Saturday, December 22, 2007

Welcome good sense from Toynbee on Christmas

Polly Toynbee has written a heartening article in the Guardian on the attitude of non-believers to Christmas: Sorry to disappoint, but it's nonsense to suggest we want to ban Christmas.

In particular, Toynbee reveals her enlightened attitude to "Christian myths":

The loss of classical mythology has made much poetry, art and literature incomprehensible to most people. The loss of Christian mythology would make most European history and painting impenetrable. Secularists do not welcome ignorance as a substitute for declining faith.

...and singing hymns:

Is it hypocritical to sing songs with words whose literal truth you do not believe? Any such sad edict would leave most great love songs, hymns and arias unsung. If the royal family can trill, with solemn faces and gladsome minds, "What can I give him, poor as I am?" then anyone can.

I think Toynbee might be surprised to learn that there are a vast number of Christians who are alarmed by silly stories about non-believers wanting to ban Christmas amid what she identifies as undertones of racism.

There is one point in her article, however, when Toynbee abandons her normal precision with language:

But we (secularists) are innocent. It is the Christians who are stirring this dangerous pot, inventing non-stories, yearning for martyrdom - and worse, fermenting an outraged sense among the mainly secular population that they had better call themselves Christian because, as the BNP says, British "Heritage, Tradition and Culture" (read Kultur) are under threat from Muslims. While pretending to attack us, covertly these Christians stir resentment against immigrants.

It is worth pointing out that her use of the word "Christians" in this paragraph is so loose that it is falling down around her ankles. Yes, some possible Christians, who she identifies as Telegraph journalists and BNP politicians, are stirring the "pot". But please don't lump us all in. I sit there biting my tongue and fuming when I hear a certain relative (who will remain nameless) ranting on about Daily Mail reports regarding nativity plays and Christmas trees being banned.

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