Renaming God

Letter From the Presbytery

We were ambushed last Christmas Eve by a gang of politicians disguised as Presbyterian clergy and elders. The scene was a sanctuary; the occasion a candlelight service. The weapons our assailants used were so subtle: newly printed orders of service with the lyrics to all those familiar Christmas hymns set forth where they were to be sung. And it was there, along this bypass of the old hymnals, that they fell upon us.

As we made our way through the first verse of Edmund H. Sears's "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," expecting to sing with those bending angels, "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," the trap sprang. The awful word, "men," had been "improved" to read "all." The word and its note crumbled in our confusion and, weakly, something like "maul" trickled out. Poor Sears.

The enormity of the crime became clear only when, in the "New Hark! The Herald Angels," the "sons of earth" whom Christ was born to raise were unceremoniously toppled and "each child" enthroned. The evening's only saving grace was that the High Ideologues of the Presbyterian Church had not yet the temerity to convert the Three Wise Men into the Three Wise Persons. I await this Christmas with trepidation.

The censorship of hymns is a supreme example of undertaking to fix that which is not broken. Is there doubt about whether Christianity includes...

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