This week: The War on Christmas Edited by: Jeff
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"Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief."
-- C.S. Lewis
About The Editor: Greetings! My name is Jeff and I'm one of your regular editors for the official Spiritual Newsletter! I've been a member of Writing.com since 2003, and have edited more than 350 newsletters across the site during that time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me via email or the handy feedback field at the bottom of this newsletter!
The War on Christmas
I'm sitting down to write this editorial on Christmas evening, waiting for my daughter to fall asleep after a full day of quality time together sharing meals, opening and playing with presents, watching a movie, etc. I decided to check in on Twitter, something that's become less and less of a habit this year, and I immediately stumbled across the annual trending argument between Christians and "atheists," although I suspect that's just a catch-all term of those who identify as any of the wide varieties of irreligion.
This year, it seems that actor Kevin Sorbo (formerly of HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS fame, and currently of abrasive Twitter troll fame) tweeted, "I hope atheists got tons of gifts to evolve out of nothing under their tree today," which I'm honestly having a bit of trouble making sense of, since God and Santa Claus aren't the same thing. But, needless to say, it's kicked off what appears to be an annual "Christianity vs. Secularism" debate with people sharing their favorite arguments and memes in favor of their respective positions.
The anti-religious contingent:
"Teach your children that it's a good thing to scrutinize ideas and require evidence. Acknowledge that it's okay to be ethical and kind without a belief in magic."
"Atheists are closer to Christ’s teachings than most Christians because they do good deeds without expecting an eternal reward."
"You can worship a rock for all I care, just don't throw it at me."
The religious contingent:
"This is the future atheists want..." (followed by images of a man having a spa day with his cat, or some other ridiculous situation)
"Hey atheists! Explain..." (followed by some example of a miraculous occurrence)
(insert applicable Bible verse here)
What I find particularly sad about this annual argument (although maybe I shouldn't because it happens with every online argument ) is that each side turns the other into a caricature and a monolith. The anti-religious group characterizes Christians as superstitious hypocrites, bullies, and people who are not intellectually curious or discerning. And sure that applies to some Christians (as well as some irreligious people), but hardly everyone. On the other hand, the religious group characterizes the irreligious as ignorant, silly, or unenlightened. Which, again, some irreligious people are (as well as some Christians), but hardly everyone. And this battle doesn't even take into consideration people of other faiths such as Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. ... although when it comes to arguments on the internet, maybe the best of all options is to just stay out of it entirely.
I don't know what it is about Christmas that makes so many people feel the need to lash out and attack others. Maybe it's the fact that, in the immortal words of Billy Mack from LOVE ACTUALLY, "Christmas Is All Around" and those who don't celebrate or appreciate the holiday feel like they can't escape it (although I'd argue that in many places, the ubiquitous "Christmas" that we all experience out in the world is closer to a secular holiday than a religious one at this point). Maybe it's that the kind of people who pick silly fights online don't take any days off, even for the holidays, and this is just the topic du jour. Maybe it's because certain people (including past-their-prime actors) have a pathological need for attention and one of the quickest ways to get attention (albeit negative attention) is to attack and demonize others. Whatever the reason, though, that's not what the holidays (or faith) should be about.
The true debate between atheists and Christians (or, more accurately, atheists and theists of all kinds) is about the belief in a higher power/deity existing in our universe. The true debate between the religious and irreligious is about the relevance/validity of specific tenets of faith. And there can be respectful, mature conversations about both of those things without vilifying the other side. Unless it's something that personally harms you, someone else has a right to their own beliefs. And even for religions like Christianity which have an expectation of converting believers, attacks and ridicule are hardly effective tools of evangelism.
As the holiday season comes to an end this year, consider carrying the lessons of the season (kindness, love, acceptance, family, goodwill, etc.) through into 2023 as well. The world would be an infinitely better place if more people could remember to prioritize those things over other concerns. Oh, and maybe stay off Twitter. We're all way too online these days anyway...
Until next time,
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EXCERPT: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)
EXCERPT: Sam trudged home in tears walking away from the group of boys scoffing behind him. They were assembled on a grassy soccer field when it started to rain droplets. Sam felt like the weather was sensing his feelings as the melancholy gray sky seemed to cry.
Sam felt pain in his back as a soccer ball struck him. He turned and saw Lucas, the most popular boy in school, grinning. “How did that feel, loser!” Lucas said.
Sam turned and dashed for home, sobbing. When he reached the door to his house, he barged through and sprinted for his room and buried his head inside his pillow, crying his heart out.
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Feedback from "Spiritual Newsletter (November 30, 2022)" about nondenominational religion:
G. B. Williams writes:
So thankful and so grateful to be chosen with this group of writers to be featured. Thank you.
AmyJo - Time won't stand still writes:
Had to laugh at your possibly being a "Lutheran and not knowing it". I have worshipped in several places over the years, Lutheran as a little girl (LOL), Southern Baptist, Church of God, Assembly of God; I feel that those that put Christ and His tenants first, as the New Testament Bible instructs, are brothers/sisters, regardless of the label that they choose. Always appreciate the newsletter!
"Nondenominational" Food for thought--thank you.
I found it funny that it was mentioned a said individual could be a Lutheran and not know it. I am a Lutheran (Not a very good one but I try) and it so happens my Pastor is an Episcopalian Priest for his next service. Right. The Rabbit hole goes deeper, I think. Thank you for your news letter!
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