It's December 21st. I went with Maria to one of our local theme parks and seeing as we live in Orlando the choices are many. But we had tickets, spent the day there walking around and doing the do, until we left due to incoming rain on the radar.
I'm kind of an observant type of person, so several things happened to catch my eye. First off, with all the annual hubbub and bickering about "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" I found some interesting points. I won't go into the ancient original pre-Christian reasons that this time of year was filled with celebration and festivals - such as Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, etc. - but in more modern times it has become an annual dominant Christian celebration, hence the title of "Christ-mass."
Obviously, there are many more religious and spiritual holiday celebrations still at this time of year, but let's face it ... the number of Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. This means that clearly about 1/3 of the world's population claims to be within the Christian faith whether active or not.
There are also millions of people who celebrate "Christmas" who could care less about the story of the Man from Galilee, the Bible, cross, resurrection, and all the mythology that goes with the New Testament story of the birth, teachings, miracles, suffering, crucifixion, and subsequent resurrection of the Jesus story. They just love the lights, the shopping, the songs of the season, egg-nog, sugar cookies, Santa, Elves, parties, family gatherings, and all around merriment and excitement from children all the way up to adulthood.
Although my own personal spiritual beliefs are not in alignment with modern day Christianity as they once were, I see no reason to rain on their parade. After many years of study and research I have come to my own spiritual conclusions and honestly, have never been happier with what I believe within my realm of spirituality. I'm an Ordained Interfaith Minister with Universal Life Church Monastery where we accept people of all faiths ... even Atheists, I am an Ordained Clergy Member and Universal Humanist Philosopher with CSH, a Priest with Temple of Earth, and have my certification for Metaphysics and Philosophy from Templar University. But, I am not a Christian. You could say I am a Universal Spiritualist who believes that the entire universe is one living organism that I call God/Source and that everything and everyone in this universe is one with the Eternal Source that most would call God. Religion has been used to separate and control people for centuries. And it has divided our world, and is slowly plunging us back into the Dark Ages ... and perhaps World War.
Now, with all that out of the way, I'm heading back to my original point. At the theme park we went to see one of the "Christmas Shows" for the kids and such. There were Christmas songs playing throughout the park, and in the show the characters in the show sang Christmas songs and wished everyone a very Merry Christmas. On the stage was a typical set for a live show and contained among the items on the set were Christmas Trees (Pagan in origin), a Menorah (Judaic in origin), lots of Christmas and/or Holiday lights, but ... no cross. No mention of Jesus the Nazarene. The guy and the symbol that all of these festivities are essentially all about in this day and age.
I found it strange, and at the same time saw the mess that we have created in this country through political correctness and not wanting to offend anyone. Pretty soon we won't be able to fly the American flag for fear of offending someone. Bottom line, this is crap. It's ridiculous. It has all gotten out of hand. The whole concept in America was to have the Freedom (Liberty) to celebrate your beliefs and your heritage and ethnic rituals without being condemned or killed. Now, we are taking it to the extreme with all this PC nonsense.
Personally, I believe that religion has destroyed the world and separated mankind rather than the original intent of unifying mankind but that's for another day. What I'm saying here is ... Christians, celebrate your Holidays. Muslims, celebrate your Holidays. Followers of Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Janism, Zoroastrianism, etc ... celebrate your Holidays. As long as you don't harm anyone or any thing, and as long as we keep it out of the government and the school systems. Make nothing Federal about it.
Everybody doesn't have to celebrate or even recognize everybody else's Holidays or beliefs. But at the very least, have respect for them. Allow them to rejoice in their faith or ethnic rituals. Again, if it is isolated from Government intervention and participation, and harms no one, then let it be. Perhaps if we have mutual respect for one another, we might just grow closer in unity.
Listen ... in a way ... the actual spiritual empowering teachings within the Bible, Q'ran, Vedas, Sutras, Pagan, blah blah blah all share the very same foundation of belief. Once you dig through the penmanship of angry scribes, political additions, personal interpretations and revisions, they all come down to one thing. And that is that each of us is an individualized essence of the entirety of ALL things. God/Source is experiencing life through us, with us, and as us. We all have the Divine spark of origin-creation within us. We are all family. Every thing and every body came from ONE place. Therefore, logically and genetically we are all linked. Not only physically as matter, but spiritually as consciousness.
We have gotten so micromanaging. Listing everything, analyzing everything ... just blanket it all. Wrap an umbrella over it all and cover everything. As a child when I use to pray at night, I was scared to leave someone out and didn't want anything to happen to them. So I finally figured out the easiest way to solve the problem. "I wish for peace, safety, health, and happiness to all the world." I still works today.
If you believe in prayer, meditation, contemplative prayer, or the Divine Matrix of unconscious fiber webbing up all together. There is a force greater than we are, singularly, and collectively. Even if it's as simple as that breath we take that keeps us alive. It's the same air the Christians breathe. It's the same air the Muslims breathe. It's the same air the Jews breathe. We all stand on the same ground, and are tied together by minerals, hydrogen, oxygen, protons, electrons, neurons, and morons. We are as a fish in water. And we are ONE.
I'll leave you with the Genesology Authorized Bible:
BE KIND ALWAYS.
STOP THE WAR MACHINE.
BE THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL.
HELP OTHERS AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN.
RESPECT NOT ONLY PEOPLE BUT ANIMAL LIFE.
And .... from Karen Armstrong:
“Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.”
So in the Spirit of the season, Merry and Happy Everything!
Just a thought ...
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.