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Those who want the Christ out of Christmas have no idea what they’re talking about

Those who want the Christ out of Christmas have no idea what they’re talking about

No doubt the writers and editors at Slate—created by Michael Kinsley, owned by the Washington Post Company, edited by David Plotz and Jacob Weisberg, and home to such JournoListers as Dave Weigel—consider themselves educated and even enlightened thinkers who’d be happy to correct your mispronunciation of jejune and dour at a cocktail party.

But these smartest kids in the room are often dumb as posts about matters religious.  Even Plotz’s admirable reading and blogging of the Old Testament a few years ago missed the primary role of ethical monotheism in transforming the ancient world and laying the foundations for the time when reasonableness seems self-evident.

Thus we come to yesterday’s claptrap from Slate writer Amanda Marcotte: Relax Parents: There’s No Need to Put the Christ in Christmas.

What the context-free kids grasp that we adults may not understand is this: The myths and legends of a desert-dwelling people from 2,000 ago don’t have much symbolic or cultural relationship to the Christmas of our imagining, with its snow-laden landscapes punctuated with mistletoe and jolly, gift-bearing elves. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge evokes Christmas more readily than the tale of the Christ child born in Bethlehem, which most Americans probably can’t find on a map. Frankly, if you want to instill more relevant modern values into your children, you’d be better off sticking with the Dickens tale, which emphasizes the importance of love and generosity. The story of Christ’s birth, on the other hand, is about how virgins are better than non-virgins, with a side dose of arguing that babies who haven’t done anything yet can still be superior to everyone else by accident of birth.

That may be worth an A in most colleges today, but it reflects historical ignorance deserving of an F.

In Marcotte/Slate think, “relevant modern values” of “love and generosity” are not the byproducts of Judeo-Christianity but rather sprang fully developed despite religion—the children of immaculate births.  Ironic, no?

History tells a different story.  Let’s see Marcotte explain the bewilderment with which we now view human (virgin!) sacrifice as the act of a barbaric age without crediting the Genesis story of Abraham’s hand being stayed by an angel from slaying Isaac.

Neither the Enlightenment nor ethical humanism could have developed without being preceded by widespread acceptance of Judeo-Christian precepts.

Indeed, in citing A Christmas Carol, Marcotte entirely misses that Dickens purveyed an idealistically Christian worldview—“love and generosity” and charity and kindness—unknown and unthinkable in the ancient world.  The wretched of Carthage, for example, led lives of desperation and misery unleavened by the notion that things might, could, or should be different.  Dickens’s point was that, in practice, the Anglican Church of his day was falling far short of Christ’s teachings and not imbuing English society with Christ’s values.

Marcotte would, I suspect, be appalled to find that she had inadvertently verified the thoughts of a great Christian thinker.  But in warning against creeping secularism, Chesterton may as well have had her in mind.

“When people stop believing in God,” he said, “they don’t believe in nothing.  They believe in anything.”

UPDATE: From today’s excellent (per usual) Thomas Sowell column (h/t Althouse): “The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit — replacing what works with what sounds good.”


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BannedbytheGuardian | December 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Marcotte lacks knowledge. There are plenty of people who celebrate Christmas in hot climates with no snow & lots of sandy stuff. From the gauchos of Argentina to the ghettos of Johannesburg to the most beautiful desert to immediate light grenoceans of Western Australia , Santa has brought presents obis reindeers.

Everyone but Marcotte is enjoying themselves. It was a bit cold & windy this year but Christmas on Bondi beach is a Mecca for young travellers all posting pics of frolicking in the waves , eating lunch at the cafes in bikinis & board shorts .Everyone wears a Santa hat. It is tradition.

Amanda Lives a sad life.

    She is pathetic in two ways. First, as you described her, as a pedantic fanatic. She does not judge people by the content of their character. Second, she is capable of rationalizing premeditated murder of what she presumes to be inferior human beings, solely by virtue of their innocence and naivety. Perhaps because they lack an ability to protest and evoke emotions. She can be reasonable described as a sociopath. She demands respect and offers none in return.

    The first “dumb as a brick” assumption is that a “desert” isn’t cold and that it would never see snow. This is a “fifth grade” mistake.
    If these folks are “dumb as posts about matters religious”, I’d hate to read anything they might read on economics.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Neo. | December 25, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Yes. The three wise men travelled from the east iirc. Not only can desert regions be coldat night but there are some quite high regions that regularly get snow.

      Aljezera has pics of The GolanHeights under snow earlier this year [feb]. Iran has snow resorts & I remember myLebanese neighbors went home for some Christmas skiing.

      I think even the non religious have pondered the snow images & readily accepted the
      Ike.ihood afte a bit of research. Amanda is all fixated on her barreness & simply jealous of babies.

      If she does not like the bebe surely the donkey could melt her wooden heart?

    You are so correct, all of you. I remember as a child going to midnight Mass, then getting up in the morning and going to Bondi Beach with my parents and brother for Christmas along with countless other families. Then for 26 years we celebrated Christmas with our children in the tropics along with other ex-pats, neighbors and friends, even attending the “patinata” – roller blading at the children’s school to Christmas music, and then there was the caroling.
    This person does not realize that Christmas is about the spirit and how it is conveyed from one person to another … everything else is just, well just there to enhance.

Insufficiently Sensitive | December 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Thanks for posting this. That Marcotte chick must be beyond ignorant to believe and say what she just printed. A true child, mental and physical, of the 60s who just knew so much better than all the great thinkers and community organizers of the Christian faith.

Question: how do you demonstrate Amanda Marcotte to be, beyond doubt, an ignorant fool?

Answer: quote her.

Shamelessly borrowed from Stacy McCain.

I sleep peaceably in my bed at night only because Jacobson, Engel, & Co. stand ready to do intellectual battle against the likes of Kinsley, Plotz, Weisberg, Weigel, Marcotte and other JournoListers on our behalf.

Many quotes by Orwell give me goosebumps … they’re so far ahead of their time.

But I’ve long thought that Chesterton’s quote, “When people stop believing in God,” he said, “they don’t believe in nothing. They believe in anything” to be the greatest prediction of the coming of crazy political correctness.

Christmas time is a time to celebrate Christ, his birth, and his incredible positive impact on the world.

Marcotte is incredibly self-delusional that we even have a “Christmas of our imagining.” That comment puts me to the test of forgiveness and goodwill towards mankind, but I will swollow the justifiable invectives against such incredbile ignorance, and chalk it up to the words in 2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2, verses 9-17.

casualobserver | December 25, 2012 at 6:48 pm

It’s hard to accept Marcotte as a serious contributor to studied writing. After all, she is a mediocre blogger turned Slate contributor. 25 years from now will she even be recognized?

Sadly, though, she is a part of a much larger group of writers posing as intellectuals who are only progressive opinion makers that get much more attention in the many other progressive outlets. Volume in unison may be the goal, and it may end up influencing history that way (sheer numbers) and not through sound reason and argument. Just as progressives want to eventually rewrite the history of Judeo-Christian influences, so they also want to rewrite the history of the U.S., capitalism, etc. Their tools are not accuracy and factual information. They target the ends through sheer volume and prose.

Wow. Marcotte has written a lot of ignorant tripe in her career, but that bit has to be among the worst. “Christmas is about how virgins are better than non-virgins?”


Get a clue, Marcotte. Better yet, get a Bible and read the New Testament. You’ll find that “the importance of love and generosity” was an idea that did not originate with Charles Dickens; it is the core of Jesus’ teachings.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Observer. | December 26, 2012 at 2:38 am

    Go back to the Old Testament and see that what Jesus talked about it is at the core of Judaism as found in the Old Testament. Jesus is a Jew. Without the Old Testament, we Christians don’t have a leg to stand on because we wouldn’t be able to explain Jesus or His teachings.

    Pablo in reply to Observer. | December 26, 2012 at 9:30 am

    We could have a long and spirited discussion about the what the most idiotic thing Marcotte has written is. I’d have to go with this:

    “Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit? A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.”

The nature of secular humanism is to seek praise for being “above” religion and to being more just than God (e.g., John Rawls). As such there is no need for Christ because in the humanist eyes they are closer to the “truth” than Christ ever will be. Why? Because feelings are the most important thing to a humanist and Absolute Truth stands in the way of assuaging our temporal feelings. Humanists replace difficult questions with easy questions, with questions they can answer more readily and therefore appear profound.

C.S. Lewis, a Christian apologist:

“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.” C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Remove “Creator”
Then there is no “Endowed by their”
No Natural Rights.

If we do not receive our rights from God, they must be granted to us by other men. If other men can grant us rights, then they can take them away. There is no such thing as an inalienable right granted by man.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Haiku Guy. | December 26, 2012 at 2:43 am

    So true. Remember David choosing to accept punishment at the hands of God rather than to be subject to punishment at the hands of man? He knew that he could cry out to God for mercy. David also knew that men with power over other men seldom are inclined to show mercy. So, if there is no Creator God and we have no inalienable rights from Him, then we have none at all. We are in bondage to the whims and fancies of men.

Is Marcotte auditioning for Sally Quinn’s job at the WaPo after that dimwit embarrasses herself writing about religion for the last time/

Mandy, even if published in such an auspicious weblog as Slate, is still someone ill deserving of your time or attention. Her prior works and efforts (e.g. her genital fixation, and the John Edwards Presidential campaign for Heaven’s sake) mark her as an ignorant and hypocritical twit of the first order.

Perhaps she should have been at the St Louis Cathedral last night to hear the Bishop’s homily. Addressed to residents and visitors of the truly culturally diverse and historical city of New Orleans. In it he related the symbolism involved in the story of another new arrival to a city some two thousand years ago.

A barely legitimate child, once certainly not from the man who will be his father; born among animals in a pen, and wrapped with their bedding, because he had nothing else; quite literally there being no room at the inn. A child that came to teach us the meaning, and promise of God’s love, if only we allow Him into our hearts. If only we make room at the inn that is our hearts.

Maybe Amanda wouldn’t have appreciated, or even understood the message, I certainly do not doubt that she would reject it entirely. But what she also probably would not realize is that this message is substantially the same message that has been given in that spot, on that same day, every year, for almost three hundred years. The message of Christ has not changed in that time frame, nor in the past two millennia, because the nature of man has not changed either.

“…with a side dose of arguing that babies who haven’t done anything yet can still be superior to everyone else by accident of birth.” I’m surprised Marcotte finds this offensive – isn’t it effectively the same argument she (and her like-minded dolts) used in support of Obama?

A similar topic came up a few days ago on an email list I belong to. What is fascinating about the anti-Christian POV is, as Casual Observer, LukeHandCool, and Sally Paradise noted above, it is not interested in accuracy, reason, or future consequences. There is a chilling uniformity to the almost sheep-like way unbelieving liberals ignore any response or proof against their prescribed thesis, and if they respond at all it is by repeating their talking points as though no one had spoken. Since they don’t know what it is about, they cannot even imagine Christmas as an event in the same way a Christian does.

But most especially, again and again it becomes obvious that these people cannot envision the future at all – not in regard to any topic. So they reach back into the past and make things up to justify their endless accusation. This is a profound difference in POV, as Christians, in reality, are only looking forward. In my reply to that email thread, I put it like this:

“The church I grew up in did not do anything special to recognize Christmas. In many Christian denominations, special or holy days are not observed outside of the weekly Sunday (every Sunday is a little Easter). Even in these, Christmas is often still celebrated as a secular festival (“secular” does not mean non-Christian!). And not one objects to saying the word “Christmas”.

“We know exactly when the Crucifixion was. We know exactly when Easter – Jesus’ Resurrection – was. We know exactly when Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit – was. But most important, we know that it is Today & tomorrow & eternity that matter. That promise is why we still look back to the untimely, unplanned birth of a baby to an impoverished, unwed, teenaged virgin, a baby who was raised in love by a man who was not His biological father, and from that looking back, get a glimpse of a future so hope-filled that it grows even brighter with every passing year.

“So when you hear “Merry Christmas”, know it is for the sake of the future – not a memory of the past – that a Christian wishes you an eternity of the great & neverending love of God.”

Merry Christmas to everyone here on LI. I don’t comment much but I read often, and appreciate and learn from all the commenters as well as Dr Jacobson!


    They are a cult.

    So was the Nazi party.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to PecanCorner. | December 26, 2012 at 3:07 am

    PecanCorner, I must call you out for perpetuating a falsehood. Mary was not an unwed mother. To say that she was is to leave her open to either of two possible charges: 1) fornication, or, 2) adultery. The penalty for both was death by stoning, part of the purity laws. To say that she is is to make God a liar.

    As a betrothed woman, Mary was in no way single. The betrothal in ancient times was as binding, and even more so, than marriage is today. Joseph was Mary’s husband in all but the consummation and the living together. That she was found with child during the waiting period does not say she committed adultery. It just says her situation as married woman fulfilled the law.

    If we say that Mary is an unwed mother as a single woman, then we are also saying God is a liar who set aside the law. Since He Himself is the heart and soul of the law, and since God does not lie, then Mary cannot be an unwed mother. So, God specifically chose a virgin married to a man of the house of David, and the genealogies of both Old and New Testaments are purposed to show (amongst other things) not that Jesus had an earthly father, but that His conception and birth were in accordance with the requirements of the law so His mother would not be subject to the penalty of the law. He could not be the Obedient Son who fulfilled the law if His birth were outside the law. In all points, He had no sin, including the circumstances of His birth..

Marcotte knows exactly what she writes is factual bull****. She is a propagandist at work. Don’t ever underestimate hacks like here. Take these despicable tools down. She has no intention of debating in good faith.

I’m your resident heathen…a non-believer who still gets tremendous joy out of Christmas. No Christian has ever refused to share their special day with me. Thanks to all for letting me join in your generosity, laughter, music, emotion and, yes, food.

I feel sorry for Marcotte. It takes a special kind of meanness to write what she did at this time.

The funny thing is, I bet if you asked her she’d claim to be a Christian. But whatever she is, it’s plain that she’s seriously messed up when it comes to leaving people alone.

They’re campaigning against God. They have become enbolded and say, “There’s no need for God.”

“explain the bewilderment with which we now view human (virgin!) sacrifice as the act of a barbaric age without crediting the Genesis story of Abraham’s hand being stayed by an angel from slaying Isaac.”

The pre-Christian Romans managed to ban human sacrifice without using Genesis as a guide. Judaism and Christianity don’t have a monopoly on such a ban. It’s a legacy of Western culture, based in the Greco-Roman model, rather than something that comes exclusively from Judaism via Christianity.

    You mean the same Romans who crucified 6,000 Thracians along the Appian Way (under orders of Crassus, who outlawed human sacrifice) and left their bodies hanging for months?

    The same Romans who committed genocide on an entire city state (Carthage)?

    The Romans who cheered at men butchering each other in the arena?

    And enjoyed the feasting of lions on Christians? Those Romans? Got it.

    Yackums in reply to GOPagan. | December 26, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Uhh, either your timing is off (Abraham preceded the Romans by at least a thousand years, if not closer to two) or your logic (why would your first assumption be that they didn’t get it from the Jews?), or both. If you’d have said the ancient Babylonians or Mesopotamians, you might have a point, except that of them you couldn’t make such a claim, which was the point of the post.

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”

One interesting note, that famous star, now demonstrated in many planetariums, was likely Jupiter (king star) in conjunction with Venus, in a notable celestial event on September 11, 3BC.

This link goes to a nice brief animated slide show with the pertinent facts.

For the secularist, history might indicate that the star made the man. The Magi (and then Herod) noted a significant event in the “stars”, 30 years before Jesus came of age.

If such a celestial event occurred on Barack’s date of birth, the NY Times would be praising our first state religion now, instead of just the halos with which the journalists like to adorn the Obama. 🙂

I find no likely link to the significance of the 2001 event. Except as Sowell says, it seems everything is aligned as a deliberate dismantling. One Facebook friend’s message was about this new age of enlightenment in a new “human family”, a quote from Nobel Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire.

She protested “peacefully”, against Israel stopping those rockets from being delivered to Gaza (against Israel blocking the ships). So in the spirit of Christmas, Islamic terrorists seek to again “light up” Bethlehem.

The good/evil symbolism Sowell notes seems real on many levels. The world’s counterfeit “Socialist Jesus” uses the force of government to redistribute wealth to preferred groups. That’s rather the opposite of “free will” market capitalism with charity, floating all boats. Forced submission versus freedom of choice. Can’t the pro choicers join us in “solidarity”?

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Midwest Rhino. | December 26, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Oh, and at least through high school, I think virgins are “better”. Abstinence seems a much better choice than today’s culture of gang bang texting like Trayvon chose.

    But of course Jesus as the second Adam, the undefiled lamb of God, is delivering a completely different message. We don’t have to self flagellate or pay reparations for the sins of our fathers.

    In Barack’s Chicago church, the white man is the devil. Now Obama’s holier than thou “redistributive social justice” gives initiative to millions that want to force the white man to pay for his perceived sins. We can reject guilt and refuse submission … and choose free will charity. Obama prefers redemption through surrender to government programs.

    Jesus indeed was superior at birth, and the golden spoon in his mouth was no accident. 🙂 Even non believers should get the story straight. Adam messed up the bloodline, so the second Adam required “pure” all dominant genes from God.

This is a typical leftist libertine defending sexual promiscuity, pansexuality (LBGTXYZ) and abortion while mocking the real Christmas story and Christianity in general.

They cannot understand Christianity and how virginity before marriage and no hanky panky on the side after marriage could have any appeal.

These are the same people who ridicule Tim Tebow.

Gee, you would never guess from reading that post that Amanda Marcotte first became infamous for her unhinged hostility to Christianity, would you? Not that she’s very friendly with any of them.

Ironically, I agree with Ms. Marcotte’s basic premise that you don’t need to raise your kids in a religious environment. Unlike Ms. Marcotte, however, I don’t believe that raising your children in a religious environment is prima facie proof of child abuse.

Militant atheism is a fundamentalist religion. A very obnoxious religion. Atheists are never content to practice their non-belief in private but insist on forcing their religion on everyone else. And because it is a religion exclusive to Vile Progs, sneering contempt is one of their sacraments.

Juba Doobai!, thank you for adding your knowledge of the legal perspective to this topic, and for correcting my understanding! 🙂


“…that babies who haven’t done anything yet can still be superior to everyone else by accident of birth.”

It seems acceptable for Liberals and Nobel Prizes.