Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Cards

One of the pleasant cultural events of Christmas is receiving Christmas cards. We read the short notes of many friends and relatives. The cards are colorful. For years, we used them as a special part of our Christmas decorations. We would hang them on the wall on a string near the ceiling that circled our living room.

Each year we receive fewer cards. I assume it if for several reasons.

1. The sender has died or has become too old to bother.
2. The sender has not heard from us.
3. The sender has replaced the card with a Xeroxed family letter (good, but not as colorful).
4. The sender has replaced the card with an e-mail Christmas letter. Good!
5. Postage is too expensive, so are the cards.
6. This is great! The sender sends full color pictures of his family.

However, I have another point. Collectively, the cards are colorful. Individually (except for the personal note) many are awful, banal, or just plain wrong.

I have in front of me two Christmas cards. One of them has three wise men following the star which is over Bethlehem. Between them and Bethlehem is a river with two sail boats on it. There is no river in the 6 miles between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The western style sailboats are also incongruous. The wise men are wearing turbans. This particular Bethlehem has three minarets and five mosques. The other card is a picture of the shepherds gazing at a blinding light. Bethlehem is in the near distance. You can tell it is Bethlehem because of the buildings. It looks like two minarets and two mosques. These are not Santa Claus Christmas cards. They are cards for Christians, for believers.

“Minaret: a slender, lofty tower attached to a mosque and surrounded by one or more projecting balconies from which the summons to prayer is cried by the muezzin.” This is Muslim architecture and practice. The Muezzin gives this call to prayer five times a day. Jesus was born 600 years before Islam was founded. Very likely, there are minarets in Bethlehem today because it is in the Palestinian West Bank. However, there were no mosques or minarets in Bethlehem when Jesus was born as there were no church buildings. I have been looking at these kinds of Christmas cards for well over sixty years. If anyone made a picture of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth with pictures of white painted steepled churches or of gothic cathedrals there would be all kinds of objections.

There could well have been a synagogue.

“Turban: a headdress worn chiefly in countries of the eastern Mediterranean and southern Asia especially by Muslims and made of a cap which is wound by a long cloth.”

Our “Christian” Christmas cards imply, or allow an inferance that Islam was the dominant religion at the time of Jesus’ birth. See Roots from Dec. 12, 2006 on the Koran and the Bible.

I have no objection if this Roots gets a wide distribution.

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