Christmas Billboards Point In The Culture War's Direction
Christmas is the time of year when the thoughts of most Americans grow to be at their most devout. It is increasingly the time of year that the avowed despisers of the Almighty are at their most disrespectful.
Before now, the most culturally embarrassing thing to come out of the wastelands of the Garden State was likely Snooki and her Jersey Shore compatriots. However, it now seems even their debauched escapades have been surpassed in terms of deliberately thumbing one’s nose at God.
For decades, one municipality there has draped across a main street a banner reading that horrible bit of wordplay “Keep Christ In Christmas”. As has become customary, leftist subversives have stepped forward insisting that the banner be taken down to placate one or two discombobulated by the message.
Those holding to this position contend that the feelings of a handful must be upheld at all costs for the sake of social cohesion. So if it cannot be urged to keep Christ in Christmas, are these diversitymongers going to be consistent and call for the decoupling of “Black” from “History Month”? That commemoration is even more divisive and controversial, but most Whites are too afraid to speak up as to what they really think of it.
In what could be categorized as a battle of the banners, to express their disdain regarding public displays of belief, a gaggle of atheists have hoisted an ensign emblazoned with the following: “At this season of the winter solstice, there are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only the natural world. Religion is but a myth and a superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
Perhaps the greatest gift such deluded infidels could be given this Christmas season would be for someone to point out that their countersign is itself fraught with a number of faith-based assumptions as ultimately improvable as anything held by the most ardent adherents of traditional religious belief.
For example, can the atheist really irrefutably prove that only the natural world exists? If one wanted to get really snotty about it, couldn’t one make the argument that, since man’s knowledge is finite, God is floating a mere two inches out of range of the most powerful telescopes ever designed?
The banner hoisted by the unbelievers attempts to strike an eminently scientific pose. However, its conclusion has nothing whatsoever to do with experimental objectivity.
Furthermore, aren't we often chided in response to the most ludicrous postulations to keep an open mind? So why is the existence of God an invalid assumption?
The banner concludes, “Religion...hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” But if nothing exists beyond physicality and materiality, on what grounds are hard hearts and enslaved minds such a negative thing?
With power and brute force being the only true values since they promote survival and existential optimization of those that wield them, why are hard hearts and enslaved minds less than optimal states of being? You see, in a materialistic context, one cannot even use the word “bad”.
During Christmas each year, St. Matthew's-In-The-City Church in Aukland, New Zealand sponsors a billboard that the congregation considers provocative. This year, the church went with a billboard depicting the Virgin Mary holding a home pregnancy test with an expression of shock and dismay upon her face.
This work does attempt to take the viewer beyond the quaint romanticism of the Christmas story as popularly presented to better appreciate how the lives of those involved were profoundly impacted and altered. Yet this depiction is still wrong on a number of levels.
There is one thing the observant notices right out of the gate. That is just how long would you live if you drew the portrait of the founder of a particular world religion with a proclivity for loud explosions holding a home pregnancy test?
Secondly, depicting Mary with a look of befuddlement on her face ignores the facts and implications of the Biblical account. A surprised look would indicate a couple of things.
A pregnancy test suggests that the angel did not make the announcement to Mary as chronicled in Luke Chapter 1. According to the artistic depiction in question, she would not have suspected she was with child until whatever it is that prompts a woman to suspect she might be and seeks confirmation through the highlighted pharmaceutical apparatus.
If the angel did appear as detailed, the taking of a home pregnancy test would indicate that Mary did not believe the angel. And though there were no doubt times that her heart grew heavy as did that of her child in the Garden of Gethsemane, there is no indication from Holy Writ that she ever doubted the veracity of the message sent to her and the move of God upon her. In Luke 1:38, Mary says, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said (NIV)."
Many dismiss billboards as nothing but blights upon the landscape. But if one takes a closer look, one discovers how a number of these oversized signs can highlight the ideas clamoring for prominence in public perception and a remind Christians why they must always be ready to give an answer in response to the confusion and despair that has gripped mankind in various forms throughout history.
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.