Staub: Scrooge or Sage?

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Yesterday I wrote a simple little column titled “Redeeming Your Time & Hollywood’s Blessed Christmas Season 2004,” a column I thought was about loving Jesus more than movies. Reactions were swift, strong and polarized. Half thought I was a Scrooge the other half a Sage and one wanted “Christ kept in Xmas” in the spelling I used in the column.

Examples?

Staublog Reader Comment: “Your column today sounded uncharacteristically bah-humbuggish. Bad day at the office? Flu got you down? Winter gray-grungies set in? Anyway, I’d like to hear what you’d propose to be different. Would you recommend boycotting the movies released during December? (Not a problem for me, I generally don’t have time or interest because lots of them are dogs.) Would you like to see more biblically-themed movies during the Christmas season? (If so, what are some examples? Who would take the resources and risk to make them?) Would you support some sort of noise-maker group (no dearth of them these days) to lobby Hollywood?”

[MY RESPONSE: Great observation! I was afraid the column would come across this way. I’m not looking for sentimental remakes of the Christmas story, nor am I wanting to form a “Christmas-season-focused-let’s pressure Hollywood” group. I want us to spend our time during the Christmas Season (and every other) in ways consistent with our belief that Christ is central to the Season and our life. Basically I’m trying to remind us that “Christmas Season” has been co-opted for other purposes by everybody including Hollywood and we shouldn’t be swept up in the foolishness of it all! Every once in a while (like daily) I get a great response like yours to remind me that people actually read what I say! Thanks and thanks to you I added paragraph to the column to clear things up.]

Staublog Reader Comment: “I was a bit disappointed by your column about Christmas movies. Your site is about engaging the culture, but I didn’t really think there was any attempt at engagement in the column. I agree that we should use the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle wisely. But if you want to encourage people to use their time and efforts wisely, then I think you should develop that thought more fully rather than making a passing reference (simply naming the titles of films in the theatres) to movie culture. Hollywood is part of the free market system just like our toymakers, auto makers, and unfortunately many of our churches so their prime interest is not in telling the Christmas tale but in making money. If you truly want to engage culture, I would take one or two Christmas films and compare and contrast them with Christmas. I agree that films can divert us from doing good actions but sometimes a good story can also do just the opposite. Dickens demonstrated that with “A Christmas Carol.” He wrote the story out his frustration with the child labor practices in his culture. But the story went beyond a two-dimensional treatment of the child labor problems to the heart of the problems literally a darkened heart. It is said that when Dickens read the story aloud, people were so moved that they wept aloud and some pledged to change their ways. His story led and continues to lead to good action. Instead of superficially listing the current films in the theatre, you might have or at some point write about films or other culture forces (music, television, theatre, art) that are worthy holiday fare and leave us with a deeper challenge than two hours of distraction. I hope I didn’t sound negative. I appreciate what you’re doing and want to see it make an impact.”

[MY RESPONSE: A culturally savvy Christian is first and foremost a person of deep faith…I tried to make it clear that I am not trying to get Hollywood to change their product line…I’m trying to help Christians be thoughtful in their use of time. Appreciating the movies is great, but loving Jesus is greater. I actually have stopped using the line “engaging the culture.” It is a military term that implies combativeness…I prefer “enriching the culture” and one of the ways we can enrich culture is to create a better one and another is to be discerning in the prevailing culture. Your comments lead me to conclude you are relatively new to the site, otherwise you would put this column on the context of the others. Everything you suggested I should do…I have done many times, just not today!]

Staublog Reader Comment: “I liked today’s Hollywood Christmas column. Well said, Dick. And, have a very Merry Christmas.”

[MY RESPONSE: Thanks and Merry Christmas to you too!]

Staublog Reader Comment: “Your article is right on, but I noticed something. I remember praying everyday in school sometimes two and tree times (start of the day, lunch and end of the day). And, I can still see my third grade teacher (in N. Kingston, R.I.) standing at the chalkboard in December showing us not to X out Christ’s name in the word Christmas. And, ever since then, I’ve let others know what they’re doing ¢€œ taking Christ, whom Christmas is all about, out of “Christ”mas. So, each December, on our envelopes, I write: “Keep Christ in “Christ”mas, Don’t X Him out; For He is the reason we celebrate this season!”

[My response: I agree regarding the “X” although as another reader points out The “X” in ” Xmas” was actually the first letter of the word “Christ” in
Greek, the letter Chi – pronounced kai. It wasn’t a blasphemous replacement of Jesus, it was an abbreviation commonly used in the medieval times (when only a few people were educated and most of them could read both Latin and Greek). Its use survived into the modern age, but the common understanding of the abbreviation did not. My article was written in abbreviated version and the “X” was supposed to be written-in-full in the posted version.]

So, a little slice of life to pay tribute to all who read and respond to Staublog and an example of how one column is read to different effect by each reader.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in December 9, 2004 by | No Comments »

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