The Texas Bohemian

Word artist. Jack of all Trades.

“So this is Christmas!”

And what have you done christmas
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young…

(“Happy Christmas” John Lennon)

So. This is Christmas. It’s one of those holidays that define Melancholy. Here we are, my little family, healthy and happy in the midst of a world full of pain. We’re not quite as happy as last year. Mom’s gone now. All around are reminders of that dear one who will not share this holiday with us.

Our family traditional Christmas begins the day of Thanksgiving when we put up the decorations. The Christmas movie for the past couple years has been “The Polar Express” rather than White Christmas. Last year we picked mom up for a day with us and we watched “White Christmas” but it’s not to be this year.

Christmas is different for me this year, too. I’m not a Christian any longer. How should I view this holiday so riddled with Christian symbolism and tradition? I’m working on that. I do believe in Jesus though not as Christians do. Perhaps Christmas is the time of year I can best come together with Christians in celebration of life, of love, of all those values that Jesus spoke of. Christmas is the one time of the year most Christians speak of universal love and the gift to the human race that Jesus gave. It’s the one time of the year folks like me are not enemies to them.

As an aspiring Buddhist I don’t have the walls around me that other religions do when it comes to Christmas. I find no problem in celebrating the good of a Creator with Christians nor of respecting Jesus. Muslims, Jews, and perhaps Hindus are not able to get into the holiday so easily. I am a happy Buddhist and most happy this time of year that for a little while I can share the fun and excitement and love of the season with Christians.

I feel guilty this time of year, too. I’m extremely aware of how many people are hurting and hungry and living without. Many people are bitter and grow more so during this holiday. People are angry at the Creator and Santa Clause (whom they think are very similar or even the same person) for not granting a wish. Sad.

I used to ask God what I could do about all the hurting people. I never got an answer. I used to beg for a better income so I could give more. I’d ask for “doors to open” (that old Christian thing) so I could DO something. I’d ask a lot of “why’s” too. I now realize that life today is the sum of everything that has come before. We are the product of ourselves. Every moment of every day we’ve lived has shaped us into what we are at this moment. But not only that, we’ve been shaped by every action of many thousands of other people. I should not feel guilty because other people have been delivered into different circumstances, less pleasing circumstances, on this day. I did not deliver them into those circumstances. (Neither did God, so don’t go there!) I should not feel guilty that I am powerless to change their lives this moment. What I should do is everything I can do, know to do, have the power to do. That, I do. Otherwise all I can do is love them all as our Creator does. Thus I am not guilty.

It’s still hard to shake that old guilt complex. I’m working on it.

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong.

Indeed. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Shows on television tend to separate rich and poor into greedy and needy. Don’t do that. The rich are rich as an end result of their own circumstances. Perhaps a few did come by their wealth illegally or unscrupulously but many came by their wealth legitimately through hard work with a little good luck. It does not matter in this moment whether a person has a million dollars or is standing by a barrel of burning junk in a city slum nor why they are where they are. What matters is that they are loved and we love them. If we look down upon the poor or down our noses at the rich we fail to recognize the Truth of the season, that Love has no boundaries.

The world IS “so wrong.” It teaches us to resent the wealthy as we grovel to be one of them. It teaches us to look down on the person with less than we have. It teaches us that we matter most. “I wanna talk about ME!” the country song says. Maybe it’s written to be funny but I find it appalling. This is the “wrong” the world so much is. Toby Kieth’s song is the antithesis of what Christmas means.

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

Christmas offers an opportunity for everyone to set aside their prejudices and recognize the magnificence of humanity. It is unfortunate that so many Christians still resent non-Christians who celebrate or want to “secularize” the holiday. Of all Christian holidays Christmas should be a “secular” holiday. Secular means “Not bound by religion. Not pertaining to or connected with religion.” If Christians truly believe the birth of Christ is the point where the Creator meets the Creation in an explosion of love it should also be the point where they love all others irregardless of race, color, or religion. Religion has nothing to do with love for all humanity.

Rather than loving people for who they are way to many Evangelicals want to “use” the holiday to convert, convince, persuade “the world” that the Creator is a narrow minded God who may have “come for the world” but changed his mind and will take only a few who follow the right steps. My hope and dream is that all Christians will recognize that the Creator truly IS universal and withholds his love from no one.

Some Christians DO expand their world for those few weeks from the end of November to the 25th of December but then slam the door shut before the end of the year so as to forbid any of those “worldly revelers” in, those who celebrate the New Year in parties with booze rather than gathered ’round a church altar in heavenly song. Too bad. What a wonderful world this would be if the Creator’s love could extend year ’round. Christmas love and cheer every day of the year. How cool would that be?

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over
If you want it
War is over
Now…

WAR! Good God, Yall! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’! What a contrast in lyrics. The old Edwin Starr song is not so sweet as Lennon’s. Of all the horror and tragedy on this earth nothing is more disturbing, destructive, or disgusting than war. We claim to be a civilized race but resort to barbarism on a massive scale at the least provocation.

“War is over IF you want it, War is over NOW…” Lennon wrote. War is our choice. War is never “inevitable” nor “necessary” nor ever “acceptable.” There’s no such thing as a “just war.” Nobody “wins” in war.

As long as humans wallow in self righteousness, as long as they believe they are capable of being superior to to others in politics, in religion, in culture, there will be war. No other holiday levels the field like Christmas. What better time is there to recognize how horrible war is and demand it come to an end?

I am condemned because I do not “honor our soldiers” like a “good American.” I AM a good American because I do not recognize the value of war nor the need for warriors. I honor and respect any person willing to lay down their life for others. Police officers, firemen, members of the Coast Guard, these should be the ones we honor the most, not wild-eyed young men who went to war for the fun of it. Men and women who have shown valor and bravery for others certainly should be recognized for it. Individuals who have served the nation in any capacity should also be recognized and cared for because of their service. But the war, the reasons for the war, the zeal to enter into it and the bloodthirsty barbarism of it should never be glorified.

There are and there always have been answers to war, ways to get around war, other means to the same end that war claims to seek. Of all the things Christians do that make no sense their support of war is at the top of the list. On Christmas they celebrate the Prince of Peace and then put his banner above the flag they wave marching into war.

“Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war! With the cross of Jesus going on before.” How’s that for an absurd lyric. I can’t believe I used to like that song. Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “love your enemies”? Didn’t he say, “do good to those that despitefully use you?” How can one love an enemy and still slide a dagger into his heart or blow him to bits with a mortar? Reminds me of another song I find disgusting: “What’s love got to do with it?”

As for me and my house, we will celebrate the season in peace. I shall not tell my children of how honorable it is to run “into the cannon’s mouth” but how blessed they will be if their love carries them to the point where they are willing to lay their lives down for others, including their enemies.

For me, like the song says, a “new year” HAS begun. With the passing of my mom life is going to be different. As I sat beside her all those days and weeks while she lay dying I spent much of my time thinking about life and reading the teachings of Buddha. I discovered Truth within my heart and found strength in knowing how precious and temporary our lives are and how our single purpose is to share our lives with and give ourselves to those we love (which should be all others). In the quite hours of this holiday I am not only healing from the loss of my last parent but working towards a new and perhaps exciting direction for my life.

The question now is not, “what have you done” or “what have I done,” but what shall I do? It is, “what shall I do?” What I shall do is all I can to carry the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of Peace, all ’round the world and all through the new year.

November 30, 2008 - Posted by | Religion | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I’m sorry about your mom. I’m sure this year will be more difficult and more sad with out her. Like you I was once also a Christian, but no more. And for about the reasons. Like you I have also turned to the Eastern religons. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my thinking.

    Comment by liajo | November 30, 2008

  2. Thanks! It will be a quieter year without mom. You are not alone in your thinking, either. I suspect there are many who would seek Truth beyond the boundaries of the stained glass and gilded crosses if they were not so wrapped up in fear. Sad. You’d think they would recognize the words of the guy they claim to worship, that love brings an end to fear.

    Comment by texasbohemian | November 30, 2008


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