Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Sometimes, as some of you might know already, I feel like I can be a bit bitchier than is called for. My "War on Christmas" commentary included--

I realize what I've said cannot be wholly or honestly categorized as violent or to the same standard as others, but I've certainly put in my own two cents, much of what isn't necessarily original. You know, "the date is pagan, blahblahblah"

And while I've said it before, I want to say it again: I understand that the birth of Christ is an integral part of the holiday for many, many people.

I just get annoyed.

Even as an active Christian, this war on Christmas crap bothered me. Happy Holidays was just fine. Seasons Greetings. All of it is better than "Fuck off." And it did bother me to walk into Walmart and hear a very pointed "Merry Christmas" from their employees, knowing it was specifically called for from a company who places Christian things on its shelves and keeps its stuff "family friendly." Honest to god, I see more Glenn Beck crap than anything else in there.

All the while dealing with the guilt that is associated with shopping at Walmart. And now Target.

But that's a whole 'nother post.

I just wish this time of year encompassed everything it claims to be about, but all of this bitching doesn't make it what it is supposed to be. I watch these programs that tell us about love and hope and giving--nothing exclusively Christian, but values Christianity claims, but I don't see it. I see a lot of people fighting over who is the biggest victim. I wish it wasn't.

These days I lean more atheist, one who needs a lot of help in the living authentically department, but I believe in these things too.

Christ hung out with the sinners. He didn't condemn them--he told them to sin no more, but he had compassion. It was the hypocrites he didn't care for. He broke the rules in order to serve the poor and needy.

This is the time of year, I think, when everyone should reconsider their thoughts and actions and keep it to themselves instead of projecting their faults onto others and then judging others for their projected faults. I've been a bit proud myself, thinking I was better because I don't need a carrot. I think we all need carrots, whether it be heaven or a good reputation, a good feeling inside. Years ago I took a class called "Philosophy of Religion" as an LDS investigator under the guise of seeking it all out. The professor argued that pure altruism didn't exist--there's always a motive in doing good. Always. I rejected his argument in totality back then, but sometimes (like now) I wonder more and more if he was right. But is that so bad, and if not, how can I judge those who need heaven in order to do good? I don't think it's good to need heaven because I'd rather deal with people who are good to be good, but is that always the case with these folks?

Again, a whole other post.

I like Christ. I don't think I believe he was necessarily a divine being or even a being period, but I like much of what I read about him. Some of what I read, with special consideration of Matthew 5:48, makes my shoulders turn to brick:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

That one always gets to me. When I'm not kicking myself for not being perfect, I'm kicking myself for feeling perfect.

Anyway, what was that Gandhi said? It's so popular these days, especially in light of Anne Rice's distancing from Christianity: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

But I shouldn't judge. Some of the best people I know consider themselves Christian. Religion has no bearing on who is good and who is not.

And I guess that's the point. This blog/journal here is to work my way through my feelings regarding religion, and from time to time I get up on my high horse and preach preach preach. I'll make fun. And I'll probably do it again and again. Sometimes I'll feel justified, other times I'll apologize and perhaps even delete. I believe in poking fun, and I believe that religion can be more harmful than helpful. I hate the LDS church, even though it was there for me when I needed something good the most. I still don't understand that. There is a lot about spirituality and the need for religion that I don't understand. So I may not like religion but that doesn't mean I don't like its people. I don't know about it being good while acknowledging that it does good things. These days I can't figure out my fascination with Catholicism (I want to attend mass) while knowing what I know about the abuses therein.

Without trying to this year I bought two different kinds of Christmas cards--one said "Merry Christmas" and the other "Happy Holidays." For the briefest moment I considered being an ass and sending people like my father the "Happy Holidays" one, but stopped. This really isn't the time of year for that--and is any time of year appropriate for that? When I'm feeling mature enough I realize there is not. That doesn't mean I wasn't an ass in some other cards, just to the people who would appreciate it.

There are moments I feel pretty good about myself, but they're few and far between. Lately I've done little but degrade myself. But I'm trying. I think most people are.

I think that's all that matters.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays--whatever you like. It doesn't matter. God knows Christians and atheists alike celebrate, and if he's the kind of god Christians claim he is, he won't and doesn't give a shit about labels, just the heart. And it's in this way that I don't think Christmas is exclusively Christian.

Besides, O Little Town of Bethlehem remains my favorite Christmas song. Ever.

What's more, the LDS Hymns version (MoTab?) is the only acceptable version.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for my "merry christmas" card. :)

    the message version says this for matthew 5:48: "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

    but i like the amplified version, because it gives a lot of different ways of reading, not just the modern cool way, ha. and it says: "You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete [a]maturity of godliness in mind and character, [b]having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.(A)" (the parentheticals refer to cross references and interpreters.)

    sometimes i have to check the verses you mention not because i'm trying to fix it for you, but because they rub me the wrong way too and don't align with my own experience. i'm a procrastinating perfectionist, the worst kind.

    anyway, sometimes i agree with your philosophy professor. for most of my time in college/post-college, i think i totally agreed with him. but now i think that sometimes we are capable of doing things even apart from feeling good about ourselves. i've been able to do some of those things in the past few years, which is probably why i changed my mind--not super altruistic things or anything like that, just little things that didn't especially make me feel good, because i was annoyed or not feeling good or whatever, but i just did them because i could.

    i don't recommend doing things just because you can unless you're just wanting to test that particular theory. yes people coupled with anxiety and perfectionism are not good combinations, as we probably both know from experience.

    love to you and your fam, lady. i hope you're watching elf and eating cookies.