Letter to a Christian Friend

christmas-santa-claus-2By The David

Dear Christian Friend,

Now it begins. We are entering another season of great contention where those who focus on form are being heard in great stridency in order to make sure that the world in general uses the correct wording when wishing each other happiness during the days of celebration that come during the month of December. I hear so many people shout it loud and clear as they rail against anyone who wishes another a “Happy Holiday,” rather than wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas.” A focus on form rather than substance is either being shouted or printed in letters to controversy-loving newspaper editors.

Many of your fellow believers seem to make the assumption that all people are Christian. It assumes that everyone believes the myth of the child born of a virgin on a cold December 25th, and laid to sleep in a manger because there was no room in the inn. Angels, shepherds and wise men all contribute to this myth, and it is indeed a wondrous story that most of us who live in this “secular” country are familiar with. It is the story taught to our children either directly in churches, or indirectly by so much of our culture.

Indeed, a wondrous story is this myth. It fascinates children, and has a hold on adults who don’t look beyond the trappings to find seeds of truth. If Christ indeed lived in those times, he was not born in December, nor in all probability was he born in the “little town of Bethlehem.” Was there a census that would have forced Joseph to bring his heavily gravid wife to on that fateful journey? There is no record that such a census was ordered by Caesar, nor would such a census, even if ordered, have required the journey. Then, why is the birth of Jesus celebrated by his followers in December? Quite simply, the end of December was chosen to compete with the religious holidays celebrated with festivals in the lands and among the populations the Christians were attempting to convert. The early Christians knew that they could not take away the fun and frolic of the holy days already being celebrated, so they incorporated a kind of “if you can’t beat them, join them” into their early teachings. In this way Christmas was born under much more compromising circumstances than was the Christ child. I don’t write this to you to be disrespectful, but because it is true. It is all a matter of record, and all one has to do is read.

So my friend, what is in a name? Is there a difference between “Merry Christmas” as compared with “Happy Holidays?” Do such things as shopping for presents or sending Christmas cards have anything at all to do with what you as a Christian contends is the true meaning of Christmas? Should not the Christian be more concerned with the content of his or her heart rather than the form used to wish one another well? Did not the founder of your religious belief preach love of neighbor and respect for all peoples? Did he not? If a shopkeeper wishes to include all of his customers in his greeting for the holidays, why is this bad? Why does this offend so many of our Christian neighbors? Should the inclusion of those who are celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Solstice be offensive to the Christian? Should an inclusiveness that reaches the Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu or Atheist offend you as a believer in “the one true way?” These believers in other paths also have holidays they remember, and since they are not of your belief, should they be forced into the “Blessed Christmas” mode?

As written above, much of what has been incorporated into the celebration of Christmas is not Christian in origin, but based on other celebrations or invented as a secular adjunct to the holiday. Christmas trees, candles, Santa Claus, exchanging gifts and much of the music used in celebration, these and so many other things do not have their origin in the Christian beliefs. But quite frankly, there is much about them that is quite beautiful on their own. And, they can be fun, and are aspects of the celebration that can be enjoyed by all if they so choose.

Finally, I have to hope that the majority you hold will kindly ratchet down their rhetoric in the spirit of the brotherhood that their churches expound upon, and find a new cause for their annual vitriol. Wishing one a “Happy Holiday” does not take one whit away from what you believe the true meaning of Christmas has been for so many years. When one keeps Christ in Christmas it should come from their own heart, not from some external wailing about what a store may or may not be doing in its signs and advertisements for its products, and not from some misguided boycott instigated to pressure that shopkeeper to obey your edict. Your name in the paper below a letter critical of tolerance does not make you a better Christian….. in fact it indicates a rigidity of belief that is anything but Christian. As with any religion, it is how you live your life that is a reflection of true belief, not your ability to impose that belief on others. There is a part of the Christmas myth that should touch everyone of every belief, but most particularly it should reign in the hearts of all who believe. It is found in the words, so it is said, that the angels sang over the stable on that bleak December night: “Peace on earth, good will toward all men.” How could it be simpler than that? How has that message been lost to so many of your fellow followers of Christ in their December dealings with those who hold different religious and cultural beliefs? Where does that thought go?

And so, in ending this December letter to you, please let me wish you A Happy Christmas, A Happy Hanukkah, A Happy Solstice…. oh heck….. a Happy Holiday Season from this non-believer.

Much love,

thedavid

24 Comments on “Letter to a Christian Friend”

  1. Personally I prefer the name “Day of Commercialism” (let’s face facts, that’s all it *really* is…) – but I don’t really care what other people call it: whether they call it “Christmas,” “Hanukkah,” “Saturnalia” or anything else it’s still just a time to shop, shop, shop until you drop, drop, drop!

  2. Enjoy your season of the Solstice, my dear friend, The David. This time of year has been many things to me; sometimes sad, sometimes desperate, sometimes fanciful, but there was always something a little like magic. This is the darkest time. We don’t see the sun. The days are only a few hours long, a vague illumination of the sun’s reflection. This is our deep winter. Even though it’s several weeks after the shortest day before we actually see the returning sun, it’s enough to know we’ve made it half way and is a very good reason to celebrate.

  3. The voice of the angels you quote IS the word of truth and understanding, all of which is lost in the jumble that is Christmas anymore. While I believe in the basic story, I always assumed that baby Jesus was born in April, as everyone knows Jews at that time only had sex in August …

    I think the idea that one can be saved, and live a meaningful life, by following the example of Bible stories is the “lesson” of the story of Christ’s birth and the stories of his life. To anyone who truely believes that the Bible is the word of God, they must also believe that bunnies would actually share candy if they had control of all the candy at Easter time, another holiday ruined by greed …

    However, the spirit of a life lived by principles, a life lived with a sense of responsibility, a life lived with compassion and forgiveness, a “hope” in the personal choice of being good, and extending good will to all who offer it in return, is what a life, which follows any moral code, religious based or not, should be.

    I never associate Christmas with the birth of Jesus, I see it as a celebration of “a feeling” that I hope to carry into the New Year. I use the generous feeling, and love of this time of year, to fight the hardness that always seems to want to overtake my soul.

    So I sing all the songs, eat all the cookies, give presents and cry at “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I wonder, as I wander …….

    I wish you a wonderful Holiday Season, since you don’t believe I think you should refrain from any black Friday sales, leave us Christians all the good stuff ….. you can shop in January, if that is OK with you …..

  4. Thanks to everyone who commented. And thanks to you my friend Rich…. ummmm I will NOT give up my cookies and a special thank you for enlightening me on the sexual practices of the Old Testament Israelites.

  5. What is the truth? Is there such a thing? Such a thing as a truth that is real whether you believe in it or not. Is truth the absence of scerets, or the absence of lies? Can you only find the truth at the risk of losing everything you think is real? Is the truth complex; is it simple? Is truth easy to find, or is it hiding and/or being hiden under secrets and lies. Can you find truth by science? Find int by faith of religion? Find it by faith and understanding of humanity?

  6. Atheists in America are rallying to stop the national day of prayer sighting the old church and state argument.What atheists dont understand is God is not a catholic,protestant,

  7. for the purpose of gaining perspective to other people. But now I think, why not have a simular thread in each religous sections, as well as the spiritual section. If all goes well, it would be a good glimps of perspective into someone who believes differently then yourself, as well as a thread for anyone to post their story or their thoughts.

  8. Useful information like this one must be kept and maintained so I will put this one on my bookmark list! Thanks for this wonderful post and hoping to post more of this!

  9. Excellent post and must say it got my attention. I was browsing online and saw your blog and am glad i found it. I know my comment might look not real but i’m a real and thanks for the post.

  10. This is a good blog post and I agree with what you have said here. I have already subscribed to your RSS feed in Firefox and will be your regular reader. Thanks for your time in writing the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.