ALPERN ON CHRISTMAS--Merry Christmas, everybody! Not sure which Christmas you want to celebrate--the home-for-the-holidays Christmas, the let's-take-some-time-off Christmas, the let's-get-some-presents-and-more-stuff Christmas, or the ain't-Santa-cute Christmas, but Merry Christmas! And that "Christ" fellow ... well, I'm not sure where he figures into Christmas in our enlightened and open-minded age, but perhaps He really should figure in somewhere ... because isn't that where the name "Christmas" comes from?
And I don't mean "Ho, Ho, Ho!" as in Santa, I mean "He, He, He" as in the Trinity. Because THAT is what Christmas is celebrating: we don't know when Jesus of Nazareth was born, and there are certainly pagan and other reasons why the winter solstice was chosen as the time to celebrate Christmas (the shortest day, the longest night, but yet that is when we cherish the fact that God is with us).
Yet, the fact remains, that there WAS a Jesus of Nazareth, and born at a rather critical time in our world history. Furthermore, with God having lived and died as a human being, we never had to wonder if we were alone, or if God had forgotten us and our often-miserable existence.
Yes, I am a Jew, and I've always loved the lights and spiritual warmth of Christmas, as my "lonsman" Ben Stein so eloquently and repeatedly likes to state every year. I had my beliefs in Judaism, and my opinions of the Christian religion, cemented in college, when after years of my own studies I had some excellent Humanities courses that confirmed and supported my long-held religious views.
And I'll keep those private beliefs private, but I will without hesitation state that ours is a Christian nation--no matter what creepy individual wants to deny that. Or at least it's a nation that believes in God (with democratic ideals placed in the Constitution as a moral imperative from God), but with Christian overtones.
Even President Lincoln, who wasn't into formal religion, promoted Thanksgiving as a statement of humanity towards God--and when he did good, he felt good, and when he did bad, he felt bad (which he believed came from God). Feel free to look up this informally but undeniably religious figure in our nation's history.
And feel free to look up just how wonderful and "tolerant" and livable those nations are who have diminished and "gotten past" their Christian roots in the West, and how well-treated Christians, Jews and other religions are in either secular or other Eastern nations.
Yet now we recognize Jesus less than ever in our "modern, tolerant society" and are much more likely to decry and diminish those who still are "primitive" enough to worship Christ as the Son of God.
Maybe we should even consider getting rid of the Christmas holiday if it means so little to so many.
But praising and singing about Santa? Well, of course! Perhaps it's Santa who we can cherish on our days off, instead of Jesus.
I mean, Santa Claus is coming to town--and isn't Santa the one that Christmas is all about?
Certainly, business offices and public venues have so sanitized their songs of any mention of God, Christ or anything else that a stranger would conclude that the divine Trinity is Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty...and not the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Good-bye "Silent Night" and "The Little Drummer Boy", and hello "It's Cold Outside" and "Santa, Baby".
Good-bye, Three Wise Men and hello Master Card, Visa, and American Express with respect to gift-giving that really matters.
And the "echo" of those proclaiming "what would Jesus do?"... while decrying "those Christians"?
And the "echo" of those proclaiming love and tolerance and an escape from religion...while themselves having grown up with religion (including "A Christmas Carol" that blended the supernatural with the moral imperative of being kind and charitable)?
And finally, the "echo" of believing in Saint Nick with believing in a higher Power who watches over us, and who ultimately rewards us (perhaps not with gifts that are tangible, or purchasable, but with gifts, nevertheless)?
One cannot help but wonder what will happen when those echoes subside, and what our society will look like when we've moved past God and Christ, and how Jews, Buddhists, and other tolerant religions will be treated once we have sufficiently diminished the Christian cultural background that once made us the kindest and most giving nation on the planet.
Until then, however, as a tolerant American and a tolerant Jew, let me stick in one more old-fashioned MERRY CHRISTMAS, and may God shine over us all during this Holiday Season.
(Kenneth Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist with offices and clinics serving patients from West Los Angeles to Temecula. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org. He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)
Vol 13 Issue 103
Pub: Dec 22, 2015