Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ho Ho Ho

What's wrong with the world besides me? This Christmas season there are some department stores that are restricting Santa Claus' use of the term "Ho Ho Ho". They actually claim that this famous laugh by children's most beloved character may offend some women. Apparently the term "ho", even if used during a laugh, is a degrading term for certain women. No real alternative has been offered but I presume that they prefer a more politically correct term such as "professional woman of the night". Some might think it strange for Santa to bring up a questionable profession while laughing or for carolers to insert a comment about prostitutes in the course of spreading Holiday cheer, but if this makes these stores feel like they have protected women from hearing degrading names all throughout the ever lengthening Christmas season then I am all for it.
Okay, in case you do not sense the sarcasm in my (writing) voice allow me to tell you that this whole thing is pure claptrap (that is a thesaurus word for nonsense). This is one of those issues where some people make issues out of non-issues especially in light of the fact that Santa has been saying "Ho" long before rap music popularized a new use of the term. It is like when stores say they will not say, "Merry Christmas" because it is too religious and in the process they offend even more people than they would offend if they used the phrase in the first place. This over-reaction is also like when Christians boycott stores for saying "Merry X-mas" thinking they are proving a point (when in actuality the "x" in Christmas is the Greek letter that begins the word "Christ" so it is actually a Christian abbreviation).
The point is that people over-react too much. Just this week I was talking with a world-renowned archaeologist who writes for the journal "Biblical Archaeology Review" and he was criticizing the large number of pastors who cancel their subscriptions when the review publishes information that goes against their assumptions about the Bible. He told me that he just couldn't understand how pastors could have such weak faith. Here was a Jewish man saying that these Christian pastors should have a strong enough faith in Jesus to not be affected by information published in a journal. As I walked away from that conversation I thought about his point and how much I agreed with it and how much I see this overreaction everywhere.
I walked out into the cold Jerusalem air and thought that this would be a great year of celebrating the birth of Jesus here in His homeland. With Christmas less than one month away, the cold air and the lights (for Chanukah) put me in the "Holiday Spirit". I thought that all I needed was some Christmas music so as I walked to the bus stop I turned on my i-pod and I listened to 2 Pac sing "Ho Ho Ho". And now I am in the Christmas mood.


Lauren said...

Ryan everyone knows that real "ho ho ho" Christmas music come from Mariah Carrey. But it is good to know that 2 pac has also made a christmas album and he puts you in the christmas spirit!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ryan you make every thing so clear for me. I thought they were worried about offending women that garden. The message at church today and your blog I have decided to stand up for what God says is right and if that offends someone because of their lifestyle or poor choices, that means they need to change, not that God needs to change. Politicly correct is not only an oximoron, but should be eliminated from how we follow God.

Nick said...

this blog was a great pickme up for finals week. i wonder how people will sing "up on the housetop reindeer paws ... 'professional woman of the night' who would know....." its sad that people can't stop boycotting this and that about a holiday that should be a time of love and giving. can't wait to see you guys in a week and a half or so.

derek said...

Ryan I have to be truthful I really don't agree with this post.

I will be canceling my subscription.

Steph said...

I think this post is great. Im new to the blog, Ryan, but I will be here more from now on. I am feeling really provoked by a few of these comments, or, one specifically. I understand everyone's adversion to being told to be "politically correct". I would like to introduce a new word into the vocabulary, "inclusion". Maybe we're a little more comfortable with this? Being inclusive means to be a loving, compassionate, and caring individual. Being inclusive means not building a wall between someone and yourself through language that makes them feel like a lesser human being. While I agree that banning Santa's "ho, ho, ho" motto is silly, I whole heartedly DISAGREE that we should condone the use of the word "ho" apart from the Christmas season and in that specific context. This word is DEGRADING towards women, regardless of whether or not they prostitute themselves or objectify their bodies. It is equal to the use of words like, "bitch", "slut", "fag" "retarded". These are words that are used by uneducated and cruel individuals to demean the identity of another human being. Lets face it, the term ho is not identifying specifically women who live lives of sin as prostitutes (and even if it is, we are told to LOVE them, too). While the Lord does not say to encourage that behavior, we are never called to degrade, dehumanize, or hurt HIS beautiful creations. We, as Christians are failing at being inclusive.
Every day our youth use phrases like, "That's so gay"and "Thats retarded". Or, "wow, she's dressed like a ho!" These are hate-filled and completely contradictory towards the goal of Christ for our lives. Standing up for God and bashing other human beings are NOT the same thing. I spent three weeks (5 days a week, 9 hours a day) in a room with the greatest concentration of diversity on the UCSB campus. I was taught by people of every different gender, color, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, size, shape, religion and background (half of these identities that you might not even know exist) and encouraged to be a more loving, accepting and aware human being than I have ever been taught in the church. I was taught by THEM the best way to LOVE THEM. I was taught by people that we condemn for being sinners and heathens how to be more Christ-like. I think this points out a major failure for us. While I was learning about different identities, bonding with people from practically different worlds than myself, and loving on them, as Christ wold want me to do, I learned how truly powerful and hurtful our language can be. We cannot blame people for being offended by hateful speech that we perpetuate every day. We often pass off being politically correct as something that is over-sensitive to people who are looking for things to be offended by. That pain and those feelings are valid, whether you agree or not. Lets trash the term, change our perspective and work on loving people of all types, from all different perspectives. Lets change our language to reflect the hearts of acceptance and love that our awesome God would want us to have, rather than our judgemental, rebellious, selves.
I was recently at a conference where a completely ignorant woman used the phrase, "can't change a ho mind" when a man asked how he could encourage a woman dressed provocatively to respect herself. I suggest that we do not adopt her same stance. I doubt that if you see a provocatively dressed woman walking by and you tell her, "wow, you're dressed like a whore," that she will be very receptive towards the love of God that you are trying to bring her. Instead, why don't we use uplifting words to encourage our Lord's beautiful creations to, "stop distracting from their beauty by objectifying themselves." ( I won a t-shirt for that suggestion, go figure, seemed pretty obvious to me). Why don't you stop cutting them off and deciding that you "cant change a ho mind" and love that WOMAN that your God created as your EQUAL and help her respect herself by first offering that respect to her. The word "ho" hurts more than just "slutty" women and prostitutes. It hurts your daughters, your sisters, your nieces, your wives, and every other stranger walking down the street who is judging the rest of Christians and Christ by your hateful and degrading speech. That word targets and subjugates women, therefore it is hurtful to all women. We as followers of the one TRUE God should be the first to educate ourselves on the currently accepted terms for those that we are called to love, those that NEED our love. Christians should be the first to change the hate speech and dehumanizing language to stop perpetuating the disrespect of our Lord's creations. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as Christian power. We are a well represented group of people, with weight in our society. We should be the first to use that power speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, to stand for those without power. If we use change our language to be more loving, in turn, make more people feel loved, and still further, change our judgement into that real, unconditional love, we CAN take back this world. I know that many people are going to disagree with much of what I have said, but please think about it. You have the power to step back and realize that you are not losing anything by using such language and that you have everything to gain for the kingdom of God by being inclusive.

lauren said...

steph. I teared a little reading your comment. I could not agree more love!

Ryan said...

Lauren- Mariah Carrey?
Greg- Is it possible to be true to your convictions and still be "politically correct"?
Nick- I'm glad you could take a break from studying. See you soon.
Derek- Are you a mainstream evangelical pastor now?
Steph- You went a different direction than I thought when posting this but you have good thoughts. The point of avoiding the use of offensive names/terms is always usefull but what determines what is offensive? If we take the use of the term "Merry Christmas" for an example we see that people do not use it to avoid offending those who do not celebrate Christmas but they in turn offend some of those who do. At this point people decide who they will offend through their political correctness. Again, in general people should lighten up and not always think everything is aimed at offending.
In the case of intentionally derogatory words such as "fag", "retard", "ho/bitch" , then there is never an excuse.