Advent 13 (2012)—An Open Letter to Jon Stewart

Jon, you’re absolutely right that Bill O’Reilly is wrong: Christianity is not a philosophy.  (Readers: follow the link to The Daily Show.)  I’d give you an A in philosophy of who Jesus claimed to be.  O’Reilly might need to repeat the class if he’s going to call himself Christian.  If Jesus is just a philosopher of historic significance and not the Son of God in O’Reilly’s world, Bill might not be at the after-party either.  The two of you can still pal around together, debating who won the War on Christmas, although it will be pretty obvious that God did.

But you’re right:  Christmas seems everywhere.  A Santa-fied version at least.   There is no War on Christmas in the secular sense.  No one is trying to ban snow, the colors red and green, overplaying “Santa Baby,” or around-the-clock showings of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

No one really ought to care what Lincoln Chafee’s tree is called.  It’s a cheerfully lighted evergreen tree, not an object of worship.  Well, at least it’s not supposed to be…

Now, it seems to me that you’re a deep-thinkin’-kind-of-man and I’d bet there’s a serious fold in your fabric of humor, so I have a serious question for you:

Is there a real war being waged worldwide against being Jewish in a secular/cultural sense or is it only in a religious sense?

Jon, could it be that the reason you don’t see Christmas as under attack is because you know religious Jews have long been targets?  Religious Christians are newcomers to the persecution party.

It’s easy to be popular as “Jewy Jewman” (your Sternism) who makes Jewishness cool in a secular sense.  But the minute one displays devout religious Judaism–thud!  Inclusion on the guest list at parties becomes less frequent, unless I suppose it’s a Bris or a Bar mitzvah or something having to do with dreidels or huts.

Cultural Christianity is everywhere and materialism is alive and well, too.  Who doesn’t like dressing up and going out to a party knowing that you have the next day off as a federal holiday?  But bring Jesus to the party and suddenly, it makes a person pretty unpopular.  I know the awkward silence that follows when people ask, “So what do you do?” and you respond, “I’m trained as a pastor.”  Everyone suddenly needs a refill.

Ironically, the area in which you and Mr. O’Reilly agree is this: it’s the teachings that made the man Jesus notable  (whether as a moral teacher or philosopher).  It’s really not that after his martyrdom Jesus “got better.” Not that He’d brag about it, but as God, He always was better.  There’s more to this man Jesus than ever met the eye.

On a human level, there is only one answer to the question in the Gospel of Luke 1:34:

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Science’s only possible answer is “Impossible.”  It simply couldn’t happen–if there is no God.  It’s why a Christless Christmas poses no problem for secular culture.  God–like Elvis–has already left the building and has equal probability of showing up again. 

There is another answer to Mary’s question though–one that includes God.  And that’s why you’re right: Christianity is a religion.

Take the theo (theos, God) out of theology and all you’re left with is –logy (a bunch of words to study…like Mr. O’Reilly’s philosophy).  Jesus–more than philosopher or moral teacher–belongs at Christmas because Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us.”

For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)



Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 13, 2012

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Leave a Reply