Friday, December 19, 2008

Mercer, O'Reilly and Christmas

Ilana Mercer has an article at WorldNetDaily entitled O'Reilly won the battle – but lost the debate. She discusses Bill O'Reilly and the Christmas Wars. She doesn't like the way O'Reilly defended public Christmas displays. As she writes:

He defends the country's founding faith on the frivolous grounds that it is a federal festival like any other – an "uplifting tradition … where peace and love are the theme of the great day." The substance of O'Reilly's claim against those who'd disrespect a Christmas display is: "Be nice, because Christmas is nice." And because the feds have told you to.


As she argues:

O'Reilly's problem[ is that h]e's forever arguing his case from the stance of the positive law. The "Law.com Dictionary" defines legal positivism as "man-made law, as compared to 'natural law,' which is purportedly based on universally accepted moral principles." Believers call the natural law "God's law"; others, like myself, refer to law derived from reason.

Whatever the case, the natural law is the law O'Reilly seldom defers to.

[...]

...Christmas ought to be defended on the basis that Christianity is America's founding faith.

To defend Christian America with reference to un-Christian State law that has all but banished Christianity from the public square is worse than silly.


I left a comment on her blog which follows:

I disagree that Christmas should be defended because Christianity is America’s Founding Faith. I actually think O’Reilly’s case that the message of Christianity is “be just and good” — something to which secular folks and folks of ALL religions can agree about — is FAR closer to the natural law creed that defines America’s Founding.

Americans were divided on the basis of religion during the Founding era (yes, they were; you cannot form a lowest common denominator of “Christianity generally” because “Christians” like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson took blasphemous positions that the orthodox felt had *no proper place* in the understanding of “Christianity”).

And because they were so divided, they found they could come together on the basis of a natural religion based on “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” Now, this natural religion is, in many ways, entirely compatible with Christianity. But, nonetheless it IS not Christianity and Christianity’s essential and exclusive truths are not discoverable from reason or the natural law.

7 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

"Whatever one thinks of Christianity, it cannot be treated as negligible."---Eric Voegelin

I don't care about Bill O'Reilly's bad arguments, meself. Christmas is a legal holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus---savior, God Incarnate, or just cool moral teacher. Celebrate it or don't; just don't be a humbug. That's pluralism in a nutshell.

More Voegelin. I like the quote and I like the arguments. I don't really care what Adams or Jefferson believed either. Neither I nor Voegelin are ready to consign the Christian influence on the Founding to "none of the above" or give Athens and Rome equal standing.

Jonathan Rowe said...

I don't care about Bill O'Reilly's bad arguments, meself. Christmas is a legal holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus---savior, God Incarnate, or just cool moral teacher. [Bold mine.]

Heh. THIS is what I want Christians to accept re America's public principles. You can. But let's see how far we can build this consensus.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mostly I'm talking about not being a humbug at Xmas. Pluralism also permits taking Jesus' word as divine or divinely inspired. Or not.

Pinky said...

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"Christmas is a legal holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus-..."
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Christmas has come to be a flying buttress for consumerism.
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Christmas is a time of celebration for the gift of life.
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Christmas is a little something for everyone.
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It's a time to give up on being a cynic--at least for a season.
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Bill O'reilly is a bad case of B.O.
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bpabbott said...

TVD: "Mostly I'm talking about not being a humbug at Xmas. Pluralism also permits taking Jesus' word as divine or divinely inspired. Or not."

Personally, I favor celebrating in a manner that embodies the example of Jesus ... to behave in a manner consistent to Jesus' example (more 'walk", less "talk").

I tire of the number who incessantly point our the short comings of others and contrast them against the merits of Jesus' example. All the while, never bothering to give any thought to aspiring to embody Jesus' example themselves.

Ideology tends to be divide, good works tend to unite. In the spirit of the season, I think the latter is a preferred over the former.

Tom, my intent is not to critique. It is just that your perspective inspired my thoughts above.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom,

I love it when we can publicly access dissertations like these.

By the way, Sandoz, with whom I've met and spoken over email, is one of the key men of Voegelin studies. And he edited the Founding era sermons to which I've often linked via the Liberty Fund.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Mostly I'm talking about not being a humbug at Xmas. Pluralism also permits taking Jesus' word as divine or divinely inspired. Or not.

And BTW Tom, if you listen carefully to my discussion with Babka and Titus, you'll see Herb initiated a "Merry Christmas" to which Babka and I both reciprocated.

Though, the radio station has a big hard right evangelical-fundamentalist listenership so I think it would be rude to do otherwise.

I think much of this "War on Christmas" stuff can be solved with simple common sense and politeness.