Wednesday, December 24, 2003

A Scientologist's Take on Christmas

In Scientology we don't have any traditional special dates such as the winter solstice/Christmas/Chanukha or the spring equinox/Easter. We have our own special dates such as the birthday of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the religion, the date of the founding of the International Association of Scientologists and a few others like that. However, being a happy bunch we are pleased to celebrate the same traditional holidays as everyone else in the societies in which we live. So, for example, tomorrow I'll be giving and receiving gifts over at our in-laws (who are Jewish but celebrate Christmas anyway).

Tonight my wife and I and our kids will be meeting some close friends at a superb local restaurant where there will be carolers and traditional Christmas fare available. We'll be singing along and having a good time getting into the Christmas spirit.

As I've said before in my Scientology Blog, to me, when you are trying to get at the commonalities between religions, religious philosophy is more important than religious practice. The philosophy behind Christmas is hope for the future, helping others less fortunate and goodwill to all mankind. So for me that is what Christmas represents and based on that I try to "practice" Christmas according to those three ideas. For example, I give gifts to the kids and a few close friends and family, but most of my gift giving consists of donations to charitable organizations that are doing something to help others less fortunate and protect human rights.

Several years ago I began making donations to such organizations on behalf of family members. I thought, why give some meaningless present to a family member who you maybe see two or three times a year, or who perhaps lives far away and you see once or twice in a decade? So I made the donations, created fancy certificates to represent them and gave the certificates as presents. I was very surprised at how well this was received. And with my more distant family this has become our own Christmas tradition. For example, my dad gives to a cancer research organization and to Oxfam on my behalf and I give to The World Literacy Crusade and The Citizens Commission on Human Rights and others for him.

So whatever your religion, or lack thereof, you can still get into the spirit of the season by using the philosophy behind Christmas to guide your actions.

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