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Monday, December 12, 2011

Does it really matter?

I’ve been reading a great deal online, as I have given up watching the news on television as it is an entirely too much of a drain, about the various issues coming up this year regarding the winter holidays. I do not say winter holidays to be politically correct or to avoid offending someone, it simply is the way to encapsulate everyone who celebrates a Holy time during this part of the season, and that season would be the end of fall and the start of winter as marked by the solstice on the 21st of December and conveniently stamped onto every calendar. I have a growing concern as a spiritual person that perhaps all arguments are beginning to infringe upon the purpose of each of our celebrations. People seem to be spending so much time this season saying what is correct, what is not correct, that they take away from their own celebrations.

Unfortunately the largest outcry I have witnessed has been by Christians. Do not get me wrong, I was a Catholic for much of my life, later Baptist, and have a great fondness for the story of Christ and his teachings. However, that said, one of the reasons I sought my own spiritual path was because the teachings of Christ were getting lost in the argument of “We’re right, everyone else is wrong”. And when it came to Christmas/Yule the arguments were so strong, so thick, that I wondered if even my fellow Christians at the time understood what was happening to their own walk.

Most who read my column know that when I use a label now, though I don’t feel they are necessary, that I use the term Pagan. That said I’ve spent the last several years researching, reading, and finding out the origins of said Yule time myths. I did not do this so that one day I could sit here and say “Oh look at you, you’re all wrong”, but so that my own understanding of the season would be personally enriched, so I might understand my fellow mankind better. So even though I know that this type of writing does come across as it does, it is not meant to do so. It is meant only as a little light back to what we all want, peace and love during the year and to remember the Light at this time of the year.

Recently I read about an elementary school who took out a word of a popular carol. I then read several varying statements across the last week of how the real season is for Christ and how Santa has taken over the season. What I find interesting about both of these commentaries is that so many simply do not know the origins of their own myths and beliefs. They have never been taught, never listened, or simply chosen to ignore them. I do not claim to be the expert of folklore, but I do know many experts have written about them and are happy to explain to explain them. I can only share what I do know in the hopes that perhaps we can all celebrate with gladness.

For some time, I suppose since the dawn of Christianity, there has been debate of what is the “right” way to celebrate. Early Christians were still clinging to either Pagan or Jewish beliefs and trying to live the best of both worlds. I summarize this for brevity but in short over the history of religion in general people have tried to get the best of both worlds. In America, as we’re quite young, we’ve gone from hard core purist to easy go secularism over a short 200 years. Does this make one better than the other? Does it make us less spiritual?

In my own humble opinion nothing can make one more or less anything unless one wants to be so. However, if it is the belief that for example celebrating Santa makes one forget the season than the answer is to simply not partake of said custom. Though the custom originates with a Saint, spiritually inclined (but human), it does not mean one has to celebrate it. It also does not mean that said abstinence is right for all. In the Christ myth the baby was given three gifts. Something I did or at least encouraged with my older children was the lesson of three gifts. Of course, in order to do so one must be able to put a halt to overly zealous relatives who may or may not agree with your chosen path. It does not though make them any less spiritual because they believe or do not believe in the spirit of Santa.

When I think to the teachings of Christ, especially the Sermon on the Mount, I think that it is something that should be done all year, but it is something that we especially take to heart during the Christmas season. As a pastor stated in his article recently, it is about giving. Instead of running around yelling blasphemy to every Santa, holiday lighted house, perhaps one should be out doing what Christ would have done. He wouldn’t have been running to Macy’s for the latest gift, or standing in long lines for a two dollar waffle iron. He would have been out feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, sitting with the poor and out of luck. Even I admit, there is a bit of irony when those who cry out the most about how Christmas is losing its meaning are the first to the stores, have trees up inside, hang stockings, give out handfuls of gifts, and cry if they don’t have the perfect Christmas dinner.

Let us look to the secular side of things for a moment. In researching the song held in contempt the words were added later in America, or so they have been thought to have originated as the original was simply a melody without words. It reminded me of the indifference of many that we now say Happy Holidays at schools, etc. instead of Merry Christmas. If we knew the origins would it really matter? Society’s issue today seems to be that most of us are caught up in the storm of saying what offends us that we forget to live what we believe. We have created an environment in which we want to sit here and point out “That word now means something different. It is offensive”. “That belief offends me”. “That person is ruining my holiday”. Yes, I’m well aware that my own articles could be said to be the same, yet there is a part of me who hopes that by pointing out a few of the arguments I’ve heard recently, that we can all come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter what our neighbor is celebrating or how they are celebrating. What matters is how are we celebrating, does it go along with our own beliefs, our own path, and does it make us a better person, and have we helped our fellow sentient beings in doing so. If it does not, then perhaps it is time to check, but it is to check with one’s own self, not to blame others for our own choices.


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