More Encourage Belief in Santa than Gospels.

Some very unfestive findings over at USA Today.

Come-all-ye-partiers trumps OCome, All Ye Faithful for more than one in three people asked about their Christmas activities in a survey by LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research organization. "A lot of Americans celebrate Christmas like they participate in yoga: unaware and unconcerned about its religious roots," says Ed Stetzer, LifeWay president and a Southern Baptist pastor.


There are no statistics to prove whether LifeWay's snapshot of Christmas 2010 is part of a trend or a moment unique for its secular spin. But experts say it reveals several forces inflating a Santa balloon over the season:

Blame the little kids. Although 37% say Christmas is more religious when children are present, 43% says it's less so. "That's not surprising when more people encourage belief in Santa Claus (38%) than tell the Gospel story (28%) that undergirds the whole of Christianity," Stetzer says.

So few people hear the Nativity story of the birth of a savior unless they see Peanuts character Linus recite Luke 2:8-14 inA Charlie Brown Christmas. "Sure, people will say Jesus is the reason for the season, but Thor is the reason the fifth day of the week is named Thursday. That doesn't mean I celebrate Thor. The fact is, people don't open the Gospel and read why Jesus came," Stetzer says.

Blame the grown kids. Many Millennials, ages 18 to 29, have switched the lights off on the Nativity scene. More than half (56%) say their Christmas is "primarily" religious; three in four (74%) told LifeWay many of the things they enjoy this season "have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus."

"Christmas for them is just something you do because you're an American these days," says Drew Dyck, 33, who works in church ministry for Christianity Today International. He tracked Millennials in his new book,Generation Ex-Christian. If they come home Christmas week to more religious parents, Dyck says, "church is the first thing to go. Everyone thinks, 'Oh, why have that fight?' "

Read the rest here.

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8 years 1 month ago
I guess my comment is for your blogginheads video; however, I must say that the desacrilization of Christmas is not something that you can just blame on the ad men and big business.

I agree with you on most everything you say on the topic; however, there is also a cultural aspect to the degrading of Christian holidays that is specific to liberalism that you seem afraid to address (why can't liberal catholics seem to criticize their own side??). 

Take a look at Nina Totenberg of NPR - aplogoizing for even mentioning the word Christmas on air:

Your bloggingheads partner - the left wing Thistlewaite of WaPo - said that the decline of Christmas, or the "war on...", is simply result of conservative creating booegy men.  This is clearly untrue - and you correct her regarding advertising - however, why not be bold enough to address the liberal bannishment of Christian celebration in the name of a false tolerance?  It is a false tolerence because it is the suppresion of only Christian religious expression or symbolism in the public square while others get a pass. 

So, Fr. Martin, why not address the issue of liberal intolerance - or anti-Christian feelings being put forward as tolerance - why simply look at one aspect of the problem - the ecnomic - and avoid the ideological issues that implicate your political fellows?

How can you complain about the stripping of religious content of Christmas - while keeping of form - without addressing this issue.

Thanks for any time you have to reply - and again, Merry Christmas!

Kang Dole
8 years 1 month ago
I'm going to utilize the art of concrete poetry to illustrate the course of every thread on this blog.

8 years 1 month ago
A friend's 6 year-old daughter at our church asked the priest whether Jesus knows Santa Claus.  Father replied with enthusiasm (and I paraphrase), "Of course Jesus knows Santa!  God created Santa!  And God is responsible for all of these wonderful celebrations that we have at this time of year.  Isn't God great?!"

It's Christmas time.  Every year religious and non-religious, Christians and non-Christians (including many a disgruntled atheist) are bombarded for weeks with talk of Christmas, Christmas music, Christmas sales, Christmas this, and Christmas that.  Pretty good marketing for the Savior, this time of joy, giving, and celebration.  Superbowl Sunday parties have spawned football fans all across the country.  God works in mysterious ways.....
8 years 1 month ago
One thought that I had was that by the time the child is 8, most will stop believing in Santa Claus so the conn has been revealed and the child knows it and approves of it.  They still enjoy the idea of Santa Claus and do not believe the deception was much of a deal because it was so much fun and they will still get presents.

But the belief in the Christmas story does not ever change as one gets older and that may be one reason behind some parents reluctance to support it.  Since they do not believe it and there is no reason to ever give it up at some age, they never promote it to their children in the first place or else they will have to answer why they don't endorse it later when a lot of others do.  Also knowing the religious intellectual level of the average person in this country, they probably do not know what the real story is. 
Crystal Watson
8 years 1 month ago
I guess I never get why it matters what other people think about Christmas.
8 years 1 month ago
It is not about what others think as much as it is the ability of Christians to express our joy at the event publicly within our society.  Other religions should be able to do the same.

Ours is not a private theology - we are called forth to spread the good news - and this is the issue of the "war on Christmas."

Secular groups and others wish to limit Christian speech in the public square in name of tolerance - which is quite ironic, when you think of it.
8 years 1 month ago
Great related quote from Bonhoeffer:

“Without the holy night, there is no theology. ‘God is revealed in flesh,’ the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ … .

If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the Son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.”

Via Alan Jacobs:
Crystal Watson
8 years 1 month ago
I may be wrong, but we live in a country where Christmas is a national holiday, where most of the supreme court is Catholic, where an atheist could probably never become president, where "in God we trust" is on our money, where the US Cathiolic bishops conference tells congress how  to vote, Christianity is on tv, on the internet, in  papers and magazines, in movies,  it's taught and debated at colleges, shows up in art, music, theater, and even door-to-door.  .... we  Christians really don't have to worry about being marginalized in the public square.   I think it's the aggressive desire to evangelize everybody else, or if that fails, to still  make them dance to our tune,  that creeps non-believers out and makes them want to push back.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 1 month ago
The pagan custom of marking the winter solstice was celebrated long before the Christian custom of celebrating the Feast of the Nativity.  In fact, from my understanding, the Feast of the Nativity was "added to" the winter pagan celebration.

I don't know why, but I like to keep my religious feasts out of the public square.  What I don't get is why a Christian would want reference to this holy story plastered all over the yearly secular shopping extravaganza.
Christmas is the time when Christians celebrate the birth of the son of God into the world. As the story goes, the surroundings were humble and simple.
This mystery is profound, and its sacredness is protected by keeping it out of the marketplace.
8 years 1 month ago
''In Sunday night's homily, our pastor alluded to the fact that the Christmas story - manger, star, wise men, shepherds - was a later addition to the gospels, that Paul didn't know it, that it appears in only Matthew and Luke.  Could be that the parents you mention are onto something''

There were other accounts of the early life of Jesus besides the gospels.  One of which though not part of the canon was available for reading in the early Church.  This is the gospel of James.  There are detailed discussions of Mary and Joseph in these writing.  One interesting thing was that Joseph was a widower and had other sons from a previous wife and who were then brothers of Jesus. There were also detailed discussion of Mary and her virginity.

So while not an official part of the New Testament, it would have been known to many and probably led to many of the stories surrounding the Nativity.  Whether it was entirely due to the imagination of someone or reflected narratives handed down for a hundred years is unknown.  It was written a little more than 100 years after Jesus was crucified.
8 years 1 month ago
''The pagan custom of marking the winter solstice was celebrated long before the Christian custom of celebrating the Feast of the Nativity.''

As the Church expanded after Constantine, it ran into people with different sets of beliefs about the world and gods.  In order to make Christianity more acceptable to them, they would incorporate some of their culture into the local liturgy of the Church.  So rather than get rid of a major celebration the Church turned the celebration into one that was in harmony with Christ and Church teaching.  Our celebration of Christmas is such a liturgical event that has remained popular ever since.  The sign of the cross developed during the Church's expansion into Germany.

The Church later got away from that way of proselytizing to new converts but in the last couple centuries has returned to that approach especially in African and Asia. 

Interesting the term ''pagan'' had a negative meaning for a long time but in reality it reflected a culture's understanding of theism.  The Romans and Greeks were very serious about their worship and it guided their daily lives.  Paganism is no way identical to the more insidious philosophy of atheism which is a denial that there is any god whatsoever.


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