Me and my Christian symbol

Me and my Santa hatI was at a local Starbucks this morning on my Christmas Eve shopping spree. One of the girls was wearing a Santa hat, so I asked the guy who was waiting on me where his was.

“I’m not a Christian,” he replied, and that was that.

And so I wonder how he made that association — how so many people make the connection that anything associated with the holiday is automatically Christian. Is this the way it is to be? Forever?

So let’s do a brief review of history.

The early “church” in Europe (the Catholic church) ran into the celebrations of those with roots in the earth and the heavens, people they called pagans. These people celebrated the Winter Solstice (as I do), when the sun begins its return to the north to signify a new beginning. These same people celebrated the Vernal Equinox, when the sun crossed the equator, bringing new life to the earth and its creatures. Feeling these celebrations served as a threat, the response of the church was to co-opt them by tying them to the life of Christ, and so was born the “Christ Mass” for the birth of Jesus and “Easter” to celebrate the resurrection.

In reality, however, the two are separate. Just because a dominant religion says they aren’t doesn’t make it so. Christmas is, therefore, only a religious holiday in the minds of those who observe the faith, but that doesn’t make the mixture real.

Follow the centuries now to modern times, where we have “the reason for the season” crowd. Decking the halls with boughs of holly and jingling our bells along fields of snow bring thoughts of warmth and family not reserved only for Christians. Santa Claus doesn’t discriminate by coming down only the chimneys of those who bear the sign of the cross. Chestnuts roast in fireplaces of all kinds and Jack Frost? Well, he’s not a discriminator of toes upon which to nip.

I am lifted by Handel’s “Messiah” as I am by “O Holy Night” and “Joy to the World.” But those are more about nostalgia, the power of music and how my soul is satisfied with the connection to my roots. But Christmas? That is so very much more.

The giving of gifts and sharing the spirit of joy aren’t reserved for those who go to church on Sunday, and the Christmas Tree is simply NOT a symbol of Christianity, regardless of what you put on its highest branch.

So if we all celebrate Christmas, are we all really de facto celebrating Christ? I don’t think so, and this is the fault I find with the young man who cannot bring himself to wear a Santa hat. This is sad to me, and I don’t think our culture — or the human race — is better with such divisiveness.

My human journey has taken me down many spiritual paths, only to discover that, yes, there is only one God, but all human beings live and breathe in Him and He in them. God is life, and this is what we celebrate at this time of year. This business of who has THE path to God is an archaic notion that has served Western Civilization well but is fading fast in a world that doesn’t need a special priesthood to guide it.

And here’s the real nut of it for me. Am I a Christian? Absolutely. Am I a member of any faith? Absolutely not. Am I a threat to any religion? Only Christianity.

Go figure.

Comments

  1. Great post. Particularly love the ending.

  2. merry christmas!

  3. sorry for the second comment. but after reading “there is only one god” i was left thinking all day long where i recently heard that before.

    it just dawned on me.

    i’d cut and paste the link, but for those who are interested in a fairly neat looking web channel, go find it yourself at mauitoday(dot)tv . yes, .TV.

    click on recent videos. the result page will have a maui today “unplugged” video listed in the top line.

    click on it.

    the guy (bradda francis) lays it out very cool.

    you might even be tempted to visit his own humble site and hear a little more.

    no, i am in no way connected with bradda francis. i found his stuff earlier in the year and found it quite interesting.

    mahalo!

  4. mahalo nui loa, tdc

    Bradda francis rocks, but so does all of Maui.

  5. My Santa hat says “Boston Red Sox: World Champions.”

    I’ll wear it every year — at Hanukkah and Christmas in our mixed-marriage household.

  6. You said it in your essay, the church invented ‘Christmas’! How do you ask those who do not belong to church to celebrate its holiday?
    In my opinion it is only confusing the United States. All Americans like to celebrate everything and look the same.
    In this past December, the secular country of Jordan, celebrated three holidays, two are related to Christian faith and one related to the Muslims faith. However, Christmas night was in the church, and the Hajj holiday prayer was in the mosque.
    It is clear to me that these holidays are related to faith. I will not hesitate to say: “I am not Christian” if you asked me “why are you not wearing Santa’s Hat?”
    In opinion, Americans like all Americans to be the same. Differences are not tolerated easily.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Terry Heaton reminds the “reason for the season” crowd that the celebration of Christmas is steeped in more than just the birth of Christ. The early “church” in Europe (the Catholic church) ran into the celebrations of those with roots in the earth and the heavens, people they called pagans. These people celebrated the Winter Solstice (as I do), when the sun begins its return to the north to signify a new beginning. These same people celebrated the Vernal Equinox, when the sun crossed the equator, bringing new life to the earth and its creatures. Feeling these celebrations served as a threat, the response of the church was to co-opt them by tying them to the life of Christ, and so was born the “Christ Mass” for the birth of Jesus and “Easter” to celebrate the resurrection. […]

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