Wreaths, Wars on Christmas, and the Prince of Peace

By now, many people have heard of the hysteria in Pagosa Springs, Colorado over Lisa Jensen’s Christmas wreath cum peace sign.

Christian scholar and author Diana Butler Bass has provided rather keen insight on the subject.

This isn’t the first time that people have erroneously accused a perfectly innocent symbol of being anti-Christian or part of a “War on Christmas.” In my youth, I remember my elders vigorously objecting to the use of the term “Xmas” to refer to the holiday commemorating the birth of our Savior. According to these people, that term was part of a sinister campaign by Satanic forces to take “Christ” out of Christmas. What they fail to realize is that “Xmas” has been in use use for at least a millennium. In Greek, the lingua franca of the Classical world, the letter “chi” is the first letter of the word “Christ.” It was quite common during the middle-ages to abbreviate as much as possible (just as we do in texting today), because writing was fairly laborious and writing surfaces expensive. Christ was commonly abbreviated simply with the “chi”—translated from the Greek characters to the Roman letter “x.” Do you see where this is going? It is quite a leap to assume that the legitimate abbreviation of our Lord’s title (Christ being a title, not a name) somehow secularizes the celebration.

Yet again, too many people act rather silly, attacking superficial elements like “Xmas,” “Happy Holidays,” and peace signs instead of the more genuine—if more subtle—threats to the spirit of Christmas. Isn’t war—particularly a tragically ill-conceived and poorly-implemented war—a greater affront to the celebration of the Prince of Peace than a sign symbolizing the hope for peace? Rather than fretting over whether or not they are trying to take Christ out of Christmas, shouldn’t we be more worried about whether or not we’ve let the holiday become so materialistic and commercial that our Lord might not even want his name associated with the celebration?

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3 Responses to “Wreaths, Wars on Christmas, and the Prince of Peace”

  1. Frank Staheli Says:

    Actually I think the only thing worse than a war is giving up on a people who for a while thought we were going to help them to be free. Oh well, just a few million people. What’s freedom anyway?

  2. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I recognize (and have done so in a previous post) that there is the potential for a withdrawl to cause great problems in Iraq (conversely, a case can also be made that our presence is exacerbating the problems. There is no definitive answer on that subject). Regardless of whether or not we are under an ethical obligation to remain, Diana Bass is certainly right to mourn the fact that we have been drawn into a war under false pretenses; that we were led to undertake the war based on intelligence that was inaccurate–and apparently “fixed,” and which was ill-planned and poorly executed.

    The idea that the goal was to spread freedom is highly questionable considering the primary motivation was fictitious WMDs and spurious connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and that this administration has shown little interest in efforts to help establish the freedom of people under a very real and ongoing threat of slaughter in Darfur.

    I find it fascinating how many people have been so concerned for the freedom of Iraqis since 9/11, or even since the 1st Gulf War–people who had little interest in the lack of freedom in Iraq mere months before that war, when Iraq was our buddy, and Rumsfeld was shaking Hussein’s hand. Forgive me if I’m a little jaded when I hear people talk about freedom.

  3. Joseph Says:

    Great points Derek.

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