Garrison Keillor, whom I usually admire, goes a bit off the rails in this rant about Christmas (which prompted this response from Gina Welch, among others). Here’s where I think Keillor goes off the rails: “If you don’t believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn “Silent Night” and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write “Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we’ll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah“? No, we didn’t.”
I have to confess, if it weren’t Garrison Keillor, I’d wonder if there might be some anti-Semitism there. I understand what he’s getting at (it’s interesting that there are lots of Christmas/holiday/winter songs written by Jews), and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps only because I’m a fan.
But the problem is, he’s objecting to a Unitarian church where ” ‘Silent Night’ has been cleverly rewritten to make it more about silence and night and not so much about God” because it violates his own sense of propriety and tradition, but he’s badmouthing lots and lots of songs — “White Christmas,” “Silver Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting …”) to name just a few — that are just as much a part of lots of other people’s holiday traditions as “Silent Night” (in its original, pristine version, written 18 centuries after the event it describes) is for Keillor.
It’s sort of like George Carlin’s observation about highway driving — everyone you’re tailgating is an idiot, and everyone tailgating you is a maniac. Keillor seems to think that traditions are to be kept and revered and maintained in static form forever and never criticized, except when they’re someone else’s traditions.
P.S. This will probably be my last Sunday Sermon — and perhaps my last post — for the year. I’m off on a week’s vacation in sunny Vieques, Puerto Rico, and I’m not sure I’ll be posting from there. It’s been a wonderful year for this blog — special thanks to Parenting Beyond Belief and its readers’ suggestion I start my RSS feed — and hopefully the new year will bring still more good tidings or whatever folks like us are supposed to call them. Thanks!
(pic via Curmudgeonly & Skeptical)