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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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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So, before I start talking, since this is rather critical to the story, I’m going to have to come out and admit something.  I’m seventeen years old.  I’ve tried to keep that to myself on this blog as much as possible, because I want my thoughts to be taken seriously and very few people do that with a teenager.  It colors their perspective.

But to the point.  In my church, there’s a section of the pews that’s set aside for the youth to sit.  Now, my church’s youth have a pretty scanty attendance record.  Usually it ends up being just me sitting there, and the other people who come regularly sit with their parents.  Recently though, occasional people have started sitting in the pews, much to my distress.  The youth had stopped going to church so much that people had forgotten that that was where the youth sat.  Last week a mother and her two daughters had sat there, this year the same family was there but with another woman, the children’s other mother, I assume.  I was sitting there last Sunday, feeling angry and bitter and resentful and sad.  How dare those people sit in those pews?  (Now, I know this sounds silly.  But those pews are a symbol, they’re a place where youth can sit separate from their parents, so that they begin to commune with the worship on their own, individual basis rather than because of their parents.  It’s also a safe place for youth to sit who perhaps aren’t there with their parents and don’t know where else to go, a place where youth don’t feel strange going to church because they know there are others like them.  It’s a type of fellowship.  But anyway.)  And how could the youth just leave, be part of a church that they didn’t want to spend time at?  I knew it was rather irrational but I was upset.

But I calmed down and tried to let my heart be open to God.  I began to see that this was an opportunity, for friendship, to show those girls a teen role model in church.  I realized that God placed them there and that while I might not know what for or what can come out of it, it is an opportunity that he has given me.  I was at peace and happy when I realized that, and now am glad that that’s family there.  For God can show us another way of looking at the same thing, and give us His perspective, instead of our own flawed one.

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