Stephen Pollard: A delightful, religion-free December 25

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tuesday was my first Christmas dinner. As Jews, my family have never “done” Christmas. My wife’s (we got married earlier this year) have, however, always had the full-on turkey, presents and crackers.

They’ve done so because Christmas is now almost entirely devoid of any religious element. For the overwhelming majority of us, Christmas is simply a fun, national, secular holiday.

This Christmas, only about 2.7 million people went to an Anglican church service. To put that figure in perspective, an estimated 3.5 million of us spent part of Christmas Day shopping online – not to mention the 84 people who filed their annual tax return online last Christmas Day.

So although it’s an annual tradition for Christian leaders to issue a Christmas homily, one has to wonder why they still bother – because the metamorphosis of Christmas from religious to secular holiday is part of the same process that renders bishops and priests increasingly irrelevant. When the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks, for instance, his words no longer carry automatic weight because of the office he holds. We first choose whether or not we respect him, and then decide whether to pay attention.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

10 Comments
Posted December 27, 2007 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

It’s been 15 years since I’ve engaged in the insane national (U.S.) tradition of flocking to the malls for the [pre-]Xmas “holiday” season leading up to December 25. Clearly, from reading Pollard, the oxymoron of “secular holiday” is simply over the heads of both Jews and Christians, and probably Muslims as well.

Let us remember that now is the time of the Christmas Holy-Days. Today is the Third Day of Christmas. It will remain Christmas until the Twelfth Day.

A Happy Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord to you all!

December 27, 7:51 am | [comment link]
2. Charley wrote:

Aye, the eye of the needle gets ever smaller….

December 27, 9:11 am | [comment link]
3. Carol R wrote:

Christmas is “religion-free” only if one makes the unfortunate choice to make it so.

December 27, 9:44 am | [comment link]
4. Larry Morse wrote:

The arrogance here is unusually hard to tolerate, perhaps because he is talking about something he knows, really,nothing about. There is a smugness, a condescension that, quite frankly, makes me want to give his head a good whack.

  But the rest of us know what he does not. So a Merry Christmas to you, a long, healthy, prosperous New Year, and keep Christmas right out to Epiphany. It is probably no accident that Jan. 6 is when the sun starts to rise earlier each morning.  Larry

December 27, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
5. Br. Michael wrote:

Yes, let’s all try to keep Christmas to Epiphany.  I know I will.

December 27, 4:16 pm | [comment link]
6. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Br. Michael, to quote a great spiritual leader,

There is no try.

There is only do.

....Yoda

December 27, 7:21 pm | [comment link]
7. Bob from Boone wrote:

I’ll be with you, Br. Michael. Yes, the US and GB has a secular holiday called Christmas (or, “The Happy Holidays”) and let others enjoy it. And they can even ignore homilies and greetings from prelates and priests. But that will not stop any of us from witnessing the Twelve Days that we celebrate the Incarnation of the Word into our Flesh, that wonderful mystery that has called and still calls us to full humanity.

December 28, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
8. Billy wrote:

#7, BfB, I don’t understand your last sentence “calls us to full humanity.”  Please explain.

December 28, 2:19 pm | [comment link]
9. libraryjim wrote:

I let Bob answer, but for me it makes perfect sense:

Jesus the Christ came not only to redeem us from sin, but to restore us to the pre-fall imago Deo (I hope I’m spelling that right)—the image of God—and thus to all God meant us to be as human beings, i.e., our full humanity and human-ness as God intended.

December 28, 3:48 pm | [comment link]
10. Albany* wrote:

It’s important to take this sort of critique seriously. As Charley says, “the eye of the needle” is getting smaller. Thanks be to God.

As for “whacking in the head,”  of course that is quite unacceptable from any Christian standpoint. Rather, we will need to endure the pain in our own head that comes from such writings and state of culture. And we will need to show great good will and once-a-year herculean effort to evangelize those who show up in our parishes. Trying hard to keep their sound-bite attention span while they check their cell phones through no fault of their own. That is our lot, and it’s a heck of a lot better than the lions.

December 29, 12:06 pm | [comment link]
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