Pastor calls for ‘un-blending’ of traditions
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
November 30, 2009

Pastor calls for ‘un-blending’ of traditions

Pastor calls for ‘un-blending’ of traditions
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
November 30, 2009

LEAWOOD, Kan. — A Baptist pastor thinks he has a solution to

the dilemma about whether it’s more appropriate to say “Merry Christmas” or

“Happy Holidays” in secular settings like department stores. _ÑŒMike McKinney

submits that tensions that flare between Christians and secularists this time of

year aren’t about “taking Christ out of Christmas,” as some religious observers

believe, but rather because Christians have allowed their holiday to become too

secularized by blending the celebration of Christ’s birth with non-religious

symbols like Santa Claus. _ь

McKinney, pastor of Leawood Baptist Church in suburban

Kansas City, is calling for a “reformation” of Christmas by separating secular

and sacred aspects of the holiday. _ь

McKinney says Christians and non-Christians alike would

benefit from recognizing they are in fact celebrating two different holidays —

one a religious commemoration of Christ’s birth and the other a winter festival

marked by hustle and bustle with secular roots. _ь

McKinney wrote the booklet titled Fixing Christmas for Everyone:

A Plea for the Reformation of the Christmas Season proposing an un-blending of

the “winter holiday” and “birth of Christ” traditions. _ÑŒ

“It is simply not right to sing ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Jingle

Bells’ as if they belong to the same holiday,” McKinney says. “It is not right

to honor the birth of Christ the Lord and to celebrate the arrival of Santa

Claus the jolly old elf within the context of the same holiday.” _ÑŒ

McKinney says there is nothing wrong with singing “Rudolph

the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Frosty the Snowman” in December — in fact he enjoys

much about the season — but they simply don’t have anything do to with Jesus

Christ. _ь

He says he is alarmed at how comfortable that both

Christians and non-Christians have become with how Christmas is observed in

America. _ь

“Lots of folks are comfortable with blending Jesus with

Santa, the Nativity with the North Pole, Angels with Elves, and Shepherds with

Reindeer,” McKinney says. “I am not!” _ÑŒ

He says the mingling of secular and sacred is behind the

conflict that arises every year over holiday greetings in the marketplace. The

word “Christmas” is technically a religious title associated with the Christian

faith, he reasons, so non-Christians can rightfully ask what winter shopping

has to do with Christianity. _ь

McKinney says for centuries Christians have commemorated the

birth of Jesus Christ in their homes and churches with traditions, carols and

Bible stories. Until fairly recently, he says, many Christians began their

holiday on Christmas Day and followed it with 12 days of festivities ending

with Epiphany on Jan. 6. _ь

Many of the images now associated with the Christmas season

didn’t come along until the last century. The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed

Reindeer appeared as part of a Christmas promotion in 1939 by Montgomery Ward

and became even more popular when Gene Autry released it in song in 1949.

Frosty the Snowman joined the Christmas lexicon in a song written and performed

in 1950.

A 1957 book by Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas

introduced another character now affixed to the holiday. _ь

In fact, he says, the phrase “Merry Christmas” no longer

carries religious connotations in the public marketplace, but rather refers to

a massive winter holiday season celebrated by people of all kinds. _ь

“We truthfully have two separate and distinct holidays,” he

writes. “We should admit it and do something about it!” _ÑŒ

“I suggest we separate the ‘Winter Christmas’ traditions

from the ‘Christian Christmas’ traditions,” he suggests.

“I believe the two traditions can be ‘unblended’ without

harming either. They can exist side-by-side in ways that can affirm both.”

McKinney says people of all faiths would benefit from a

clear distinction between a non-religious winter holiday and a highly religious

Christian Christmas. He proposes the term “Christmas” be used only by

Christians in a religious sense, while the secular celebration be renamed a

“Winter Holiday.” _ÑŒ

The Winter Holiday would continue to begin many weeks before

Dec. 25, enjoy the non-religious elements now associated with Christmas and end

with post-Christmas sales on Dec. 26. _ь

The Christian Christmas would follow preparation through

Advent, begin Christmas Day, and continue into the New Year.

McKinney said Leawood Baptist Church is learning to think

of Dec. 25 as the beginning of the Twelve days of Christmas. _ь

The church brings out decorations on Christmas Eve and

leaves them up through Epiphany. Many small groups and Sunday school classes

have their Christmas parties after Dec. 25. _ь

“We strive to think of Dec. 25 as the beginning of our

sacred holiday and with the idea of spiritual renewal carrying the spirit of

Christmas (Christ) into the New Year,” McKinney said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated

Baptist Press.)