For some people, today is about eating, drinking and giving each other gifts.
For some people, today is a sacred day, the day when we celebrate the birth of God’s son, who came to save us from our own worst natures.
For some people, today is about feeling excluded, feeling lonely, experiencing depression. Although the claim that suicide rates spike at Christmas appears to be a myth, a time when joy is a publicly traded commodity can be painful from someone who feels left out.
Christmas, like any positive thing, can be misused, can devolve into banality, can cause pain.
I was raised in the second tradition, the one that celebrates the birth of Jesus. Some of my friends wonder, as I’m a rationalist, someone with a scientific mind, how I can continue to feel a kinship with those who follow the teachings of my youth, especially in these post-Trump days, when the world has changed forever. (D’y’ever notice that the world changes forever every fifteen years or so?)
These words, attributed to Dr James Allan Francis, which we read every Christmas Eve at the church service we attend in Rehoboth Beach, sum up my answer:
…All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
One. Solitary. Life. The birth of Jesus, for me, is not about sacrifice, about dying in payment for sin, or about guilting anyone into following a particular moral code or serving under a particular flag. It’s about the fact that one solitary life can be more important than anything else in the world.
A few years ago, I wrote and recorded a Christmas story. You can listen to it here:
This, by the way, may be the last thing Marty Gear ever recorded for Prometheus Radio Theatre. If you knew Marty, you might like hearing his voice again in this show.
Some of my regular listeners protested that I had injected Christian ideology into my science fiction universe. “Listen to the end,” I said, “and see if you feel differently.” At least a few did, were glad they did, and told me so. Because, as I illustrated in those episodes, Christianity, for me, is about how much one life can matter. “But that’s just Jesus’s life!” I can hear some people saying, “and he’s the child of God!”
Yes he is, I agree.
But aren’t we all?
Maybe you don’t believe that, but I do. Jesus is an example. One solitary life is important. Every solitary life is important. That’s why I still bother with the religious teaching of my youth. That’s why I take time out to talk about peace on Earth—so all those important lives have a better chance to make a difference.
So. Today. Hush the Noise. Cease the strife. And hear the angels sing