Why It’s Christmas, Part II

I have been pondering my response to the comments to my last post for several days now.

First off, I just want to thank everyone for being so open, honest, and willing to have this conversation. The comments I got, especially from people who don’t practice an organized religion (anymore) are much appreciated. I see where you are coming from as far as the tradition of the season goes. And I’m glad that Christmas — this time of year, in general — gives us good reason to celebrate peace, give gifts, and spend time with family.

If you still struggle with the “pressure” to celebrate it, as a couple of you do, I hope you find a way through. And I have to admit, I don’t envy that struggle.

Second, I did find two wee things that I took exception to, and I wanted to address them.

Kim Z and Abby both mention the pagan thing — I knew someone would! — and I thought about that happening before I even posted. It made me laugh to see it. Yes, Christians picked a date and adopted some customs that were less than Christ-centered at the time of their adoption. But it is the way that Christmas has been celebrated for hundreds of years now, and trees, wreaths, and candles have been imbued with religious symbolism in that time. I think everyone gets to use them now.

Let’s remember, early Christians were mercilessly persecuted, a practice that persisted for centuries. You’d pick up some camouflage, too, especially so you could peacefully celebrate the way you wanted. (Rudolph doesn’t figure into my religious celebration, but my kids love singing the song!)

The other comment that rankled a bit came from “Anonymous”. He/She writes, “…my realization there is no God…” and I’m going to take issue a bit with semantics. Anonymous believes there is no God. I believe there is. I am unlikely to persuade him/her differently, and vice versa.

After I returned to my faith in my late 20s, I was speaking with a friend. It was coming up on the Christmas season. She was familiar with my history (religious and otherwise), and she said to me, “Well, you don’t actually believe that Mary was a virgin when she conceived, do you?” And I said, “Actually, I do.” She looked at me like I was crazy. And I get it.

I have my own issues with the Catholic Church. But in a nutshell, here is why I am faithful: I believe my God (and Jesus) are all about the love. This is probably where institutionalized religions get it the most wrong. We humans, we should be all about the love, too; but we’re mere humans. The other thing about my faith, and Christianity in a larger sense: It is about the miraculous. The unbelievable.

I will never scientifically prove to you (if you do not believe) that God exists. I cannot show you how Jesus was resurrected, or what happens to the Eucharist each Sunday, or how the Bible (regardless of when it was written and by whom) is, definitively, the Word of God. But that’s exactly the thing about faith: it is not science. And that’s why it’s not called “science”.

I believe in God. I believe in the redemptive power of love. I believe in miracles.

Somewhere, a baby was born. Somewhere, there was a star.

Merry Christmas.

11 thoughts on “Why It’s Christmas, Part II

  1. Oh. I love your post. Merry Christmas.
    As I look back at my childhood, it was the feeling of hope that was constant during the Christmas season. I know it’s here, I just need to clear the path for it.


  2. I think I agree with you more than some non-religious people out there. I struggle with the idea of celebrating the holiday in a non-christ centered way that our culture (I feel) expects of me. Still working on it.

    • That’s it! “the idea of celebrating the holiday in a non-christ centered way that our culture expects”. I think you nailed it. That’s what I, too, do not understand at all. If you don’t believe, why shouldn’t you be able to go your own way this time of year, just like the rest of the year? Instead, even non-Christians and non-believers are expected to do *something* for Christmas.

      Now, if you love the traditions, and want to continue to practice them, that’s cool too. But it does seem like a lot of pressure is brought to bear on people around this time.

      Anyway: Peace, little sista.

      Ciao, rpm

  3. Just to follow-up, I do think people shouldn’t feel pressured to do something for Christmas if they don’t enjoy it. I jettisoned the celebration of Valentine’s Day years ago for that very reason. (And I lived in Virginia, so I fully understand how people can be offended by non-believers hijacking a holiday. You’ve heard of “Jackson-Lee-King” day haven’t you?)

    A couple marginally related tidbits that I learned this weekend:
    1. The puritans actually outlawed Christmas for a while (although its probably more a rebellion against the English than a statement on the paganism).
    2. Apparently, this year stores in Naples are banned from Christmas displays because the decorations were being “sold” to them by the mob.

    Regardless, we got our tree this weekend. (It’s a little one so we could put it on a card table to stay out of baby reach…although he’s been trying.) I love it. We turned off the overhead lights and watched one of my fave Christmas specials (Opus & Bill: A Wish for Wings that Work) by the light of tree. It reminds me of when I was a kid and used to sleep under the tree, so I could look up through the branches.

    Most of my decorations are secular (I have over 20 carousel horses), but I do have a nativity scene carved from olive wood in Jerusalem. Of course, that’s more out of reverence to my dad’s summers spent doing biblical archaeology (when he bought the ornament) than anything else. Jerome Bettis is also on my tree, so you can take that as you will.

    Merry Christmas.

    • To your first point: Yes, I know. Some of the stuff I have read talks about the “papists” and their heretic celebrations. I wish the term “papist” was still in common use. It cracks me up for some reason.

      I have a friend who sends Jerome Bettis a Christmas card every year!

      Enjoy your celebrations. And thanks for all your comments.


  4. Thank you again, rpm, for hosting this conversation. Would that every contentious issue get such a calm, respectful treatment from all sides…

    Peace, all!


    • Could you imagine how much improved the national dialogue would be? Of course, some of our syndicated commentators, and possibly much of Washington DC, would be out of jobs. How tragic would that be? (not)

      Thanks for being so willing to participate. I really enjoyed “talking” about it!

      Merry Season,


  5. I enjoyed these 2 posts. I was raised a Catholic (quite badly, really, my Church of England mother did more to ensure our religious upbringing than my Catholic father) Funnily enough, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that many other religions didn’t believe Mary was a virgin…for me that was the whole point, what was the reason for this miracle then? As someone who questioned almost everything about the Catholic church, it didn’t even cross my mind to question that. And I still don’t.

    Anyway, we do celebrate Christmas from a fairly non religious standpoint. However, this year with a kindergartener in Catholic school who is so much more fascinated by God, Mary, Jesus and Joseph than what her older brother and sister were (I recently wrote a post about this), I am looking at Christmas from a more religious view this year. And I am discovering that I am enjoying it more this year than in years past.

  6. Great Posts!
    Peace to all…I believe we are all connected, and God lives in every one of us. I received a blessing recently from two women I hardly know who stop in at my office at work every week. We held hands and hugged afterward…and it was way better than church.
    Merry Christmas!

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