Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Power of a Word

You might think all the hullabaloo about the 'War on Christmas' is limited to the United States but you'd be wrong. It's been reported that a principal in Australia was forced to apologize to atheist parents of a child for saying "Christmas" too many times in a school newsletter. Disclaimer: I heard this on the radio but have not seen any credible source online, even while googling the parties involved directly. While this is being widely reported across the blogosphere, the best news link I could find was from 2005. So I have a hunch this is a spam email going around. Even if this is four-year-old news, it still illustrates how sensitive we can be to a single word. The so-called War on Christmas isn't about singing carols, putting up lights, or buying presents for your children. It is about the word Christmas implying the birth of Christ and therefore endorsing or even proselytizing the Christian faith.

Let's pretend that the secularists have their way and the word Christmas is abolished because of its religious roots. What other offensive words should we eliminate from our vernacular?

Don't use 'Hail Mary' when describing the last play of a football game. (Luke 1:28)

Don't use 'prayer' when describing a last minute or clutch shot in any sport.

Speaking of sports, I noticed there's no real "David versus Goliath" match up in any of the BCS bowls this year. (1 Samuel 17)

Don't use 'the writing on the wall' to describe something ominous. (Daniel 5) Or "signs of the times" either. (Luke 12:56)

Don't use the word excruciating to describe pain. That word was invented to describe the unique pain suffered from crucifixion and if a secularized/commercialized word like Christmas instantly implies Jesus, then any reference to crucifixion should as well.

Don't say "inspired" or "enthused" which mean spirit-filled and god-filled respectively.

Don't say 'baptism by fire' to describe going through trials. (Matthew 3:11) Actually, better not say 'baptism' at all since it's a specific religious term that's not derived from any translation (transliteration).

Don't say 'holy ---' as a cuss word or otherwise.

Don't say 'damn' as a curse or otherwise.

And you better not say "Jesus Christ" even if you're using his name in vain.

I'm sure there are others you could think of, but you get the point. Most of these examples are common phrases used independent from religion but that doesn't change their meaning or implication. Just like Christmas has become far removed from religion, that does not change its obviously offensive meaning.

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