Thursday, 13 October 2011

on Christmas Trees and Holiday Trees

This is part of an email that was sent to me today:

Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America . 

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

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 creche, 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?'


My response: 
I'm not sure I agree with what Anne Graham says, that if we push God away how can we expect protection - still implies that God made the hurricane happen, or failed to protect us from nature, when nature's forces have been set in motion, and the earth will crack its surface and create big winds to stay at a sustainable temperature for all creation ... rather than God sending hurricanes or stepping in to stop their force. 
I agree with Stein, though, that people who believe in God need to stop apologising as much as we need to stop disrespectful proselytising ... let's have some integrity about who we are and what we believe, and some deeper resepect for each other. (including the celebrities whose lives we think we have a right to scrutinise!) 

From 28 August 
I feel more settled as a writer, more confident perhaps that this is my gift and my responsibility is to nurture that gift. I feel inspired, with ideas for stories, poems and essays. Overwhelmingly, though, I feel less worried about the other half time of my working life...

When I talked about this feeling coming home from study leave, I don't know if I really believed I would do it. But I am! Looking at the number of posts I'm putting up here, the thinking and reflecting I am doing, the writing I am producing (volume wise, not necessarily claiming quality) - I think it is possible because I have come home with that confidence I wrote about, the peace about the other half of my 'working' life being spent writing, teaching, leading workshops and telling stories. I must say, I am enjoying it.

All this sparked by an email with a thought-provoking perspective on where God is and how people of faith are placed in Western society! I am shaking my head to recall how as I read it, my thoughts started to emerge, to write themselves. This is the life I dreamed of - the life of a poet, writer, storyteller.
Some day I'll take some of these blog posts and polish them - as I think I promised to do post poetry workshops, but at the moment, I am enjoying simply writing, and when others join in the conversation, that is also something I enjoy. And your reflections will probably help shape any polished pieces that might emerge from these ramblings ... so, in anticipation, thank you!

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