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In “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, one of the deprivations the White Witch imposed upon Narnia was that, under her rule, it was always winter but never Christmas. Through this literary device, Lewis was able to emphasize how the profound truths of existence are often reflected and even pointed to by the simplest pleasures of life.
It is ashame Southern Baptist cultural functionary Russell Moore has failed to grasp this particular axiom. In what amounts to a column posted at his website titled “Is There A 'War' On Christmas?” (the word “War” placed in quotations to no doubt undermine the seriousness of this concern), this particular theologian astutely analyzes and exegetes the seriousness of Christmas as the celebration of God incarnating in human form and how the flippancy in which that mystery is often approached is itself a symptom of the degree to which Western civilization has strayed from the straight and narrow.
However, Dr. Moore doesn't seem to grasp that these incidental slights that Moore seems to dismiss also point to the degree to which the culture has been deChristianized. For example, Moore writes, “But the huffing and puffing that we tend to do when marketers don't get our Christian commitments is, I think, a little bit off base.” Moore goes on to conclude, “...when we think about this war on Christmas, we shouldn't turn this into a fight for our right to party...And we need to remember that the darkness isn't overcome by sarcasm, or personal offense, or retaliatory insults, or boycotts of Wal-Mart or whatever it is.”
As part of his public persona, Russell Moore has positioned or branded himself as a minister sensitive to the concerns of particular favored aggrieved constituencies . For example, Dr. Moore serves as a token Anglo on the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and has released public statements that just about blame White people for the upheaval perpetrated during Black Lives Matter protests rather than the rampaging activists themselves.
These days linguistic tensions are so taunt with many of those in the majoritarian demographic walking around on egg shells for fear of a misconstrued verbal inflection resulting in a lost job or even threats of physical retaliation. As an historical reference one only need recall the outcry over Ross Perot's articulation of the phrase “You people”.
Therefore, if Christians in general and Evangelicals in particular see those in positions of leadership that don't mind instructing we mere dimwits of the congregation how we are to be in submission to them and to follow their example getting worked up into a froth over things considerable removed from the average American's daily purview of concern, why shouldn't it be expected for people to react vocally for the small yet existentially substantial things that they actually care about. For example, if we are expected to get worked up over someone manhandled by the police that deliberately decided to disobey la enforcement's perfectly justifiable instructions, shouldn't professional religionists such as Dr. Moore ought to express a little more sympathy for the common Christian feeling insulted that the holiday displays at the local mall or “big box retailer” don't seem sufficiently Christmasy?
Dr. Moore further observes, “...I think we need to keep in mind most of these issues that we take offense at are done by corporations ...[that] are trying to sell products. They are really not trying to offend constituencies...That's not good economics at all for anybody.”
Would Rev. Moore as dismissively let the actions of government he found questionable slide by without comment? After all, one of the purposes of bureaucracy (which it somehow never seems to achieve by the way) is to as efficiently as possible weigh, process, and prioritize the interests of the numerous factions that constitute an incomprehensibly complex technologically advanced society.
For example, if the average believer is to be persuaded that merchants harbor no nefarious intent by instructing that the greeting “Happy Holidays” be articulated rather than “Merry Christmas”, why shouldn't we believe that the misunderstanding is as simple in regards to something that the professional religionists might care about such as the effort to eliminate the tax exemption of the clergy housing allowance? It might, after all, merely be an attempt to raise revenue rather than as part of an orchestrated conspiracy to shackle ministers by undermining their freedom of religious expression to speak out on issues of moral importance (though it is never explained how authors and journalists are not similarly hindered by not being extended the same protection in the tax code).
Moore further observes, “...many, especially in the culture-making ...sectors in American life, see Christmas kind of in the same way that most Americans see Hanukkah. One knows about [it]...[But] They don't know the background story.” As such, Moore suggests that, instead of getting angry, we ought to instead teach those around us about the miracle of the incarnation and the blood atonement.
Always a good idea. But if these things aren't being taught, whose fault is that?
Perhaps the average pewfiller zooms in on retail establishments that blatantly thumb their noses at what Dr. Moore seems to dismiss as holiday trivialities rather than those that might appropriate the veneer of the devotional in pursuit of more trivial ends because deep down these believers have might have an inclination that something is askew but cannot hone in on something more specific. Many times they have not been taught much better than their secular non-churchgoing counterparts.
For example, as someone on the Southern Baptist payroll, does Russell Moore spend much time emphasizing and teaching what C.S. Lewis categorized as “Mere Christianity”? For it seems for much of the past year or so the theologian has spent an inordinate amount of time bashing Christians that got behind the Trump candidacy because, despite his faults, Trump was about the only presidential contender willing to admit that drastic action needed to be taken at the boarder.
Some might respond that it is not the place of a pastor or minister to co-opt the sanctified solemnity of the pulpit or even the clerical collar to wallow in the banalities of political affairs. However, that has not prevented Russell Moore and those of a similar mindset infiltrating the Southern Baptist Convention from speaking out on issues regarding immigration and related minority concerns.
These exegetical activists insist Scripture is inherently pro-immigrant as evidenced by the protections extended to the strangers dwelling in the midst of Israel. Yet seldom do these homilists point out that these outsiders were also compelled to live in respect of Israel's culture and the importance both the Old and New Testaments place upon abiding by the duly constituted laws of the nation's in which one happens to reside.
Dear reader, don't fall for the delusion that what Russell Moore and allied malcontents are simply calling for is the humane treatment of those that have no right or permission to be here as they are escorted from the premises of the United States as part of the deportation process. What they are in fact calling for is the elevation of deadbeats and agitators to a place of superiority over the average taxpaying pewfillers and citizens.
For among a list of ultimatums issued by Evangelical progressives posted on the Huffington Post was one demanding that White Christians DEFER to their counterparts of color. Will there be similar pleas from the authors published by that font of leftwing propaganda for protesters to DEFER to the instructions articulated by law enforcement during roadside encounters or to the rulings handed down by the judicial system? So much for assessing individual by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.
Given the nature of the public pronouncements that he has become increasingly known for, it would be easy to assume that Russell Moore is transitioning from being a minster of the Gospel to something more of a COMMUNITY organizer not all that different than Barack Obama in his early days. Perhaps the best thing any Christian might do next holiday season is to direct their charitable dollars towards institutions other than those affiliated with Moore's wing of the Southern Baptist Convention.
By Frederick Meekins