A Review of Sarah Palin’s New Book “Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas”
Beneath the title of chapter three in Sarah Palin’s new book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas, there is a quote that caught my eye:
“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when it’s mighty Founder was a child Himself.”
Palin borrowed this jewel from Charles Dickens, and it sent a warm joy through my spirit — those little stabs of joy that C.S. Lewis wrote about when he described the elusive longing we feel when, just for a second or two, Heaven draws near.
The thought that God became a person — and not only a person but also an infant whose neck was too weak to lift His head in those early weeks of His human life — is what brought Heaven close. “We are not alone in the universe,” as they say. No, we are not. Emmanuel — God with us — is here.
The Dickens quote could easily sum up Palin’s entire book, which captures the beauty of Christmas while simultaneously drawing detailed, believable portraits of two kinds of people. The first kind is the person who loves Christmas and has absolutely no problem with it, even if the person is not a Christian. She remembers fondly how in her childhood years in Alaska, Christians and Jews would have their symbols happily on display for that time of the year — Nativity scenes and Menorahs — and no one would think twice about it. The Christians and Jews in her town would warmly greet each other, wish each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukah, and that was fine — no big deal. No one ever got in a huff about using the word Christmas. As Robert Ailes is quoted saying in her book: “What…is so offensive about putting up a plastic Jewish family on my lawn?”
The second kind of person she describes has lost (or never had) any sense of child-like faith and joy in the meaning of Christmas as Dickens described, and they are, well, incredibly intolerant and Scrooge-like about anyone celebrating their religious faith — especially Christians. She’s careful to point out that atheists are claiming a right to not be offended. The Constitution does not guarantee anyone’s right to never be offended by the publicly expressed beliefs of others. In fact, the Constitution was written so that the people’s right to publicly exercise their religious freedoms would not be cut off by people who find those beliefs offensive.
That’s sort of the whole point of America.
People fled England to build a nation where a person could freely express his or her religious beliefs, even if it offended others. That’s why we have a Bill of Rights: to protect us from people who use their personal anger over some belief as justification for oppression.
Palin dissects and refutes a common argument, drawn from alleged quotes from Thomas Jefferson, that atheists like to use. She also reminds us that it is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Many of these militant atheists, she points out, see the Christ in Christmas as not only a holiday to bleep out as if it were a swear word, but they see a Person to destroy — Jesus Himself.
And this is where she expands the scope of her book. The war against Christmas is only one battle in an epic conflict aimed at wiping out the name of Jesus from our land and removing your freedom to worship Him. She gives plenty of real-life anecdotes from her experiences in public service. It’s shocking to read some of it because she highlights people — some prominent in the media — who have a half-crazed, almost demoniac hatred for Christmas, Jesus, and Christians.
Her book, however, is not a hand-wringing piece of worrywart sensationalism. Yes, she provides chilling and angering anecdotes of offensive things that atheists and other groups have done to try to stop Christmas; but she takes it just far enough before countering it with encouraging anecdotes and joyous, inspiring messages and reminders. In other words, this book is not a downer. It will not leave you depressed so that you’re thinking in an Eeyore-like voice: “Oh bother, Christmas is doomed.” She shines a bright and vivid light on the true meaning of Christmas, and the brightness is irresistible and contagious. By shining this light, Palin immediately exposes how the arguments of people who can’t tolerate even the sight of Christmas are petty, self-absorbed, and spiritually emaciated.
Her book has a clear mission: to remove the fear from Christians and give us all a little more backbone in defending our public expression of Jesus. We have a right to publicly proclaim our celebration of Christmas whether or not it offends other people; and there are practical, smart ways to do it that make our case very winnable in court.
Besides these very helpful action items and tips, the book is a joy to read, and it moved my heart into moments of awestruck worship of a King who, in the midst of history’s darkness, entered our world as a baby to be with us and, ultimately, die for us.