Christmas in Sandy Hook, Connecticut

I have a son who is eight years old, and my daughter will be five in April. As the images of the children who lost their lives began to pop up on the internet yesterday, it was all too easy to see my own children in their place. I do not think I am alone in this.As I write this, it is eight days until Christmas. Most of the presents we have bought for our children are already wrapped and under the tree. I am looking forward to seeing the faces of my son and daughter when they open their … [Read more...]

The Deeper Meaning Behind Our Favorite Christmas Carols

Christ and Pop Culture writers share their reflections on their favorite Christmas carols, and how, all kitsch and schmaltz aside, they bring meaning to the holiday every year. Whether it's songs from the Christian tradition, classic Christmas pop music (thinking Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Bing Crosby), or contemporary renditions of both -- I think we all reach the point of saturation one moment or another each Christmas season with Christmas music. But even so, these songs remain some of … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: The Nutcracker, Inside Out

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.I took my daughter’s apparel for The Nutcracker seriously. I did her hair just like the girl on the cover of Janet Shulman’s adaptation of the classic Christmas tale, the one we’ve been reading and re-reading for months. I made sure she wore her pink tutu, and she, of course, picked out the red sparkly shoes; we did our best to approximate the grandeur approp … [Read more...]

Sufjan Stevens breathes some fresh air into Christmas music with “Silver & Gold”

Call me a Grinch, but there's absolutely no reason for getting into the Christmas spirit when Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet (Sorry super mega-department stores with your early Christmas decorations). But I will make an exception when it comes to Sufjan Stevens' new Christmas offering, Silver & Gold. This is the second of Sufjan's Christmas sets -- his first, Songs for Christmas, came out in 2006 -- and is a collection of nearly 60 original and traditional holiday songs.By turns … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Christmas in July

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.When my husband and I started dating, we invented a “liturgical scale” to help us find a church that worked for both of us. On the scale, a “1” would be an un-programmed Quaker service and a “10” would be a Roman Catholic high mass (in Latin, naturally). Based on that rubric, I’m an “8” and my husband claims he is a “5”. I love liturgy and find it beautiful and comforti … [Read more...]

Mommy, Daddy, Who is Santa Claus?

The Christian's relationship to Santa in America is varied. Some see Santa as a fun trick to play on your children while they are young enough to believe it. Others feel that Santa distracts children from learning about the incarnation of Christ. Some go further, claiming that Santa is a tool of the devil to distract people from focusing on Jesus. Still others view Santa as the embodiment of the Christmas spirit--he is jolly, generous, and loves children. Given the myriad of movies, television … [Read more...]

Sacred Christmas without Christ

If you've listened to our recent podcasts, you know about my frustration with the synthesis of the Christian Christmas and the secular Christmas.  Here's a good example of a secular writer viewing Christmas as wonderfully sacred, and yet entirely secular.  Hopefully we'll continue to think, as Christians, about the best way to challenge these views. … [Read more...]

God-Clause: Reflections on Santa and Theology Proper

He is the all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent being, who rewards the good and punishes the bad. He is mysterious and beyond our comprehension. He is both transcendent and immanent, and we feel His presence in special ways around this time of year. Wait…I’ve lost myself in my own introduction. Are we talking about God or Santa?The two seem not so dissimilar if you pause and reflect for a moment. And for the most part Christians don’t often pause and reflect on this Santa figure. Is his simil … [Read more...]

"Silent Night" is Not Enough

Christmas is almost certainly the most diluted American holiday. Some see it as a celebration of family and friends, others prefer to use it as a time of giving, some unabashedly look forward to receiving, and Christians demand that our fellow Christmas observers acknowledge that Jesus is the real "reason for the season.""Baby Jesus" is the main character of the evangelical church's national Christmas play, and Christians and non-Christians alike marvel at our nativity scenes, storybooks, … [Read more...]

Top Five Christmas Movies

Here's my top five Christmas Movies:1) A Christmas Story2) Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Animated version)3) The Nightmare Before Christmas4) Die Hard5) Mickey's Christmas CarolSo what would you guys add or take away from my list? … [Read more...]