Skip to comments.Where Have All the Christmas Decorations Gone? A Meditation on Joyless Secularism
Posted on 12/20/2016 8:05:10 AM PST by Kaslin
Where I live (near Los Angeles) you can drive for blocks without seeing a single home with Christmas lights, let alone a manger scene or some other religious decoration. And you can drive miles and see fewer than a dozen.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in an area where most residents were either Italian or Jewish. So many homes had Christmas decorations that you could almost be sure that if the home wasn't decorated, a Jewish family lived in it. And while I was -- and remain -- a committed Jew, I loved -- and still love -- those decorated homes. It makes December special.
But today, December is not special in large swathes of America. Secularism has taken its toll. And the lack of color this time of the year compared to decades ago perfectly exemplifies some of its consequences.
Secularism literally and figuratively knocks color out of life.
Without God and religion there is, of course, much to enjoy in life. You can enjoy Bach without believing in God (though Bach would not have composed anything if he didn't believe in God); you can enjoy sports, books, travel and so much more.
But there is a monochromatic character to life without God and religion. And you can literally see it this month. When I compare blocks of homes without Christmas decorations to blocks filled with homes with Christmas decorations, I think of my trips to the Soviet Union and other communist countries. One of the first things that struck any visitor from the West was how gray everything looked. There was essentially no color -- just as today's decoration-free homes appear.
Secularism in the West has a deadening effect. It tends to suck the joy of life out of individuals and the larger society. It is particularly noticeable in young people. Secular kids are more likely to be jaded and cynical than kids raised in religious Christian and Jewish homes.
(Conversely, secularism has an enlivening effect in fundamentalist Muslim countries, which tend to suck the joy out of life even more so than secularism does in the West. That's one reason one can root for secularism in Iran and against secularism in the West.)
What secular joys can compare to a family putting up Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree, going to church together, singing or listening to Christmas carols and engaging in the other rituals surrounding Christmas? None.
The same question can be posed to Jews. What secular joys compare to having Shabbat meals every week with family and friends, or building a sukkah (the holiday booth) with your children for Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles)? None -- for adults or children.
A Christian caller on my radio show told me about his son-in-law who doesn't celebrate Christmas but does celebrate "the first snow." With all due respect, celebrating the first snow, or the winter solstice, does not bring the joy to an individual's life or a family's life that celebrating Christmas brings.
The indoctrinated -- better-known as the well-educated -- have been misled to believe that because secular government is good and theocracy is bad, secularism must be good. But it isn't.
Secularism not only knocks out joy but also destroys ultimate meaning.
Without God and religion, life is ultimately no more than random coincidence. You and I have no more meaning or purpose than puffs of clouds. The only difference is that clouds don't need to believe that they have meaning.
This lack of meaning in secular society is the reason for the development of the post-Christian isms and movements in the West. They give people meaning. Marxism, communism, fascism and Nazism -- not to mention all the nonviolent but socially destructive left-wing movements of our day -- are all secular substitutes for what religion once gave: meaning.
Secularism also destroys moral absolutes. Without God and moral revelation, morality is entirely subjective -- "What you or your society says is good is good, and what I or my society says is good is good." Is it any wonder that the most secular institution in the West, the university, is also the place of the greatest amount of moral idiocy?
Secularism also destroys art. Contemporary art museums are filled with nihilism and talent-free meaninglessness masquerading as art. And worse, they are increasingly filled with the scatological. One of the Guggenheim Museum's latest featured works is a solid-gold toilet that's usable by visitors. It's titled "America" so that one can literally urinate and defecate on America -- and feel sophisticated while doing so.
America is a society in decline because Americans have abandoned the religious foundations of their country. The colorless and joyless Christmas manifested in the increasing number of homes without Christmas decorations is a clear and dispiriting example.
We moved from Washington state to northern Michigan and are having to get used to saying Merry Christmas again. Everyone says it to us.
Try the Chicano part of town, Dennis.
I have noticed slightly fewer decorations in my neighborhood.
That’s kind of a weird article. If you move to Los Angeles, don’t expect everything to be just as it was in south Brooklyn.
If you want to see Christmas decorations in Brooklyn, they are still there, believe me! But Dennis apparently put on airs at some point in the 70s or 80s and Brooklyn wasn’t quite doing it for him any more, so he move to a place the whole point of which is that it has no cultural ties of any sort to anything. Move back to Brooklyn, if you can afford it.
I think part of this is that our culture has sort of tired of the whole thing. Just like people now fly in pajamas. I don’t celebrate Christmas if I can get out of it. I’m not into santa, lights, the tree, the presents, etc. I see every day the same. Every day I celebrate Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. I don’t need a special day to do it and I DEFINITELY don’t need to be a part of the secular christmas celebration.
Christmas lights just seem like a heck of a lot of work for no real purpose. I’ve felt that way my entire adult life. That is what makes Clark Griswald so funny.
It costs money to buy them and spend more on the electric bill
Money that could be better spent paying insurance premiums for healthcare you can’t afford to use
Several Decembers ago Mr. Mercat and I visited our son in Boston. This is the only year he was not going to be home for Christmas. We saw very little in the way of Christmas decorations in the city. We drove out to Concord (shot heard round the world) and I guess I expected more decorations there.. suburb of Boston now. But no except for one block downtown although there was a nice museum display of Christmas trees based upon children’s books. So I had about decided that the town ordinances forbid decorations until we headed back into town and one of the nice big houses with about two acres of front lawn had every decoration you could imagine including giant inflated snow globes and flashing Christmas trees. I loved it. I wanted to stop and tell them that I loved it but Mr. M and our son wouldn’t let me. They are no fun.
Soon you’ll be ordered to celebrate Ramadan or die
We have to be careful not to display our traditions and heritage where they may be seen by the rapugees flooding our country since the majority of them are mussies and their feelings might be hurt.
“Christmas lights just seem like a heck of a lot of work for no real purpose.”
The purpose is to bring joy to others and remind them of the season.
“If you want to see Christmas decorations in Brooklyn, they are still there, believe me! “
Dyker Heights in Brooklyn has traffic chaos in December with people coming to see the lights.
The nation does not celebrate Christmas. We celebrate commerce. It has become the god of the US. We have come full circle. The birth of The Christ was celebrated on a pagan holiday. Now the day of that celebration is used to celebrate a pagan god of gold, commerce.
Prager lives in La Canada Flintridge across the street from a friend of mine.
There are a Lot of decorated homes in his area, but it isn’t really Los Angeles either.
Good article, Mr Prager!
Thanks for posting this one !
I don’t think it’s secularism at all. I think it’s multiculturalism, with America being flooded by immigrants from all over the world. Many of them aren’t Christian, and even those who are Christian simply don’t celebrate Christmas the way we’ve come to accept as “normal” — i.e., the Germanic/Anglo-Saxon tradition.
I think that’s the weather not secularism. LA has always been notoriously thin on Christmas decorations, hard to remember there’s a winter holiday coming when the weather is in the 80s.
These days, there are much fewer people keeping up that tradition and ironically it is the lower middle class blue collar neighborhoods that still put up the best displays with all the multi-color. In upscale yuppie neighborhoods, any displays are limited to the "clear white" lights which are nice to look at but rather blah. Multi-color lights are looked upon by these people as "low rent", you know, only put up by the kind of people who would eat at Applebees and buy their clothes from Wal-Mart.
I would like to see Christmas decorations make a come back.
Can’t say the same for where I live. Christmas lights and decorations galore on the houses around here.