Monday, December 12, 2011

There's No Such Thing as a Godectomy

The "War on Christmas" and the debate to define the "True Meaning of Christmas" highlight a theological tension with American Civil Religion. I don't worry about whether a nativity scene can be placed on public property or whether a religious song can be sung at a public school. I am thankful to live in a place where I can publicly live out my faith. It's the theological tension I find troubling.

For civil religionists, Christmas is the front line of a battle. The premise--without particular expressions of Christmas, God is somehow taken out of the public sphere. I'm not at war. War monger all you like. Run me over if you must, but I'm not participating.

If there truly is a belief that taking God out of the public sphere is possible, what does that say about God?

If God is even fractionally as powerful as some humans testify God to be, how is "removing God" even possible? I don't think removal is possible. There's no such thing as a Godectomy. The thing I appreciate about Bible texts around Advent and Christmas is that God comes. There's nothing we can do about it, and whatever preconceived notions we have about who God is and how God acts, God still comes. Many folks at the time of Jesus' birth (and at the end of his life) did what they could to make sure God didn't show up, but to no avail. God is not going to be subverted by a group of people who don't want a nativity scene at Averageville County Park.

I think I'm better off paying attention to whether I'm aware of the activity of God in the world, rather than demanding God to live up to my expectations.

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