Two items in my inbox came together in a surprising way for me this morning.
First, Billie Tucker, local First Coast Tea Party leader, urges tea partiers to join her in “correcting” those of us who say anything other than Merry Christmas to convey our good wishes. She writes, “It’s time we all take a stand and remind people the reason we are celebrating Christmas. Will you join me on this mission?”
She was distraught that she could not find a nativity version of those lighted lawn ornaments that inflate at night but look like a mass murder crime scene during the day. (Honestly, you could just as easily interpret the unavailability of these as respect for sacred symbols.) But she has responded with a new tea party initiative.
A salesperson’s holiday wish gives her “a chance to correct the politically correct holiday greeting.” As a tea partier, she’s “wishing people Merry Christmas and. . . not apologizing to anyone for saying it.” Of course, no one ever asked her to apologize. She is the one correcting people, effectively asking them to apologize and urging her tea partiers to do the same. But the tea party is just about taxes, right?
Then came an item from RD contributor and author of Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future, Bron Taylor: “Happy Solstice—Or is it?” on The Huffington Post. Taylor insightfully traces the history of conflict between the Abrahamic religions and Nature religions, tying in both the conflict over holiday greetings and Resisting the Green Dragon (the DVD series, not the drink).
The 12–part series characterizes environmentalism as an alternative (and dangerous—even deadly) religion that has captured our youth and permeated our culture. Released by the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, whose board of advisors included Christian right activists and leaders such as David Barton and the late D. James Kennedy, the series blends criticism of global environmental efforts and concern over global warming with an affinity for conspiracy theories.
Most of the media focused on the ominous tone and the seemingly over-the-top claims presented in the series, to the point of wondering if it was parody. (Right Wing Watch put together some clips from the series here.)
About the fears expressed in Resisting the Green Dragon, Taylor writes:
These fears are based on an accurate perception that there is a religious dimension to much environmentalism. Those expressing such fears understand, accurately, that those engaged in nature-based spiritualities, both overtly and in subtle ways, are converting many to an evolutionary worldview and an environmentalist spirituality and ethics.
He observes that the hostility on the part of some Christians when greeted with “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings,” or even “Happy Solstice” is actually a very old fight and “it is also an unpleasant reminder of the declining power of the religion they believe to be both true and a pathway to salvation.”
What first just seemed to me to be rude (a tea party effort to “teach” people the “true” meaning of Christmas), now seems more significant historically and sociologically.