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A Message To You (From Me and the Boys With the Loudspeaker)

Timothy Kincaid

December 24th, 2008

Sometimes I delight in living in Southern California. And last night was one such night.

I was driving along Hollywood Boulevard when I heard loud music coming from a car. And then up alongside me pulls an SUV with a speaker strapped to the roof blaring music in (I assume) Hebrew and next to it was a Menorah with light bulbs lit up to represent the third night of Hanakkah.

The four teenaged Orthodox boys (whom a coworker tells me were Chabad) were smiling and waving and I’ll pass on to you the message they gave to me:

HAPPY HANUKKAH

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Richard W. Fitch
December 24th, 2008 | LINK

It is always interesting when the days of Chanukah and Christmas more or less coincide. It helps remind us of the universal hopes of Liberation and the Darkness being conquered by Light. Some of the ways each event is celebrated in 21st century America would give pause to those nearer the original events, but nonetheless they are still being celebrated. And that in itself should be a reason for Joy.
Happy Chanukah, a Blessed Christmas, and Well-Being in the New Year to one and all. Richard – Indianapolis

Emily K
December 24th, 2008 | LINK

Although I’m not crazy about Chabad (they are not what you would call welcoming to LGBTQ Jews), they have a way of getting a message out. And I don’t think that what you experienced is a “southern california” thing. I mean, cripes, there’s probably more Chabad Jews living in NYC than maybe any other place in the world…And don’t think that we Jews are stodgy people that “only in california” would break out joyously like that! You should come to “Queer at the Collaborative” with me in Philly.

Zeke
December 24th, 2008 | LINK

QUICK, CALL BILL O’REILLY!

You were the victim of a vicious assault from four enemy foot soldiers in the “War on Christmas”(R)!

I sure hope you did your Christian duty and defended the baby Jesus!

Timothy Kincaid
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

zeke,

I do think that there is an effort on the part of some folks to remove any religious imagery from public celebration of Christmas – if not all visibility altogether. I think it’s evident not only in repeated lawsuits, but even in the comments resulting from my post about the subject. There is certainly no live and let live on this issue.

But I did do the right thing. I smiled and waved and shouted Happy Hanakkah right back.

Zeke
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, let me preface this statement by disclosing that I am an active and practicing Christian who attends church weekly with my family.

Having said that I think the annual Bill O’Reilly “War on Christmas”(TM) histeria is silly and even offensive.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “public celebration of Christmas” but I’ve personally never seen one instance of anyone challenging individuals or groups right to celebrate Christmas publicly. I have seen people take issue with having publicly owned land, facilities etc. being used to “celebrate” the religious aspect of Christmas. Not only do I not have a problem with their taking issue I agree with them. The Washington state Capitol is a perfect example of what happens when we go down that slippery slope. Regardless of what the atheist display said or didn’t say, the O’Reilly crowd would have popped a vein. They would have screamed bloody murder because they don’t believe that atheists should be given a place to express themselves on public lands. How hypocritical and arrogant of them.

I’m a Christian. I’m publicly so but I don’t feel the need to, and I’m not so NEEDY that, I need my government to “celebrate” my CHOSEN religion, especially if they can’t or won’t celebrate ALL religions or those who have NO religion.

I was joking about how you should respond to the Jewish teenagers. I would have smiled and given them the thumbs up. Anything that makes people happy but doesn’t hurt others is awsome and SACRED in my book.

Timothy Kincaid
December 26th, 2008 | LINK

Zeke,

I’ll agree that much of O’Reilly’s war is for ratings. For heaven sake, many of the retail establishments that he thinks should say “Merry Christmas” were founded by persons of another religion. (A decade or so ago I went off on some poor clerk in Macy’s when – during Hanakkah – I found the Menorahs tucked behind Christmas trees).

And you are quite right that many of them would never make place for atheists or any other faiths.

Nonetheless, they have a point. I think that Christmas has in many ways been coopted by those who would very much like to remove any association with Christ.

Perhaps it is more so in Los Angeles, where I live. But this year I looked to see if there was a creche visible anywhere. I didn’t go out of my way, but I did look in malls and shopping centers. I looked at street decorations and yard displays. I found none. Zero.

I found many many Santas and Decorated Holiday Trees and all of the shopping places had Menorahs (unquestionably a religious symbol) but there were no references whatsoever to a Christian Christmas.

I’m not saying that Religion should be pushed on public property. But it is as wrong to push “No Religion” as it is to push “Religion”. And I don’t find it an accident or merely coincidental that all religious imagery is absent from any public (non governmental) spaces.

I certainly don’t favor forcing malls to have a creche. But they have come to the conclusion that removing Christian symbolism will cost them nothing and will gain them the good will of those who find Christianity offensive.

So I do understand the efforts on the part of some shoppers to say, “Excuse me. Christmas is a religious holiday, a sacred time for my faith. You don’t get to rename it or remove the religious elements. If you do so, you won’t do so with my money.” I get that.

If enough Religious observers of Christmas do that, well stores might find it useful to say “Merry Christmas” again.

I’m not personally going to join O’Reilly’s campaign. Mostly because I’m not going to try and empower those who seek ill for me and because I don’t think they are doing so for the right motives.

But I do miss CHRISTmas.

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