Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yes, the Elf is a strange one, but...

In "Saint Nick is a Multicultural Nightmare?", Michael Gerson muses,
Christmas has become a kind of alternative religion, offering watered-down versions of profound theological doctrines. Its miracles are found on 34th Street, not in Bethlehem. The visitation of Gabriel has become the visitation of Clarence, assuring us that it is a wonderful life. The modern cult of Christmas offers a domesticated form of transcendence. Naughty or nice instead of good or evil. A jolly old elf rather than an illegitimate child, destined for an early death.

One's reaction to the modern cult of Christmas depends on one's view of comparative religion. Believers often assert that other religious traditions are simply wrong and inherently dangerous, worthy of attention only to condemn or debunk.

Admittedly, it is not credible to assert that all religions -- from Buddhism to Aztec human sacrifice to Quakerism to Wahhabi Islam -- are equally true. Religious differences are not trivial. But most faiths share a similar striving. Across the world and across history, human beings have been hounded by an instinct to seek meaning beyond the material -- a desire for forgiveness, acceptance, holy awe and ethical behavior. This search takes many forms and faiths, from animism to Zoroastrianism. If the instinct is not merely a cruel evolutionary joke, the practice of religion has produced varied insights and wisdom. As a Christian, I believe that the claims of Christianity are true -- but this does not mean other faiths are devoid of all truth.

C.S. Lewis put it this way: (For more, go here. )

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