Thursday, December 29, 2005

the theft of Christmas

I have been mulling over my problems re my friendly gas station attendant for days and days now. Many of the things I have been reading twig that response of Aha! That is what is bothering me about it...

To sum it up, basically, he gave me a leaflet entitled The Holy Quran's Message to Jews & Christians, complied and edited by Dr. Arafat El-Ashi. It's not a big leaflet at all, but I disliked it immensely before I even got past the first few pages.

Why? Perhaps this quote from Andre Gide sums it up better than I can. "Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it."

I know myself well enough to realize that my perceptions are greatly coloured by my experiences. And I also do not consider myself an expert in religion, theology or philosophy, but I have been hurt often enough by people who are so sure, who have refused to be open to my questions of one kind or another, who have placed me outside, simply by my insistence that they did not answer my questions, that on some level, instinct perhaps, I feel such sureness alone is a problem.

I do not believe that God, or Allah, or whatever you call god has any problem with "the other". If Godness is all powerful, all knowing, if "His are all things in the heavens and the earth...His Chair does contain the heavens and the earth; and He feels no fatigue in preserving them...", surely the sincere seeker can ask the questions and His teachers will be provided with the patience and wisdom and means to answer the questions. Surely all the "heathens", Hindus, Buddhists, pagans, etc. in any age or era, in any part of the world are not excluded because Allah is limited to the era and message post-Muhammed (assuming that Allah's messages to His other prophets were lost of damaged)?

For example, I asked my friendly gas station attendant what the Quran has to say about all the other great religions around the world, some much older than Islam. What will Allah do about them? His response was initially confusion, then, he quickly dismissed them all. Billions and billions of people over time before time, dismissed. I just can't do that. I don't personally believe that Allah wants to be limited to only the people who follow the Quran. As the Quran itself says, "The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, so do believers; each believes in Allah, His angels, His Books and His apostles. We make no distinction between one and another of His apostles." (if Muhammed does not, why do so many Muslims?)

I come from a Christian upbringing. I no longer call myself a Christian. I find great beauty in much of Christian teachings, but also too much that horrifies me. So I have studied and searched within the other great traditions as well. And? same story.

For example, Buddhism, perhaps the one religion that seems the most sensible to me, has had a long troubling history of patriarchism--like most other world religions. But it does give me a great giggle to have read that in theDzogchen tradition, there is a teaching that a woman who "gives birth to the Bodhisattva Vow and practices bodhicitta", will develop on the path of awakening faster than a man!

So, flaws in the traditions of world religions? That is not a bad thing at all. That merely tells me that I have to trust that God, or Source, or the Infinite, is to be found in all inspired writers and teachers, but also, that those inspired writers and teachers, even Prophets, if you will, are or were human with human flaws, who wrote or spoke a flawed and changeable human language. It behooves me to seek, and find even, but to remember that my flawed human eyes will have flawed human perceptions and interpretations. Therefore, I must humbly keep searching and reading Inspired Writers, and searching my own heart for obstacles to the truth.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. I read with amusement Tom Spencer's Dec 6 entry on how "the liberals want to destroy Santa, er, we mean Jesus!"
That lie is a glittering disco ball-sized distraction, trying to steal the eyes
of a frightened and worried nation away from the sight of thieves busily
desecrating the temple from their darkened money-littered stalls.

Like so many other beautiful ideas, the Christmas story is ripe for the picking, as far as some profiteering individuals and corporations are concerned. And their stock-holders would be right pissed off if they missed the opportunity! And as consumers, feeling the generalized anxieties of our societies and the passing of time as the year draws to its inexorable end, we believe we need the consumer items offered for sale!

That is so sad. The Christmas story, much of which is based on much earlier pagan mythologies and traditions, is a lovely one. It's too bad we are too busy to meditate on the stories and traditions that the time of winter solstice has inspired. It's so much easier to just buy something to make us all feel better (just stuff a pill in the painful hole) at a time when the turning of the Great Wheel of the Solar Year might have something much more poignant and precious to say to us, if we could only hear it above the jingle bells of commerce.

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