As predicted in the beginning of my last Monday Musing, if my numbers regarding 2018 budget and pledging were wrong, someone would let me know. I was wrong, and not by a little bit. With apologies, I reworked the first paragraph to reflect reality; the corrected post may be found here: Monday Musing December 4, 2017. While I check my ability to create a simple Excel spreadsheet, please enjoy the reworking of a post I wrote in 2015…
Dear Holiday Hecklers:
I just read another posting by someone reminding me how offended I should be that a particular retailer encouraged their clerks to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” The author explained to me how Christians are being pushed out of America because businesses worry they may offend customers who do not celebrate Christmas. In response to their politically correct decision, I was coached to be even more offended than the non-Christians may have been, and to demonstrate my disgust by boycotting the store. The writer’s calculus seemed to be that if Christians could be more offended than non-Christians, the store would change back to the faith-honoring “Merry Christmas” rather than the godless “Happy Holidays.”
I don’t know. I must say I’m honestly pleased when anyone suggests my Holy Days be Happy, and to be honest I’m pretty sure my understanding of merriment isn’t exactly “Christian.” But I am sure, I’ve grown weary of the politics of offense.
At the risk of sounding old, it used to be that learning things created an environment of understanding and therefore lowered people’s likelihood of feeling insulted. Learning caused comprehension, comprehension created empathy, empathy generated compassion, and compassion bred kindness and unity. But now the formula has been recalibrated. Learning has become the means to reveal the nefarious plots of those out to destroy what is near and dear to me, so the more we know, the more we distrust, the more we distrust, the less we will be compassionate. In the end, knowledge becomes the means to presumption and division. (Sigh.) I miss being uninformed. Before I became “enlightened”, I could grant others the benefit of doubt; now doing so implies that I’m being duped by evil people.
Why the race to the bottom among those struggling to be most offended?
The truth is, I’ve got some shopping to do, and the clerk needed a job and was grateful to get some extra seasonal work, because that same clerk has shopping to do. Does it really matter whose season is being recognized in the banter of retail exchange? I’m pretty sure the store owners (who, in the case of the above-mentioned posting, were tens of thousands of shareholders, many of whom are institutional investors trying to provide some semblance of retirement income for their pensioners) don’t sit awake at night trying to figure out ways to dis my Lord and Savior, Jesus. And I’m even more confident that Jesus is not honored by my being offended every time someone reads the script suggested by middle management.
Christianity was forged in the midst of a hostile environment. Followers of Christ were martyred for offering love, compassion and forgiveness to the least in their society. The faith did not grow because Christians walked around being offended by those who really were trying to destroy them; the faith grew because, even in the midst of that hostility, the Christians loved their enemies.
So, “Happy Holiday” me, “Merry Christmas” me, toss me a “Blessed Kwanza” or a pre-Christian “Joyous Chanukah”; I’ll even smile for a “Wacky Winter Solstice”. My faith isn’t insulted by anyone’s desire to wish me happiness, merriment, blessing, joy or wackiness. I just hope you know how to make change.
Attempting to find the best defense against offense, I remain, with love,
Jonathan B. Krogh