Don’t you just love this time of year that maxes out credit cards and unites families to revisit arguments from the year before? And how better to exhibit this joy than redecorating your house with cheap junk made with sweat labor from Asia.
Bill Maher’s recent tweet denigrating Bronco’s quarterback Tim Tebow raised a stink with many Tebow fans and Christians in general. As the Broncos were getting battered by the Buffalo Bills in last Sunday’s game, Maher tweeted the following:
“Wow, Jesus just f***ed #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere … Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler “Hey, Buffalo’s killing them,”
I like Maher, despite his frequent displays of arrogance, but such public badgering of the unabashed christian quarterback only heightens Tebow’s popularity and creates a support base that would perhaps not otherwise exist.
It is understandable why Maher, a professed Atheist, would mock the evangelical quarterback who had scripture quotes in his “eye black” during his college days.
The evangelical christian community has seized on Tebow’s public display of his faith and lamely accuses people like Maher who criticize Tebow as evidence of the church’s persecution in this country where nearly 80% of those polled in a Pew survey claim to be Christians. Some might even think this “outrage” is merely another ploy used by the christian right to get their extreme views aired and further promote their litany of wedge issues like same sex marriage and their hysterical claim about the war on Christmas.
But behaving lamely is sometimes the norm for fanatics, be they the religious sort or not. Case in point – a FOX sports report claimed that “[Maher’s] tweet prompted some to call for a boycott of [his] HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
Any casual observer of Maher’s HBO program is fully aware of his popularity with his audience, especially when he goes after “religious crazies” like many of the Muslim hate groups and individuals like Pastor Terry Jones in Gainesville, Florida who wanted to burn Korans or the equally bizarre Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, who gathers at the funerals of dead service men and women proclaiming that “God Hates Fags”. Tim Tebow’s public prayer hardly poses a threat like these people and so far he has not engaged in attacks on the secular community that I have seen. However, Maher’s attacks on organized religion are a part of his shtick and few are spared his barbed assaults.
Maher learned his lesson with commercial TV when his late night show, “Politically Incorrect” was summarily dismissed from ABC following comments that right-wing zealots found offensive. His criticism of the government following 9/11 didn’t let up unlike his competitors on late night TV and he paid for it when “a conservative talk show host in Houston hosted by Dan Patrick urged listeners to complain to two of the show’s advertisers, Sears and Federal Express, who subsequently dropped their ads”. Maher’s criticism of the government turned out to be the norm for many commentators later when the causes for invading Iraq didn’t pan out as sold by the Bush administration to the public.
Does anyone believe that there are significant numbers that can effect a productive boycott of Maher’s show that airs on non-commercial cable TV? Who watches the show anyway that hasn’t already been offended by Maher’s criticism of religion? Unless you are a fan why would anyone subscribe to Maher’s tweet page? Not that his tweet would empathize with evangelicals but why wouldn’t Maher’s comments evoke a shared sense of how Satan celebrates when humans fail?
Devout beliefs in one category do not necessarily carry over into other domains but far be it for some religious fundamentalists to be deterred in their crusades on the infidels of this world. In this case at least someone has to be earnestly looking for Bill Maher to offend them and then make it more of a public issue than need be.
About two weeks ago I wrote a piece on Frank Capra’s inspiring 1946 film “It’s A Wonderful LIfe”. Of the two things that I mentioned that have endured in my life from watching that film, one of them recently played itself out for me. The George Bailey character in the movie, played so marvelously by Jimmy Stewart, was given an opportunity to see what the world would be like had he not been born. On this aspect of the film I commented:
Most of our actions are daily and seemingly mundane but everyone of us have perhaps said or done something once in our life that has made an impact on another and perhaps altered their life to some degree. Were we always aware of how our comments and actions are filtered by those we come into contact with, we might weigh them more prudently and less-selfishly.
Today, I stepped out my front door on my way to the mailbox and almost tripped over a beautiful potted Poinsettia.
I thought at first that a friend of my wife’s had left it for her. She seems to do a lot of “secret Santa” type stuff each year. But the note attached to the plant dispelled that notion and left me just a bit astonished. It had obviously been typed out on a computer printer but it was so informally written as to give me the sense that it was handwritten. I was moved as I read it.
We have lived on Emerson Lane near Woodrow Wilson Elementary School for the past 15+ years. During this time, we have driven past your home on our daily commutes to school, work, church grocery stores. (Piggly Wiggly), etc.
Each Thanksgiving our children watched with anticipation for Santa and Mrs. Claus kissing under the huge star on your roof.
It was officially the Christmas season when “Santa and Mrs. Claus by the Pig Store” when(sic) up!
Our kids (twins) are 22 years old now and of course “The Pig Store”” is long gone.
Thank you for providing a Christmas Tradition to our family.
The letter was signed but I’ll withhold it here for reasons that respect the lady’s privacy who signed it. I do not recognize her name even though Emerson Lane is a mere two blocks just north of my house. The “Pig Store” she’s referring to is the Piggly Wiggly grocery store that shut down a little over a year ago. They simply weren’t profitable enough to compete with Kroger’s nearby and the Super Wal-mart store a few miles from here. The building remains empty to this day.
“Santa and Mrs. Claus” are two hardwood cutouts my wife bought some 15 plus years ago from an acquaintance who did this type of art work as a hobby, but one that provided a small income for them, especially during the holiday season. It’s anchored to a front brick facade on my house as seen here.
Santa is holding a sprig of mistletoe over Mrs. Claus’ head to entice her for perhaps a farewell kiss before he summons Rudolph and friends to set out on their annual global trek.
The star on my roof is five strands of miniature lights connected together that I have hand-fashioned into the shape my heretofore unknown admirer and her kids have enjoyed all of these years. I marked the star’s point spots with a colored caulk that matches the roof shingles so I can easily locate them each year without the hassle of trying to successfully achieve each year what I was able to do on my first effort nearly two decades ago.
Several of our friends have commented on the star and one businessman that lived around the block from our home some years ago (and who has since moved) stopped by to ask one day how I had created a star that size that looks reasonably symmetrical in its design. “Got Lucky”, I told him. But I made sure that it wouldn’t be luck in the future by marking the star’s points.
Each year as I age it get’s a little tougher to put out the Christmas decorations. I did stop putting up lights along the front facia trim and up the ridges of the roof because it was just becoming too physically taxing. I was going to stop laying out the star also but my wife, who really get’s into dressing up the house, keeps encouraging me each year to continue. I think the fact that so many of her friends comment on it each year makes her feel that it’s important to not let them down. But it wasn’t until we received this poinsettia and the note that if became clear to me how much something as simple as this not only gave her friends a few weeks of pleasure each time they passed by but how it has become a “Christmas tradition” for an entire family that we have never even met.
I now realize that until my body is completely crippled, I must find the energy each year to put Santa and Mrs. Claus up, stealing a kiss under the make-shift “Star of David”, lest I ruin a moment of delight for a few of my neighbors. The crass commercialism that this holiday has become a part of has ruined the mood for me as I’m sure it has with most everyone else. But now there is renewed meaning for me. One that reaffirms the emotional joy that only children can exude from seeing symbols of the holiday that enable their sense of anticipation for that special morning under the Christmas tree.
Raised in the Catholic Church and a one-time professed “born again” Christian, I have since discovered through careful historical readings that the fundamentalist views of some Christians today do not always reflect the reality of this system of faith.
I hate to come across as a humbug this time of year so if you are in the “Christmas Spirit” and don’t want to be brought down from it, you might want to skip this post until another time. The subject matter isn’t necessarily related to this “jolly” season but it was a recent letter to the editor in my local newspaper that activated my response here.
Affirming his belief that we should keep the Christ in Christmas, the writer of that letter seems to ignore the fact as many do that though the season is all about the birth of the baby Jesus as described in the new testament, it is in fact NOT the actual birthday of the Nazarene. Nobody really knows when that is but historical records indicate that some believed it to be the first week in January.
Bruce David Forbes, author of “Christmas: A Candid History,” says those who delay Christmas festivities can take some comfort in the fact that Dec. 25 isn’t the date of the birth of Christ.
When Christians started celebrating his birth in the 300s after the Roman emperor Constantine converted to that religion, they didn’t know the birthdate, so it appears that they picked a day to coincide with Romans’ midwinter celebrations of their own gods. Meanwhile, Christians in more eastern countries, like Turkey and Greece, were already celebrating on Jan. 6. SOURCE
It seems we have the pagans to thank for this holiest of Christian holidays.
Also, in a news story back in 2008, astronomers speculated that, based on their calculations of when the “star of David” appeared over Bethlehem a couple of thousand years ago, that the birth of Jesus was sometimes in June. If that notion had been picked up by the Roman Catholic church initially, all of the “White Christmas” references would never have materialized and Santa’s red suit would now be a tropical shirt and shorts attire.
But this isn’t the part of the writer’s letter that rubs me the wrong way. It is the notion that we are primarily a nation “founded on Judeo-Christian values”. There is no argument from me that much of what our laws are based on come from the Mosaic laws and are inherently fitted to some core christian values. But it is distortion of the worst kind, in my opinion, to presume that everyone who came to this country did so to establish Judeo-christian values.
Sure the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock were escaping religious persecution in England but let’s remember that that rigid group of people had a set of values in many ways that resembled more how the Romans treated early Christians than they did the teachings of Jesus. The most well-known display of such un-Christian behavior was the innocent killing of people that were hysterically deigned as “witches”. Fear, not compassion, compelled the actions by which people burned some of their own for alleged heretical beliefs.
The social structure back in the early colonial days was strictly paternalistic and the legal codes “especially in the Puritan north – served as enforcement arms of religious orthodoxy.” Women and non-whites were viewed as lesser human beings.
Community leaders acted as stern fathers to the children God had entrusted to their care. Members of the community were supposed to be taught God’s paths for their lives and brought back into the fold when they strayed – but the rod was not spared.
Laws against Quakers were … worse than those against Anabaptists – they could be executed if they dared to return after having been banished. Quakers appear to have been especially feared as threatening to “undermine & ruine” the properly instituted authorities of the colony. Two Quakers were made examples of and hanged in 1659, but they weren’t the only ones.
Blasphemy was another crime which merited swift and harsh punishment – as with the previous examples, any act which might undermine unquestioning faith as promoted by the local religious leaders was regarded as threatening to undermine general social stability. Blasphemers could, at court discretion, be put in the pillory, whipped, have his tongue bored out with a hot iron, or be forced to stand in the gallows with a rope around his neck. SOURCE
People like this letter writer cherry pick those parts of our socio-religious culture to create an illusion that is a far cry from what life was really like back when. If they were really so adamant that our nation should reflect the Judeo-christian tradition then they should be putting to death their disobedient children (Deuteronomy 21:18) and punishing bankers that have profited greatly from loans to people of low income. (Deuteronomy 23:19-20, Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:35-37)
A closer reading of the founding fathers who put our constitution together will show that many of these men were not great men of faith and many, like Ben Franklin, were Deists, not Christians. Their primary concerns as they spelled out the laws of this land were based more on property rights than on concepts found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount since they were pretty much all land-owning aristocrats and not humble men who “fear the Lord”.
Enjoy your religious holidays and prescribe to those tenants in your faith that reflect compassion and tolerance but don’t presume to be a victim in a society where most people claim to be Christians while giving more support to Wall Street bankers than Occupy protesters and attack all Muslims because of the radical views of a minority. I can’t be sure, but it’s possible that that is not what the baby Jesus would want.
It’s Saturday so let’s try a little humor today
I love it when I see ads that have multiple meanings beyond what the advertiser’s were intentionally depicting. It’s a bonus when they are clever enough to employ a second image in how it’s presented.
Here’s one in my hometown of Denton, Texas with an ad for Babe’s Chicken Dinner House
With the Christmas season upon us, the private sector is always trying to make a connection between their product and services with this popular holiday. In the heart of the bible belt here the connection is often one that tries to show the commercial interest with the true “reason for the season”, as this billboard sign does as it displays the manger scene where the baby Jesus is surrounded by mom and the step-dad and the 3 wise men.
This one for Babe’s also has the subtle message that one of the most popular “babe’s” in history and the chicken dinner house’s name have something in common.
I’m sure the intent here is that when you think of the baby Jesus this time of year, you will also think of the Babe’s Chicken Dinner House ad that exploited the manger scene to promote southern fried cuisine as you make plans where to eat later that evening.
It might be worth noting too that there are no animals in this depiction of the manger scene. It’s probably not in good taste showing animal meat before they’re slaughtered when you’re trying to make a connection between the reality and your wishes for the season. Also, an ox and ass are hardly representative of the product that Babe’s serves.
And what about the written message directly above the Babe’s logo?
“Behold, the King of Kings”
Could this be referencing a super size dinner at Babe’s as it is also refers to the “new born king”?
Yes, this billboard ad has some subtle and subliminal messaging going on. But it may backfire if those who choose to eat at Babe’s also have some reservations about stuffing their face as they are reminded of one of this season’s primary messages that it is better to give than to consume, or something along those lines, as millions go without basic nutritional sustenance around the world.
Or it could well inspire those to acknowledge the little prince of peace as they sit at their table and feast. “Praise Jesus and pass the mashed potatoes and gravy”.