Christmas: Multiculturalism and Christian Truth

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I read this essay,“Reflections of a Jewish Childhood during Christmas,” hoping to gain a better understanding of Judaism during the Christmas season, unfortunately what I read was a modernists device of post-modernism to rebuke the Truth of Christianity as one of “the many truths” to be celebrated in the world. Geoffrey RS Sales wrote a post by the title, “In the Public Square,” over at the great blog: All Along the Watchtower  that reminded me of this analytical essay that I had written. Of course, Geoffrey tackles the issue of multiculturalism being spread through England, which is also the subject of Gerry Bloustien’s essay. Bloustien takes a positive stance of multiculturalism–mainly she asserts is because of her elite academic intellectualism.  However, let all Christians understand that Bloustien’s beliefs are merely her metaphysical understanding and ideology.

Thesis:

Gerry Bloustien, Professor of Antropology at University of South Australia,  in the final essay in Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture creates a thesis to underscore her overall ideology of how the holiday season should be celebrated as she envisions with an overall winter holiday season that incorporates inclusiveness of all cultures within the spectrum of the diversity philosophy. Bloustien admits that her account is subjective even though she has “heightened insights as a professional anthropologist” of her own subjective thoughts.[1] The method that Bolustien uses to explain her thesis is a simple but methodical remembering of her own past events as a Jewish immigrant in England. She explains, “ I would argue that accounts of home and family always need to be understood and interpreted within the context of broader cultural and political experiences in which they are embedded.”[2] By explaining her ‘outsider’ experience with Christmas and its grandeur as it at times, in the author’s opinion, fosters an oppression on ‘outsiders’ that should be met with a “call to resist dominant culture.”[3] However, it’s important to understand that what she means by resistance is merely creating pockets within society that allow other cultures’ celebrations to flourish.

 

Cause and Effect:

 

A return of English Christmas came to Bloustien through a Christmas card given to her by an old neighbor.[4] She explains that “I received a card that jolted me back to my child in a way that has not happened for at least forty years! I received a card from Helen one of my oldest friends… Every Christmas time, I was regularly invited to her home to share her family’s rituals.”[5] A striking silence throughout Bloustien’s essay is the absence of any sort of explanation on what type of family rituals and festivities are celebrated. Although she explains that her parents had issues with the overload of Christmas entering into their home, there’s no issue that she mentions about a conflict of Christian celebrations and Jewish celebrations, such as the Festival of lights. Bloustien’s viewpoint of Christmas is very secular as she admits being a “Jewish child of European ancestry, all of my childhood memories of Christmas…are primarily sensual and visceral.” In many ways, this is why fundamentally her vision for a diverse holiday season, so long as there is Christmas, is unrealistic. The idea of Christmas is celebrating the birth of the savior of the world. Many sects of Christianity practice Evangelism, which requires followers of the religion to go and teach and convert others to the Gospel, which is believed to be the true word of God. Bloustien’s thesis is not compatible with many, if not most, who celebrate Christmas for religious purposes.

 

Evidence:

Bloustien presents her childhood experience as a Jew as evidence for the need of society to allow diversity for all cultures to be equal in the respects of their celebrated practices. Again, stressing a thesis that is not compatible with any religion that teaches Divine truth. However, as Bloustien can only focus on the material world within her concept of Christmas, she misses this point completely. She explains how “Exciting and exotic” but Mesmerising but Alien” Christmas was to her by visiting her neighbor and seeing a “huge verdant Christmas tree in the corner of my friend’s living room.”[6]

Another issue that Bloustien has with the mass celebrating of Christmas is the exclusiveness of Christmas within England public schools—although Mark Connelly who wrote Christmas: A History would explain it to be a celebration of “Englishness” rather than a religious holiday since the holiday in his view is primarily an English export.[7][8] The author, residing in England at the time, seems to be little aware of the importance of English tradition with the Christmas holiday.  She seems taken back with the card that represented, “A Victorian winter street scene.”[9] Nonetheless, Bloustein explains that in school, “Hymn practices are daily and compulsory…These Christian narratives and themes metaphorically and materially saturated the school curriculum regardless of any non-Christian children in its constituency.”[10] Although this is framed to be an issue, Bloustien previously in her essay mentioned that children had other options, “ many children went to privately funded ethnic or religious schools, and neighbours spoke across each other in their own language springing from their original heritage.”

 

Bias:

Bloustien’s bias is obvious from her profession, an anthropologist. Bloustein wishes to create a ‘safe environment’ where children can learn other “religious customs that were occurring around them in non-Christian homes.”[11] However, what she deems inappropriate for multi-cultural Australia is her opinion. A Christian parent, or any religion, has every right to reject and deem inappropriate any ideologies, like multi-culturalism or diversity, of other customs that are being taught to their children. Religion expresses divine truth, and many who practice any number of religions cannot separate their faith from their day to day lives. If a parent seeks to preserve their culture they should have the freedom to search others of like mind, which was available to the parents of the author. If any parent deems any curriculum of a school inappropriate, even the new curriculum established by the author in her local Australian school, they should have the freedom and the choice to select a more appropriate establishment. The author is an adherent to the metaphysical belief system of diversity, which by declaring what is appropriate, thus judging, becomes a self-contradicting philosophy. Diversity, in effect, is not diverse, but a natural evolution of the ideology of liberalism, which seeks to convert just like any other belief system.

[1] Gerry Bloustine, “Reflections of a Jewish Childhood during Christmas,” ed. Sheila Whiteley, Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press) 2008, 188.

[2] Ibid, 189.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 188.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 190.

[7] Ibid, 191.

[8] Mark Connelly, Christmas: A History (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012,) ix.

[9] Ibid, 189.

[10] Bloustien, 191.

[11] Ibid.

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