Just got the first breaths of the latest holiday tradition. You know what I mean: the billboards from our agnostic and unbelieving brethren. Not that they're offering good wishes of "peace on earth, good will to men." No, it's not that transcendent, usually. The campaigns are typically pouty, petulant and even snarky. Defensive to the point of being offensive, sometimes.
Truth to tell, what I think really bothers me is that the Christianity these ads attack (and they quite often are "attack" ads) is just your stereotypical fundamentalism, which sees the whole world (and everyone in it) as unredeemed, apart from any explicit confession of Christ.
Since fundamentalism is barely 100 years old, this allows the ad sponsors to claim the entire intellectual history of Western Civilization (Christian civilization in the west) as their own while conveniently ignoring its Christian sources. The generations of monks who pursued ultimate wisdom, preserving and studying ancient texts, founding the first universities, fostering technological inventions and science as we know it? Replaced by a single bible quote taken out of context. Honestly, the intellectual dishonesty is a bit much to swallow. Especially from a group that is claiming the intellectual high ground.
As someone who has (on more than one occasion) been buttonholed by an earnest evangelist ("Are you saved?"), I suppose I can identify with the defensiveness that is so apparent in some of the ad slogans. I can even understand that they might come to believe that Christians' primary motivation in life has to do with judgment and guilt (although...might that be projection?). Maybe the sponsors of the ads don't know enough to realize that a Catholic worldview is something quite different. (Would it hurt them to do a little homework?)
Well, I for one would like to take the occasion to invite our secular humanists brothers and sisters to a celebration of God's humanism. We call it "Christmas." The focal point is a child, as human a value as they come. And his motto is "Peace on earth, good will to men."
Is that really something to pout about?
I'm thinking of submitting this post to the Chicago Tribune for its spirituality blog; am I coming across in too hostile or snarky a manner myself? Help me revise!