It seems that in this world where we have ever-increasing calls for “tolerance” and “sensitivity,” it is quite alright to be intolerant and insensitive towards all things Christian. In recent years, it has become quite popular to ban or try to ban anything which a small contingent of vocal individuals considers “offensive” or “exclusive” because of its real or perceived Christian origins: from the national motto and the Pledge of Allegiance to “Merry Christmas” and – believe it or not – the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Meanwhile, we Christians are expected to be mindlessly “tolerant” when our children come home from school with handmade pagan spiritual/mystical/magical charms like dreamcatchers, as my son did this past week. “Oh, but those things have been in the American culture for years and have lost their original spiritual meanings,” many would say. So, then what about the things I mentioned? They’ve been a part of our culture for much, much longer. Shouldn’t it be argued by the same people that they, too, have lost their original spiritual meanings?
In a letter to the editor in last week’s paper, Doug Schultz advocated the use of “Merry Christmas” for only those people you know wouldn’t be offended by it and the use of “happy holidays” for everyone else. I find this a strange thing to suggest. First of all, the word “holiday” comes from the religious observance of Christian holy days. (“Holidays.” “Holy days.” Get it?) Obviously from this fact, we cannot wish someone who might be non-Christian or even non-religious a “happy holidays” as it might offend them. Let’s also remember that this time of year might not be happy to all people, so we really can’t wish anyone a “happy” or “merry” anything. How about “season’s greetings?” Forget it! I know of many people who hate the cold, snowy season of winter. So in the spirit of non-offensiveness, what are we left with? Saying nothing, apparently, because there’s always going to be the chance that someone will be offended by anything we say. (I was a little offended by Mr. Schultz letter, so maybe he shouldn’t have written it.)
How about we instead give and accept holiday greetings of any kind in the spirit which they are intended. Not with the suspicion of someone “pushing their faith down your throat,” but in the spirit of love and goodwill. When I say “Merry Christmas,” I’m not saying, “Convert to Christianity or else!” I’m saying, “I care about you, so let’s enjoy this wonderful time of year together whether or not we agree on the meaning behind it.” That’s what true tolerance is, not this ridiculous, oxymoronic version that has become so widespread in this day and age.