Every Advent we start groaning again at the frivolity and vulgarity of the Secular Christmas. The English Dominican Fr Allan White gives a salient example: "The other day I saw what comes pretty close to the abomination of desolation. It was a singing Christmas tree. I was walking through a respectable department store when I noticed the bow in the middle of a plastic Christmas tree transform itself into a pair of lips and begin to sing Jingle bells in a harsh metallic voice." We all have our favorite 'happy holidays' atrocity. Still we Christians are not as immune as we may think to the influence of what we deplore. What we need to know is not merely what is unacceptable but it means to keep a feast. Josef Pieper, the German Thomist, thought long and hard about this as part of his reflections on Leisure: the Basis of Culture and delivered a series of lectures precisely on the pertinent question What is a Feast. During Advent we will be considering Pieper's views and conclusions with an eye not only to what we should not do but also on what we should do.
Can we have a true feast, celebration, or leisure without divine worship? Can we have a flourishing culture without God?