Sunday, December 18, 2005

Thinking of an angle

(Image from here.)

The leader of the country has chosen a weekend on which many Australians fear major race-based and religion-based violence to announce, with impeccable timing, that he wants to 'put Christ back into Christmas' (modest, too, the Rodent). His idea of how this should be done is for the department stores to bloat their already obscene profits further by selling nativity scenes.

He added in a neat, nay almost unnoticeable, twist that those who 'downplay' Christmas for fear of offending other religious groups are being 'intolerant'. Figure that one out.

Of course, this unspeakable piece of dog-whistling manipulativeness can no longer be named for what it is without getting had up for sedition.

I don't actually remember anyone taking the Christ out of Christmas. But it's a slow news season so the media does this beat-up every year and sometimes politicans jump on the bandwagon too if they think there's something there to milk. Like today, for example.

But look around you. There are more nativity scenes on sale than I've ever seen before. (Which is icky in itself, actually. Surely if what we are really concerned about is our spiritual well-being then it would be better for the soul -- believer or no believer -- to make one. Or better still, get your kids to make one.)

And it's not just nativity scenes. There are people belting out carols everywhere you turn; James Morrison, Casey Donovan, Wilbur Wilde and opera singer Ali McGregor teamed up for a blinder of a Little Drummer Boy tonight on, of all places, Spicks and Specks. What people are shopping for are the relics of the gifts brought by the Wise Men; every Christmas present is an allusion to the story. And most of all there are little kids doing the nativity thing, dressing up in teatowels, dropping the dolly, forgetting their lines, vomiting on each others' unsuspecting heads and making their mothers cry. That'll never go out of fashion.

And the only people I've seen complaining about any of it so far are a blond-haired, blue-eyed, hard-nosed family of resisters from NSW who say they're not Christians and they don't want their kids to have to go along with this stuff at what is supposed to be a secular State school. Oh, except for the endless moaning from people who are sick of shopping, cooking and cleaning, and/or are dreading spending a day with their families.

Personally I think those people who are downplaying Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Hogmanay are being intolerant, too. I wonder what sorts of profits the department stores could turn there.

In the household of one friend this year, the large and beautiful nativity scene that has had pride of place on the hall table for several years now -- my friend is a complex creature, an ironist with a convent background and an eye for beauty -- has been arranged as usual, but there's one small twist. Everybody in the scene -- kings, goats, shepherds, lambs, right down to Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus himself -- is gazing adoringly at the central object: her daughter's Dux of the School gold medal, propped up against a sheep.

Now that's really something to celebrate.


Kate said...

It's such b.s. I'm an atheist feminist and I celebrate Christmas (as a time to be with my family). I've never met a single person who was offended by a cheery 'merry christmas'. The commercialisation of christmas has been going on for a century, and it's only good sense for capitalists not to remind people of the religious undertones of the day. Much better to spend up big on pressies than spend the day in religious contemplation!

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well, I've met a few offendees (see earlier Christmas post) but personally I think one should go with the Zeitgeist of the season. There's a kind of contempt for one's fellow human beings in holding aloof. And it's the aesthetic of Christmas that really gets me in; show me a crystal snowflake or a perfect bowl of cherries and I'm anybody's. The really awful thing about Howard is that he's cool with commercialisation; what he dislikes much more is non-Christianity, which is of course code for Those Other Nasty Religions.

Lucy Tartan said...

Yes, ratty didn't blink when telling the Herald Sun how shocking it is that the department stores don't have nativity scenes along with santa and christmas trees.

My partner workes in local govenment, this year, as last year, he's been in charge of the municipal Christmas festivities: last year he got no complaints from enraged residents about the absence of baby-Jesus-related paraphernalia in street decorations. This year, he's been getting six or seven a day. The decorations are the same ones used last year. They have a Christmas tree, a star, and curling red ribbons - what do these people want to see? Mary in labour?

harry said...

Sure, put the Christ back in Christmas but maybe put the love, humility and charity back into Christ and thence Christmas.

I wonder: does Howard support a charity?