Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Is Christmas Too Middle-Eastern?

Compared with my childhood, Christmas has almost disappeared from view.

In Britain, Birmingham City Council celebrates “Winterval” instead of the usual “Xmas”? That line is being followed up and down the country, egged on by laws emanating from central government. Is political correctness once again attacking the bedrock of our values and culture?

The answer is, yes, of course, because the PC agenda is basically Marxist and seeks to destroy every vestige of “bourgeois” existence. Western governments, particularly in Europe, are now dominated by Marxoid genuflectors whose every impulse is to root out the middle-classes and their way of life.

But is it more complex than that? Take this year as an example and using old-time language for better comparison :

In 2006 we’ve had a vicious war in the Holy Land, plus a Mahdi uprising in Mesopotamia. Sunni rebels have been fighting a bitter civil war against a dispersed Shia army in the lands between the Tigris and the Euphrates, with British and American troops caught in between. Meanwhile, in a resurgent Persia, a wild dictator is building a doomsday weapon to wipe an entire nation from the face of the earth. John Buchan or the Bible, take your pick.

Why then would we want to be reminded of the Middle East during Christmas?

And yet, remember those old-fashioned Christmas cards with the three wise men in their long robes and beards? Nowadays we see them as Osama bin Laden lookalikes. The timeless Biblical scenes of our youth, once so popular, remind us of the mujahideen rather than peaceful spirituality.

All over the Western world there’s a major retreat from Christianity. In America, probably the most ardently Christian nation on earth, you’ll only hear “happy holidays” these days, with scarcely a mention of Christmas.

Is it that we are shying away from the whole Middle East ethos? Has 9/11 changed the very nature of who we think we are? It may be that we no longer see the deserts south and east of the Med as benign. They never were, of course. But where does that flight from religious romanticism leave us?

Well, we could easily develop a Christianity without a Middle-Eastern favour, if only our Church leaders and others would recognize the problem.

Many of the early Gnostics, for example, like the Essenes and the Therapeutae, were “Christians” before the time of the historical Jesus — if he was a person rather than an archetype. Their ideas derived more from ancient Egypt and Greece than what we once called the Holy Land. It was the Roman Empire that stamped an ersatz “Christianity” on the rest of us to bolster its own power.

Rather than throw out the baby Jesus with the holy bathwater by adopting contrived festivities, like Winterval, a Christianized version of the Scandinavian Yuletide would be far more preferable, with European and American traditions overlaying a Gnostic, Christian spirituality.

Of course, the merry, Dickensian, English Christmas as imported by Prince Albert is the best of the lot. It’s a subtle blend of Celtic holly and mistletoe, with a big German fir tree, ample wine and ale, and boards groaning with non-vegetarian roasts and bakes. I’ll settle for that.

A very Merry Christmas — with a bit of Gnostic nostlagia thrown in — and a Happy New Year to all Syntagma readers.

11 Responses to “Is Christmas Too Middle-Eastern?”

  1. Agree totally. Seems Christianity is cowering under the weight of political correctness – during the Christmas festivities I don’t want to be reminded of the Middle East – it’s not my religion, Christianity is!

    “we could easily develop a Christianity without a Middle-Eastern stamp” – sounds good to me.

    My view is simple: Australia is very much a Christian country – you come here and you have to respect that (many don’t). Don’t demand a change – respect the traditions.

    As America seems to be cowering to Political Correctnesses, I sense in Australia a real shift lately to a Christmas that I remember in my youth. It’s almost like we’ve had enough of the BS and have said where going back to our traditions.

    Any way, good post John.

    Happy Holidays, MERRY CHRISTMAS, John.

  2. And a very merry Christmas to you, Martin.

    Looks like Boxing Day at the MCG will be good too, after Monty and Harmison did their jobs — although I hate to think what Warnie will do on that wicket. ;-)

  3. Agree heartily, John.

    Give me a good dollop of men smoking pipes and drinking porter by firesides in coaching Inns with six foot snowdrifts outside.

    Charles Dickens had it about right.

  4. HeHe, John – your batsmen are doing you proud … again, ;-)

    This could (should) be a really close match.

  5. Enough said, Martin. Well done on regaining the Ashes., though you have been helped by England losing them. ;-)

  6. You’re right, Deborah. It’s amazing what’s going on in the West now. It’s as if we’ve collectively given up on our culture and adopted a version of the one we fought and defeated in the 20th century. It doesn’t make sense on any level.

  7. A Merry Gnostic Christmas to you, Cyndi, and a great Yuletide as well. :-)

  8. Ahh, Charles Dickens! I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a Scrooge, Steve. ;-)

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  10. Thank you, HART .. but the best bit is at the end. :-)

    I hope you have a great time between December 24 and January 2.

  11. Good analysis, Andrea. Of course, in the U.S there’s a constitutional separation between politics and religion. On the surface that seems fair, given the antagonisms that religions often cause.

    The problem arises when there’s a de facto national religion, as there is in the States and also here in Britain. The constitutional separation amounts to an enforced negative discrimination against the large majority of the population who call themselves Christians.

    In Britain we’ve managed our usual Heath Robinson way round that by having an “established” church — the Church of England — rather than a religion, which has ceremonial sway only over matters of state. It’s also so mild and liberal that no other religion objects to it. In fact, the Chief Rabbi wants the CofE to remain established on the grounds that any other alternative would be infinitely worse. Typical British nuanced thinking.

    However, the fly in the ointment is that our 3pc Muslim population is starting to get aggressively political, as is its nature, and demanding equal status (and funding) with the other churches. Blair’s so-called Human Rights Act gives them this on a plate, so the delicate, working arrangements we’ve had since around 1800 are beginning to break down. That’s the cause of our head-banging political “correctness” where Christmas is concerned.

    Anyway, I hope you and Clive have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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