Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Phil Robertson, oh boy!
Does anyone actually believe that Jesus was born on December 25? We’re not even sure which year He was born, let alone a date…or what a Semite male might have looked like 2000 or so years ago. For example: He may not have had the long chestnut hair and straight, noble nose and ivory skin reverently bequeathed upon him by Renaissance painters. He may have had dark curly hair and a major league shnozz. He may have looked like Omar Sharif or Mandy Patinkin.
We do know that the idea of Christmas wandered down the pike about 400 years after He died, a time when the recently converted Romans were trying to spread the Gospel to assorted heathens. One can imagine Teuton proselytes asking, “What does your God require for the winter solstice festival?” Just joy! That’s when he was born! “And the spring festival?” That’s when he died…and was Reborn, like the leaves on the trees!
So it’s hard for me to take this Fox News jihad against the phrase “Happy Holidays” too seriously. And it’s why we Kleins place a Solstice Tree in the living room every year, to remind us that even in the dead of winter, some creatures–evergreens, humans–retain life and look forward to the time when the earth brings life again.
I do understand why Bill O’Reilly might be upset, on his better days, that the celebration of this peaceful Saint’s birth has been corrupted by lunatic consumerism, including the clawing, pushing and shooting that annually attends Black Friday. I mean, how would Jesus shop? After all, He was the guy who allegedly said that it was easier for a “camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven.”
And it would be nice if, say, O’Reilly would say: This year, take half of what you would spend on trinkets, and give it to feed the hungry…because the poor may always be with us, but Someone once said, the meek will inherit the earth.
And it would be nice if the Duck Dinosaur acknowledged that after all the rewriting and culling that went into the honing of the New Testament during the first 200 years after Christ’s death, Jesus still didn’t have a single word to say against homosexuality.
I will have tolerance, occasionally even envy, for those, like Robertson, who believe that Jesus was born of a virgin birth and that he performed miracles–always remember that the very first was turning water into wine–and rose from the dead after He was crucified. It would be nice to think so.
But as the sun meekly nudges above the horizon this weekend and then crashes ponderously in mid-afternoon, as if the weight of winter was simply just too much for it, and we begin our circle toward greater and greater light, I will turn to chapter 25 of Matthew’s Good News and read:
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink/
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you,
whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
And I will think about the incalculable Blessing that a Jewish carpenter may have uttered those words. Happy Holidays to all and a Merry New Year.