I attended a holiday choir concert last night...or at least, I thought that was what I was attending. In fact, there was no reference to any imminent holiday at all. Not one Christmas or Hanukkah or even Kwanzaa melody could be heard as none were included. Instead, I was subjected to listen to a few golden oldies and tribal tunes, of which I enjoyed well enough but would have enjoyed a great deal more had they been combined with "Jingle Bells" and that catchy "Oh Hanukkah" song that fails to leave my head once it's placed back in it.
Suffice it to say, my disappointment led my thoughts back to an e-mail a friend sent me recently which encouraged me to read and consider a commentary written and recited by Ben Stein on CBS Sunday Morning following The White House's decision to call this year's Christmas tree a "Holiday Tree." The following is what Ben said:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crib, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.
Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"
In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said okay. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said okay.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said okay.
Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with, "we reap what we sow."
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
Pass it on if you think it has merit.
If not, then just discard it.... no one will know you did. But if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.
My Best Regards,
Honestly and respectfully,
Needless-to-say, Ben, I agree. And I couldn't help but wonder if the reason why "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer" was removed from the evening's repertoire was because we've all become so confused by the demands placed on us to be "politically correct" that we are side stepping anything equated with religion, God or both...to our own detriment, mind you.
We all say that we want "Peace On Earth," but how is there ever going to be peace if, in fact, we continue to place dividing lines between us. Like Ben, I've never understood why someone would rebuke being wished a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" even if neither holiday applies to him or his way of life. "I" welcome any well-intentioned wish my way given that it arrives with sincerity and a smile as only "good" can come of it. I view my intentional decision not to "mince words" or enact a "small-minded" response in these cases as a means of assisting the rest of the nation in achieving the peace we all deserve. My commitment to the "good" of the larger whole outweighs my need to individualize myself when it comes to our nation's peace and I stand firm in this.
Truth be told, I am happy to accept everybody's religious differences as well as the extent of which they believe, or disbelieve, in God.What I am not willing to accept, or adopt mind you, is being forced to live my life walking on egg shells just so that I may come across as being "perfectly politically correct." We are all human. That alone will guarantee a certain amount of future imperfection especially when it comes to sensitive topics like God and religion.
It is my New Year's resolution and hope that the pettiness, childishness, and intolerance Ben Stein noted above cease in 2014 and, in that, I pray that one or two Christmas carols be added back into next year's holiday concert along with any other cheerful tune that could only help to make everyone's holiday season brighter.
And with that I wish EVERYONE a Merry Christmas....but especially Ben Stein!