Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Eid Mubarak. No Happy Holidays, please

The news recently contained reports of a poll showing that Canadians overwhelmingly (73%) prefer the greeting 'Merry Christmas' over 'Happy Holidays.' Canadians endorsed the notion that Merry Christmas conveys the "original meaning and purpose of the holiday" in this country.

On Dec 24 the Toronto Star devoted its Insight section primarily to discussions of the Christmas feast. It also ran an Editorial which concluded: "For a supposed war, it's been a remarkably unsuccessful campaign..... But Christmas - the season of giving and sharing - is still wonderfully inescapable. The anti-Christmas movement, if it even exists, has failed miserably over the past two millennia, and for good reason. Life and hope in the midst of darkness are eternal and for everyone. That's what we prepare to celebrate as the light ever so gradually returns to the world."

As if that weren't enough, the Letters to the Editor were simply wonderful. One from a teacher in the Toronto public school board, who is tired of the pressure to avoid any words referring to the religious aspects of Christmas. One from a Jew who 'detests' the phrase Happy Holidays, and whose faith is strong enough "that it does not need to be affirmed by diminishing the traditions of others." One from a Muslim who notes he would dislike it very much if anyone said Happy Holidays to him instead of Eid Mubarak. He concludes, "I would like to wish all my Christian brothers and sisters a warm and very Merry Christmas."

I don't know about you, but this made my Christmas. I have sent the following letter to the Star:

Thank you to the Star for the Insight section on December 24. So wonderful to see Christmas surviving the attempts to turn ‘Merry Christmas’ into ‘Happy Holidays’. A big shout out to letter writers Joanne Clarke, Tayyab Pirzadan Jason Shron and others, for their energetic support of Christmas including when that support comes from a Muslim and a Jew. I have noticed for several years that the opposition to Christmas actually does not come from Muslims and Jews but rather from people who simply don’t like the religious foundation of Christmas. What the discussion has done for me is to increase my respect for Chanukah and Eid. Eid has passed and Chanukah ends on Dec 28. A belated Eid Mubarak and a Happy Chanukah to our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters, respectively. Thank you for the great respect you have shown for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Foster parenting

I have been involved in consulting work with Children's Aid Societies all my professional life. I have assessed children who needed to be in the Care of the Society, and I have assessed children while they were in Care. I have seen up close the effects of neglect and abuse. I have also been privileged to see the effects of foster parenting, and to be involved in training and coaching of foster parents. To see children blossom when they become safe, when they learn to trust that they matter and will be taken care, is one of life's great experiences. It is that for the foster parents as well, I think, even though it can be tough going at times. Children do not give away their hearts readily when those hearts have not been cared for as they needed to be.

Recently the Kingston Children's Aid Society launched a recruitment drive for foster parents, and they added a unique twist. They made a targeted approach to the faith communities in Kingston. This strikes me as a very smart thing to do. Being a church-goer absolutely does not by itself give you the skills to be a foster parent, but it does hopefully say something about the softness and the openness you would bring to this very important role. Add in the training and the potential for success looks very good.

As you can see, I support the campaign.

A meeting with faith community representatives was held on October 13, and there was sharing of experiences as well as generation of ideas how to get the word out to parishioners/ members of congregations. If you live in the Kingston area and wish to be part of this, let me know and I will put you in touch with the appropriate staff.

Whether you live in Kingston or anywhere else, the need for foster parents is significant. What about you? Want to make a difference in a child's life? This is an up-close way to do it. You would get screened, you go through training, and you get paid for the work. Call your local Children's Aid Society to check it out. In Kingston it is 613-542-7351.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Banishing (the) Christmas (concert)!!

Can you believe the move by Cambridge Public School in Embrum Ontario "to push the (Christmas) concert to February and make it more inclusive, so some students who do not celebrate Christmas would not be left out of the concert"? (CBC News) And the Upper Canada District School Board apparently supports that.

My goodness. Let's cancel lunch so that the kids who don't like to eat at that time of day won't feel - wait for it - left out. Let's cancel recess for the developmental kids who have difficulty socializing. Absurd and absurd and absurd.

Meanwhile over in Quebec a really bright Federal civil servant issues an order to "banish tinsel, trees and holiday wreaths from front-line Service Canada offices across Quebec..." (Globe and Mail) That order was reversed after it was "ridiculed on Twitter, derided on open-line shows, and criticized by the very religious minorities whose sensibilities the government was ostensibly trying to protect."

As always, if you scratch a bit below the surface you will find that Muslims and Jews respect Christmas. They find it funny that Christians would fold over so easily. They do not expect Christians to do that as a matter of respect, they only want to be able to honour their own holidays and have Christians respect those. Interesting. We have a long history of just that in Canada. Events have for many years been rerouted around Jewish holidays, for instance. Rightly, no-one has asked them to forgo the celebrations or to move them. We can build on that, let's do it.

It says here that another force is behind all this. Not religious minorities, not even misguided politically correct folks. Rather, former Christians and current Church-bashers who have come to despise the role that religion but especially Christian religion plays in the public life of Canada. A great opportunity for them to push their agenda and hide behind 'sensitivity' to minorities. That form of sensitivity is increasingly seen as palpable nonsense. Get honest you folks. Religious minorities will talk to the larger community about accommodating all our religious celebrations without stopping any of them. So quit pushing the anti-religious agenda. We want religious freedom, we can achieve it, our country was built on that premise. And our country will remain strong as we continue to build on it.

Banishing (the) Christmas (Concert)!!

Can you believe the pathetic - I use the term advisedly - pathetic move