On December 3rd, a customer in a tapas-style restaurant in Florida left a hastily scribbled complaint on the back of his receipt as he departed. The restaurant’s manager, a Christian, had decided to play traditional Christmas music for background atmosphere in the dining area, hoping to create an appropriately festive spirit for the season.
How sad. Another attempt to dumb down Christmas, to eviscerate its original meaning and replace it with nondescript “holiday music,” something like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” or “Rudolph…,” or “Frosty the Snowman.” Line up Bing crooning “White Christmas,” or Burl Ives having a “Holly, Jolly Christmas.” Maybe for a finale every hour they could play the YouTube video of Ariana Grande singing “Santa Baby!”
I’m guessing this particular patron has some ax to grind against the Christian faith — somewhere in his past he must have been deeply hurt by a Christian or a congregation or some authority figure. Who knows? But to want to squelch the meaning of the Christmas season for others by removing any reminders of Jesus from the public sphere is simply sad.
Ironically, the name of the Florida city in which this restaurant is located is St. Augustine (named after the greatest theologian among the Western church fathers)! It must be galling for the patron in question to have to share his home address with others.
I wonder if he restricts his travel plans so as to avoid unnecessary misery. No road trips within state to St. Petersburg, or Port St. Lucie, or even New Smyrna Beach. California is pretty much off limits — too aggravating to fly into the City of Angels, or Santa Ana, or San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento. I hate to rain on his parade, but one of the most beautiful spots on the Pacific coast is Carmel, named after the biblical site in the Holy Land. And forget Santa Cruz (the “Holy Cross”)!
Touring the Alamo is out, for it lies in San Antonio. And heaven forbid he should come too close to Corpus Christi (the “Body of Christ”) — smelling salts might be required to revive him. Skip the Gateway Arch over the Mississippi in St. Louis. I hope our patron is not a US history buff — Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are of course located in Philadelphia, a biblical name (ouch!).
If he loves to drive to see the country, he’ll have to plan his itinerary very carefully to avoid the many cities and small towns named after biblical sites or characters. I can imagine his blood pressure skyrocketing as he approaches New Canaan, CT, or Bethesda (or for that matter anywhere in Mary-Land — imagine, a whole state named after a biblical figure!). Think of all the Bethels, Antiochs, Shilohs, Mt. Zions, and Salems sprinkled across the land. How offensive! When is our population going to get together and replace these odiously suggestive names with ones more secular and non-provocative? How about Sponge Bob, or Pepe Le Pew, or Pumbaa? Avatar, Hogwarts, Oompa-Loompa Land, or Mordor (wait, I think, that’s already been taken to replace Washington, D.C.).
Maybe our friend is a hiker. There are certainly many places in America he can climb, but some places will be out of bounds: the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains of Southern Colorado; Mt. St. Helens; St. Jacinto Peak; the St. Francois range in MS, or the St. Elias Range in Alaska. On the other hand, he might feel right at home in a couple of locations that Wyoming boasts: Hell’s Half-Acre between Shoshoni and Casper should be free of any Christian influence; likewise, Devils Tower may feel safe, unless he spends too much time meditating while on the trails. God has a way of insinuating His presence into our thoughts when we are alone and our guard is down.
In the future, if this gentleman wants to avoid “offensive” Christmas music on December dinner outings, I would suggest he visit Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis for a good Noel-free meal. Just don’t head east if you take an after-dinner stroll. You might end up in St. Paul….