Chinese for Easter

It’s Easter. Rather than the brunch I have planned, my husband suggested we go out for Chinese food. I shot him down quickly, saying that people should not have to work on Easter and I won’t support an establishment that makes them. I then turned up my nose, spun on my heel, and went back to my melon-balling.

“They worship Budda. They don’t care.”

I looked up from my cantaloupe and narrowed my eyes. “They are here now. They shouldn’t be working on Easter.” Before my melon-baller hit its target, I regretted my comment. I was kidding, but it was a comment that didn’t even deserve to be uttered. To nurse my guilty conscience, I pondered on the influence our Christian faith has on our culture. I think it is more profound than we realize.

Even today, as our nation strains against the faith that founded it, it molds our core values. It has permeated our ideology, whether we are subscribers to Christianity or not.

Obviously, our major holidays derived from Christianity, but so is the everyday. Our moral standards, even as we protest, are Christian. It is a Christian priniple that puts beef on our tables at night. Christianity keeps us from having slaves. It ensures that women are not oppressed. It offers charity to those who are desperate. It gives us a cohesive family unit, sanctioned in love, yet separate from generations before it.

Of course, we can look at that list and say it has nothing to do with Chrisitianity, it is just how we are raised, but I submit that we were raised on Christian ideals. If the above list were compared with other cultures based on other religions, it would look different. We take our way of life for granted and say that we are doing the right thing, but really we are all colored by the faith of our fathers, grandfathers, or great-grandfathers.

Without understanding where our ideals come from, we cannot recognize the differences between us and the others. Without taknig time to learn about their cultures, we will never fully understand the minds of those around us. We can never afford to make the statement I made earlier. It is open mindedness that teaches us and allows us to grow. It takes a developed mind to be open.

Pen, of Pen and Teller fame, blogged about a man who gave him a Bible. Pen is a staunch atheist, but he still had great respect for this man. To paraphrase, Pen said that he appreciated the sincerity of this man who seemed to honestly want to save him from a fate worse than death. Pen suggested that for a Christian to not tell those around him about the Lord simply to avoid discomfort, is the greatest hypocrisy. He asks the question, how much would one have to hate a person to let him go to Hell rather than step in and try to stop it?

Profound statement, but my favorite part is that is comes from the heart of an atheist. He has obviously considered the other side. He opened his mind enough to appreciate the sincerity of this man’s heart and whether or not he believes in God, he is better for the time he took. This is a lesson for all of us, Christian or not. When we cry foul because of the Nativity scene in the city park, or we fuss about a Menorah in the town square or split hairs over whether the traditional music at a school program might be religious, we need to let our guard down.

It is a time to learn and to understand. There is no implied conversion in a restaurant’s decision to be open on a holiday. There is a difference, deep-seated and more sacred than we know. We would do well to understand this sanctity.


2 Responses to “Chinese for Easter”

  1. 1 Cathrine
    April 20, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I get what you are saying and your heart and mind are in the right place. Our culture is certainly built upon Christian teachings but our values are not only Christian. In fact, Buddhism is a fantastic faith based on letting others live as they choose and in treating all things and people with respect, as we recognize the god in all things and each other. Additionally, those major Christian holidays you are thinking of began as “pagan” holidays celebrated by the people and the Catholic church couldn’t beat them so they joined them. I believe in humanism and my strong moral values come from my dad’s teaching and from my own thinking about what is right, wrong, honest and how I want to live my life. Some people need religion to give them their moral compass but I have found the many wrongs done in the name of god to be abhorrent. In contrast, I support those who find their lives enriched by church and religion and consider it a matter of choice. To me that is free will.

    • 2 aimiesuzyj
      April 22, 2009 at 5:18 am

      Hi! This is a nice surprise. I know that the holidays have pagan roots, but when they were integrated into our culture, they were integrated as Christian holidays. There was little regard for the holiday’s origin. I fully agree with you that evil has been done in the name of God, but it has been done by humans. Humanity has it’s many shortcomings and one of the greatest of these is an inability to understand the divine. I think it would be difficult to find a Christian who would endorse these atrocities. Except, of course. for those who claimed to be doing it in the name of God. Atrocities have been committed in the names of many gods, though. I don’t doubt that people can develop a strong moral compass without religion; I simply think that we Americans, raised in a culture that has Christian roots, still view the world through that filter. It is important to understand our own filters if we are to understand another culture. I am specifically struggling with the issue of human trafficking. This is happening all over the world in cultures who view it MUCH differently than we do. If we are to make a difference for these modern-day slaves, we have to step outside of ourselves and look at the cultural differences. Then we can facilitate change. Good to hear from you and thank you for the input.

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