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View Diary: a christmas message (154 comments)

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  •  Peace be upon God's prophet (4.00)
    I have had the privilege to celebrate the end of Ramadan with Muslim students at the university where I work, and the even greater privilege of gazing in awe at the names of God written around the dome of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (and wishing like crazy that they'd let us take our cameras inside so I could have at least a couple of snapshots of the interior as good as the ones I got of the exterior).

    The history of the People(s) of the Book is a sad and troubled one. Evil men and women of all three faiths have exploited them for their own selfish purposes, and even now try to set one against another, or two against the third. I nearly cried yesterday morning as I was getting ready for work and heard a bulletin on NPR about how Bethlehem is now little more than a shuttered ghost town, the life choked out by the strife in the region and 80-some checkpoints and the imminent completion of the Israeli wall. I remember visiting there in 1998 and seeing the streets full of laughing, smiling people--and everywhere one went the sound of construction equipment could be heard as new facilities were going up for the anticipated flood of tourists in the Great Jubilee year of 2000: a flood, sadly, that never materialized, thanks to the pig-headed actions of Ariel Sharon.

    It grieves me that so many of my fellow Americans seem to think it's just fine and dandy to discriminate against their Muslim brothers and sisters, as if being a Muslim automatically meant being a member of al-Qaeda. Just as it grieves me that so many of my Muslim brothers and sisters seem to hate the Jews who are their brothers and sisters in faith, and that my Jewish brothers and sisters seem to hate the Muslims with equal fervor and ferocity--with the result, in all three cases, that the world is torn asunder rather than knit together, as it should be, and that people of faith are discouraged and apprehensive about visiting some of the holiest places in their faith traditions, where pilgrim feet have trodden for millennia.

    In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful; in the name of Ha-Shem, baruch hu; and in the name of Emmanuel God-with-Us, the Prince of Peace, let peace prevail on earth in the coming year, and let confusion spread among the enemies of peace.

    Michael
    "Je ne regrette rien" -- Edith Piaf
    Now let's take our country back!

    by musing85 on Wed Dec 22, 2004 at 06:53:25 AM PST

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    •  Thanks for this (4.00)
      As a practicing Pagan I have learned that 'all Gods are one God and all Goddesses one Goddess'.  I too have the opportunity to accept the holy days of my friends regardless of their beliefs.

      Thanks Kid Oakland - as long as we believe and practice the theology of Christ as a Prophet we live as he taught.

      May we each reach out to others during this holiday season - and all year long.

      Buying America Blue!

      by SallyCat on Wed Dec 22, 2004 at 07:36:00 AM PST

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      •  As the Buddhists say (4.00)
        There is one mountain, but many paths to the peak. I can be Catholic and still allow for the fact that other people have different ideas and call on Deity by other names. My spirituality is heavily influenced by the mystic tradition, which teaches (at least according to M. Scott Peck) that reality is oneness. It is separation that is the illusion. Or, as Chris Glaser put it years ago in his book Come Home!, "I believe that an inability to accept God's welcome of others reflects an inability to accept God's welcome, period."

        And since it seems to be my day to pull the "deep" quotations out of my commonplace book, here are a couple more of my favorites on the topic. This one's a Jewish midrash:

        One day, a rabbi asked his disciples, "How does one know the precise moment when the night disappears and the day dawns -- the moment when one must bless God for the creation of light?"

        One disciple said, "When from afar one can distinguish between a palm tree and a fig tree."

        "No," replied the rabbi.

        Another said, "When from afar one can distinguish between a dog and a goat."

        "No," said the rabbi.

        "Then tell us when! When does the moment come when we must bless God for the creation of light?"  asked the disciples impatiently.

        The rabbi then replied, "When from afar, in seeing a man, you recognise him as your brother, because then the night that was in your soul disappears and both your heart and his are filled with light."

        And this one's from John Donne (Devotions on Emergent Occasions, xvii):

        All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

        That last sentence gives me goose-bumps every time.

        Michael
        "Je ne regrette rien" -- Edith Piaf
        Now let's take our country back!

        by musing85 on Wed Dec 22, 2004 at 07:52:46 AM PST

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        •  As a Practicing Buddhist (none)
          I have to say you said it very well. One mountain, many paths.

          Also this is the best diary on a religious topic I have ever read. Mega kudos to Kid Oakland!

          "I'm desperately trying to figure out why kamikaze pilots wore helmets." -- Dave Edison

          by Ten Buddhas on Wed Dec 22, 2004 at 08:04:15 PM PST

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      •  a month late, but... (none)
        I'm finally getting to read some of the diaries I hotlisted.  This one is great.  And to quote on of my favorites, songwriter Dar Williams, her song "Christians and the Pagans" sums it up for me right along with bleeding hearts and snark all wrapped into one:

        Amber called her uncle, said "We're up here for the holiday,
        Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay."
        And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,
        He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
        He told his niece, "It's Christmas Eve, I know our life is not your style,"
        She said, "Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and its been awhile,"

        So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
        Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
        And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
        Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

        The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
        Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, "Is it true that you're a witch?"
        His mom jumped up and said, "The pies are burning," and she hit the kitchen,
        And it was Jane who spoke, she said, "It's true, your cousin's not a Christian,"
        "But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
        And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere."

        So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
        Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
        And where does magic come from? I think magic's in the learning,
        'Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

        When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, "Really, no, don't bother."
        Amber's uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
        He thought about his brother, how they hadn't spoken in a year,
        He thought he'd call him up and say, "It's Christmas and your daughter's here."
        He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve, saying,
        "Can I be a Pagan?" Dad said, "We'll discuss it when they leave."

        So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
        Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
        Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
        Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold.

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