Sunday, May 08, 2005

Planning Ahead for a MERRY CHRISTMAS in 2005

This is the second post I moved from my old Blog. Here it is, as it appeared.

Now that the Christmas holidays are behind us, I thought I would comment a bit on the over-blown controversy regarding the public display of nativity scenes and other religious items during what some prefer to call the "Holiday Season", in the hopes that next year, we can all respect and enjoy each other's beliefs and customs.

First, I most certainly believe in the separation of church and state. Without it, there have been times in our country's history when, I believe, I would have been kept from practising my Roman Catholic faith. But separation does not mean, to me anyway, that the government cannot allow us to learn from one another on public property. In fact, by not allowing all religions to display items at their special times of year, the government would be keeping us from learning about each other. And that is detrimental to society as a whole.

Second, I also believe that having fun is a good thing. I think it is positive for the the government to, on occasion, promote things that are fun. And, Christmas displays are, quite often, fun.

Third, as to the actual issue of whether or not such displays should appear on public property, I say, "Why not?" As long as the city, state or other government entity also pays for (or simply allows) displays of Hannukah, Kwaanza, Ramandan and/or whatever Buddhists, Hindus or other serious religions celebrate at their special times of year. This can be done even if such celebrations overlap. The government entity can simply set aside a public area for such displays, set up the rules to ensure some degree of order, and put up, or allow the public to place, items that celebrate the particular holiday in question. What is important is that each religion receive equal treatment by the government entity. If it pays for a Christian display, it must pay for other religions. If it allows private parties to pay for holiday displays on public property, it must do the same for holidays of all religions. In short, as long as everyone is treated equally, let's all just simmer down and have a good time!

The idea would be to learn about and from each other. This promotes a neighborly attitude towards our fellow citizens and, therefore, is a positive thing.
We often hear about how other people of non-Christian religions feel bad about the constant Christmas cheer, etc. But I see no reason we cannot all have a nice Birthday Party for Jesus and celebrate together.

I know that Moslems believe that Jesus was a prophet. Some Jews believe the same. I once knew a Buddhist that celebrated Christmas. I asked her how she could do that, since she was not a Christian. She told me that she believed the story of Christ, she just does not accept that there is only one god. So, Jesus just sort of got added to her list of gods. While some Christians might be offended at that, I choose to respect her beliefs. I also chose to celebrate with her the birth of Jesus. We always had a great time together at the office Christmas party. By the way, she owned the business. And she paid for and gave wonderful parties every year which she called the "Christmas party".

I once knew an atheist who celebrated Christmas because he said that Christ was the world's greatest philosopher. That the teachings of Jesus were worth living, and, therefore, His birth was worth celebrating, and His death worth mourning. My friend, simply did not believe in any kind of God. But he was more of a Christian than many people who attend church every Sunday.

What is Christmas, really? It is, quite simply, the day set aside, even though it is probably not the ACTUAL day, it is the day decided on, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Since we do not know the ACTUAL day, December 25th is as good a day as any to celebrate.

When I was in first grade, my teacher, a nun, told us why we give gifts at Christmas. She said we give a gift to someone because we cannot give a material one to Jesus. The person we give the gift to represents Jesus for us. And when we accept a gift at Christmas, we are accepting for Him. That is why every gift you give must be carefully chosen, and every gift you receive must be accepted graciously.

So...

If you are a Moslem, celebrate the birth of a prophet.

If you are a Jew, do the same, and find, you have something in common with your Islamic brother.

If you are a Buddhist, celebrate the birth of a god.

Some Hindus can do the same.

If you are an athiest or an agnostic, celebrate the birth of a wonderful philosopher, a man whose ideas changed the world.

As for me, I am a Roman Catholic. I will celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior. I hope you will come to the most important birthday party of the year, and have the best time ever!

I also hope you will respect me when I say "MERRY CHRISTMAS!", and I will respect you whether return it or say, "Happy Holidays".

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