Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Impure Thoughts

Today's Nashville City Paper joins the semantic culture war over the religious terms of "Holiday" vs. "Christmas" to describe certain trees (at least they clearly distinguished their plug for the "Christmas" qualifier/signifier/labelizer as "editorial"). There is one most telling comment:
The evergreen tree with a star at the top is purely Christian [emphasis mine].
I would not be writing this if they had left the word "purely" out of the statement. But its use raises red (in the non-Christmas sense of "red") flags for me. Do the NCP editors really intend to make their statement a quasi-hygienic nod to purity vs. contamination, when the tree comes down to us from a very amalgamated and adulterated history?

Terms like "purely" expose some of the impetus at the center of this debate: it is the drive toward cultural cleansing and purification. Fundamentalism--"the striving for purity of belief based on precise, unquestioned fundamentals, coupled with a willingness to do whatever it takes to insure that those basic tenets are protected from the challenges of secular society"--is the machine behind the controversy. Even President Bush is getting bulldozed by that machine simply for sending out culturally impure Christmas cards.

I have already pointed out that the term "holiday," is just as traditionally and generally (not purely) a Christian-oriented concept as the Christmas tree is. So, taking a side in this ridiculous fight is a little unChristian, although not "purely" unChristian.

1 comment:

  1. You are right. Have a happy holyday. I mean holiday.