Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Glühwein for Ebenezer

A very recent post by Baggas (Western Australia) really strikes a chord with me. Apparently, I wrongly assumed that we here in the US were the only ones losing the plot on Christmas. (First we commercialize whilst retaining the sacred. Now we retain the commercial aspects and seek to outlaw the sacred.)

I had hoped that insanity of pushing the idea of a Christ-less Christmas – albeit an idea driven by an exceptionally small minority who seem to require tolerance from others but cannot grant the same respect in return- was an entirely US phenomenon. In fact, after a recent work trip into Deutschland, I thought my hopes were well founded.

Arriving to Germany last Sunday, I made my way to the hotel in Frankfurt to get a bit of rest and seek to get ready for Monday’s work. As I entered the hotel lobby I was surprised to see a very large and aesthetically pleasing Advent wreath marking time with the church calendar and glowing in step with the season’s advance. Moreover, that evening, as I made my way to the city’s Weihnachtsmarkt (Christkindlmarkt in Austria ) for a curry wurst and warm cup or two of glühwein, I strolled along the straße enjoying the evening and happily encountered the largest nativity (crèche) display that I have ever seen- anywhere. Publicly displayed front and center.

European friends often say they see my homeland, the States, as a very “Christian” country. I tell them some evidence of what may have been an earlier partial reality remains; however, I believe we are crossing (maybe have crossed) a threshold into a post Christian present. However, I do know - at least at times- some trace of their perceived truth remains.

Nonetheless, leaving my home of the current Christmas tree versus Holiday tree and Merry Christmas versus Happy winter holidays debate – even lawsuits- and landing in Deutschland, I see that others (Weihnachtsmarkt/Christkindlmarkt (s)
take place in France and the UK, too.) have made peace with the matter for centuries. Why is it such an issue here today?

Granted, tradition does not new life in Christ create and, as a society, we must exercise kindness always towards others of all sorts and traditions; nonetheless, a dose of reciprocal "wiggle room" would be a welcomed respite from the efforts of what often seems to be a mean and malicious few.

So, to the vocal minority I say, lighten-up mein Ebenezer. Accept the offer of a warming cup of glühwein and settle into a more tolerant repose. I accept -even delight in - your freedom to pursue your own traditions and refrain from others that don't suit you. Therefore, is it too much to ask that you make room for the choices of others that differ with you and their manner of celebrating, too? I think not. What about you?

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