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Posts Tagged ‘Religious’

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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Here are the answers to the quiz that I posted the other day.  Some of the questions have flexibility in answers, such as it being said differently in another language or so on so please take that into account.  Two more parts to this series of articles still to come.  Again, the answers to this quiz (like th quiz itself) come from Stephen Prothero’s book “Religious Literacy”.

1. Name the four gospels.  List as many as you can.  (1 point each).

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

2. Name a sacred text of Hinduism. (1 point).

There are many possiblities here.  They include: the Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads, Puranas, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Yoga Sutras, Laws of Manu, and the Kama Sutra.

3. What is the name of the holy book of Islam?  (1 point).

Quran

4. Where according to the Bible was Jesus born?  (1 point).

Bethlehem.

5. President George W. Bush spoke in his first inaugural address of the Jericho road.  What bible story was he invoking? (1 point.)

The Good Samaritan

6. What are the first five books of the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Old Testament? (1 point each)

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

7. What is the Golden Rule? (1 point.)

“Do unto others as you would have them do unot you” (Matthew 7:12), or a similar sentiment from Rabbi Hillel or Confucius.  (“Love your neighbor as yourself” is NOT the Golden Rule)

8. “God helps those who help themselves.” Is this in the Bible?  If so, where? (2 points.)

No, this is not in the Bible.  It was said by Ben Franklin.  It contradicts Proverbs 28:26: “He who trusts in himself is a fool”

9. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”: Does this appear in the Bible?  If so, where? (2 points.)

Yes, this appears in the Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3)

10. Name the Ten Commandments.  List as many as you can. (1o points)

The Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish traditions all have different versions of the ten commandments.  Give yourself credit if you have any ten of the following twelve.

1. I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.

2. You shall have no other gods before me.

3. You shall not make ourself a graven image.

4. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

5. Remember the sabbath day and keep it hol.

6. Honor your father and your mother.

7. You shall not kill/murder.

8. You shall not commit adultery.

9. You shall not steal.

10. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

11. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife

12. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods

11. Name the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.  List as many as you can.  (4 points.)

1. Life is suffering

2. Suffering has an origin

3. Suffering can be overcome (nirvana)

4. The path to overcoming suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path

12. What are the seven sacraments of Catholicism?  List as many as youcan. (7 points).

1. Baptism

2. Eucharist/Mass/Holy Communion

3. Reconciliation/Confession/Penance

4. Confirmation

5. Marriage

6. Holy Orders (Nuns or the Priesthood)

7. Anointing of the Sick/Last Rites

13. The First Amendment says two things about religion, each in its own “clause”.  What are the two religion clauses in the first amendment?  (1 point each.)

“Congress shal make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  The words before the comma are referred to as the establishment clause; the words that follow constitute the free exercise clause.

14.  What is Ramadan?  In what religion is it celebrated? (2 points.)

Ramadan is a Muslim holiday characterized by a month of fasting.

15. Match the Bible characters with the stories in which they appear by drawing a line from one to the other.  Some characters may be matched with more than one story or vice versa.  (7 points).  (I’m not going to retype this whole thing.  I’m just going to put the answer).

Adam and Eve and the Serpent-Garden of Eden

Paul-Road to Damascus

Moses-Parting of the Red Sea and Exodus

Noah-Olive Branch

Jesus-Garden of Gethsemane

Abraham-Binding of Isaac

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