I think it should be titled "Should Christians celebrate Christmas"
There was a time when I considered logically rejecting religion. The problem is that I also have faith. I've chosen instead to go on and enjoy the strength and solutions that my faith provides me. I've thoroughly considered the atheist/secularist/humanist argument and found some strong arguments to be made.
My own life experiences have proven that the human existence is far more than logic and complex chemistry combined with happenstance over a long period of time. I cannot explain God under the rules defined by the Atheist crowd, no accident. I can't explain a womans intuition with regard to her children either, neither can science. What I can explain and prove is the zealotry and hatred of some Atheists who would give any tyrant a moment of pause.
Peter, Although the presenter in your video is well trained in his craft and his script has been edited meticulously, his intent is clear. This video is likely an honest translation of what he means to really say but is restrained from doing so.
I take your empirical life experiance very serious and recognize myself in your experiance. The Dutch guy, Boris van der Ham on the video is a typical representative of a Dutch progressive liberal. Comparable to an American moderate, centrist, secular liberal Democrat or moderat liberal Republican. He belongs to the centre of Dutch politics, to the centre-left libertarian D'66 party.
There was a time when I considered logically rejecting religion. The problem is that I also have faith. I've chosen instead to go on and enjoy the strength and solutions that my faith provides me.
That is very respectable and legitimate Jim! I am somewhere inbetween religious and agnostic, being a secular Catholic, who is also interested and influenced by Protestant (Calvinist), Jewish (the non-orthodox progressive or Conservative branches), Buddhist and even Hindu thought. I even experianced or discussed faith, secularism and the Western-Dutch society with both orthodox (puritinical) muslims and secular muslims. (That is the benefit and sometimes difficulty of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-faith society).
In the Past I even considered myself a Calvinist-Catholic, but growing older I feel more at home in Roman-Catholicism, and studying some of the Jewish teachings (because I see them as the fundament of Christianity, christianity comes from Judaism). But the Catholic teaching and Calvinist predestination teaching influence were part of my life. I reject the predestination theory and faith, because it is illogical to me and the Catholic faith and practice is more humane, social and barable to me. Being alienated towards the Catholic church and the Catrholic clergy (my anarchistic cultural identity is partly to blame for that, in the sense that I have difficulties with accepting or allowing authority or collective ideas.), last years I slowly moved back to Roman Catholicism, being connected to monks and feeling at home in Roman Catholic culture, the more intellectual and spiritual branch of Catholicism (the gnostic part), but in practice being a secular Catholic, who seldom goes to mass.
I respect pious Roman Catholics who go to church every sunday (Polish family, Polish-American family and Dutch catholic friends from my multi-faith group), but I am not one of them. I am very connected to the Cultural branch of Catholicism, meaning that I love the Roman-Catholic art, sculpture and architecture. All these wonderful mary and child, Jesus, angels and Saint sculptures, paintings, drawings and Cathedral glass. Both in Catholicism and the Eastern-orthodox church people have a spiritual connection and faith experiance via the impassioned materialism and metaphysical importance and meaning of religious art. I see the Christian faith in the St Matthew Passion and the St John Passion of the Lutheran German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Via art and music you are connected to faith, God and the life and meaning of the Christian messiah. Sometimes I miss the Roman Catholic cosyness, community life and connection of my childhood. I experianced three kinds of Catholicisms, the Dutch one, the Belgian one and the Polish one (during communism). The Polish one was the deepest, most religious and spiritual of the three. The Belgium and Dutch branches to me were mere custom based, traditional habbits, cultural and following an outdated doctrine. The Polish one was traditional and conservative, but very connected to every day life, it fullfilled the need of spiritual comfort, consolation, humanity, meaning, being an integral part of the daily or weekly life of the Poles (living under opression and occupation of an alien regime -puppets of a foreign empire-). In Poland I saw the pious orthodox, doctrinal version of Roman-Catholicism next to more moderate (centrist?, liberal, progressive, reformist?), secular and cultural forms of Roman Catholicism. In the Netherlands with it's pilarisation, being Roman Catholic in the recent past (modern history) meant nearly an ethnic, social-cultural, religious and political identity (until the late sixtees). In Poland where the majority is Roman Catholic maybe the Catholicism is more pluriform, with many branches. In the Netherlands today the puritinical, orthodox branch of Roman Catholicism rules, the Vatican loyalists rule. The archconservative Cardinals, bishops and priest rule. Liberals amongst them became dissidents or went outside the church to form their own communities or parishes. Some dissidents stay in the church. Some Catholic churches are differant than the official (Vatican oriented) line dictates them. The Chruch and the Roman Catholic faith seems in a crisis state right now in parts of the West. Empty churches, growing secularism, people abandoning the faith of their ancesters and parents. I am a pragmatic person, and a liberal in the European sense of the word (not an American liberal), and that means being rational-analytical, slightly libertarian (not an anti-state anarchist or Anti-clericalist) Freedom lover. I am not a fan of the present Pope, and that is not allowed or accepted in more conservative or orthodox Catholic circles in the Netherlands, Poland and America.
I am fond of the more intellectual, philosophical and spiritual branch of Roman Catholicism, Jesuite, Franciscan and Dominican monks, Priests and Bishops who have a message with content, who inspire people, give people hope, consolidation, strenght, spiritualism, a deep faith (with a core or fundament in it). But I am equally fond of the modest, sober and practical village or small town priest who is a great help, spiritual guide and sometimes friend of children, teenagers, parents, ill people and the elderly. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches are very important in our societies, with their charity for the poor, the homeless, the ill people and in educating and supporting young and old people.
A black page in the history of the Church are the abuse cases in all those countries. But the church is dealing with it and our open and free societies lead to a process of reform. More transparency and openess in the church will reduce such terrible cases.
Next to the clergy you have very good Roman Catholic Christian democratic politicians, Union leaders, employer leaders, stars, businessmen- and women, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, musicians, writers, teachers, professors, teachers, workers, farmers, middle class, high class and aristocracy (remember our Korczak coat of arms ). The president of the European Union is the Belgian (Flemish) Roman Catholic, Herman van Rompuy. I wrote to much, I hope to get your answer and react on your opinions. Faith and Roman Catholicism are difficult subjects for me, due to my ambivallence and diffuse attitude towards it. For instance I support Tufta's stance on religious education on schools. I think his idea about the subject ethics on schools is better. But I don't reject Roman Catholic education, because I as a libertarian believe that in a free society people may choose what they want. But I think that the Roman Catholic schools should teach the same things that Public schools do. That there should be a standard.
Being a devote Catholic, I found this post really interesting. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I find you to be a most thoughtful person, yet also possessing that very human emotional element which allows you to be open to all the world around you and to appreciate the best of human culture.
I especially liked what you wrote about your attachment to and appreciation of Roman Catholic art, music, etc. In my view, God uses many mediums to speak to our hearts, and art and culture is certainly a primary vehicle of the Holy Spirit. Best wishes to you on your spiritual journey!
Jeanne, Thank you for replying so thoughtfully to Peters post. I agree with all that you said. I have come back to this several times and just can't seem to refine my thoughts and articulate my feelings properly. I haven't forgotten this posting Peter, I just want my follow-up to be worthy of the obvious effort that you have exerted.