December 20, 2016

Opinion: Christmas and the Politics of Goodness

David MacKenzieRebel Columnist
 

Donald Trump wants to make “America great again”. Not to be outdone— even though she was— Hillary Clinton reminded one televised debate audience that “America is great because America is good.”

Hillary’s idea, however, is hardly original, but rather is borrowed from 19th century political scientist and diplomat, Alexis DeToqueville, who warned that if “America ever ceases to be good” it will also “cease to be great.”

All this banter might be called the “politics of goodness” and — goodness knows — such politics have been around a long time. Nations and persons want to be great, but there is a great deal of historical evidence to suggest that without goodness, true greatness is impossible — that political greatness would just be infamy, without something truly worthy of fame.

Nevertheless, people want cultural concepts that carry a minimum of political baggage. "Good" is one of those. Fitness centres cater to the “good life”. Value Village wants us to be “good boys”. Masonic halls claim to make “good men better.”

But amid all the frenzied rush for good — to “give something back” or “pay something forward” — our politics has a strange desire to expunge the Divine.

Christmas invariably bears this tendency out. In Texas, of all places, one school doesn’t want Linus quoting the Bible.

In Michigan’s capitol, there is a “snaketivity” to rival the traditional nativity scene.

In another community, a cross had to be removed from the top of a public Christmas tree.

Attacks on the Christian God are far more frequent than attacks on “good” itself. We all seemingly want good. Even atheists want “good without God."

Apparently, in satirical deference to Trump, this year they even want “great” without God, too, as one sponsored American billboard recently announced: “Make Christmas Great Again: Skip Church!”

Interestingly, such curious social values are not without empirical evidence. According to a 2016 Pew Research poll, religious “nones” strongly valued gratitude and even forgiveness (to which religious people might respond by asking, “to whom?” and “for what?”)

In general terms, we prefer our Christmas “magic” without any magi — our holly without any holy. We’d easily crunch our candy canes without a thought for wooly shepherds. We don’t heartily sing our carols inside houses of worship; we reduce them to mere ambience inside our stores.

Materialism, as it turns out, isn’t just a covert obsession with the material; these days, it is an overt rejection of the ethereal.

In ancient Greek, the words “angel” and “evangel” ("good news") were clearly connected. Today, though, we’d prefer that our heavenly messengers have no earthly message. And in case you’re wondering why, I would argue that the reason is political. We reflect the age-old problem of competing sovereignties. To this day…

The secularist wants utopia; the Christian, heaven.

The rationalist wants enlightenment; the Christian, redemption.

The humanist wants philanthropy; the Christian, charity.

The “free-thinker” wants fraternity; the Christian, family.

The atheist wants autonomy; the Christian, communion.

Jesus reminded one particular flatterer that “no one is good but God alone.” This is why the Incarnation is so stunning. Good isn’t a “thing”. Good is a Person, and He’s still on the outskirts of Bethlehem, attempting to move in.

Technically, his name is "Immanuel," meaning, “God with us” not “good with us”.

However, it’s a pre-Boxing Day bargain because we actually receive two for the price of one. That is, if we’ll have Him.

Granted, this all may seem like a rather bold message for a political news site. But if Canadians are to enjoy “peace, order, and good government”, we first need to remember where “good” comes from, and resist all attempts to reduce it to a mere commodity devoid of its living Source.

God without good is a perfect contradiction. But, as politically uncomfortable as it sounds, “good without God” is inevitably a fraud.

Be that as it is, Merry Christmas to all!

Comments
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commented 2016-12-21 10:50:20 -0500
Yes – at least that was the original idea before post modernist relativism changed it into a pagan greed festival.

In keeping with the season, I’d like to say Merry Christmas to Rebel-ites and offer you a xmas gift -

- Hiring a SJWhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eYwddllFUY
commented 2016-12-21 01:18:25 -0500
Merry Christmas to all.
commented 2016-12-21 01:11:24 -0500
“And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good Tidings of Great Joy,
which shall be to all people”

Peace to all my friends at the Rebel and fellow believers. You have made my life fuller.
Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.
commented 2016-12-20 23:51:39 -0500
Merry Christmas to all.
commented 2016-12-20 23:21:08 -0500
God on Earth in our persons, our body temple. What a lesson it is too see Heaven’s agenda and what the Earth. Merry Xmas to all, God be with us all.
commented 2016-12-20 22:36:02 -0500
It’s funny how most (all?) people seem to desire good, and to do good – even if they don’t believe in it objectively – or even in objective truth in general. One must at least comport oneself as though there really were objective differences in this regard (driving a truck through a crowded Christmas Market is evil in some objective sense, and feeling repelled by such an action is not just a matter of taste – “well, it’s not my cup of tea but who am I to judge?”)

The internal contradiction of relativism: all cultures and value sets are equally valid – which implies that the contention that this is the case is no more or less valuable than the claim that there is an objective meaning to right and wrong (as Christians contend, for instance). So, put another way, if they’re all essentially equivalent, why should we put any more weight on that very claim that they’re all essentially equivalent? The idea is self-invalidating, and even from a practical perspective, people cannot live and act as though there were no real differences between different values and beliefs. This fact to me is suggestive….

Merry Christmas to all, Rebel and non-Rebel alike!
commented 2016-12-20 22:34:57 -0500
David MacKenzie says of his own commentary: “this all may seem like a rather bold message for a political news site.”

It actually comes across as rather weak-kneed compared to major news sites.

CBC in particular, has had programmes in the last few days discussing the date and circumstances of the birth of Christ, the appropriate place of Nativity scenes in the public and private sphere, language of inclusion or exclusion.

But pop radio stations have also been playing a lot more traditional Christ-based Christmas music.

If David MacKenzie really wants to make a bold message he can simply say that Christ was born in Bethlehem, God among us.
commented 2016-12-20 21:58:28 -0500
Why do the Christmas haters hate Christmas? Perhaps they want to take away Christians hope in eternal life-something they haven’t got. It will never happen. Merry Christmas.
commented 2016-12-20 17:00:57 -0500
And a Merry CHRISTmas to you and all Rebellers too!
commented 2016-12-20 16:27:46 -0500
A very nice Christmas message.
commented 2016-12-20 16:08:22 -0500
America is great because America is good! Perhaps Ms Clinton should look into a mirror before opening her mouth.