Mr. Berger, your work has greatly shaped the way I view the world. I’m no academic, just an average guy living in South Texas, but I discovered your work about 10 years ago, and after reading some of your earlier books, it had a huge effect on how I view the world.
I have no profound insight or comment, just a thank you and Marry Christmas.
While we may be “basically egalitarian,” it is my observation that each season Santa gives gifts of much higher retail value to the children of the affluent. Indeed,there is a robust statistical relationship between the value of Santa’s gifts and social class.
Peter, I love everything you say here, except that I wouldn’t exactly call what you defend the “commercialized” Christmas so much as the “secularized” Christmas. I make the distinction because I love it that cops sometimes go easy on you at Christmas, but I still hate the “commercialization” (amped up appeals to acquisitive materialism and such). Maybe christmas friendliness has its roots in the commercial instincts of business (maybe), but I much prefer the friendliness without the appeals to spend spend spend.
Gifts reflect the Greatest Gift, by the way, and they are love-made-manifest even in ordinary transactions. God is Love, love invades us at Christmas.
Isn’t much of our objection to “commercialized” Christmas, aesthetic rather then moral? Nobody calls Nutcrackers commercialized even though in fact Nutcrackers are bought and sold.
And in any case this is arguably occupational snobbery. Does anyone complain of an agriculturalized thanksgiving even though the chief thing we remember about thanksgiving is the products of the food production industry?