The Christkindl, or Christmas Fairy, is welcome at a Christmas festival in Chicago. So is Santa Claus. But a film about the birth of Jesus has provoked city officials to lower the boom.
Chicago officials deny actually ordering Christkindlmarket officials to cancel an exhibit of “The Nativity Story.” They just sort of asked them to dump it, kind of the way Da Bears ask an opposing runner to gently drop to the turf. Dose Bears would be embarrassed, however, by the sheer cowardice and political correctness on display this week in Chicago’s Daley Plaza.
Here’s what happened. Christkindlmarket, based on a German Christmas market dating back to 1545, has been staged, with the city’s blessing, since 1997 at Daley Plaza. It’s a German-themed open air extravaganza, complete with bratwursts and beer, Christmas music, cookies, craft booths and women wearing dirndls. The Christkindlmarket website boasts that it is the largest such event in America, drawing about one million visitors from November 23 to December 24. For you ACLU types, the closing date is the eve of Winter Holiday.
The current trouble began when city officials got wind that New Line Cinema, one of the corporate sponsors, would have a booth featuring clips from “The Nativity Story,” which depicts the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. According to early reviews, the movie is a powerful, true-to-Scripture portrayal of Joseph and Mary’s travails and Jesus’s birth in a stable in Bethlehem.
For being too upfront about the real meaning of Christmas, the studio was sent packing–by the very city officials who welcome annual Gay Pride Week, complete with, well, you know. Okay, maybe you don’t, because the media airbrush out the most shocking depravities. Suffice to say that city officials welcome “Mr. Leather” and friends, but feel that too much Jesus might be offensive.
The good news for the studio is that you can’t buy this kind of publicity. When a film is so moving that it poses a threat to non-stop shopping, beer guzzling, and wurst gobbling, it must have something going for it.
Since this hit the news, the bureaucrats have ladled more PC dressing over their ham-handed action than street vendors pour mustard on a Chicago hot dog.
The Associated Press reports that Mayor’s Office of Special Events spokesgrinch Cindy Gatziolis argued that the event already has a nativity scene, and that other religions are represented in the square with displays erected by private groups. OK, fair enough. But she stressed that the city doesn’t want to appear to endorse one religion over another—at the Christmas fair. It’s all about inclusion, you see, which is why they have to exclude a film about Jesus that might move people’s hearts.
Jim Law, executive director of the same office, issued a statement that the film would be “insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market for its good and unique gifts.” In effect, Mr. Law is saying the City of Chicago prefers its Christmas to be the commercialized, Santa-centered kind. You can display a pretty nativity scene, but keep the stronger spirituality behind closed doors.
Never mind that the whole reason behind the Christmas tradition of gift giving is to reflect on and emulate God’s gift to the world of his Son.
This doesn’t mean that non-Christians can’t enjoy Christmas. A recent survey shows that 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and growing numbers of them are fed up with the media-fed PC diktat to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” After hearing from countless unhappy customers, a number of retailers, most prominently Macy’s, Sears, Target, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart, have reintroduced the C-word in their ads and/or greetings. Last year, Lowe’s quickly abandoned a “holiday tree” marketing campaign after incensed consumers asked them, “Never mind those. Where are the Christmas trees?”
Judging from recent movies, the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward unselfconscious celebration of Christmas so long as it’s safely secularized, as in “The Santa Claus III,” “Deck the Halls,” “Elf,” “Christmas with the Cranks,” etc. The time may have come to fulfill Peanuts character Lucy’s wish to be the Christmas Queen, another character you won’t find in the Book of Luke.
What’s still problematic, judging by Chicago officialdom’s absurd stance, is public acknowledgement of the Reason for the Season—the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. He’s why Christians put up Christmas lights and welcome everyone to celebrate.
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4,5)
“The Nativity Story” opens today in 3,000 theaters nationwide. Theater owners probably won’t be offended if lots of people pass through their turnstiles. Merry Christmas.