Christmas makes Hitchens tetchier than any other holiday.
This was a useful demonstration of what I have always hated about the month of December: the atmosphere of a one-party state. On all media and in all newspapers, endless invocations of the same repetitive theme. In all public places, from train stations to department stores, an insistent din of identical propaganda and identical music. The collectivization of gaiety and the compulsory infliction of joy. Time wasted on foolishness at one’s children’s schools. Vapid ecumenical messages from the president, who has more pressing things to do and who is constitutionally required to avoid any religious endorsements.
Melanie Phillips, on the other hand, reminds us
That is why the great social reform movements of the 19th century arose from evangelical Christianity. The monumental campaign against slavery, which in turn gave rise to a host of other progressive movements such as women’s rights, temperance and prison reform, was instituted by Christian activists. It could only have been promoted by people whose religious faith gave rise to outrage at slavery’s wholesale denial of human dignity.
And that is why modern social programmes attempting to deal with problems such as drug abuse or criminality tend to achieve much better results if they have a religious framework.
Some of the most spectacular examples have occurred in America. The InnerChange programme in jails, for example, which immerses prisoner volunteers in an intensive Bible–based programme for 18 months prior to their release, has dramatically slashed recidivism rates. Secular critics throw up their hands in horror at such ‘brainwashing’ but the fact is that it seems to work.
At La Shawn’s A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. [Update I just realize I omitted the next sentence when I did the post this morning. My apologies.] Mr. Snitch! and Dan say Merry Christmas to our troops.
Jeanette has a lovely post on Navidades in Puerto Rico that reminded me a lot of how we used to celebrate Christmas at home when I was a kid and my parents still lived in Puerto Rico.
The Achoress writes about Advent and Antiphons through the years…
I cannot help – in these final days of Advent – to think about what God did, in a lonely cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem, when He condescended to enter into the pain and fear, the tumult and whirlwind of the world…when he “set his tent among us,” not merely “dwelling” among us as lofty king, but literally “with” us, with hunger, the capacity for injury and doubt…
From the author of SC&A: My time to keep my part of the bargain has to be one of the best posts of the year, a diamond among the many jewels in SC&A’s vault:
Prayer certainly isn’t for God. With or without our devotions, His power is constant.
Prayer isn’t even necessarily for the object of our prayers, be that ourselves or others. That may sound cruel, but it is true. The universe God created was for all of us, not just one of us. While we are each important in God’s eyes, we are part of a community of man, a family. There are times when individual and specific prayers appear to go unanswered, yet in truth, the community is served. The universe is a delicate balance, in which time, events in the present, past and future all factor into that balance.
That’s a post to not only read, but to bookmark.
And in that note, I wish you all happy holidays, a happy Christmas and a happy Hannukah.
(technorati tags christmas)