Saturday, 8 December 2007

Merry Christmas from a Taoist Pagan.

Hark the Herald Angels! Bring on the Nativity scenes! Send in the Carols! In the name of the Mother, the Daughter, and the Holy Crone.

What I mean by the label is: Nature is the connection I use to commune with the Great Mystery. I am happy to call it The Great Mystery, the Tao, and let it go at that.

I have no desire to revive tribal gods of yester-year. The one we have left is doing enough damage. Parts of the tribal history AKA the Old Testament are truly grotesque. All that slaying and smiting. For the record: some of my ancestors belonged to that tribe.

My view of gods is rather Pratchettian. As The Great One (Terry Pratchett) so eloquently puts it, the difference between gods and devils is rather like that between freedom fighters and terrorists. Let sleeping gods lie.

Mystics of all religions get along just fine. As a Christian theologian said (sorry, forgot his name): “God is a metaphor for God.” Amen.

AND (and, not but) I was raised as a good little Christian girl. Part of me will always resonate to those particular rituals. Rituals feed the soul. I love Christmas Carols. The real kind: Herald Angels, Oh Night Divine, Once in Royal David’s City, and so on. They are simply too beautiful to be reserved solely for Christian believers.
I did another post  about how they became part of my Dutch childhood.

We used to hear carols over the airwaves in the Advent season. When did that change? As early as 1992 I wrote a letter to CBC radio complaining about their lack. It went more or less like this:

If the aim of losing traditional carols is to avoid offense to minorities, minorities and those who champion them need to make a clear distinction between wrongful discrimination and the simple inconvenience of being a minority. That seems to get mixed up.

When someone is denied schooling, employment or housing strictly on the basis of ethnic identity, skin colour, religion, gender, etc, that is wrongful discrimination. Most people of goodwill agree that everyone deserves an equal chance at the goodies.

But when a Muslim, Hindu or Atheist has to lay eyes on a plastic baby Jesus in the mall, that is merely an inconvenience. It is NOT religious persecution or discrimination. If you want to feel real discrimination, try being a Bahai in Iran or a Christian or avowed Atheist in Saudi Arabia.

I am all in favor of a strict separation between church and state. But I always thought that that simply meant that the state would refrain from dictation in matters of personal religion.

In my opinion public schools should indeed be secular. That doesn’t mean anti-religious, just neutral. If you want your child to be indoctrinated in your personal faith, take care of it at home or send her to private school.
In my grandson’s school in Greater Vancouver, B.C. Christian kids and those of European extraction are as much a minority as everyone else.
In that context it makes sense to change the traditional Christmas Pageant into a bland midwinter celebration.

But when did we get all paranoid about displays of religion in public space? Are our own convictions so pathetically insecure that we cannot handle being exposed to another view? What does that have to do with freedom?

True beauty has been replaced with insipid winter songs that reek of plastic and the Mall. That obscene Reindeer story deserves a rant all on its own.

I say: bring back the carols. They feed the soul on a deep level.
And when the time comes for Diwali, Hanukkah, Eid, or other celebrations, let’s hear the songs that go with those.

Let’s celebrate all festivals instead of none!

1 comment:

  1. All i can say is WOW!! My sentiments exactly. It drives me nuts how ppl want to make everything generic so as not to offend. I am very much a follower of Jesus Christ. I WILL NOT apologize for that. Yet i am equally offended by the way so called christians behave. It is insulting to me and gives me a bad name. It also tells me that they really have not read the book they claim to read, nor have they listened to the man they claim to follow, aka Jesus.




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