I just finished putting away my Christmas tree. I had put it up a few days before Christmas and, having a bit of a break from work, was able to enjoy its lights (it's fiber optic) for a while. I've a feeling now I should have put it up much sooner so I could have enjoyed it longer. Contrary to my fears, my cat Toonces didn't pay the tree much attention - no chewing through wires or pulling the tree off the table. Next year I'll know better. As I put it away, however, I thought about my view of the season.
Also, I just finished reading an article about One Jew's Christmas. I really enjoyed reading of the tolerance of this man toward his Christian friends. I agree with his concerns about the "extreme right" in this country, who are "unable to understand that sensitivity to all persons’ religions isn’t some kind of heresy." Click the above link and check it out.
It's a pity that this time of year has to set off such tension. On second thought, the tension is there all year long; perhaps Christmas just conveniently brings it front and center. Throw into the explosive mix our friends who don't believe in anything beyond the physical demanding the respect for their ideas which they truly deserve and you have a really ugly scene.
Religion shouldn't be that way at all. It is with profound shame that those of us who feel the pull of the religious impulse has to acknowledge the force of Mark Twain's words:
Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.
That simply should not be, even in a non-literal sense.
If the non-religious attack us so robustly, may we not share some of the blame for our bad behavior? At the same time, dear non-believing friends, is it too much to ask that you aim your disapproval at the truly bad in religion, and not also at everyone who thinks differently about the matter? Yet again, we believers should be just as ready to call out bad behavior among ourselves.
As I see it, a firm commitment to the Golden Rule of treating others with the same respect and consideration we desire is the only hope for peace on earth. But how difficult that is for us shortsighted, self-centered humans!
Photo Credit: Clker.com