Monday, December 19, 2005

Tis the season...

Some guy and I will often talk about more than just politics; in fact, he was the person who got me thinking and refining my views on religion. We both agree that the best way to "witness" to someone, regardless of which religion is being "witnessed", is to live a good and positive life, and have good answers when people ask questions. The aggressive way of proselytizing, be it about religion or even politics, is in my opinion counterproductive - It turns more people off than on. By being a good person and doing good deeds; the old adage of showing versus telling; and being ready to discuss how your faith or beliefs contribute to that goodness, convinces people more so than knocking on their door during dinnertime.

That said, L'Homme was away visiting family this weekend while I was visiting mine for the holidays (our families having arranged conflicting celebrations, requiring us to divide and conquer) and I had the house to myself. Those who know L'Homme and my back-story know that, despite my kick-butt super-kitty-sniper independence, I'm a big 'ole baby without L'Homme. I can't sleep well, I get lonely, WAH. So, without L'Homme to literally put me to bed, I fell asleep on the sofa in our den, watching "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Shut up - I love that movie, okay? When Johnny tells her to take off the ring... I do have a heart, you know... I'm only human! Anyway... I woke up with Kitty-Kat (who missed his Daddy) cuddled up on my chest (definitely his father's kitty) and a televangelist on the tube.

I normally turn off that sort of thing; see above with the beliefs on proselytizing; but the television preacher was talking about Grace. Specifically, that only Christians know what Grace is. And the best way to get La Femme's blood up is to claim that only (x) knows (y). But as the preacher defined Grace, while I did not agree that not being Christian and not knowing about Grace was mutually exclusive, I did like his definition; that Grace is kindness without cause, mercy without deservedness. That's not to say that you should only be Gracious to those who don't deserve it, but rather to everyone, even those who don't appear to deserve it. Because that's the gift - to give without merit.

It does not, and should not, matter whether the person is deserving of kindness; first, to give that kindness is true generosity. We should not consider what we get out of it, or even what the recipient gets out of it. We should give kindness and mercy - we should be Gracious - without considering who is receiving it or why we are giving it. Kindness, generosity - Grace - makes us better for the giving when we don't stop to consider who or why. But secondly, how do you determine who is deserving of kindness, of mercy, of Grace? Oftentimes, those who appear to be least deserving are most in need of the Grace of others.

I got into a discussion today about Rawls' veil of ignorance, and how we should distribute resources fairly, with respect to need and where those resources would do the most good for the most people, despite the giving of those resources meaning less for "you" or "me." Because when resources are distributed in a way that maximizes good for the most people, "you" statistically stand a better chance of getting the better deal in the long run, which is the argument I made to the pragmatic people I was speaking with today. But also, when resources are distributed with the most good for the most people in mind, with as little regard to one's self as possible, it is Gracious.

And, in the end, isn't that the best way to proselytize? Because, if we truly want people to be better, to give more... shouldn't we be the example by which we lead?

On one of the Sunday Pundit shows, I heard that one of the Big Box stores was being boycotted due to labeling their Douglass Firs as "Holiday Trees" and not Christmas Trees; that they were taking Christ out of the holiday. But some things for the boycotters to consider - Christmas Trees? Last time I read my Bible, Jesus was born in the Middle East. And last time I checked my geography, the Middle East is not conducive to coniferous trees. It's a Germanic tradition. And, the decorating of the tree? Has history in the "decorating" of trees with slaves and animal sacrifices... But larger than that... Yes, the "reason for the season" for many people is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. To boycott over the use, or non-use, of a word, and over taking "Christ" out of an iconographic symbol of the holiday that is not even directly related to either the birth of Christ or anything surrounding His life or ministry... is that really putting the "reason for the season" first? All this angry talk about using the word "Christmas," as if the word itself is the meaning, as opposed to the word representing a meaning. It is not the spirit of Christmas - It is not Gracious.

Grace is beautiful. We are all capable of it; it is difficult to give because we must put others first and put our own prejudices and selfishness aside. Yet it is easy to give, because it truly costs us nothing to be kind to everyone we encounter, to forgive those who hurt us whether they meant to or not, or to show mercy on those less fortunate - to be Gracious. And, regardless of your faith, in my opinion, Grace is the reason for this, and every, season.

Happy Holidays!
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