EACH CHRISTMAS MORNING I wake up relieved that the struggle against “Happy Holidays” is over for another year. Holidays are holy days, after all. When Hanukkah and Christmas arrive so close together as they do this year, I wonder if it would be possible to announce “Happy Holy Days!” into the secular void. The wondering calls to mind “A Rabbi’s Christmas,” an essay by one Jakob Petuchowski. When it was written 20 years ago, the author was a professor of Judeo-Christian studies in Cincinnati, of Jewish liturgy in Arizona, and a rabbi in Laredo, Texas. Continue Reading
JUDGING FROM EMAIL RESPONSES, the accidental cross-shaped form left standing at Ground Zero rouses great ire. All my mail has been sympathetic to the lawsuit against it on the grounds that the cross is not a secular symbol. (I never said it was. I said it resonated beyond sectarian distinctions. Quite a different thought.) It was erected “by CHRISTIANS,” one reader screeched. Some of the mail considers wariness toward Islam “defamatory” and, in the main, just plain not nice.
For clarity’s sake, let me take these one at a time, beginning with the (Christian) origins of America’s enthusiastic sectarian religiosity. Continue Reading