1. I do not believe there is anything remotely like a “War on Christmas.” That is not to say that there aren’t always pockets of stupid things happening at any given time, but there is no war on Christmas.
2. Christianity is most definitely, without question, a religion.
3. In all fairness, Stewart, as evidence that there’s no “war on Christmas,” keeps talking about how everywhere you go you bump into Christmas symbols (trees, lights, etc.), but the War on Christmas folks are talking specifically about those aspects of Christmas that are Christian, such as nativity scenes. It is the religious elements of the holiday that atheist groups tend to oppose, not the display of secular elements related to the holiday.
In my last post I said that in this one I’d deal with the question of how to learn to spot God in all the places where God is (which of course is everywhere). If I could boil it down to one simple thing, it would be that we need to move from religion to spirituality. I’m not talking about the fairly empty-headed spirituality we often see nowadays, which is basically that a person believes in something beyond him/herself and has squishy feelings about it. Such people’s spiritual reading often consists mostly of Khilal Gibran, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Wayne Dyer. They will often even feel contemptuous towards traditional religions. That’s not what I mean when I say we need to move from religion to spirituality. Without entirely discounting what the men above have to say (on the contrary, I think Christians have a great deal more to learn from these men than most like to admit, but avoid them out of fear), I’m talking about something different.
I am not talking about junking Christianity and going rogue and doing your own thing. One sign that something is real is that it has a form, and so traditional religions are identified by their outward forms. Finding one’s place within a form (a “church”) and living in community with them, is important. What I’m talking about is a shift in mindset, that moves one’s basic dependence away from the form and into the realm of faith — that is the move from religion to spirituality. If you’re familiar with Christian scripture, you might consider this, in the Apostle Paul’s words, moving away from milk and onto solid food. Here are questions you can ask that will help you make the move from religion to spirituality.
The night before last I took my daughter and her friend to a punk concert (NOT a “Christian” concert) in Detroit, at The Shelter, and I saw God. The crowd was great, even though I was probably twenty years older than the next oldest person there. Four bands played. They were all fun, and all the guys in the bands seemed to be really generous, sweet people. Best of all, I saw God.
It’s sad to think that a few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to see him. I would have been too caught up in my judgments of the occasional f-bombs that were flying (though not as many as you might think), or the beer that was flowing, or just in my perceptions that “this place is non-Christian,” with its implicit assumption that God does not hang out in “non-Christian” places. Of course for my own sake I hope he does, since there’s no place less Christian sometimes than the depths of my own heart and mind.
Israel and Gaza. al Qaeda and Monsanto. Boehner and Pelosi.
The Good News
But there’s also this.
There is still so much beauty in the world. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. May the beauty in the world burn a little brighter as the beauty in your own home radiates out from your Thanksgiving table.
And so it begins again — the feeling that I am losing my daughter. That somehow, despite the glass being half full, and something about girls always loving and needing their daddies, and something about how I will always be the first man who mattered in her life, I am, once again, losing my daughter.
I have already lost one, and I was right. Though I love her as much as I always have, and I’m sure she feels the same, things have never been the same. Though she still sleeps here sometimes, it feels like she visits — even when it’s for months on end.
And so it was that I was sitting here last night watching television while my current senior in high school was sitting and doing her homework, I looked over at the table where she was sitting and that thing happened, where all the breath feels like it is suddenly sucked out of my lungs, and my eyes well up, and I instinctively look the opposite direction, which after 25 years of marriage and raising girls together, is a dead giveaway to my wife that I’m doing it again — looking at one of my girls, and loving her, and marveling over her, and mourning deeply that I am losing my daughter.
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