Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas day has arrived again this year. Our family opened presents yesterday because my oldest son Brandon is spending today with his mother and her family. Everyone was happy with what they got so the secular part of our Christmas went without incident.

But Christmas really isn't about the presents it's about the birth of Jesus. As a kid I always went to Christmas services. The Episcopal church pulls out all the stops for the day (Easter is the same way). But now that I'm LDS I get to stay home with the family on Christmas day. Since I stay home most of the time anyway I'm wondering what I can do to make the day special. Sometimes (not often) I miss the religious pomp and circumstance that I knew growing up. Christmas is one of those times.

Today means a lot to me. I wouldn't be half the man that I am were it not for the effect of Christ in my life. Oh, I look to other teachers for lessons that didn't come through as clearly as I would have liked them, but Jesus is my first and last teacher. I still hope and pray for "Peace on earth, goodwill toward men." I still think Jesus is the best example for people to live in love and truth. And I still find the story of the manger convincing and compelling. What I don't do any more is show off to prove to the rest of the world that Christmas means as much to me as it did when I was five and played the second magi in a pageant. I've become a very quiet man, and perhaps that is for the best. Still, I want to do something for Christmas and more generally for Christ than I have been lately.

Christmas is a time of renewal. With the new year following close behind it is a time to reflect on the past and resolve to live better in the months ahead. It's a time to remember and work for peace and goodwill. I think that gets lost all to often in modern life. And the diversity in our society can blunt the message of Christmas all the more. Alex was part of a school pageant last week where they sang about a wish for a "magic song" that would bring world peace. But the pageant was empty of any reflection on Jesus. I just don't think the "song" works without him, and I hope I can make more people see that.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Koran Interpreted is divided into two volumes (roughly in half) and I've finished the first volume today. I am as usual deeply moved by its assertion that God is singular and no one and nothing else can compare. I really like the verse that says "If the sea were ink for the Words of my Lord, the sea would be spent before the Words of my Lord are spent, though We brought replenishment the like of it." (Surah 19:109) Though I suspect that most Muslims wouldn't take this to mean that canon is always open, I do. I got very depressed in my early twenties over the notion that God had given us the Bible and left us to fend for ourselves. When I first read the Koran it was not very comforting to find another book with people saying these were God's last words. So the LDS notion that God still speaks to us resonates with me. I need a personal living God not just a pile of old words that talks about God. Jesus said "Why callest though me good? none is good, save one, that is God." (Luke 18:19 KJV) I'm certain that the Bible, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon aren't God, which leads me to the conclusion that they aren't perfect. They only try to point to something that is. Sometimes they fail and sometimes people with the best intentions whether Christian, Muslim, or Mormon use the holy books to do unholy things. But reading the Koran is only convincing me more that I need to know what's in it. For all its imperfections I still consider it scripture, and I suspect that I will just have to be content that God alone can judge that idea.