How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts!
O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments. -Benjamin Franklin
Our good friend, Tom Rich, over at FBC Jax Watchdog, did a super job reviewing Robert Jeffress of FBC Dallas and his “Naughty or Nice list. Here is a link.
So we at TWW felt it would be overkill for us to do a similar post. However, last Sunday morning, as I was lying in bed and trying to wake up for church, my husband flipped on Fox News and there was Jeffress, doing his number, once again, on this naughty or nice list shtick. I was so embarrassed by his answers that I pulled the bedspread over my head and yelled, “I can’t take it anymore.”
Here is a compilation of a couple of interviews which I found at Media Matters (yes, yes, I know, but they had an embed code).
Robert Jeffress Pontificates
Jeffress’ church provides the electronic “paper” for this list to exist. See it for yourself at Grinchalert.com. However, attempting to slightly distance himself from the list, he claims that it is just random folks who post their supposed experiences at stores. So, get this, anyone who has a grudge about a store can write and claim that the store would not say “Merry Christmas.” Jeffress then makes the statement that this list features those businesses that “recognize the real reason for the season.”
Now, how does he know that these businesses “recognize” the real reason for Christmas? He also claimed that these businesses “celebrate Christmas.” Huh? Does he read minds?
Finally, one of the anchors asked a logical question. What would you do if a store wished you a Happy Hanukkah? Jeffress, for once, looked like a deer caught in the headlights. What he said next, I believed exposed the weakness of his approach. He said, “So long as they really mean it then it would be OK.” Please note the phrase “so long as they really mean it.”
One would assume that Jeffress wants people to mean what they say. So here are a few questions and comments regarding, what I believe to be, his ill advised crusade.
1. Why does he think that everyone who says Merry Christmas really means it? Does he assume that they are implying that they are pleased about the birth of Jesus?
One of my relatives “celebrates” Christmas to the max: tons of presents, Christmas carols, Christmas candy, the Nutcracker ballet, Trans Siberian Orchestra (which, btw, I love) and a beautiful Christmas tree. She says Merry Christmas to one and all yet refuses to darken the door of a church and considers herself to be agnostic. To her Christmas is embodied by the song ,Frosty the Snowman, sung vigorously. So, if she said "Merry Christmas" to Jeffress , he would put her on the nice list and would then certify that her business recognizes the “real reason for the season.” These are his stated standards. And he would be dead wrong.
2. Why not say Happy Holidays?
Why do some Christians think that everyone who says “Happy Holidays” is a sellout? The word "holiday" is derived from the word “holy day” which, in this writer’s estimation, includes Christmas. In fact, when someone says Happy Holidays to me, I often respond, “It truly is a holy day. Same to you.”
3. Is this list, which demands a verbal “Merry Christmas,” the best way to witness to the birth of our Lord?
This question is the crux of the matter. Why not take this season as an opportunity to greet a harried checkout person who is desperately trying to ring up all the purchases and receiving a minimum wage for doing so? Can you imagine how tired he/she feels and, perhaps, a bit envious of all the gifts you can afford for your family? Why not show her/him some love and consideration? You could inquire how they are holding up. Why not smile, look in their eyes and call them by name (most wear a nametag)? How about buying a small gift card for a cup of coffee or a sandwich and give it to them, saying that Jesus makes this a wonderful time of year? Why not go up to the manager of the store and tell them how much you appreciate their establishment and compliment them on the decorations or flowers, whatever?
Or do you think they are really impressed with your blithe “Merry Christmas?” Can you imagine how he/she might feel about the war on Christmas if they read about the mean, minimum wage, overworked clerk who “refused” to wish them a Merry Christmas and instead said “Happy Holidays?” Wow, what a potent witness. I’m sure he/she will run to church on Sunday.
4. Do you understand the economics of supply and demand?
As it has been said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.” Here is a comment on the Grinchlist.
“One customer who put Target on the Naughty list wrote: "I was looking for an ornament that reflected the reason for the season, and I could not find anything that said Merry Christmas. I'm tired of seeing ONLY snowmen, Santa Clauses, snowflakes, birds, glitter, etc. I could not find a gift bag, an ornament, or a gift box with a manger or the Holy Family on it.”
Let me dust off my MBA and briefly pontificate. Target is in the business of making money. So, if there is no ornament with the Hoy Family on it, its because all of these Christians, who are demanding everyone say “Merry Christmas”, are buying Frosty the Snowmen ornaments instead of manger ornaments. Its called supply and demand. If there is a demand, Target will sell it because they want to make a profit. So quit blaming Target and start looking at yourself.
5.Scripture is pretty clear that one is not to bear false witness against one's neighbor.
One way to really get this blog queen to fly off the handle is to send her some dumb “urban legend” email. Years ago, Christians were claiming that Proctor and Gamble worshipped Satan and I received multiple emails. I was furious that supposed Christians were so quick to believe nonsense and then to pass on rumors. (Memo to Sovereign Grace Ministries: This is what is really meant by gossip). This sort of thing has no place in the Christian community.
So, in this spirit, we have another Christian yahoo pulling a similar stunt on the Grinchlist. If you are going to throw all decency to the wind and write on that stupid list, at least get your facts right.
“A miscommunication appears to be behind a conflict at Wachovia bank in Florida. In the Tampa Bay area, a Fox affiliate reported that a customer closed her account at a Wachovia branch because she was told the company had a "No Christmas Tree" policy. Wachovia spokeswoman Christina Kolbjornsen said in a statement: "We respect the diversity of our customers and our team members, and we're decorating our stores with poinsettia plants so everyone can be included."
But Wells Fargo, which has taken over Wachovia banks, says there is no company policy on the issue and that decisions about displays are made at the local level. "There are no policies that say we can't have Christmas trees in banks," spokeswoman Mary Eshet said.”
6. In a typical example of Christian “unity” we find the same store getting on both the naughty and nice list.
The same Target store found on the naughty list above engendered the following comment on the nice list: "Went into Target and noticed Merry Christmas signs hanging from the ceiling around the store."
7. Even worse, a store may be excoriated for not verbally saying Merry Christmas and overlooked for doing wonderful things for the community.
Mi Cocina, a Tex Mex restaurant, made the Naughty list for not saying Merry Christmas. However, they had an event in which they fed and gave gifts to 600 children of fallen soldiers called The Snowball Express. I guess the Jeffress folks would rather have the words instead of actions. Can you imagine what a witness this is to the good folks of Mi Cocina who are actually doing something to help people? In case anyone from Mi Cocina is reading this, "Thank you for caring for these children. I will go out of my way to eat in one of your restaurants".
All the above examples can be found at this link at Fox News.
8.Could our insistence that a rote recitation of Merry Christmas actually be legalism poorly disguised in a jolly Santa hat?
Some Christians seemed inclined to believe that the proof of Christianity is found in certain outward actions. Is this any different than insisting that “real” Christians can only reading the King James Version of the Bible?
The longer that I have been writing this blog, the more aware I have become of the number of “rules” Christians have imposed upon the faith that have nothing to do with the Bible. This is a way to “cook the books” as Jim Abrahamson is wont to say. There are many supposed Christians who look really good on the outside who know really little of Jesus on the inside. There are many Christians who actually think they are “good” Christians if they say Merry Christmas and go to church. And this is an indictment on the church of America.
9. An insistence on outward expressions of faith on does not ensure practice or adherence to the faith. In fact, it often leads to traditionalism as opposed to true, heartfelt faith.
One only needs to look to countries that have state sponsored churches. Germany, Norway and Sweden, for example, have officially recognized the Christian faith, have state sponsored religion (Lutheranism), recognize all the religious holidays, have many special church services surrounding the church calendar, and have mandated lengthy state holidays surrounding religious dates. Yet fewer than 9 % of the people in the countries believe in God. But they do say “Merry Christmas, just like Jeffress wants.
On the other hand,
The vehement, politically correct yahoos exist to splash cold water on the holidays as well. As proof, I offer to you the following statement by well-known PBS commentator, Nina Totenberg. You can hear it here. Listen carefully and see if you catch it.
Nina Totenberg's Politically Correct Mistake
In case you missed it, she said, “And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice.”
Can you imagine apologizing for using the phrase “Christmas party? Just remember, PBS is publicly supported radio and television. So we do have the right to ask Congress to, forgive the expression, “stop funding PBS” if this is the sort of nonsense that masquerades for intelligent, unbiased commentary." (Yes, I understand that the government does not directly fund PBS but does get money to them indirectly. Bah Humbug).
I leave you with a list of Christmas songs written by Jewish composers. I found this on Tony Jones blog. I wonder if Jeffress would think that they celebrated Christmas. Hmmmm?
▪ The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
▪ Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)
▪ Holly Jolly Christmas
▪ I’ll Be Home for Christmas
▪ It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
▪ Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
▪ Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
▪ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
▪ Santa Baby
▪ Santa Claus is Coming to Town
▪ Silver Bells
▪ Sleigh Ride
▪ There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays
▪ White Christmas
Lydia's Corner: Exodus 35:10-36:38 Matthew 27:32-66 Psalm 34:1-10 Proverbs 9:7-8