Friday, December 02, 2005

How News 2 Saved Christmas From Being A Holiday

Just when we were beginning to think that repressive provincialism was shrinking to smaller places like unsexy Spring Hill, along comes News 2 stoking the culture wars (I don't think they were just joining the battle) with their perception of some kind of growing fight between calling a public evergreen a "Holiday Tree" or calling it a "Christmas Tree." I got to listen to anchor Bob Mueller tell me somewhat smugly at 6:00 p.m. that News 2 would no longer accept the mayoral definition of the tree as a "Holiday Tree." Instead, said Mueller, News 2 would be referring to the tree as a "Christmas Tree." Thank God for that. I was a little worried that whatever was happening to trees over at Riverfront Park was going to demolish my own family's Christmas celebrations.

If Mueller's battle cry on behalf of the Tannenbaum weren't enough crap, I also had to sit through one of News 2's "videojournalists" doing a no doubt scientific, double-blind poll with a cross section of Nashvillians, whom he approached and asked, "What do you call that?" (referring to Metro's "Holiday Tree," I suppose). Each individual in the representative sample (if by "representative sample" you mean "5 or 6 people on the street") answered, "A Christmas tree." Aside from methodology, the tenents of Christian faith have never been simply subject to what a plurality of people on the street have to say; hence, add bad theology to bad journalism on News 2 tonight.

While his method was funny and his theology was troubling, most bothersome was the VJ's total lack of grace toward those who might not agree with his theological point of view. At the end of his "videojournal" on misnaming the "Holiday Tree," he took it upon himself pointedly to wish his audience a "blessed Christmas" as if blessings were weapons used against malcontents in this culture war. To paraphrase Deputy Barney Fife, I'd rather be called "skunkface" than to have such an arrogant blessing rammed down my throat like a curse; and in this, the season of "good will toward all."

Never mind all of those messages reportedly left with WKRN about how the Mayor is trying to take "Christ" out of "Christmas" by saying "Holiday Tree." Such a ridiculous charge may sound like scary secularism and political correctness run amuck, but just recall the etymology of "holiday" : it literally comes from old English for "holy day," signifying religious festivals all the way back to the 14th century. Actually, by calling it "Holiday," Metro is not removing any faith-based or Christian connotations at all. On the ironic contrary, Mueller's announcement that News 2 would refuse to use "Holiday" to describe the tree seems to be taking the "holiness" out of these days set aside for religious observance.

But if News 2 wants to take all of the holiness out of the days of Christmas, then I say, "Let them." They should start with their own news stories where "Christmas" and "holiday" seem to be used interchangeably. It is not sporting to act all noble as you take a stand for Christmas, but continue to use the term "holiday." Say what you will about Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. At least they purged references to "Holiday" off of the "O'Reilly Factor Holiday Ornaments" ads in the Fox News online store the day after MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pointed out the hypocrisy of their paranoid attacks on liberals for allegedly trying to replace "Christmas" with "Holiday" while peddling "holiday ornaments." Yet, while WKRN is taking a stand on "Christmas" over "Holiday," their stories still refer to "marching bands and holiday floats" and "holiday tradition for local store."

And if News 2 is going to push the "Christ" in Christmas, then the image below has little to do with Jesus. The red glass ornament has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

A cross or a manger would have been direct references to Christ. Better yet, since the original meaning of Christmas was "mass of Christ" (which excludes all non-Catholic Christians), then why not just take out the ornament and hang a graphic Catholic crucifix behind the "Christmas Parade" banner in the picture? If New 2 is going to be authentic about this, then why post a picture that says "holiday" more than "Christmas"? That would be a lot easier than trying to put Christ into Christmas by not observing Christmas at all; there's a thought. But I guess that News 2 has identified the specific Christian demographic to whom it wants to appeal; it sure ain't mine.

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