The Secularisation of Christmas
Blogged by James Preece on 9th December 2010
The Shinobi is right, this yearly "oh no Christmas is being secularised" thing is getting tedious. The fact is that the secular world is secular and has been for quite a while and frankly we ought to be used to it by now.
Every year like clockwork somebody will get upset that about "Happy Holidays" and postage stamps with snowmen on instead of holy pictures because it's not fair is it - Christmas is ours and they are playing with it!
I can't help thinking we sound like a load of spoilt little children, we've got all these toys and we never play with any of them and then the moment the other children want to play with one of them we shout "hands off!"
We secularised the Sacraments, we turned the Mass from the Holy Sacrifice at Calvary to a big meeting for a group hug. One of our toys was called Confession but we secularised that by deciding we can talk to God on our own thanks and the priest is just some bloke in a box and if he's just some bloke in a box then we might as well use the box as a dusty old store cupboard.
We filled those cupboards with old books of chant that we don't need anymore since we secularised our music. We secularised our buildings which are no longer designed to lift the mind to thoughts of heaven but rather to be practical, functional structures like secular leisure centres.
We secularised our Bishops by turning them in to faceless managerial committees with just enough authority to tie their own shoelaces so long as they get it risk assessed first and certainly not enough authority to actually reply to the letters you send them about the Holy Days of obligation that we secularised by, well, not having them.
We secularised our schools, we secularised our charities and we secularised our families. Prayer? Sacraments? Feasts? Seasons? We barely even know what they are. Lent is when people tell me that rather than fasting they "would rather do something useful". Baptism is for getting children in to schools, no wait... these days, there are no children to worry about.
Every aspect of our "religion" is almost entirely secularised. All our "toys", our feasts, seasons, songs, art, history, devotions, prayers and saints are stuffed in a dusty old box in the corner. Barely played with in years and years. We are not interested.
Then once a year in comes a toddler... They pick up the bright, shiny, exciting looking toy in the corner and the say "Happy Holidays" and we pounce on them. Mine! Mine! Mine! Get off! Get off!
The fact is that we are only interested in it because they are. If the secular world didn't pick Christmas up and shake it around, most Catholics would give it all the attention they give the Ascension of the Lord.The Bishops would move it to the nearest Sunday and in the absence of the Coca Cola advert nobody would even notice. The only reason Christmas isn't languishing at the bottom of the toy box with the Ascension is that the secular world decided to play with it.
Until we start playing with our toys, until we realise that the dusty old box in the corner is filled with wonderful gifts that were given to us by a Father who loves us and wants to share them with us, until then we have absolutely no business telling people who actually want to play with them that musn't unless they use the right name.
We can't say that Christmas is about more than just a secular celebration when we have reduced all the other parts of Christianity to be entirely secular!
By the way, I spoke to Fr Christmas this afternoon on the phone (he and I are good friends) and he said that until the Bishops reinstate the Ascension, nobody is to give them any Christmas presents - they are not on the good list.
Ho. Ho. Ho.