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Politically Correct Christmas

Saint Nicholas of Myra, not allowed?
Nicholas was bishop of Myra in Asia Minor at the beginning of the 4th century.  This is uncontested fact.

He was known for anonymous giving and standing up for justice.  In his youth, Nicholas, who was raised by Christian parents, was imprisoned under Dioclesian for his faith.  He suffered torture while in prison.  He was released under the Emperor Constantine and named bishop of Myra without even being a priest.  These again are historical events, not only matters of faith.

Saint Nicholas died on December 6.  Christians believe that when a holy person dies, they are entering heaven, so their death day is a celebration day.  For this reason Saint Nicholas is celebrated on December 6.  Again, facts.  Information about religious beliefs is not proselytizing, it is just information. 

For 1700 years people, inspired by the anonymous giving of Nicholas, have given in secret and often in Nicholas' name.  When you give to someone in need without expecting to even have them know your name, you give in this spirit.  Many Christians believe that this inspiration is what makes a saint a saint.  Again, this is just fact. 

Yes, Virginia!
To assert that there "is no Santa" is to refute truth.  There most certainly is a Santa, maybe not the icon of Coca Cola that we see today, but a real man who has inspired billions to give anonymously and joyfully. 

I find it troubling that songs about crass materialism, selfishness, and excess are allowed and even encouraged in school concerts, but songs about the real meaning of the fall and winter holidays are not.  Saint Nicholas was imprisoned and tortured, he suffered a real "war on Christmas," not us.  I don't believe that the celebration of the nativity of Jesus Christ is endangered, but I do think its spirit is certainly widely ignored.

Should children sing about religious events?
The hornet's nest of religious teaching
A year ago I shared with you a song associated with and story about the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).  When teaching about Mohammed, stick to facts, not faith.  He was a real man who lived in Saudi Arabia.  He was known as a peace maker and respected and revered by Arabs and non-Arabs alike.  Singing a song and learning about Mohammed is a good thing.  We should never make a child declare a devotion that they do not have, but we should let children put themselves into historical situations in their imaginations.  The performing arts do this so beautifully.

Is it okay to teach about Jesus?
Teaching about Jesus is very problematic.  Jesus' teachings are all about faith, he even declared that he was God.  To teach about Jesus in a way that sticks to facts but does not mention faith is nearly impossible.  The virgin birth of Jesus is only accepted by Muslims and Christians.  Jews, Atheists, Pagans, etc. vehemently disagree, and there are no independent historians who claim Herod's murder of the innocents, Jesus' virgin birth, 3 Kings from the East, or angels.  The star was noted in history as was the census that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.  Jesus was an historical figure, his crucifixion was written about in many non-Christian sources.  Muslims don't believe in the Crucifixion, however, just the bodily ascension and immortality of Jesus.

Mary and Joseph needed to go to Bethlehem for the census.  Many independent sources tell us that Caesar Augustus sent out such a decree.  It would also be true that any lodging would fill up quickly and that overflow would be put up in stables or barns.  There is a lovely Mexican song, Los Posadas, in which people parade and act out Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay.  One of my readers has her children sing and act out this song each winter.  She has children of all faiths because she teaches at the U.N. School.  The teacher is very careful to act out the search for "posadas" (shelter) and not to have children sing about the incarnation of God.

My special moment.
This boy looks like my student.
I prefer to teach about Saint Nicholas and leave Jesus to the classroom teachers.  Yesterday I had a beautiful experience that I'd like to share with you.  I told pre-school children about Saint Nicholas and how he gave money to the poor anonymously.  A little Moslem boy with big brown eyes and a very gentle spirit raised his hand.  "When I go in the Mosque and pray, I give money too.  It goes to the poor."  I told him, "You did a very beautiful thing.  The kind of thing that people remember 1700 years after you do it."  He just beamed.

Hedonism and Atheism the state religion?
Why isn't HE controversial?
I am deeply offended by the portrayal of Saint Nicholas as a hedonistic elf who inspires the idiocy of Black Friday.  I am also deeply offended that THAT monstrosity is the only Nicholas I can sing about in school in December.  I teach my students the beauty and truth of historical people of faith.  I must program a Jewish song in the winter, but I may never have a true Christmas song.  Why is that?

I say that finding hope in a new child and freedom in a miracle of light are both worth singing about.  I say that we should stop being so politically correct and start thinking critically and meaningfully about our world.  I say that Jesus isn't the only "reason for the season," it's Dawali, Thanksgiving, Saint Nicholas Day, Hannukah, Christmas, Epiphany, Saint Stephen, Nativity of Isa, and the ideals of Kwanza.  To teach the core meaning of these holidays is to teach morality, selflessness, hope, love, gentleness, courage, kindness and goodness.  These are all things that our world needs very much.

Merry Christmas!


elephant73 said…
I love your blog! I want to join though and I don't see a join button!

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