Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Don's Tuesday, and Christmas, column

      THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   12/25/2012

Those who take Christ from Christmas

Two articles came to my attention three years ago that put some perspective into the never-ending campaign to scrub Jesus Christ out of Christmas, the “reason for the season.” They are both still Internet-searchable by title: “How Hitler’s Nazi propaganda machine tried to take Christ out of Christmas” (scroll down to the www.dailymail.co.uk link) and “How the Nazis stole Christmas” (use the www.independent.co.uk link). They’re both fascinating reading.

We know about those efforts due to a remarkable collection of items that a German woman, Rita Breuer, gathered from flea markets. Together with her daughter, Judith, they put on an exhibition that detailed “the way the celebration was gradually taken over and exploited for propaganda purposes by Hitler’s Nazis … who tried to turn it into a pagan winter solstice celebration.”

Breuer elaborated, saying “Christmas was a provocation for the Nazis – after all, the baby Jesus was a Jewish child. The most important celebration in the year didn’t fit with their racist beliefs so they had to react, by trying to make it less Christian … The symbol that posed a particular problem for the Nazis was the star, which traditionally decorates Christmas trees. Either it was a six-pointed star, which was a symbol of the Jews, or it was a five-pointed star, which represented the Soviets, Breuer said. It had to go.” Even the Christmas carol, “Unto us a time has come,” received a Nazi rewrite that took out references to Jesus and made it into a song about walking through the snow. (Daily Mail)

The Independent subtitled their piece: “Jesus was a Jew and Christianity was an oriental religion, so Hitler’s followers reinvented Yuletide as a pagan festival – and cast the Fuhrer as the messiah … The Nazis replaced the star with swastikas, Germanic ‘sun wheels’ and the Nordic ‘sig runes’ used by the regime’s fanatical Waffen SS as their insignia.

“Housewives were encouraged to bake biscuits in similar shapes. One of the exhibits is a page from a Nazi women’s magazine with a baking recipe: ‘Every boy will want to bake a sig (SS) rune,’ proclaims the accompanying text. The Nazification of Christmas included replacing the Christmas tree crib with a Christmas garden containing wooden toy deer and rabbits. Mary and Joseph became the Germanic Mother and child, while dozens of Christmas carols, including the German hymn ‘Silent Night,’ were rewritten with all references to God, Christ and religion expunged. The coming of Christ the Saviour became the coming of Adolf Hitler – the ‘Saviour Fuhrer.’”

“The regime’s exploitation of Christmas began almost as soon as the Nazis took power in 1933. Party ideologues wrote scores of papers claiming that the festival’s Christian element was a manipulative attempt by the church to capitalize on what were really old Germanic traditions. Christmas Eve, they argued, had nothing to do with Christ but was the date of the winter solstice – the Nordic Yuletide that was ‘the holy night in which the sun was reborn.’”

Both articles noted the passivity of German churches, putting up little opposition to the Nazification of Christmas. “You would have expected them to protest loudly and insist that it was a Christian festival. But instead they largely kept quiet, out of fear,” said Breuer. The church was simply too intimidated to protest.

Unsurprisingly, a similar effort took place in the former communist East Germany. “Prominent communist authors tried to substitute the birth of Jesus with that of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who just happened to have been born in a humble Russian hut on December 21.”

Readers may find troubling corollaries to current efforts to make Christmas Jesus-free; let us pray they fail. On a more uplifting note, my favorite Christmas song lyrics are contained in two verses of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” We all sing them but take a minute to read them:

“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given

So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven

No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin

Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Oh, holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray

Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today

We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emanuel.”

A correction is warranted: Social Security is not, as I wrote last week, “about $150 billion short between income and payments” but was, however, $48 billion short in 2011, according to the “Office of Management and Budget’s ‘Analytical Perspectives’ document (p.465)” and was short $36 billion in 2010. That gap rises to $86 billion in 2015 and shows “that taxes collected for the program aren’t enough to cover the benefits paid to retirees.” (USA Today’s rebuttal to Dick Durban, relayed by Veronique de Rugy in “Repeat after Me: Social Security Adds To the Deficit,” 11/28/2012, www.nationalreview.com).

Since I begin receiving a Social Security check in February, and many readers are currently, or will soon be, retired, I will strive to inform you all about the problems, fallacies and potential solutions to America’s longest-existing program for seniors’ income security. A critic was confusing the surplus for the entire OASDI program with the Social Security shortfall; also, the Trust Fund has no cash assets with which to pay SS recipients, either.

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