Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Reason for the Season?

Winter Solstice Buddha Painting by Cherie Glasco

Oh, we're knee deep in the holiday season now, aren't we? Hanukkah has passed. The Winter Solstice is upon us, and Christmas and Kwanzaa are coming up this weekend. Of course, it wouldn't be December without claims that there is a War on Christmas (history), debates over whether to use "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays," arguments over the holiday's Pagan/Heathen roots (and even calls to return to the holiday's pagan roots), atheist appeals to reason, astronomical explanations for the Winter Solstice, crying over "Xmas" as crossing Christ out of Christmas, and all sorts of other nonsense.

Are you feeling the holiday warmth now?

Yesterday, I posted my own "reason for the season" on Twitter:

For those who cannot view the image, here is the full text of my tweet: "I hear axial tilt is the reason for the season. Different folks celebrate different things this time of year, but the season is what it is."

Yes, that's right. Jesus is not the reason for the season. Jesus is, however, the reason for a particular celebration (Christmas) that occurs this time of year. And there is nothing wrong with that. I grew up with Christmas. And, although I no longer embrace the Christian religion, I'm not about to try to stamp out the traditions it has evolved with over time. That means I'm not going to join any silly campaign to "take back Yule," or some such thing. It would simply not be feasible for me. I am an Interfaith Minister who happens to follow the Heathen spiritual tradition. So while I choose to celebrate Yule, most of my own family is at least nominally Christian and they celebrate Christmas. And to make matters even more interesting, my wife has more than a passing interest in the Judaic tradition (it's possible her ancestors were Jewish and were forced, one way or another, to convert to Christianity). Besides, no one tradition, no group of people, can own a time of year.

So, say "Merry Christmas!" to me and I'm likely to reply in kind. Wish me a "Blessed Solstice," and I'll smile every time. Greet me with "Joyous Yule!" and I'll toast you and your kin. Just be peaceful and respectful, again and again.

Have a great Chrismahanukwanzakyule, everybody!

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Nielle said...

I have created my own "religion" or spiritual walk from all the faiths I've studied; Paganism, Wicca, Buddhism, Christianity, New Thought, etc. I like my own blend of holiday magick from the various wisdom that speaks to me. Like religion, the holidays are a personal experience and every tradition should be respected (as you clearly do!) :)
Great post and happy Chrismahanukwanzakyule to you too!

Brainwise said...

No one is a spiritual vacuum. I may discard a belief or tradition from my past, but the experience of it still informs who I am and how I go about the business of my life in the physical realm. So, although I do my best to not partake of a spiritual buffet, I very much understand what you are saying.

Enjoy your blend. Thank you for the positive comment. And I look forward to more Twitter and Facebook interaction with you in 2011.

Rig Svenson said...

Religion: “man's response to so-conceived greater-than-human configurations of reality.” All people and all cultures, divide their experiences of the world into several categories. Elements or experiences that the culture or individual regards as less than human are “handled”: controlled, analyzed, conquered, dismissed. Elements or experiences viewed as equal to human are treated as such: shared and communicated with, or competed against. Finally, elements or experiences recognized as greater than human evoke some sort of religious experience, be it mild (fascination), heightened (terror, awe), or extreme (mystic or physical surrender). Cultures vary as to how they perceive any given entity and where on this scale they place it. They also vary in the quantity and types of entities they place in each of the three categories. It is a truism that Westerners today define more things as less than human and fewer things as greater than human than did their ancestors a millennium ago.
But in my view, extremism via non tolerance of other folks beliefs and god or gods for that matter has little value in the modern age and we can not longer go back to the days of fundamentalism that once was. That would be like expecting Native Americans to start wondering the plains of North America and hunting buffalo again? Education and our very understanding of those troublesome times leading to "holy wars" should help us appreciate that each and every system of faith has its own special value and to deny one system is to deny our past or how we got here. For only the true dare question their faith and religion after all is a very personal journey that no one has the right to force on anyone else via extremism or intolerance. Peace at your hearth during this special time.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say, I love this post. Happy Axial Tilt! ;)

Seriously, hope you had a cool Yule and will enjoy the rest of the holiday season too.

Brainwise said...

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for adding a great comment. You're dead-on in your assessment of man's response to the unknown.

Brainwise said...

Many thanks for the kind words, Domestic Goddess! Bright Blessings on you and yours!