Even to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Earlier this month, Newsom hosted the ceremonial lighting of the Capitol Holiday Tree and expertly avoided any mention of Christianity — a stunning feat considering he was overseeing the lighting of a giant evergreen tree in December (talk about cultural appropriation!).
Who knows why he so willingly joined the league of haters. I asked his office and they gave me a non-answer answer. I’ll get to it in a second.
But I mean it: Merry Christmas.
By haters, I don’t mean people of other faiths, or those who love the spirit of the season but don’t have much of a belief in God. Believe what works for you.
I mean the people, like Newsom, who apparently think a mere mention of the name Jesus Christ will cause them to burst into flames or that the phrase “merry Christmas” is an attack on them.
It’s a beautiful seasonal greeting. In the spirit of Christmas I hope everyone finds some peace and happiness over the next few weeks, spends time with loved ones and gets some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
If you are of another faith, please accept my “Merry Christmas” as a sign of respect. And if you send a greeting back my way, I accept it with gratitude.
Because that’s how this whole civilized society thing works: We share what’s important to us with each other and allow people to be who they are.
I’ve celebrated Christmas for my entire life, but this is the first year I will celebrate as a full-fledged follower of Jesus Christ. I’m actually very excited about it.
I’ve written about my nascent faith a few times over the past nine months or so. I’m certainly in no position to preach, since I’m still figuring it out myself. But I would be doing a disservice to readers and God by not at least mentioning that in the Gospel I have found what I was looking for: A source of strength, structure, purpose and tremendous relief from the feelings of isolation that have plagued me at any given moment throughout my life.
And I suppose that’s why I was so disappointed by Newsom’s ceremonial Chrisma … err … Capitol Holiday Tree lighting.
Newsom’s office told me that the ceremony was meant to be inclusive. There was a rabbi explaining the lighting of a Hanukkah menorah, an interfaith choir, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, a young student with developmental disabilities, Native Americans who offered prayer, a mariachi singer who worked in “Navidad,” a poet who spoke of unity and the announcers for the Giants and Dodgers.
It was an inclusive affair and everyone was invited — everyone except Jesus.
Sure, Christmas was mentioned a few times and there were two Christmas songs (that didn’t mention Jesus), plus a version of “Joy to the World” (which is overtly Christian normally but was altered to just repeat the lyrics “joy to the world). But it was obviously scrubbed of all Christian context.
Christians don’t own December, so having an inclusive affair is wonderful. But it wasn’t the lack of Jesus that stood out so much as the lengths Newsom went to avoid Him. It’s kind of sad when you think about it.
Maybe Newsom was hoping to pick a fight and get mentioned on Fox, because he is in campaign mode, after all.
But here’s what Newsom doesn’t get: Jesus’s influence is everywhere. He can’t escape it.
The Christmas tree tradition, for example, was started by German Christians in the 1600s. The influential Protestant reformer Martin Luther is credited with being the first to add lights, which of course were candles back then.
But it’s bigger than that. Our entire sense of history is based on Jesus’ life, embedded in the calendar. He inspired countless works of art. Many children had little to no value before He came along. He elevated the status of women. His followers changed the way we care for people with the invention of hospitals. He made humility a virtue. He is a uniter. Billions of people in the world are His followers and billions more have followed Him throughout time. Followers like Mother Teresa and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. are held up as some of the best humanity has to offer. He is the single most influential person who ever lived — even to those who don’t believe in Him.
And those are just historical facts.
That doesn’t mean many of His followers haven’t acted poorly — some of the worst atrocities throughout history have been committed purportedly in His name. But that’s not His fault.
Approximately half the state identifies as Christian. That isn’t an attack on anyone else’s beliefs — just as the existence of people with different beliefs isn’t an attack on mine.
Newsom is right that this is a season of inclusion. But inclusion is about giving everyone a voice and opening ourselves up to different ideas and cultures and customs, even if we sometimes find those things challenging. Inclusion is not about scrubbing away our differences.
In the spirit of unity, in the spirit of love, I again wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
The above comes from a Dec. 21 piece by Matt Fleming in the Orange County Register.
It’s possible that Mr. Newsom does not know Him.
As Saint John Paul told us repeatedly, the new evangelization begins with us Catholics.
Pray for Mr. Newsom’s conversion and the ongoing conversion of all of us.
He is the Governor of California, not the Governor of California Christians, or the Bishop of California. If he doesn’t feel that it is appropriate to use the name Jesus to light a tree that has nothing at all to do with Jesus, that’s his judgement call.
I will pray for for you, that your eyes will be opened to the light of Christ
He could at least mention that it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, along with the meaning of Hannukah and so forth. Others have mentioned Jesus without offending everyone of other religions. He could easily use expressions such as Christians believe, Jews believe and so forth. That is how the different religions were taught about in public schools in the past in what was called Social Studies without actually teaching religion. There is no excuse for leaving the Lord Jesus out of Christmas — if that is what he actually did.
People who are “perfectly possessed” cannot utter the Sacred Name.
Wikipedia reports that Newsom graduated Santa Clara University and “…he later reflected on his education fondly, crediting the Jesuit approach of Santa Clara with helping him become an independent thinker who questions orthodoxy.” Need I say more?
I bet he uses the word when cursing
So the absence of the governor saying Jesus at a state function (lighting the Christmas tree) equates to a political statement that he hates Jesus. That’s quite a leap in faith. Is the author stating that the Golden State is a de facto Christian/Catholic state, so the logic is ergo correct? I realize such a view balances with the renewed vigor of new Catholics, which is a good thing, but to stereotyping to use hateful words, does that get confessed at confessional?
” There was a rabbi explaining the lighting of a Hanukkah menorah…” In the spirit of inclusion, the governor could have shared the origin of the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it (from Germany in the 16th century, when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes). Given his Jesuit education, it is not a stretch to wonder if the man does not believe Jesus is the Savior (I am referring to Dennis Babson’s 9:57 a.m. comment).
Michael, How dare you call it a Christmas tree?
It was paid for by the government and is on public property.
Everything in our nation must now be vague, non-descriptive and bland and have no reference to our history. Or else someone will be offended.
May I call you Michael, a Jewish name meaning (who is) “like God,” publicly? Maybe you should go by Mike or a number or something less offensive?
Merry Christmas, Michael.
Matt Fleming, welcome to the Body of Christ. You got baptized, right?
I am glad that the Lord called you to Himself.
Thank you for writing the Holy Name of Jesus.
Keep with the Gospel
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:2
Those decorations at the capitol are sterile and ugly.
Did you want them to multiply?
decorations, sterile and ugly are usual for socialist governments. Look at Soviet “art’ and “architecture,” for example.
Surprisingly, Russia has opened its churches, and many of the people there are going to beautiful churches now. Can only wonder if that is what is bothering so many people on the left, especially since the Chinese Communist regime is tearing down and closing churches. What an enigma! Of course, every religion or denomination disagrees with the prophesies of every other religion or denomination and tries to keep them from being fulfilled. That is not a “conspiracy theory”, that is just fact.
Here is an inspiring video of President Ronald Reagan’s Christmas Address on 12/23/81. It is well worth watching. The current Governor of California ought to watch this and learn from it: https://youtu.be/hCeuNUWJzmk
Sorry, I had thought I placed this post after my last post of Dec. 25, at 9:35pm! Well, I thought the video of President Ronald Reagan’s Christmas Address of 12/23/81 was marvelous!
da guv, maybe he be a-feared of
the ol’ spontaneous human combustion
If the Gov. of California is going to proclaim the celebration of Christmas, he owes it to the constituents of the State of California to factually state, in a pleasant, polite, professional manner (even in one or two sentences) that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. If he can politely and professionally place his hand on a Bible, to get sworn into office as Governor– then, he can surely proclaim the celebration of Christmas in a polite and professional manner, just as all of his forebears have done, acknowledging the fact that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day. It doesn’t take much, to do this simple task responsibly and well– many believers and non-believers alike, have done this, all throughout American history, as State Governors, Presidents, and in lesser political offices, such as town Mayors. You are not elected to office to serve yourself and your petty beliefs and prejudices.
Christmas is not about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s secular, personal concepts of “inclusion” or anything else. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. And the Governor needs to respect that. He is not elected to serve his own petty beliefs and prejudices.