An Advent Love-Poem to Holy Darkness

Column by Rev. Matthew Syrdal on 15 December 2022 0 Comments

Advent is a season especially attuned to the Darkness, and it’s rhythms—not primarily the light. For the Darkness has a strange luminosity all its own, but our eyes must readjust.

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How can we work to improve religious tolerance and increase respect for diversity?


Dear Reader,

We are residing in such a polarized time. I wish the Christian Right would meet the right Christians to understand that religious tolerance embraces the fact that, as Americans, we are people of many faith traditions and are  atheists, agnostics, and "nones."

More than a decade now, when the December  holiday season rolls in, we can always count on a yearly kerfuffle about what the appropriate season's greeting should be, exemplifying the continued chapter in the culture "War on Christmas."

This year we can see the divide along religious and political party lines. On his "Merry Christmas USA Thank You Tour," former President Trump decorated his stages with Christmas trees. Former President Obama acknowledged other holidays this time of year - Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Saturnalia, Festivus, and Ramadan - and embraced an all-inclusive seasonal greeting symbolic of our nation's diverse religious and cultural landscape with two simple words — Happy Holidays!

According to  Public Policy Polling (PPP), if you say "Merry Christmas," you insult liberals, and if you say "Happy Holidays," you vex conservatives. Also, PPP revealed that 57 percent of Republicans believe there's an ongoing war on Christmas. Truth be told, Muslims, secular progressives, Jews, and atheists have never been the folks trying to abolish Christmas. The intolerance of a multicultural theme for this holiday season has to do about a backlash toward a country growing more religiously pluralistic.

This holiday's central message is embracing and celebrating human differences and diversity. And it is with this message that I know all people — religious and non-religious, straight and LGBTQ+, black and white — can be included to enjoy and to celebrate and acknowledge this season with one simple greeting.

Happy Holidays!

~ Rev. Irene Monroe




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