by Sarah Palin
Update: signed first edition for only $13.92 (with free shipping for a $25 order) at Barnes and Noble while they last.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Edition description: Signed
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Broadside Books (an imprint of HarperCollins publishers)
First Edition edition (November 12, 2013)
current Amazon price: $13.79 hardcover
Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (November 12, 2013)
current Amazon price: $18.71
The subtitle of this book is “Protecting the Heart of Christmas”. One might say, “protecting the nation's well-being”.
In a fast read, popular style Governor Sarah Palin describes public and commercial assaults on the Christmas holiday as well as making a case for its value to a democratic republic like the United States. Along the way she sprinkles in stories from her childhood and adult Christmas celebrations.
The easy case for Christmas as important to the nation’s well-being is it’s national economic value. The United States retail economy depends heavily on Christmas shopping for its profitability.
“The day after Thanksgiving is called ‘Black Friday’ because it’s frequently the first time the stores are no longer “in the red” for the entire year. Christmas helps to employ millions of people and props up our entire retail economy.” (p. 56)Anyone who has ever looked for a job knows that the Christmas season provides lots of new, though temporary, opportunities. And the amount of money pumped into the national economy can be gauged by one’s own Christmas spending for gifts, food, decorations, cards--not to mention travel.
But, important as they are, economic benefits are a sidelight for Palin. In a shorthand version of her presentation in America by Heart (pp. 181-232), Palin shows that America’s very government depends on a religious people to function. Chapter 5 (“Bad News, Good News”) presents the core of Palin’s argument.
“When John Adams wrote, ‘Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is whole inadequate to the government of any other,’ he understood that a healthy republic, and indeed, all healthy governments, are grounded in moral principles that we learn through the philosophical and religious forms of reasoning.” (p. 143, cf p. 132)Palin argues that the sort of tolerance and inclusiveness that refuses to mention Christ or Christianity is in reality an assault on faith. The stores and corporations substituting “Seasons Greetings” for “Merry Christmas” and public schools substituting “Winter Break” for “Christmas Break” are teaching the public at large and students that “Christ” and “Christmas” are not good words to use in public. They offend. That religion and faith are private issues to be hidden from public sight.
“Our children are growing up in a culture where faith is regularly stigmatized. Through their word choices, our educators relentlessly tell us that some religions are worth honoring while others must be suppressed, mentioned mainly in the home. Kids get the message.” (p. 135)Palin describes our society falling into deeper moral decay.
“But we don’t have to go all the way to California for examples of moral decay. Just flip on the television, take a walk around your kids’ school, or--if you’ve got the guts--scroll through kids’ text messages. The coarsening of our culture is evident everywhere, and we now have a generation of young people being raised in a culture where our Judeo-Christian heritage is mocked and reviled. Where we can’t even say ‘Merry Christmas.’ The very notion that we have a Judeo-Christian heritage is under attack.Palin cites the 50 million babies the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates have been killed since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
“I’m not talking about the nuances of theology or the differences between denominations. I’m talking basic stuff like the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments’ prohibitions on stealing, killing, and lying, and so forth. And sexual morality? The two words don’t seem to go together anymore.” (p. 146)
“Our nation actually uses the power of the state to protect the ‘right’ to kill children in a mother’s womb--for any reason or no reason at all. Do we worship ourselves so much that another human has to die for our personal convenience? A culture that reveres our Creator and respects the sanctity of innocent life does not condone killing its own children.” (p. 147)Faith is not only a building block for society, it offers:
1. “a check on the power of the state” because “[w]hen we dictate our own morality, we are capable of anything.” (p. 148)
2. “an amazing force for good in our culture,” e.g., the antislavery movement led by evangelicals like William Wilberforce, and the civil rights movement led by Baptist minister Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (pp. 148-149)
3. the source of “values” and how we look at ourselves (pp. 150-155)
Palin notes that the liberal vision is that “people are good, and institutions like the church or the traditional family are actually oppressive”. By contrast, conservatives “believe that people aren’t that great to start with. And without faith and family to guide us and reinforce values that often go against our self desires, we’ll drift toward our own destruction.” (p. 152)
The view that people are not basically good-hearted, but prone to selfishness and faction (Federalist 10 and 51), is basic to our constitutional structure. That’s why there are checks and balances “because people can’t be trusted with power. And because we’re not that great we need constant reminders of our need for God.” (p. 154)
Palin’s presentation of these truths is mixed with the fun of her own Christmas memories and lots of examples in government, public school and corporate policy of avoiding not only the central story of Christmas but even the very mention of the word “Christmas”.
Good Tidings and Great Joy is both light-hearted and serious--a good mix for a Christmas read.