I’ve always thought the “War on Christmas” meme that some populist conservatives (and a certain TV network that I’ll just skip over for now) like to pound on during the holidays was silly and trivializing. Not for being wrong, mind you, but for being too narrowly focused. The aggressive secularization of the Left operates 24/7 all 365 days a year, and is not just rolled out like crèches during the holiday season alone. As such, we’d be better off if the “War on Christmas” crusaders showed up for battle the rest of the year, and came armed with a more serious grasp of the whole matter.
On the other hand, there is one aspect of the “War on Christmas” theme that is likely correct: the greatest Christmas TV special ever probably could not be made and brought to TV today. I speak, of course, of A Charlie Brown Christmas, still racking up huge ratings even though it first aired almost 50 years ago. But it almost didn’t make the small screen in the form we know it, because some CBS executives objected to the climax of the show, where Linus explains the meaning of Christmas by quoting directly from the Gospel of Luke:
“‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’”
“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
UPDATE: I hadn’t thought to check YouTube, but of course this scene is available. So in case you’ve been living on Mars (or even if you haven’t) here it is in it’s full glory:
The sanitized histories of the show you find here and there today say that the hesitation was over the doubt that viewers would want to sit through a recitation from the King James version of the Bible. (By the way, next time you see it, take note of the fact that Linus lets go of his security blanket when he recites the passage.) But if you believe this, you probably believe in Dan Rather, too. Yeah–like there would have been no objection if Peanuts creator Charles Schulz proposed to use the Revised Standard Version instead. Schulz had to fight to keep the scene in, as one account explains:
Schulz wanted A Charlie Brown Christmas to have the religious meaning that was central to his own experience of Christmas. . . Even Schulz admitted that he was probably the only person who could have gotten A Charlie Brown Christmas made. Television executives hated it from the start.
So merry Christmas and happy Hanukah from Power Line. And as a special bonus, here’s some worthy seasonal images that deserve to be shared.