Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas, or Happy Holiday?

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Although more than two billion Christians in the world observe Christmas one way or another, it is increasingly becoming a bone of contention between Christians and others who do not believe in it. Most vocal among the latter are atheists who openly resent the observance of Christmas in the public square -- such as government offices, shopping malls, sidewalks and the like. They refer to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that stipulated the principle of separation of the Church and State.

Reciprocation of Greetings

I come from Bangladesh where almost 83% of the total population of over 150 million are Muslims, 16% Hindus, and 1% Buddhists, Christians, and animists. From my experience I can say that on the Muslim feast day of Eid they greet us Eid Mubarak (Blessed Feast or Festival) and on Christmas day we greet them and others Shuvo Borodin (Merry Christmas). In response, we or they reciprocate the greetings by saying the same words. This way we do not become Muslims, neither do they become Christians.

Insistence on Replacing Merry Christmas with Happy Holiday

In the West, especially in North America, atheists and some others want that public religious manifestations, including the Christmas greeting, be banned altogether. They insist that Merry Christmas be replaced with Happy Holiday. Happy Holiday? Which holiday? The week-end holiday of Saturday or Sunday?

Through their writings, posters and other media they bombard Christians with the call for rejection of Christmas, terming it a fictitious story or a legend at best. They propound that there is no historical or scientific basis even for the existence of Jesus Christ, let alone the incarnation of the second person of the Blessed Trinity.

Hitchensian Attempts for Discrediting Religions, including Christianity

Self-avowed atheist Christopher Hitchens wrote an article under the heading "Why I Hate Christmas" in the National Post, a daily newspaper of Canada, on December 23. He enumerated his hate for and the futility of observing Christmas. The whole article oozes out his abhorrence, arrogance and a torrent of negative attitude toward this important feast. He used a dark picture and words that can be abundantly found in the dictionary of negativity.

In response to his article, Ed Tigchelaar, a reader of the National Post aptly mentioned in the Letters to the Editor column: "Christopher Hitchens' column is the voice of a man with a burden. Consider his words: hate, nightmare, core objection, dismal, dreary, sinister, maddening, repetitive ululations (howling, hooting, wailing), objectionable, flung aside, drivel. Contrast [these] with: love, joy, peace, radiance, happiness, adoration, praiseworthy, good naturedly, contentment, satisfaction, light, jingle bells. Who would you rather be? For as a man thinketh, so is he."

There is also a saying: "You are what you eat." In reference to Mr. Hitchens I like to add here that "You are what you write." I remember a quote of the optimistic and smiling pope, John XXIII, who had written in one of his diaries: "I never met a pessimist who accomplished any good."

Religion-jumping (first he was an Anglican, then he joined the Eastern Orthodox Church and later turned into an atheist) and political bed-hopping (first he was a Trotskyite or of the extreme left, and now he is leaning towards the centre and right) Mr. Hitchens plays on words. He uses a lot of double-entendres verging on sarcasm and dark humor. In 1997 before the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he wrote a book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, where he termed Mother Teresa "Hell's Angel" and accused her of accepting donations from shady-charactered politicians and other donors. In 2007, he wrote another book, god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. In the latter case, he does not want to write the word God with capital g because to him God is only a fictional character. Muslims praise God by saying "Allahu Akbar", meaning "God is Great". Mr. Hitchens tried to show in the book that there is no God and God is not great either. It is interesting to note that Mr. Hitchens made a lucrative career out of dealing negatively with established religions and persons.

In the history of mankind, there were serious attempts by men, including those powerful atheistic leaders of the Soviet Union and China, to erase the very idea of God from the mind of the masses. They have failed miserably. The Soviet Union perhaps was the first country in the world to officially take atheism as the state policy, but within 74 years the country itself disintegrated. The Chinese government is gradually allowing religious practices. The atheistic government of Cuba under the leadership of Fidel Castro ultimately sponsored the Eastern Orthodox Church to erect a cathedral in the country!

Atheists insist on the science as the foundation of belief -- that is, the religious matters should be scientifically proven. It has been established again and again that man cannot live by science alone.

Christmas Greeting

Christians have the right to use Christmas greeting according to their religious conviction. If some people cannot accept that greeting they are not bound to reciprocate. During their feast days people of other religions, too, should be able to greet others according to their customs. If anyone wants to greet differently, e.g. Happy Holiday, let him or her do so. This mutual acceptance and toleration make a society great. Bookmark and Share