A Most Welcomed Article

A recent article titled 'How to celebrate a multicultural Christmas' by Timothy Garton Ash was published in the Globe and Mail on December 21. I'd link the article but for some reason my browser does not recognize whatever the Globe is set up on.

I consider this to be quite an inquisitive and insightful piece. One that eloquently puts into words how many of us feel about religion and its existence in a free, open, tolerant society. I suggest people to search for it. It's worth the time and effort.

After spending some time explaining the necessity for tolerance and that respect is a two way street, I selectively chose a paragraph that comes late in the piece. I shall quote him word for word.

"My quarrel with Richard Dawkins school of atheists is not anything they say about the non-existence of God, but what they say about Christians and the history of Christianity - much of which is true but leaves out the other, positive half of the story. And, as the old Yiddish saying goes, a half-truth is a whole lie. In my judgment as a historian of modern Europe, the positive side is larger than the negative. It seems to me self-evident that we would not have the European civilization we have today without the heritage of Christianity, Judaism and (in a smaller measure, mainly in the Middle Ages) Islam, which legacy also paved the way, albeit unwittingly and unwillingly, for the Enlightenment. Moreover, some of the most impressive beings I have met in my own lifetime have been Christians."

He closes with "A multicultural society can, at best, be an open, friendly competition between Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, atheists and indeed, two-plus-two-equals-fivers, to impress us with their character and good works."

Personally, I have come to observe the same thing about conversations with Christians - and conservatives. I'll take it a step further. Some of the most exasperating, tiresome and uninspiring discussions I have had in recent memory are with 'progressives' or 'liberals.' Liberals, like atheists, focus too much on the negative side of Occidental culture. We pick, choose and pull out of context anything we deem inappropriate. We read history with a 21st century mindset. Everyone does it. They do it on the radio all the time. The media does not seem comfortable with history either - let alone the Church. Hollywood is guilty also. In doing so - that is inflicting and impressing history through are narrow scoped prisms - it is not surprising we are let down. History is much more profound than this.

I have written endlessly about this on this blog. As a student of history myself, I have tried in vain - to many a shocked faces - to explain to some that Christianity's influence has been a force of good throughout history. The Church is simply detested and despised to sometimes irrational extremes. Is it perfect? Of course not. The Church is run by humans and no matter what is said, they are subjected and vulnerable to human flaws and vices.

The idea that the Church is an outdated institution that is not compatible to post-modernism is an unfortunate one. For once again, it is Christian thinkers who provide interesting insights in explaining what grips modern society. More importantly, Christians do work strenuously to be inclusive and as the author rightly points out, it's the only to behave. We are all, after all, searching for truth.

Why close our eyes to ideas coming for all parts of the human experience?

Not devout to religion, the author said several things that had also become apparent to me a few years back. Namely, after spending some time singing, he could not helped be moved with the words he never really believed. Singing beautiful holiday songs with loved ones can do this.

Listen to the lyrics. They are indeed beautiful. They should make us ponder as they did this author.

And - Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

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