Mandan News

Ulmer: It’s more the wishes than the words

Layout 1 (Page 1)OK, so it’s the 2013 holidays and we’re past “Merry Christmas” and back to “Happy Holidays” … and, yes, I’m about to cross that political correctness line. So if you’re squeamish about such things mayhaps you might want to stop here.

I get rather disturbed by the Fox News et al accusations that there’s a war on Christmas. The Fox believers are easy to spot because they become quite vociferous when someone wishes them happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas. They immediately inform their well-wisher that they’ve violated some Fox News/Christian notion that we happy holidays types are taking Christ out of Christmas. Not so from here.

I’m of the belief that there is more than one holiday this time of year because for some odd reason the winter solstice has attracted a raft of religious holidays over the millenniums. When you look at the history of Christmas, it’s rather stunning to see how much paganism has influenced what we do. I will spare the details and say that if you want to know the details all you have to do is Google the history of Christmas.

Off hand, I’d be willing to bet that the folks who think there’s a war on Christmas will be disappointed to discover that there’s a raft of other holidays that revolve around Christmas and more than likely Christ really wasn’t born on Christmas Day, rather that’s the day that someone decided that we all should celebrate Christ’s birth.

Now before you decide to burn crosses in my yard and excoriate my being, I’d like you to understand that I try be a Christian and as such Christmas does remind me of why I call myself one. But I’m also a realist and have tried to be a good student of my religion.

For instance, to me unless you’ve read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from cover to cover you really don’t know the story of Christ, as the rest of the Bible is mere commentary. In addition, unless you understand how the Gospels were chosen and who picked them, you really don’t know much about how Christianity evolved.

As you can tell, I’m not a fundamentalist, rather, thanks to my Christian college education I’m more of an eclectic. During college and afterward I learned about other religions, Hindu, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and many others, which caused me to conclude that there are many pathways to God. Thus, despite many church teachings, Christianity is not the only way to God … rather it’s one way and, by the way, my way. Christianity is my choice, and all I can do is hope and pray that I’m on the right path.

Christianity has one rule, “love one another,” and my readings indicate that most religions have something similar. So it seems to me that all believers have struggled more with that rule than any other command God has given us.

Think about how many folks believe that their way is the only way. They are not only locked in but usually insulted when folks like me suggest there might be other ways to God … and the only way to resolve this problem is to imagine what Jesus would say.

Forgive me, Lord, if I’m being pretentious, but it’s my thinking that you would have been a great guy to hang with; one of those regular fellas who didn’t take himself too seriously but was driven by compassionate understanding that “all these folks need is to learn how to love one another and the world will be a better place.” You’ve walked in our shoes and thus know that we need to be kinder and gentler toward each other.
Or if you prefer the modern translation: Don’t think that your way is the only way, rather leave room for others and do what you can to leave this place better off than you found it ….

So, happy holidays and here’s hoping that by this time next year we’re all better off than we are today .. btw — good luck.