror), I think that there would be more hope for everyone as far as having a decent future.

At least they listened to/read that article!

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Dec 26, 2016 at 12:48:27 PM EST
Parent

There is no "they."

In this time of enormous religious and political realignments, it is more important than ever to avoid allowing our thoughts to be dominated by the broadbrushing of anyone, or any group.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Dec 26, 2016 at 01:25:08 PM EST
Parent

Around here, individuals may not fall in line with church dictates (maybe they're considered the "bad Christians" or "straying sheep"), but as a rule they're much alike, especially the churches as groups.  Even the oddball Baptist church - the American Baptist church we sometimes pass has had signs that gave me the shivers (promoting a more dominionist point of view).

It may have something to do with the school the preacher/pastor attends.  My wife says that when it was first opened, most of the Baptist pastors in this area attended the local AoG "ministry school" and that seems to still be common.  That may explain why most seem to be very much alike in doctrine, practice, and the demands they put on their 'flock'.

This discussion reminds me of the "lumpers vs splitters' argument in paleoanthropology - problem is, neither side is clearly right or wrong.  From my point of view, either they want to force their Christianity and politics on others (Dominionist), or they don't.  I know you see variation - and sometimes that is important.  Other times I could argue that it is not!

Anyway, it WAS good news.  The less of a threat we face, the better and good news certainly has been in short supply over the last month or so (thus it is very welcome).


by ArchaeoBob on Fri Dec 30, 2016 at 11:36:49 AM EST
Parent





I look forward to watching the broadcast this year. instagram online

by tadobre on Thu Oct 26, 2017 at 05:14:32 AM EST


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