Vol. 9    No. 26
DECEMBER 25, 2014
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Jonathan Gramling
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Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                  Christmas Reflections
By the time you read this column, Christmas will be a thing of the past and we will be coming up on New Year’s and 2015 pretty quickly. I don’t
know if it is just my imagination, but it sure seems like there is a lot of conflict and violence in the world. From people getting gunned down on
street corners and wives or husbands murdering their spouses and children to acts of terrorism to the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it
seems as if the human race is in a murderous mood.

Sometimes it seems that those who have the most advantages in life are those who appear to be the angriest. And I have to wonder what
reason really gives them the justification to be angry when there are so many people in this world who exist on just this side of death, whether
due to climate change events, war, drought, disease, the list goes on. What really gives them cause to be angry? What gives me cause to be
angry or to ever feel that I have it that bad? There’s got to be something in our DNA that makes us act this way.

And so, I truly appreciate the renewal and the promise of Christmas. I am sure that there are traditions on other religions and cultures that also
celebrate renewal and being saved from our excessive human compulsions similar to what Ramadan means in Islam.

Christmas is indeed salvation for Christians for it challenges us to live on a higher order of being.

I can’t but help that our Original Sin, as Catholics call it, comes all the back to the beginning of life when we were, in essence, amoebas. In
order to survive, it was dog-eat-dog and you replicated quickly and gobbled up everything near you. One could say that it was the natural order
of things based on our chemical make-up and what organisms had to do to sustain that sensation called life.

And as we have evolved as life forms over the eons, those traits have stayed with us, part of the DNA that dictates who we are. But we also
developed thought and were able to think in ways that went beyond the immediate moment. And this led to a higher order of things.

It was Jesus Christ in the Christian tradition — and Muhammad and Buddha and Confucius in other traditions — who called us to that higher
level of life as a people and not as individuals groveling in the dirt of history, to go beyond our Original Sin.

Human beings have the capacity for good and evil within them depending on how people — and our environment — invoke things out of us.
Jesus was appealing to our higher nature when He urged us to turn the other cheek, to feed the hungry and cloth the naked, to believe in the
decency of humankind, to believe that there is a place called heaven where the impulses ruled by those things in our DNA will no longer have
sway over the life within us.

And so Christmas is the birth of that promise, when a Child was born who would save us from our sins, who would save us from ourselves.
And I rejoice in that because I want to live in a higher nature that invokes in my fellow human beings and prisoners of our DNA the beauty that
lies within all of us.

While some forms of Christianity basically relegate Jesus to mystic status who only spoke about an ethereal after life, I feel that in addition to a
life after this one that Jesus was also calling us to a different life here on earth, a life different than the one that had been in existence since the
dawn of humankind.

I believe that if we follow that invocation to a higher form of life, that the quality of human existence will improve for all humankind — and all
living creatures for that matter. Although I am not a regular church attendee — God forgive me — I do believe that I am a Christian. And I hope
that belief invokes the best qualities out of me.

And as our religions invoke good qualities out of us — Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Indigenous — I am left to wonder why there is so
much evil in the world these days with people blowing children up or murdering their own children. There are so many things ion our mass
media and modern culture that are evoking the negative things out of us, calling forth the DNA of our past dawn upon this earth.

It seems as if we are locked in a spiral of self-destruction where greed, envy, jealousy and all of the rest of the deadly sins are dictating our
every action and creating so much pain and destruction in this world.

And so, I still believe in the promise of Christmas no matter how difficult things are around me. We must have faith. Merry Christmas!
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