Shayna posted a commentary by Ben Stein on being Jewish and Christmas. In four Christmases of leaving comments or writing posts on the Christmas war, I left the longest comment I have ever left.
I like Christmas. Though I’m Jewish I’m never offended when people wish me “Merry Christmas.” I wish it to people all the time, go to Christmas dinners, Christmas Eve seafood dinners and have been known to go to Midnight Mass. Ok once but….
The USA is a Christian country in numbers. It’s not a Christian country in spirit or shouldn’t be. I always get Thomas Jefferson and James Madison mixed up in as to who actually wrote the amendment. i know that Madison gave a speech and I believe wrote the first draft of The First Amendment which was very explicit in its discussion of church and state.
I have nothing against children learning about Christ in public school. But I have a lot against them learning that Christ is The Saviour in publicly funded settings. Maimonides is a person I believe somewhat akin to Christ in brilliance and beliefs. See I’m already out of bounds. But Maimonides is the person who said that the highest level of giving is to teach. The second highest level of giving is to give anonymously.
I put him in as an example because in this season of joy and giving I come across too many blogs stating that this person is doing this to help and that person is doing that. I think to talk about how I help and why I help them is to offend them. It used to drive me crazy to go to Temple on the High Holidays and hear about how much money a particular person was giving the Temple. I thought that went against Maimonides and what he taught. Fortunately that’s becoming out of vogue.
If I had children, and if they went to public school, I would want equal time given to all religions and great and bad leaders from each. There is no time to do that, and a teacher would have certain biases anyway. The religion of the majority of students might be given more and “better” time.
That I personally find God to be a mystery isn’t the point. I try to respect all beliefs though I do have trouble with religions that offer animals for sacrifice. As long as the animal isn’t human, who am I to say its wrong? Yet if the religion offered dogs for sacrifice many people would object.
I’m doing what Ben Stein, who I like a lot though don’t often agree with did. I’m getting off the subject of the Christmas war and God in the public arena.
Actually Stein did what I often used to be told I did. He wrote two separate articles and neither ended up making sense. Not believing in Christmas–well he didn’t say where that means you’re an athesist. And when did “athesist” become a horrible thing? He was confusing when he went from Christmas to belief in God.
I could counter every example he gave. I was scared of Madelyn O’Hair when I was a little girl. Read one too many National Enquirers that bashed her–never in my parents house. My mother didn’t let newspapers like that in her house. I thought athesist was a horrible thing until I realized my parents were cultural Jews and ignored the God part.
In America belief in God is supposed to be personal. Kennedy understood that when he was running for president and said that his personal beliefs didn’t belong in the public arena. Romney pandered to the radical right when he gave his answer the other day. I don’t like RudyG so much I won’t give him a last name–and can never spell it. One thing I do know is that he wouldn’t put his religious beliefs into the government. Is that because he’s Catholic and Catholicism isn’t the Christianity of the American masses? I don’t know, and will vote for any Democrat over either of them. Like Liz Lemon on 30 Rock I once voted for Reagan so I have nothing against a Republican. I just wish I had voted for a better Republican. What made it so funny, on 30 Rock was that many of us voted for him for whatever reasons. Once, we all got one Reagan chance. To vote for him twice….
I don’t see it as Ben Stein sees it completely, yet I do. For whatever reasons the American family has become weaker. It’s up to the family to impart its values, good or bad, right or wrong, to their children. Hopefully the American family is just taking a break and will one day again understand that it’s up to them to teach their children ethics and values.
My parents desperately wanted to believe in God but couldn’t. That didn’t stop them from teaching my sister and I that as individuals we bear responsibility to help other people. That life isn’t just about materialism but if we are fortunate enough to have to give back and “have” can be very little or defined in many ways.
As a Jew I want to take a sleeping blog pill this time of year. It’s my fourth Christmas on the blogosphere and I became a “name” blogger because of my stances. I never felt comfortable with that reputation. I despised the comments telling me that I’m lacking morals. I despised the comments when I defended Christmas that got into the Founding Fathers religious or lack of religious beliefs. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that they founded this country to be one of religious tolerance.
We seem to have grown away from their beliefs. As a nation we seem to put religion above tolerance. It can’t help but scare me as I prepare to move from New York where I do know many Evangelicals. Little known fact about New York–it has many. The difference between New York and other places is that we have so many religions and so many ethnic groups no one group can try “to be above” the rest. It’s an amazingly tolerant city and I already miss it for that. I get into discussions with people about their religious beliefs all the time. Not one has ever tried to get me to go to their church because it’s the “only” church. Except for people on the subway who hand out pamphlets, but I can ignore them.
I’m moving to the deep South as I do know so many individuals with strong religious beliefs who respect my right not to believe what they do. I think my sister believes that within a month I will be “converted” and speak in fire and brimstone terms. I don’t think she’s right. I know I can’t be converted and I do hope not many try.
Religion should be between a person and God, not this country and God. As for Christmas, celebrate it proudly, and I will never be the one to tell a grown man there is no Santa Claus.
This was my annual Christmas war post. Now I can go back to fiction.