The War on Christmas continues

The War on ChristmasJust a quick entry to note something that probably is better discussed through email, but my gMail is on the fritz. According to an email I just received that went out to the departmental list, the early December party at our former department apparently has a new name. What used to be the department’s “Holiday Party” is now the “Winter Solstice Party”. Now, I’m not in favor of Bill O’Reilly’s “War on Christmas”, but I also dislike going to extremes to not offend anyone. I think even atheists can agree that a large percentage of the population celebrate some sort of holiday toward the end of the year, even if it’s just the non-religious Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Some may argue that we should be mindful of international members of the community, but I think that celebration of American holidays is part of the cultural experience.

I suspect that the name change has something to do with the new office administrator, who is an ethicist. Ethicism is, from what I gather, is a religion for atheists. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; this isn’t a criticism of him. My only point is that being respectful of all points of view, including religion, should not exclude any point of view, even the “traditional” one. Can anyone think of a reason it shouldn’t still be called the “Holiday Party”?


8 Responses to The War on Christmas continues

  1. bpt2 says:

    Perhaps the etymology of ‘holiday’ is the issue. The dictionary on my computer suggests that it comes from just what you would guess:

    ORIGIN Old English hāligdæg [holy day.]

    Just a possible explanation…

  2. bmarts says:

    Have you guys been here recently? Can that really be the poster E. Monson made way back when? It’s got the freaking chapel right on it. My recollection was that he had to make a change to not have the chapel. And I know for certain that J-dub’s poster was rejected outright due to an image of the chapel.

  3. brianbunton says:

    I guess the only reason I didn’t make a big(ger) stink back then was that the objector was my advisor. I’m disappointed with my former self.

  4. jwambaugh says:

    I think that’s the previous version of the poster, the one that was replaced by the “new” one of a few years ago.

  5. jwambaugh says:

    Wasn’t Christmas originally a winter solstice festival? I believe that the Church chose to designate the official date of Christ’s birth to coincide. Maybe your department is just being really, really traditional.

  6. jwambaugh says:

    PS: For the record, even I think “Winter Solstice Party” is asinine.

  7. bpt2 says:

    Re: the poster, I agree that that is the “old” version. But I’ve never seen a new one, so maybe I should call it the current version. Regardless, it’s not the one that won the poster contest.

    Maybe I can get a memory assist here, but I’m pretty sure W&M’s physics department actually held a party to celebrate the Earth’s 6000th birthday, in 1997, according to the Ussher Chronology. At the least, the idea was proposed by M. Sher, who’s actually a friend of RPS. This was very much tongue-in-cheek, of course, but perhaps he would have gotten a wrist slap in Durham for his insensitivity.

  8. brianbunton says:

    Actually, I’m going to change my tune on this a little bit. While watching the excellent film “Millions” last night, I was reminded of a story in the Bible (sorry, don’t have the particular passage at the moment). In it, Jesus said basically that if something that you do would offend someone and it really doesn’t make that much of a difference to you, just chill out and don’t do it. I’ll take the lesson and flip it. It really doesn’t impact me that much, so why get upset? I’ve got bigger fishes and loaves to pass around.* It’s a version of turning the other cheek.

    * Really going off on a tangent, I was especially intrigued by a part in the film “Millions” that had a unique interpretation of the Feeding of 5,000 Miracle. It’s no less a miracle, but not as magical as it appears. When the loaves and fishes were passed around, those who had more gave of their own store (sorry, but talking biblically brings out my Sunday School vocabulary), and the poor took in moderation. The miracle was a lesson in sharing.

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