Diana Butler Bass – Fox News: War on Advent

Probably not everybody in Europe is aware of the paranoia of the American Religious Right on the so-called ‘war on Christmas’, which, to be fair, is as pathetic as some secularista obsession with anything smelling religious (except, of course, the ‘secularist religion’). No other agency seems to be more entrenched in their cultural crusade for ‘saving Christmas’ that the (very) right wing TV station Fox News.

Diana Butler Buss points out in this excellent article in The Huffington Post to two problems with the Fox News campaign:

1. they seem undisturbed by the consumerist mood promoted during this season; probably the consumerist ‘religion’ is very compatible with the their fundamentalist worldview.

2. they seem to forget that Christmas begins on the eve of 24 December and what the Church celebrates until then is the Advent, which they seem to completely ignore; do they wage a ‘war on Advent’? Or, maybe, the Advent, with its more sober mood, is not so ‘sexy’ for the consumerist agenda of Fox News?

Ladies and gentlemen, here is Diana Butler Bass:

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Joyful Whatever!

With FOX News seeking to expose those who refuse to say “Merry Christmas” as secular collaborators to the War on Christmas, I confess that I am confused. FOX holds itself up as the network that stands by traditional values defending America and faith from heresies and infidelities of all sorts.

Did FOX get the wrong memo? According to ancient Christian tradition, “Christmas” is not the December shopping season in advance of Christmas Day; rather, it is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the Twelve Days following that run until early January. During most of December, Christians observe Advent, a four-week season of reflection, preparation and waiting that precedes the yearly celebration of Jesus’ birth. In many mainstream and liturgical (and even liberal and progressive) churches, no Christmas hymn will pass the lips of a serious churchgoer for another two weeks. If you wander into a local Lutheran, Episcopal or Roman Catholic parish, the congregation will still be chanting the ethereal tones of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” or “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night.” There are no poinsettias, no Christmas pageants, no trees or holly, and no red and green altar linens. A few days ago, they might have preached about St. Nicholas — but not Santa Claus. There are no twinkling lights or over-the-top Christmas displays. Just four candles in a simple wreath, two partially burned, two yet to be lit. The mood is somber as December moves toward deeper darkness, and the night lengthens. The world waits, and it is time to prepare for the arrival of God’s kingdom. It is not Christmas. It is Advent.

During these weeks, churches are not merry. There is a muted sense of hope and expectation. Christians recollect God’s ancient promise to Israel for a kingdom where lion and lamb will lie down together. The ministers preach from stark biblical texts about the poor and oppressed being lifted up while the rich and powerful are cast down, about society being leveled and oppression ceasing. Christians remember the Hebrew prophets and long for a Jewish Messiah to be born.

Ancient Christian saints, theologians and evangelists would be horrified that those who claim to stand for tradition have forgotten the most important aspect of it. Jesus Christ was not born that human beings would spend December shopping or saying, “Merry Christmas.” Jesus was born to confront the rulers of this world with the love and justice of the God of Abraham — that Jesus, the same Jesus who preached the the poor and marginalized were blessed, is the King of kings and Lord of lords. All earthly powers pale before him, the humble born one who will die a political traitor to Rome.

Perhaps FOX thinks it might be best if Christians did not spend too much time contemplating a Savior who promised to overthrow the powers-that-be in favor of a kingdom where the poor are blessed and the last shall be first. That’s probably bad for business and does not exactly fit with their favored political philosophy.

And maybe, just maybe, the real war of this season is the War on Advent.

Read HERE the entire article.

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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