Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Guide To Holiday Greetings For Christians

The first and foremost thing to remember is that even though I look kinda Jewy, you will not offend me by wishing me a Merry Christmas.

Christmas is, as Fox News adamantly reminds us, a religious holiday. But in America it's also, of course, a secular holiday. "White Christmas" was written by a Jew named Irving. "The Christmas Song" (with the chestnuts roasting) was another Jew, Mel. And these weren't Jew-for-Jesus Jews. We're talking real staunchly Jewy Jews, neither of whom, obviously, blanched at the concept of Christmas. And yet you're still all nervous and weird about this whole thing!

When you peer at the size of my shnozz toward the end of a conversation, gauging my Jewiness in order to appropriately tailor your parting holiday greeting, that's offensive. My shnozz size tells you nothing about my spiritual inclinations. Watching you silently gauge whether I'm one of *Them* doesn't feel, to me, like polite or sympathetic consideration, though I realize that's your intention. It's actually quite an unpleasant sensation.

I do understand the root of it. One will indeed occasionally encounter Jews who smirk ironically when wished a merry Christmas, or even feel offended. But it's not that they're touchy Jews, per se; it's that they're touchy assholes*. Every tribe has some, and striving not to offend them is a fool's errand. They'll always find something.

* - Update: No offense to my friend Jon, who's neither touchy nor an asshole.

Such people are ridiculous to be offended by a friendly greeting. But if you genuinely offend the rest of us by 1. gauging shnozz size 2. making us feel excluded from an American holiday, and 3. acting all nervous and weird around us, all to stave off any chance of offending the touchy... well, that's just nuts.

Worse, your careful circumspection means you suspect that I myself might be a touchy fussbudget requiring delicate handling (note to liberals: you're so much worse than the most ham-fistedly explicit racists on the right, with whom I can feel genuine friendship and affection because they don't act as if I have some terrible condition which must never ever be mentioned yet must perpetually be monitored and finessed).

Jews aren't diminished by mention of your lord and savior, his birthday, or, the secular American celebration of same. Remember, he was one of us to begin with. And we wrote your songs. And we like trees and stockings and sleds and hot cocoa and candy canes. We like values such as peace, love and good will. And, if you're religious about it, we're happy for your celebration. We don't sit in the dark, bitterly gnashing our teeth until it passes (that said, I am getting really sick of the soundtrack - though perhaps that's just me being a self-hating Jew, given that my paisanos wrote that stuff).

If you're a devout Christian, and your "Merry Christmas" greeting carries actual spiritual implications, please don't deprive me of that, either. I won't join your team, but genuine spirituality's like soybeans. It's commoditized. Anyone who's ever surrendered experiences the very same infinite love. There are not distinct varieties of infinity, nor of the very deepest love. Really, it doesn't matter what you call it; we're all on the same team. So, holiday-wise, what the hey, I'll have what you're having, please.


rajeev joshi said...

Nice post!

and now, just because it somewhat resonates with your earlier math post, let me gently correct the statement

"There are not distinct varieties of infinity"

yes there are. and a very great jew - cantor - discovered (or invented if thats how you roll) that.

James Leff said...

There's the mathematical concept of unity - which exists within a cognitive emulator which carries with it intrinsic assumptions re: subjectivity/objectivity - and then there's infinity shorn of perspective (i.e. dualism), which simply Is. It can be experienced, but neither analyzed nor calculated, because the impulse to analyze and calculate revs up the emulator and reestablishes a perspective. A mind game.

rajeev joshi said...

i think we're confusing terms.

infinity - as with everything in mathematics - is a precise concept. as are its degree.

infinity philosophically is something that, for example, the ancient greeks abhorred as impossible for human minds to comprehend.

Jim Leff said...

That's exactly the distinction I was making.

Display Name said...

Merry Christmas Jim!

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