Polar fleecing Express. Bah, humbug.

This isn’t a movie review. This is a rant.

I’m writing this directly after returning from the event I’m ranting about, and I’m writing while still in the full blush of fury. This is a practice with precedent in countless flame-wars, and while it may be ill-advised, I’ll go ahead and feel bad about it later. Right now I’m MAD.

But we’ll start with backstory. That’ll let me cool down a bit.

Five years ago at the Ward Christmas Party (note to those not familiar with Latter-Day Saint Lexicon: Ward=Congregation; about 100 families. In Utah they’ll all be fairly close neighbors, too.) the program was centered around a full-costume re-enactment of the Nativity. It included nativity events peculiar to Mormon beliefs — the revelation that Christ would be born into the world the next day, and the day-night-day during which there was no darkness — but all the rest of it would have been right at home in pretty much any Christian church on the planet. There was a choir singing hymns, a narrator reading the text, and players reciting lines as shepherds, angels, magi, and the rest. There were congregational hymns.

Five years ago Santa was cordoned off in a back room. The kids loved being able to go sit on a pillow-padded lap and whisper Christmas wishes through a fake beard, and while MY kids knew better, they still played along.

That’s right, my kids knew better. We’ve never taught a belief in Santa Claus in my house. We’ve explained that it’s fun to pretend, and that some people get fooled in the pretense. Our policy is a simple one: any faith, any belief system, any mythology taught in my home will be one which Sandra and I believe to be true. No Easter Bunny, no Tooth Fairy, and no Santa.

Santa doesn’t come to my house, but in years past when we’ve had more to share, we’ve signed gifts to others as if he did it. “Secret Santa” is redundant, and “Sub for Santa” is more so as far as I’m concerned. If you’re going to Kringle somebody’s front porch with a dinner they badly need and gifts they can’t afford for each other, THEN you pretend to be Santa, and everybody knows (or SHOULD know) that a neighbor who doesn’t want his or her good deeds touted has done a good deed here.

Okay, that’s the backstory.

This year the Ward Christmas Party began, as usual, with a buffet dinner. There were decorations on the tables, and Patches fished the gumdrops out of them one at a time, carefully sucked the sugar off of them, and then with great consideration for others put them carefully back. I got worried, though… all the decorations around the room — ALL of them — were straight out of the Polar Express mythos, which is the Santa myth modified to make grown-ups feel guilty for not playing pretend anymore. In fairness, grownups SHOULD feel guilty for not playing pretend, and for becoming unimaginative, and especially for not playing with their kids. But Santa ain’t all that, and the Polar Express story only works for me on the “I should play with legos with the kids more often” level. As a metaphor for belief in Christ, it falls flat on it’s cherubic little face, loses the bell from its pocket, and then expires alone in a snowdrift trying to sell matches.

As I was saying (huff, huff, huff), I walked around and saw not ONE bit of Christ-centered Christmas decor. No manger. No angels. No camels. There was a little bit of gold trim here and there, but mister Frankincense and mister Myrrh never made it into the building. There were no donkeys, no magi, no shepherds, and no sheep. You know all those tasteless jokes about “don’t do this because it makes the baby Jesus cry?” Well, kids, knock yourselves out. Baby Jesus couldn’t make it this year.

I had to stop for a reality check: I’m in a CHURCH, at a CHURCH SPONSORED CHRISTMAS PARTY, and I can’t find the Baby Jesus ANYWHERE. Even the music was lacking — I enjoy Christmas songs about snow, and bells, and even sleigh rides because winter is fun. But the songs that really WORK for me are the ones about redemption, about peace on Earth, about glory to God in the highest.

The program began, and it was a reading of The Polar Express, with players on stage, a train that rolled around the room, and good friends of mine playing the parts of Santa and the Narrator. I was very nearly physically ill. It ended none too soon, and then my oldest began to cry because they’d just announced the age limit for getting to ride on the train, and she was too old. Fortunately we managed to sneak her onto the train by explaining that a) she was very very sad, and b) she had to hold Patches so he could ride.

The kids waited in line to sit with Santa (my good friend Scotty), and their reaction was predictable. I could read their thoughts right on their little faces: Who is this guy in the funny suit? How does this game go? What do I need to say to him to get one of those candy canes he’s doling out?

We got candy canes, we got little sleighbells (“you know what sleighbells are for, don’t you kids? They’re a high-frequency emitter whose sound doesn’t get damped much by snow, so sleighs don’t crash into each other in downtown snowstorms. Not that anybody was dumb enough to go out in a storm like that back then. Now put it back in your pocket.”), and we got some cookies. We came home. I came in here to write.

I know full well that Christ wasn’t born “in the bleak midwinter” as the carol goes. The best guesses at his actual birthday (based on taxation practices, per the story) put it sometime in the spring. Modern revelation (more mormon stuff. Pipe down, you) puts it at April 6th of the year 0 AD. The “merging” of Christmas with the Winter Solstice is a matter of historical fact. The wiccans, gaians, druids, and pagans in the crowd are welcome to a bit of righteous indignation for this. I note the passage of the solstices and equinoxes (equinoci? equinoxi?) myself, and while I don’t do any zodiac magic in the buff, I am happy that the days are (for instance) going to be getting longer any day now.

In short, I can understand, in these modern times, how the Christian meaning of Christmas can get shuffled off to one side, or even lost. I’m okay with that in a shopping mall. I’m absolutely NOT okay with that in Christian Church.

(As a quick aside to those who continue to claim that Mormons are not Christians, and who are about to object to me calling a Mormon Church edifice a Christian Church: Before you say anything, have you been listening to any of this? Go beat up on SANTA, not ME.)

Bah, humbug. I’m still angry, but I’ve cooled down a bit. I was very careful not to speak my mind at the party, because the participants obviously put a LOT of time into that production. It was also obvious that they meant for it to be special for the kids. These people meant well, and deserve more than my scorn. That said, it STILL breaks my heart to know that they put all that effort into what was basically no more than a little carnival for the kids. How could THAT MANY PEOPLE all unreservedly charge down what seems to so obviously be the WRONG PATH. It’s like they all climbed on that stupid train. “It only goes to the North Pole and back. Sorry, no stops in Bethlehem. No, the Baby Jesus doesn’t ride this train. Here, kid, have a bell. Maybe if you fall off the train and get lost in the snow somebody can find you before you fall asleep and die.”

–Howard

66 thoughts on “Polar fleecing Express. Bah, humbug.”

  1. Howard,

    While I don’t share your faith, I understand your anger – I’ve seen it in a lot of people who have one thing in common: they have a deep and abiding faith in their heart, rather than just listening to what is said to them.

    I think, if you can, you should speak to some of your elders (is that the term? I apologize for not using the proper terminology) and express yourself. This, I think, is a great starting point.

    I may not share your faith, but I respect you a great deal for holding fast to it, letting it support you, and in turn supporting it. You have a tremendous ethical and moral center that I wish more people who claim a deep religious faith showed.

    Good luck to you, and Merry Christmas. I’d offer to send you some hot chocolate, but I think, based on comments about a certain chocolate substance, it might not be the best thing. Instead, take my thanks for showing me again that there are still men of good and righteous character in this world.

    1. Thanks, Mephron. Hot chocolate is fine. It’s the instant Nesquik I need to avoid. I know it’s bad for me, but I can’t stop drinking it once I start. I’ve even come to get a little thrill off of the implicit cognitive dissonance there.

      Hot chocolate, though… that takes preparation. 1/3 cup cocoa, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup water… all brought to a frothy boil. Add cinnamon and vanilla, and (if you’re in for some serious rocking-off-of-your-socks) some cayenne pepper or even habanero resin. Then add milk until it’s the right color of brown for your palate. Wow.

      You know that “Stephens Hot Cocoa” stuff? Do they sell that everywhere, or is it just an Intermountain West thing (Utah, Idah, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming)? They talk about how great it is… it’s CRAP compared to what I make, and I’m just using baking cocoa. Don’t even THINK about what I could accomplish with a proper stash of freshly ground cocoa beans.

      –Howard

    2. Elders — the terminology

      Regarding to whom I should speak: I need to take it up with a member of the Bishopric (the Bishop, or one of his two counselors). This activity fell under the authority of the Activities Committee, which ultimately reports to the Bishop.

      Speaking of the Bishop… I stood next to him in line at the buffet. He looked a little out of sorts. Maybe I’m projecting, but it’s entirely possible that he was noticing the same things I was, and wishing he’d been brought into the planning process before the paint had dried.

      But yeah… once I’ve cooled off a little bit, I’ll be saying something.

  2. Except of course, the Wiccans can’t be indignant, they’re a recent religion, not one of those religions that actually had it’s day stolen.
    The Wiccans go alot closer to attemtping to steal Christian holidays, or int he very best light, stealing the holidays of prior religions.

    Wee.. Rambling.

    1. Not arguing. Just discussing. No flaming intended here.

      IMHO, the length of a given religion’s history shouldn’t invalidate thier attempts to identify with historical dates or events… or current dates or events.

      Holidays cannot be “stolen” you can’t pick them up, put them in your pocket and run. What is important in a holiday is not the date or the decor or what groups make claims to it. What is important is the meaning people attribute to it on a personal level. When someone begins to divest themselves of that personal connection to the extent that they are capable of feeling their sacred day can be “taken” from them there is a serious problem. However, that problem is not the people doing the “taking”. The problem lies in the fact that a given individual feels as though something that should be personal and internal is external enough that it is capable of being “taken”.

      Say your name is Steve… if you meet another guy named Steve do you find yourself wondering if he’s stolen your name? No, of course not.

      Different people can be equally named Steve.

      If you meet someone who celebrates Halloween by stripping naked and scampering around a bonfire in the woods while you attend an All Saints Day mass at a Catholic church… what’s the difference?

      Different people can do different things on the same day.

      What exactly has been “stolen” in that scenario?

  3. I can understand that. I usually see more than I can take of Santa and bland holiday-ness, and if I see it in church, I get mad.

    I really like how you’ve handled the issue with your kids. I’m really going to keep that in mind for when Frank and I get around to it.

  4. It’s funny you should mention one thing … I had a pretty warm discussion with a friend recently that considered “Christians” and “Catholics” to be seperate things. Well, sure, in the same way that squares and rectangles are seperate entities, but they’re also both rectangles. But you can’t get past certain folx’s preconceptions. Logic doesn’t seem to be a welcome aspect of these sorts of discussions. Sigh.

    I’d be right there with you if it were my church and it had no aspect of the Nativity in it. You’re due a good rant on that score, and then some.

    1. Hmm. I’ve also inadvertantly stepped on that landmine. It seems the Catholics feel very strongly about not wanting to be identified as Christians. Silly me, I thought they all used the same book…

      +–Dragonbane–

      1. It seems simple enough to me; the first Christians were the precursors to the Catholic church. And the various Protestant denominations split off from the Catholic Church a few centuries later. The term “Christian” is inadvertantly used as a perjorative to describe the stereotyped American bible-thumper type of Christian, but considering that all (on paper, anyway) follow the teachings of Jesus as the foundation of thier faith, that, to me, puts them in the same general category, in the same was as most people lump all forms of Judaism and Islaam into one category. Precision is important in some cases, in others it’s not a big deal. Unless you’re the injured party, of course 🙂

        1. The term “Christian” WAS originally a perjorative. The humble followers of Christ, however, don’t mind it. They’ve been commanded to “take upon themselves His name,” and that label serves nicely as an outward reminder.

          As to all using the same book, that’s not quite true. The Catholic Church uses a biblical compilation that includes as canon some books that were deliberately omitted by the editors working under King James. The divinity of the Virgin Mary and her role as intercessor is a purely Catholic belief, and they’re the only ones using the books that support it.

          (Okay, the Greek Orthodoxy may use some of the same books, but I’m not familiar enough with them to be certain.)

          1. I never said they used the same book. That would have been a stupid thing to say. And while I say many stupid things, that’s not one of them.

            Nice sermon though. 🙂

  5. Though Santa was a part of my family’s holiday spirit, we never forgot the religious background behind Christmas. When each kid turned 10 or 11, Santa was explained to them, and all of us, though a touch disappointed, realized that what was more important was the spirit of the holiday season, what it meant to us as Christians.

    Because I was Catholic, I attended church services with my mother during Advent all the way up to Christmas. She was the choir director for our church, and so we went to both the Christmas Eve mass, the Midnight Vigil mass, and the Christmas Day mass. Today, eight years after my mother died (and with her the traditions), I still hold fast to the Church, realizing that Santa was more a metaphor than anything else.

    I respect you and your beliefs, Howard, and I’m glad to see that someone out there still fervently believes in what they choose to believe.

    Best of luck!

    –Martin Osterman

  6. Howard, I was brought up in the Pentecostal church (since drifted away from religion, but respect it in others) – I am deeply astonished by the lack of any of the Christian meaning behind this holiday (the way it is celebrated now, not it’s roots) – at a church event? I can understand your frustation/anger completely.

    I think the way that Easter has become a candy and gift giving holiday for the bunny rabbit is also kind of disappointing in the way that the message behind the sacrifice and the resurrection have been glossed over and I have to wonder if the kids aren’t getting a bit confused with the messages they’re being given “He died for our chocolate” ….

    1. In fairness, there will be nothing BUT Christ-centered messages and nativity-related sermons from the pulpits at my church in coming weeks. Sunday is like that.

      Part of the problem with this particular event is that because of the nature of the event (eating, followed by a program) it’s held in the cultural hall rather than the congregation’s chapel. In a Mormon Church the cultural hall is a basketball court with a stage on one side. The room could be a high-school gymnasium, provided the high school was small, new, and had no bleachers.

      Still… if you can decorate it to look like the magic train tracks to the North Pole, you can CERTAINLY decorate it to look like downtown Bethlehem. And five years ago they did just that. THAT program was an unmitigated delight.

      –Howard

      1. Our church had an auditorium / gym like that, but no church event ever obscured the beliefs behind the celebration. We had Santa give out gifts for the kids at the events, but there was always a telling of the nativity to go along with it.

        I don’t know how it’s handled any more, I’ve since moved away from the church, but that’s how it was when I grew up (20 years ago, eek)

  7. Put me in the “don’t share your beliefs, but respect the hell out of you for having and living by them” column…

    In your shoes, I’d have been less restrained. I’m also moe than a little surprised that the complaint even arose in the first place. I would hope that, when the time to discuss next year’s observance comes around, you (quietly, and appreciatively for the hard work involved, but firmly) let your dissatisfaction for this year’s observance and its reasons be known.

  8. If it means anything, the only Christmas Production I enjoy is The Charlie Brown Christmas, which actually talks about Christ.

    It has a lot more meaning to it than dancing magical snowmen, green grumpy grinches and flying reindeer.

    Merry Christmas, to you and your family!

    1. FWIW, the only one I really enjoy is Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. It teaches that you should’t lie, it teaches that it’s ok to dream for better things, and it teaches that family, love, community and togetherness may not overcome all your obstacles, but they CAN make the obstacles irrelevant to your happiness and success.

      Oh, and never trust a bear riding a motorcycle. 🙂

      +–Dragonbane–

    1. comment++;

      I don’t like what santa has become, i don’t like what christmas has become, and i refuse to participate. And i don’t believe that for those that do believe in god injecting santa into something that is supposed to spiritual and sacreligious does anything but cheapen the meaning.

        1. sacreligious may actually mean what he thinks it means. Not that it has been officially defined.

          sacrilegious (which I expect is the word that he was reaching for; it even has a usage note about this common misspelling) doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

          Break the words into parts like your 5th grade teacher might have made you do and you’ll see it.

          sac-religious
          sacrilege-ous

  9. I told my wife this, and she didn’t find anything wrong with this. Once I started digging into her psyche to figure out WHY, I learned this.

    Her church puts on a halloween show every Halloween, INCLUDING A SEANCE.

    I can think of nothing less appropriate to have at a church than a seance. Well, perhaps a mass slaying, but that’s a different story entirely… And they do the same thing, with no actual CHRIST-related decorations for Christmas… usually they just do a tree with some ornaments (generic) on it, and some lights around the windows.

    … so I’m thinking it’s time I convinced her to find another church.

    >Matt

  10. Wow. Just wow. I could almost understand no Christ Child at a secular gathering (hey, folks, CHRISTmas, so… yeah, see, my savior figures in pretty highly here, above the Macy’s sales, even!), but at a church gathering?!? I’d be steamed, too.

    Is there anyone you can talk to about it?

  11. Personally I like the theory that the “star” (same word for any astronomical phenomenon) was a triple conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn (due to retrograde motion) in the constellation Pisces, which the Babylonians connected with the Hebrews. Due to the astrological meanings of Jupiter and Saturn, it would have been interpreted as somthing like “King of all kings in Israel”. If so, that would date Jesus’ birth to May of 7 BC.
    This matches nicely with the date of the (local) census taken by Quirinius.

  12. I think you’re right to be pissed about that. Religions are all about community and keep their communities together by a shared foundation of core beliefs and traditions. It sounds like your church took a MAJOR departure from tradition.

    This is the same problem Jews face on an even more profound level given how spread out their populations are.

    Religions need to maintain their identities to allow them to be the community support structures that they are so good at being. Washing down your religion usually leads to disaffection. (Washing down is different from schisms, which is when fundamental ideas on what the religion should be lead to real break, not a gradual disintegration.)

    It’s sad that happened to your church celebration. Hopefully you and a lot of others will make sure it’s rectified next year.

    And what’s worse? It was because of a REALLY. BAD. MOVIE.

    Polar Express? C’mon! It’d been better to dress the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus up as The Incredibles.

    1. C’mon! It’d been better to dress the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus up as The Incredibles

      And Judas gets dressed as Syndrome, and Frozone plays the Holy Ghost. I’d pay to see that movie, because you KNOW that Baby Jesus would use some of those morphin’ super-powers.

      *sigh* Okay, I probably wouldn’t pay to see it, but it would still be better than the Polar Express.

      –Howard

  13. *blinks* I may not attend church, and I may not be a Christian…but what the heck? I’m sorry, but in my opinion, a church’s decorations ought to include the Nativity, and carols. Since when did this become so commercialised? *shakes her head* Yeah, so i know that christmas is the time to go out and buy, buy, buy. I understand that commercialism will always exist, but why in a church?

    1. I seem to recall an article a while ago about some churches getting Starbucks and McDonalds, so yes, the commercialism is getting out of hand.

      1. I’ve been thinking about this since I initially read Howard’s post, and all I can think of is that if this were to have happened at the Presbyterian church that I used to attend I’d be having a chat with my Pastor. At least, to find out why this happened. Some traditions just need to be kept, imo.

  14. You remember what Stalin and the others said about commercialism eventually killing American society as they knew it?

    They were right. And there are too many mindless sheep following the party line, due in part to the propaganda show that Polar Express and other shows in the past ten or fifteen years have been pushing, especially with the Santas and the gift-giving parts…

    Welcome to the Incorporated States of America.

    1. The society that Stalin and his cronies were talking about has been killed, long since. We’re now entering the death throes of a society at least two generations removed from that one, and the populace in general is even less aware of the phenomenon than was the case way back when.

      The truly sad thing is that the America which was being talked about at the time, the one many of us were raised to revere and honor… was quietly shuffled out the back door long ago, and now that it’s happening again, the current generation doesn’t know enough of its own history and culture to even care about it.

      Bring down the flag. It’s time to get started designing a corporate logo.

      1. Damaged, yes. Killed, no. People can choose to build families based on strong values and traditions. People can choose to rebuild communities. People can choose to stop spending money and start spending time. The path is not easy, but the rewards are enormous.

        All the strengths of the family I grew up with, I am trying very hard to pass on to the family I am creating every day.

    2. Well, really now. Are there THAT many mindless sheep? Here we are in a fairly conservative forum, able to discuss the issue with no small degree of disdain… I think things are better than we realize.

      LOTS of mindless sheep, sure. But I think a majority of Americans would agree that the Christmas decorations pop up in stores too early in the year, that ubiquitous corporate branding is embarrassing, etc., etc.

      Or are we more of a minority than I suppose? There are enough “mindless sheep” to fuel the corporate machine — “Hey! A T-shirt with my favorite brand of soda! I’m buying it!” — I still think the majority of us, even those of us who grew up on half-hour long toy commercials, are mature enough to see through it all.

      That said, I’d have had a hard time sitting through a ward party like the one Howard described. But isn’t it nice that it’s the EXCEPTION rather than RULE?

      1. Given this was a CHURCH social, I’m expecting it’s the rule more often than not, at least outside the more conservative and religious areas. ESPECIALLy in North America – it’s hard to escape it, unless you’re Amish or otherwise completely cut off from the rest of society.

        I’ve news for everyone – I’m not conservative, at least not really. I’m very liberal in many respects, but I’m not a liberterian except by inclination; I really don’t believe many people could take charge of their own lives, or that they’d be responsible enough to handle their own situations without some guidance… which makes me conservative as well. It’s a horribly complex mix of egotism, arrogance, and idealism that I harbor, heavily laced with a cynicism and pessimistic and almost Hobbesian view of humanity.

        But yes, there are enough mindless sheep to allow these guys to reap in fat profits. After all, look at how many people were complaining about your government before this, and notice that little has changed. People WILL buy a t-shirt or shoes or bandaids because Spongebob is on the front, or because a famous guy is shown on TV or in ads holding the damned product, even if it’s a damned garbage bag.

        And the worst part is they’re reproducing faster than everyone else, and the government and private companies ENCOURAGE them to ‘grow’. It’s a lot easier to manage sheep than it is to manage citizens – a democracy really doesn’t seem designed to survive a hundred million independent thinking minds, at least not unless it’s fragmented into a hundred or so city-states.

        Otherwise why would they need to micromanage people’s lives so much? Hell, they’re legislating everything but political opinions these days.

        1. AMEN! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… you can’t legislate morality.

          And about mindless sheep… it’s one of the reasons I’m so upset at the public school system: it is not constructed to teach people how to be good CITIZENS, it is not focused on teaching children HOW to THINK – it’s put together to teach children how to study to pass the test; how to conform, and how to be good consumers. ARGH!!!

          1. Well, that’s what the new Standardized Testing routine for “No Child Left Behind” will do – it’ll make kids confirm pretty well, but as far as making them creative… nope. That’ll kill all the innovation which American industry has been known for over 50 years… and well, no wonder HP and other companies are moving their jobs overseas – it’s cheaper AND they get better workers there.

            “This math test is brought to you by… PEPSI – if you buy three 600ml bottles of Pepsi Edge and give away two of them, how many ml’s of Pepsi Edge are you missing out on, and what other bottle do you need to buy to make up for it?”

      2. Well, really now. Are there THAT many mindless sheep? Here we are in a fairly conservative forum, able to discuss the issue with no small degree of disdain… I think things are better than we realize.

        Exactly my point to a friend after the elections. She was (and is) terribly depressed not so much by the results but by the batshit-crazy attitude emanating from the right in general. A child of the 60’s, she said she’d never seen things so bad.

        I couldn’t quite agree, and you’re underscoring that point quite well. The people we see and hear that are setting the vocal tone of things in this nation (commercialism, conservatism, pick your issue) are IMO a minority. I still think the majority of the people in the courntry are intelligent and reasonable, and can find common cause in the least likely places.

        Heck, we have agreement here across several religious viewpoints on a religious issue (albeit one of propriety, but you takes what you gets).

        1. Personally, I find that, when the vocal minority set the laws and enforce them… and nobody objects, you’ve lost. Once it’s institutionalized, you’ve lost. Especially as, within a few years, it’ll be ‘tradition’ and the way things have always been done.

          I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it were. If only so I can tell the people who are complaining that they made their bed, and to lie in it as it were. 😛

  15. Words cannot describe my feelings about how bad your ward screwed up. As a member of our ward activity comittee (though this year insanely busy because of finals, I’m not planning it), to us it was always about Jesus. Santa was invited last year but only came after the Primary program singing songs and showing a video from the church on the birth of Christ, and the year before he did come at all. I don’t mind the idea of Santa because as a kid, he was a magic visitor in our house, and a little bit of magic is associated with him, but the presents that my kids get from Santa are small (stockings and one toy) and the big stuff is from us-why should Santa be the hero. One of the things that has blown my mind the last coupe of years is how much grand parents have gone over board, there are so many presents my kids go crazy. The two best presents that I get are gift cards to Payless Shoe store or Walmart and (the present that my mom brought over tonight) a year’s supply of paper products (not having to buy TP for a year is great). I digress, but what I want to teach my kids is that giving is more important and why we celebrate Christmas. Reading Luke chapter 2 before we go to bed Christmas Eve is my favorite part (and my kids really like dressing up as Mary and Joseph). Well I’m done rambling. I hope you get your true Christma spirit back. Merry Christmas!

  16. Wow. I am nearly speechless. Having been brought up in the Lutheran church, including attending Lutheran elementary school and college, and after teaching in the Lutheran system for a few years, thereby experiencing lots of Christmas programs, I truly am stunned and appalled at your ward’s lack this year of a Christ-centered children’s Christmas program. That any church that calls itself Christian would leave out the central message of the season . . .

    Howard, rant away. I hope you take whomever is responsible to task. This might, of course, result in you or Sandra being encouraged to volunteer for next year’s gala, but somehow, if either of you has the time, I don’t see that as being a bad thing.

  17. Great Googly Moogly. Even my church mentions Christ at the winter solstice times, and half the congregation is atheist.

    (Of course, also mentioned is the cult of Mithras, from whom the modern date of Christmas was ganked.)

    Vorn

  18. Whoa… and a Merry Giftmas to them all!
    Maybe they should all go watch the Grinch, they might get it then…

    Me, I do the Santa Claus thing. But then I’m a shaman, and Santa was orginally a shaman. [and there’s no jolly red & white Cola inspired dreck allowed here!]

  19. Predictable though

    The party was a “Polar Express” party, I think right there you should have known what the expectations where. After that, the whole thing just flows naturally.

    Sure, I can agree to being annoyed that the party was held at the church, because the two themes just don’t go together. But the real thought should have been “What was I thinking? Taking the kids to a party promoted to be about beleiving in Santa Claus”.

    Maybe it’s just me, but trying to raise kids in an interfaith(Jewish/Protestent) family with a consistent(Jewish) religion at home – I’ve gotten used to the fact that you don’t ‘assume’. If something blatantly bills itself as a party about Santa Claus, you can pretty much assume that is what it will be about unless told otherwise. And if someone asks about going caroling, you can pretty much guarantee some religious songs will be in there – so if you don’t want your kids singing those songs you don’t go.

      1. In the Immortal Words of Rossana Anna Danna

        Nevermind. 🙂

        Sorry about that, I figured with all the references to it being a Polar Express party, that was what it was called.

        Now setting a theme and not telling everyone coming is just plain rude.

  20. Hey, I just dropped in from .
    I’m another who doesn’t share your beliefs (big athiest homo, here), but I am shocked at your story.
    If you can’t have Jesus in a church, where can you? There’s so much commercialization and Santa-fying of Christmas everywhere else, and in the one place where you should be able to freely express your Love and Joy, you get no Christ. That’s just awful.

  21. Sometimes I find it pleasant to read your journal. I’m a lot lazier than you, but I get confused by some of the stuff I see people at church doing sometimes. That I’m not the only one who sees some of these things is a pleasing revelation. That I may possibly be correct sometimes is even more pleasing.

    Perhaps I shall speak to the bishop about some of these things in the future.

  22. I was working out in the yard on Saturday, and thinking about your post. I believe you have every right to be upset. I am not a particularly religious person these days, but I spent many years involved in a church. Several of those years were teaching 4th-grade Sunday School. I remember a comment from the children’s minister when we were trying to plan a party and similar ideas were put forth. I can’t repeat it verbatim, but it went something like this: “Remember that we are encouraging children to bring their friends to this event. It’s possible that some child has never been to this or any church before. What message do we want them to leave here with?”

    These days you certainly won’t get a Christian message in any sort of a secular event, so the church’s events are the only place that can happen. I can go to any mall and see Santa. If I go to church, I expect to hear about Christ.

    Okay, that’s my $0.02. I suspect you’re tired of talking about this by now, but I hope you did express your feelings (once you calmed a bit) to the church.

  23. doctrine

    At first, I thought you had an excellent point. And perhaps you do. But if your church recognizes the truth about Jesus’s birth not occurring in December, why would your church need to act as if it did? Why wouldn’t they celebrate Christmas on the doctrinally correct date, instead of on the commercial holiday of X-mas? (I assume they do, in fact, note the birth of Jesus in April.) Looked at a certain way, the decision to keep Christmas out of the X-mas party seems like simple orthodoxy-maintenance. As for the doctrinally unrelated question of why people would hold an X-mas celebration in a church building, why not? I’ve performed stand-up with my cousins in a church building. Presumably this happened because, where they live, the church building serves as a community center. People eat in church buildings, as well. Have you talked to the decision maker(s)?

    1. Re: doctrine

      There’s point of doctrine, no orthodoxy associated with the celebration of Christ’s Birth in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There’s nothing magical (for lack of a better word) about December 25th or April 6th or any other day for that matter.

      For cultural reasons, we celebrate the birth of the Savior when everyone else does. In the spring we celebrate Easter along with everyone else.

      –Howard

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