O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree
Thanks to Lost Budgie I've been made aware of the latest bun fight in the Christmas - holiday - festivus - winter interlude - wars at Newsday.com. It's a great world. Why, in this world you can re-orient your crappers so that they point away from Mecca or towards Mecca, and position yourself respectively as sensitive womb man, or curmudgeonly mastodon slayer. Note please. If you choose the latter you had better damn well be a mastodon slayer.
You can launch a public jihad on an imaginary literary pig called Piglet and believe you are doing the will of Allah, if is that is your particular bent. It is a well known fact that Porky the Pig and his friends lack juridical protections of other minorities and can be pilloried at whim. Yes, it's a great world! The demise of Piglet as a harbinger of the demise of Britain.
Today, you can even order prison guards in Her Majesty's royal prisons to remove their English flag lapel pins (the cross of Saint George), ... if you are the head of prisons and thick as a cinder cell block. You can even do this on the basis that wearing such pins is offensive to incarcerated Muslim criminals. You can, but I can note that the flags were not ordered off the prison guard uniforms to respect the sectarian prejudices of the Irish Republican Army. The average British Muslim criminal could learn a thing or two about English oppression from the average Marxist-bomb-toting Irish terrorist. So sayeth this Canuck of Irish Catholic descent. I'm just jealous. Muslims got Lawrence of Arabia; we got Robert Emmett. In the words of the old ballad.
The struggle is over, our boys are defeated.
Old Ireland surrounded with sadness and gloom.
We were defeated and shamefully treated
and I Robert Emmett awaiting my doom.
To be drawn and quartered well that was my sentence ......
It is a well known fact that a man about to be pulled asunder by four horses does not give the south end of a rat pointing north for the lapel accessories of his executioners. Of course, I take comfort that Robert Emmett really was on the side of the Irish. Larry Arabia, on the other hand, was actually screwing his ostensible allies.
What has this to do with Christmas tree dedications? Nothing. I became tangled in my preamble and am only now able to make my escape to my main point.
For several years now municipal governments tried to please everybody by asking everyone to pretend that the Christmas tree is in fact a holiday bush. They pleased no one, of course, except for that curious sort of miserable eccentric that exults in expunging all public references to the spiritual and cultural foundation of Western civilization. For such types every mention of a holiday bush causes nostrils to flare in triumph. Not that there is anything wrong with nostril flaring. (Someone from the British Columbia Human Rights Commission may log on at any moment.) .
I used to take exception to the flaring of left nostrils but now accept that the Canadian Charter of Judicial Rights and Privileges protects the noses of progressive camels to enter whatever tents they want without fear of parliamentary rebuke or public hindrance. For we are Canadians!
It seems though that in the good State of New York in the Town of Manhasset the good people are a tich unhappy.
When the Rev. Nick Zientarski invoked the name of Jesus Christ during his traditional blessing of the official Christmas tree lighting in Manhasset last week, he had no idea he had signed on as a soldier in the culture wars over Christmas.
Even as he spoke, the Roman Catholic priest said he could hear North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman angrily objecting behind him, "this is inappropriate." Then, Kaiman got up and told the crowd, "I just want to make it clear that this is in no way a religious ceremony."
A collective gasp came from the 200 adults and children gathered around the gazebo across from Town Hall. Nothing has been the same since in this well-heeled community that counts at least a dozen houses of worship in about 2 square miles.
"I have to tell you that Manhasset is in an uproar" over Kaiman's remarks, said Christine Roberts, who is Jewish and attended the ceremony with her two sons. "It really was the wrong thing to say at the wrong time. There is a lot of hostility going around. Angry letters to the editor of the local paper. Angry conversations. Insanity has absolutely overtaken this town." ....
A week later, despite public mea culpas from a white-faced Kaiman at a meeting Wednesday night and, again, in a letter to the editor in yesterday's Manhasset Press, angry constituents are still calling and sending letters. Some did not even witness the event, but heard about it through a widely disseminated e-mail from the priest.
In that e-mail to parishioners at St. Mary's, the 33-year-old priest explained he had decided to say a Catholic blessing, rather than "something generic," because "this was a Christmas tree." Besides, he said, clergy representing different traditions are asked each year.
"The reaction is beyond anything I could have imagined," Zientarski said yesterday. "Between yesterday and today, I've gotten 150 to 200 e-mails personally to me, all of it expressing support. And it's not just Catholics. I've heard from Jews, Greeks, people from other Christian denominations."
The reaction also has stunned and humbled Kaiman. "I over reacted and handled the situation poorly," he acknowledged in an interview yesterday. Kaiman said he had arrived at the park expecting a more nonsectarian holiday event because it is sponsored by the Manhasset Park District, the town and the local Chamber of Commerce."
I'm getting an education on this myself as I speak to a number of people in the community, and realize there really is a concern that the holiday is being diminished because people such as myself who gloss over the specific purpose of the holiday," he said.
Kaiman, who is Jewish, said that his reaction to the blessing had nothing to do with his own faith, but related to his concern the town might be perceived as sponsoring a sectarian religious event. He said he has apologized to the priest as well as to St. Mary's pastor.
Zientarski, for one, said he accepts that apology. He sent out a second e-mail yesterday, noting Kaiman's effort to mend fences. "He definitely recognizes the offense he committed and he's truly sorry," the priest said. "As Catholics, we want to offer forgiveness and give people a second chance."
Still, Zientarski issued a call to arms to everyone on his e-mail list to defend Christmas. "Call your stores and encourage them to say, 'Merry Christmas'(and Happy Hannukah too)," he wrote. "Look for those Nativity scenes! We should all be proud to be Christians who believe in the Lord, Our Savior, and we should encourage ALL faiths to be people of 'faith,' not 'holidays' and the secular."Yes, there is a stirring in the hinterlands and it is good that this should be. It seems that we Christians are getting mighty fed up with the intolerance of others. That there should be intolerance of Christians and their beliefs is not too surprising. There was that incident on Golgotha.
Ah well, it was a Manhassat teaching moment as they say. Now where was it that I read the other day about the town that refuses to allow Jesus and Mary in their Nativity display. I accept the empty tomb as a given, but an empty stable?