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Local Editorials

Christianity: Keeping the “X” in “X-mas” since 33 A.D.

I would hope by now it wouldn’t be a surprise to any of you that I am a Christian. I don’t exactly hide the fact, but then again, I don’t exactly throw it in everyone’s face all the time, either.

For Christians, the Advent season is obviously of particular importance. And, as is typically the case, I’ve already been bombarded with the “Keep Christ in Christmas” emails from friends and family who are rightfully concerned that a cherished holiday is devolving.

[Reader Alert: Sarcasm Mode has been engaged]

I mean, seriously, who doesn’t find the concept of a holiday musical like “The Slutcracker” entertaining? Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, and Bob Guccione — fine, upstanding defenders of the First Amendment — would no doubt give it their seal of endorsement, if the latter two weren’t already chestnuts roasting by the fire.

I mean, there’s nothing really wrong about “a parody retelling of the classic,” or a “sexy, freaky, holiday, zeitgeist spectacular” during the Christmas season. And when The Boston Herald’s reviewer says, “Let’s just hope Drosselmeyer doesn’t do anything illegal with the kids,” that’s just some good ol’ fashioned humor.

For the love of Pete, get over yourself, Christians.

So, when the American Civil Liberties Union sues a retirement community over its plans for a Judeo-Christian display in its city park at Christmastime, don’t worry. The ACLU is really looking out for you, and your First Amendment right to be free from religion. I mean, really; if the ACLU isn’t in your corner, who is?

Besides, this whole “War on Christmas” mess is complete fiction, contrived in the 1950’s by right-wing nincompoops like The John Birch Society. Who would seriously think the United Nations and Communist Party of America have anything but our best interests in mind?

Nut jobs, that’s who. And Christians are just the willing patsies in this whole cruel, twisted charade.

[Reader Alert: Sarcasm Mode has been deactivated]

OK. I can’t do it anymore. My sarcasm is officially broken.

Christians understand the assault on our religion is simply a constant. We’re taught this is the way it will be. In some corners of the earth, the persecution is still a matter of life or death. But, for American Christians, martyrdom is less about losing one’s head literally for our faith as it is about not losing it metaphorically when those who don’t share our beliefs walk all over everything we hold most dear.

Case in point: Getting honked off about “X-mas.”

It may seem fishy, but that’s only because it really is. Fishy, that is.

Surely, most of you have seen the fish symbol many Christians have affixed to the back of their vehicles. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you reading this article don’t have one on the back of your own vehicles.

Well, the name of that symbol is Ichthys, the Greek word for “fish.” But, Ichthys also is a word puzzle, called a transliteration, that means “Jesus Christ of God, Son, Savior.”

No one really knows how the acronym began being used by Christians, and while it’s not specifically used to describe Jesus in the early Bible, the word “ichthys” is the most common word used to describe fish in the Greek New Testament. But, archaeologists have found representations of fish in the catacombs as a Christian symbol.

Contrary to popular myth, it was not a secret symbol, like the “secret handshakes” that have since become popular among fraternal organizations. Rather, the fish symbol was an open declaration to the world that one was a Christian, much like today’s car ornaments.

That’s not to say martyrdom wasn’t a real problem for the early Church. But, the historic evidence suggests Christians were willing to die for their faith and beliefs. They were not ashamed of being Christians, nor did they feel compelled to hide who they were.

Now, granted, the non-believers who substitute the “X” for “Christ” in an inane effort to “egg on” Chrsitians have no idea what they’re doing. Nor do those who are either too cheap or lazy to write out the full word “Christ.” Regardless, He is still glorified.

Turn it into a teachable moment, if you can. But, while we’re at it: Merry Christmas!

If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading it in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.

Bob Eschliman is editor of the Daily News. He may be reached at (641) 792-3121, ext. 243, or at via email.

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