Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas thing...I hate holidays

I’m a “bah-humbug” kind of guy when it comes to Christmas. I’m not in the mobs that trample people to death at Wally World for fire sale prices on TV sets. I’m not the biggest fan of Santa, although my grandfather used to do a mean imitation when I was a pup. In that regard, it was a time of wonder, and having Father Christmas ho-ho-ho-ing at the windows of the family farm was awe-inspiring, even if it was Dad or Papa taking turns.

Adult realization, of course, was a big let-down.

I have an inner resonance for Christmas. It’s the spiritual thing that we lose track of. I prefer my holiday to be a recognition of the spirit of Christ—apologies to my Jewish friends, and Happy Chanukah!—and we’ll take this time of year to say special prayers. Those who don’t buy my specific brand of Godburgers are just as acutely aware that we answer to a Higher Power for our sins, and pray to that Deity for those needs that secular, groundhog life is not providing. It isn’t about Santa, or ho-ho-ho, or “What do you want for Christmas?” A child was born, and that child gave spiritual meaning to half the world as we know it today, which is pretty much established.

Ulysses Grant made Christmas a federal holiday, as a politically expedient means to reunify the country after the War of Northern Aggression. Okay, we’ll take that for what it’s worth. This ain’t about fighting old wars; it’s about peace. People today are out to destroy Christmas, simply because it is a spiritual holiday. This fits some warped political agenda that I cannot begin to wrap my mind around. Like the geeks in Washington State who scammed the governor into putting up their sign: if you want what they called “Freedom from Religion”, don’t worship. Don’t ever fall to your knees and ask a Higher Power to rescue you from peril. Don’t ever ask for relief from secular perils like bankruptcy or foreclosure. Don’t ask for alleviation of health; that ended with Jesus raising Lazarus, or so the story goes. Sarcasm mode off: pray for others.

If you think God is a myth and prayers go unanswered, I have a personal tale or three to tell you!

Nobody puts a gun to your head to enforce their beliefs over yours. Everyone, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or whoever, admits we answer to the Higher Power. It is a human yearning that transcends our mortality. If you are in death camp because of extermination, you still know who God is. If you are Todd Beamer yelling “Let’s roll!” because people with a confuzzled idea of God are trying to kill you, you know what a spiritual power is.

I pray, and often. It’s been my experience that I don’t need a lot through prayer—except perhaps caretaking for my mortal soul—so I usually limit my prayers to others, as those requests seem to get fulfilled sooner. God, the Higher Power, Whoever, has occasionally flicked a finger in my direction. I asked for that divine intervention once or twice, but the most amazing occurrences were when I thought I was on my own, and the big, hairy hand of God reached down and assisted or outright saved my sorry self.

I went through a decade of agnosticism, literally “I don’t know”. I had my doubts. I continue to think too much, and still have doubts and wonders, but now I know. God exists. There is that Higher Power, and every once in a blue moon, when I need it or least expect it, He/She casts a glance in my direction. I would not have lived to be a bizarre, funny old man without God’s help.

Christmas is the uniting holiday when we acknowledge our belief in God and say a prayer of thanksgiving. I don’t pray for others to be put down; I follow the Sufi saying that there are many roads to Heaven, but only one gate to get in. I suppose that makes me pantheistic. I don’t care about the political origins of the holiday. I don’t care if you worship a Higher Power by a different name on a different day. We huddle down in winter, and we thank that Higher Power for another year of our short, fragile lives.

Paraphrasing the atheistic sign that accompanied the Washington State Nativity display, please explain your point of view. It says that there are no gods or devils. I know that there is evil, and it stalks the earth. I know that there is an inscrutable God who watches things happen and chuckles at our foilibles. There are gods and devils, and I have only pity for those that believe we soldier through this life without a hope for something beyond what might ultimately prove to be an afterlife. I favor the suggestion that we are already in Hell, and how we comport ourselves might determine an eventual outcome.

So saying, I wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy Chanukah. Keep believing, kids. That believing keeps us alive, and as Blaise Paschale described “The Wager” it’s a win-win situation. I lose nothing for my belief in God, and if I’m right when what Henry Miller described as the ultimate mystery inevitably falls my way, then I’m right about the afterlife, and I win.

I have never missed a shot under 2000 meters since 1972. You won’t get details here, but an angel was on my shoulder. I don’t always win, but no one dies when I lose.

Daughter Lindsey is injured in a car crash, the perp is weaseling, and I all of a sudden I have more bubble gum than I can chew. We have to visit the in-laws for Christmas. This is not my favorite time of year.

My best wishes to my Constant Readers, and you know who you are. Without you, this blog would be less than nothing. I thank all of you for reading my crazed words, and may God bless you in the coming year.