false-forwards and my thoughts on christmas…

the italic text below was sent to me via a forwarded email message. my comments follow.

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a Crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away .

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the con cept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.She said, “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

In light of recent events…terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said OK.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with “WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.”

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we be lieve what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says . Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it… no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards.

Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

*********************************************************

this was sent to me by family with the best of intentions. and immediately, this rubbed me the wrong way. on occasion, i have been a fan of ben stein, but some of these sentiments seem unlikely from someone as intelligent and erudite as he is. of course, a little research reveals that these aren’t quite his words.

here is the REAL essay:
http://www.benstein.com/121805xmas.html

and the snopes article about it:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/benstein2.asp

ben stein DOES assert that america shouldn’t be an ‘explicitly atheist country.’ with all due respect, i don’t think it is. yet, america SHOULD be an explicitly SECULAR country…though one founded on judeo-christian principles. and you’re not going to hear me grumble about the fact that we have steered far from those principles…that much i don’t dispute. but the last time i checked, this isn’t a communist state- god is called down frequently in this country of ours… in our courthouses, in our ballparks, and yes, even in our schools. to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. indeed, the right to express one’s religious views is, in some ways, more valued and respected than another’s right to NOT hear them.

“I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.”

interesting point. alas, this is a democracy, and the rules are created for all, whether they believe in god or not. no exceptions should be made either way. the question so frequently becomes not one of dictating the behavior of those believers, but allowing the same freedoms to those non-believers. to request the removal of all manger scenes and menorahs would be absolutely absurd… but to request their removal from public property is a constitutional right. perhaps we don’t mind them, but it is not our right to begrudge those who do.

to address the forwarded message, i don’t resent anne graham’s response to the katrina question on the early show. in fact, i think it was a rather graceful answer to the question and one that echoes her personal sentiments on the matter. and isn’t it lovely that a. that question was asked on national television and b. that she had the right to give that response?

the insinuations that god has abandoned o’hair and dr. spock and whoever else believes there should be a separation of church and state are barely worthy of reply. however, i will say that it doesn’t make the most compelling case for a benevolent, all-loving god who (deliberately?) allows his children to be murdered. let it be noted that it’s an interesting mix of old and new testament purportedly coming from the jewish stein.

i appreciate stein’s remarks about not finding the christmas tree offensive… he is perhaps more progressive than i am, since even i can take offense to the christmas trees being erected the day after halloween. i CAN take offense. i can even protest its erection. i can yell and picket and rally…and isn’t that great? and to take it one step further, isn’t it great that, if they’re on private property, i can be totally ignored?

to be honest, i love all the gaudy christmas decorations and menorahs for many of the same reasons stein relates, but i think the christmas trees lining the shopping mall parking lots are perhaps the best example of all.  my take?  when “asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong,” we should ask not why we don’t, as a country, call on god, but on WHICH god we call. and after seven years of working retail, i believe i know the answer. so often, christmas is less about honoring the birth of christ and more about worshipping the material gods. it is about desperate coupon-clipping, cutting in long check-out lines, and breaking your back balancing shopping bags… the feverish rush to get ‘something’ for ‘someone.’ in the rare instances that i would get a break in the holiday rush at the jewelry store, i would sit back and watch the throngs of people flowing through the mall corridors, shaking my head at the sad state of a world in which people were running around shopping at 6PM on christmas eve instead of at home with their loved ones… if anything, to enjoy one of the few days we are ALL (regardless of religion) afforded to be together. and yet, with all my dissatisfaction and condemnation, i would quickly forget when i received my holiday pay-check. (and how sad and yet, how typical is that?) when asking our children ‘why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves,’ we should think about the newest wii or playstation video game we stood in line for two hours to buy… no doubt, two hours better spent teaching and guiding and nurturing them.

i have faith that people can and will do the right thing, if afforded a critical-thinking nature, the right tools, and a little compassion. and i’d love to live in a country in which others felt the same. maybe then, we could call down whichever gods we please together and at all times of year, instead of arguing over semantics less accountable for our country’s downfall than the presents under our tree, the money in our wallet, and the issues under our noses. and regardless of whether we disgree about holiday decorations, i don’t think ben stein and i would disagree about that.

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~ by ladamesansregrets on December 27, 2007.

2 Responses to “false-forwards and my thoughts on christmas…”

  1. I just randomly stumbled on this page via a Google search about noisy children… I’m in my own personal hell with a crying baby upstairs. One of your entries was a result.

    Anyway, your musings about stage mothers, dancing like a fool, obese pets, and Bjork made me smile. Combined with your unique brand of self description under “about me” I had to read more… which led to the Christmas entry.

    “Spot on” as the English say. Why can’t people keep someting as meaningful and personal as a religious holiday meaningful and personal? Aren’t those who complain about the complainers just complaintants that warrent complaint in their own right? I’ll venture to say that America is the most religious nation because of the freedom of and freedom from religion it affords. Faith of every kind has more mening when nobody tells you what to believe. Trust me, I filled out an online form and am now an ordained minister… the internet is great.

    Oh and thanks for something to read on a Wednesday night.

  2. Ben Stein seems to continue holding onto this idea that Christians in this country are oppressed. Yes, the Founding Fathers were atheist, and yes, the Constitution calls for the separation of Church and State, but for one, any atheist who attempted to run office TODAY would lose (hell, any non-Christian would lose), and two, we do not exactly have separation of Church and State, because the Bible is used to support or reject many political ideas, the main one today being the topic of gay marriage.
    His views of what the Bible says is very limited. If he is speaking about specifically the values of the Ten Commandments being taught in school, then aside from the deity-related commandments, sure it could work, but the Bible rejects science and logic and promotes slavery, racism, sexism, and homophobia, so the idea that the Bible is specifically all about love and being a good person is just not true.

    Children misbehave. It’s just what they do! But at what point does parental responsibility come into play? The children shouldn’t simply be told “IF YOU DO THIS YOU’LL GO TO HELL” because instilling fear in a child is a terrible way to raise them, and instead they should learn to understand why they should consider certain actions right and others wrong, because eventually they’re going to make decisions for themselves and when the day comes that they don’t have to fear being disciplined, if they lack the understanding, that discipline can prove to mean nothing. School shootings and the like don’t happen simply because of a lack of religion, and Ben Stein is an idiot if he thinks that, as the religious have in history been much more barbaric and murderous than their atheistic counterparts.
    Ben Stein once again proves to be an idiot who makes generalizations and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

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