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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Every Christmas we see dozens of pundits and political figures whipping themselves into a frenzy over “the War on Christmas”.  People get outraged over the fact that there are…or are not…creches in the public parks.  I personally think that these people who continually mourn the lack of “Christ” in public Christmas traditions or become outraged over the use of the phrase “holiday” instead of “Christmas” are really taking the wrong approach.

First, I’m a Christian and it truly saddens me as religion becomes more and more disrespected in the public forum (not just Christianity, all religions) and I’ll admit that it would be nice to always be surrounded by our faith.  To have constant reminders about how we should act and about God, rather than having to go through the exhausting effort of self motivation, would be quite nice.  But I don’t live in a Christian country.  I live in the United States.  I live in a country that says that the government shall make no law about the establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise.  People often point to this as evidence that we should be allowed to have nativity displays in public buildings but I think what this really says is that sure, you can go put a nativity on your lawn, and maybe you’ll irk your atheist neighbor across the street, but that’s your right.  But the government cannot endorse a faith, and I think that putting nativity scenes on public property is tantamount to an endorsement.  That is not people living their faith, that is the government displaying a faith. 

Yes, I agree, the spirituality of Christmas is often missed in the superficiality and chaos of the season.  However, I don’t think the way to rectify that is by forcing everyone around us to appreciate the spirituality.  I don’t think there is just one meaning of Christmas.  In fact, I think there are two separate Christmases.  There’s Religious Christmas and Secular Christmas and I think once we accept that those are really just two different holidays things will be a bit easier.  The fact is that Jesus isn’t necessary to everyone’s celebration of Christmas.  We have family friends that are atheist and agnostic and their children love Christmas just as much as the ones in my family.  Christmas can still be a time of cheer and family and drawing closer together without having Jesus.  Christmas has meaning separate from religion.  That is the Secular Christmas.  On the other hand, there is a holiday that is celebrating the birth of the Christian savior Jesus Christ and that is Religious Christmas.  I think we need to celebrate these two Christmases and realizes that Christmas doesn’t have to mean one thing.  I think that public displays around Secular Christmas (holly, trees, Santa Clause) aren’t really that offensive and can be tolerated.  Christmas doesn’t have to be owned by Christians.  Families make a choice whether to celebrate one Christmas or the other, most families will choose to celebrate a mixture of the two.  Or they’ll say that they’re celebrating both independently. 

In reality, there are already two Christmases, I think admitting that, instead of trying to drag the culture one way or the other, is a healthy thing.  There is meaning in both Christmases, but they’re different meanings.  There is overlap and the two can complement each other, but I think they can only complement each other when one realizes that they are different in the first place.  I think this will keep those who celebrate Christmas without the religious aspects from being uncomfortable and can also preserve the religious aspect within Christmas, because then one has to beging to make a conscious effort to celebrate the two.  How am I going to celebrate a Religious Christmas?  How is that different from a Secular Christmas?  We are no longer, if we ever were, a Christian nation and people who are religous need to learn to preserve their faiths within their own families rather than fighting public relations battles. 

Just some thoughts to keep in mind for next year.

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Where do I start?  Where do I start?  It’s difficult for me to determine where I should begin to explain all the things that I find horrifying about this video… 

Let me start here.  I’m not ashamed to say I’m a Christian either.  Let me say this first: Rick Perry does not speak for all Christians. 

Guess we’ll work chronologically.

“You don’t need to be in the Pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military”

First of all, everyone who is capable and has a desire to serve our country in the armed forces should be welcomed as they are.  Men, women, homosexuals, heterosexuals, Caucasion, African-American, Asian, Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim, this is a country where all are welcome, and our military should reflect that.  There is no reason why people who are gay should be prohibited from serving in the military forces.  In the American Revolution or the Civil War, women dressed as men to try to serve their country, they had to hide who they were as well.  Now, women are valued members of the services, sometimes even being able to accomplish tasks that men are not, such as speaking with local women to gather information.  And really, gays being allowed to serve in the military, that’s really the worst thing you can think of that’s wrong with this country?  What about the fact that gay teens are feel forced to commit suicide because of excessive amounts of bullying because of their sexual orientation?  Don’t you think that’s much more concerning in what it says about America and our values?

“but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school”

First of all, I’m a devout Christian, I’ve grown up celebrating Christmas, and I know no one who has had to hide the fact that they celebrated Christmas.  In fact, I’m a Christian and I sometimes wish people didn’t so openly celebrate Christmas.  I also have attended both Christian and public school.  I have lived in both worlds.  I miss having prayers in class, I’ll admit it, they can be a nice way for people to come together.  But I was in a Christian school.  It has never crossed my mind that it would be appropriate in a public school.  Aside from the fact that not everyone’s Christian, not everyone’s religious.  There are Creaster people (people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter, or in Jewish equivalents, only on High Holidays) and then there are outright atheists and agnostics.  Having organized prayer in school just isn’t appropriate in public school, the place for that is home, church, (or your equivalent) and within a group of people who have agreed that they are comfortable with something like that.  Besides, I pray in school all the time, but it’s between me and God, and that’s something that no one can legislate away from me.  I don’t know why we think that it has to be in an organized setting to be real.  Whatever personal feelings are, we are a nation that does not institutionalize religion, and that means that in our public institutions, organized prayer does not have its place. 

“as President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion”

Okay, if you’re going to be making an ad that thousands of people are going to see, get your facts right.  Things you’re discussing, such as what is acceptable in terms of school prayer or in public Christmas displays, those decisions weren’t made by Obama, they were made by the supreme court.  There’s no war on religion, at least not from the government, that there’s a culture that’s turning more hostile to religion in general, I’ll give you that, but I don’t think government’s how you fix that.

“and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage”

Okay, as any of you can see if from the title of this blog, much of what this blog is about is the mistaken belief among many in our country (a disproportionate amount of them being in politics) that religion and politics go hand in hand.  Conservative=Religious (i.e. Christian), Liberal=Secular (i.e. evil…just kidding, sort of).  Things aren’t this clear-cut.  I’m a liberal and I’m an evangelical Christian.  There are religious liberals, there are secular conservatives.  There are conservatives and liberals who are both religious but believe the first amendment means that we shouldn’t insitutionalize religion.  I don’t like it when liberal is used to mean secular.  I don’t like it when conservative is used to mean Christian.  Things are much more complex than this.

All in all, I was rather horrified by Rick Perry’s ad, even more horrified when the only real outcries I heard were on social networking sites and not by any in the media.  Religion isn’t an us-them thing, there are no teams.  I found Rick Perry’s ad concerning and more than that, I found it sad that he actually thought that the majority of Americans held the same views.

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My family and I have been adjusting this year to a new and unexpected situation.  Like many families, we have often found that one member of the family who goes off in that unexpected path that really no one in the family knows what to do with.  My sister became a cheerleader this year.

All in all, I think we’ve taken it rather well, especially considering that she sees dinner time as her personal practice time (five-six-seven-eight!).  However, in the week leading up to the big Thanksgiving game, something happened that threw us for a loop.  The cheerleaders and football players were going to a prayer service at St. Mary’s Church in our town.

Wait what…?

Yes, a school-sponosered prayer service for the football players and cheerleaders, not only religious but denominational.  Now…my family is Protestant and attends a UCC Church (United Church of Christ), how was my sister going to know the prayers or what to do?  We live in a predominantly Catholic town, was she going to be the only person who didn’t know what to do?  Were they going to have communion? Non-Catholics aren’t allowed to be given communion in a Catholic Church, what was she going to do if that happened?  She wasn’t worried or flustered, but my mother and I were.  And what about if there were any Jewish or Islamic team members?  Or atheist members who had never been in a church at all?  They would all feel even more out of place.  While no one would likely be forced to participate if they didn’t want to, it’s not really right to put someone in that situation where they have to break ranks, where they should feel different and left out at the very moment when the emphasis should be on the team.  It turned out fine, but I still couldn’t wrap my head around it, I was stunned more than actually objecting.

You’re probably thinking my town is superconservative, that we must live in the Bible belt or something.  Nope, my town is a liberal New England town.  In fact, in this town, I’ve known teachers who receive furious e-mails from parents when they use AD or BC instead of CE or BCE.

Several years ago, my classmates (I was at a different school) were supposed to go on a field trip to see a movie/play (I put / because I don’t remember which) in the winter.  It was Miracle on 34th street.  It was a story about Santa Clause.  Parents were outraged, there was a whole fuss and the trip got cancelled.  How dare they do a school-sponsored trip to see something about Santa Clause therefore about Christmas and therefore Christian?  This is a public school after all. 

So heaven forbid that our children see Miracle on 34th street…but a prayer service is okay.

I don’t get it. 

I’ve thrown up my hands in confusion.  I can no longer see the method in the madness as to what it is we choose to get outraged and offended about.  That is what I am left with, simple bemusement.

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