The Clackamas print. (Oregon City, Oregon) 1989-2019, December 02, 1998, Page 2, Image 2

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    2________ ________
Opinion_______________ TLlE ClAckAMAS
Wednesday, December 2, 1998
Presenting a
reasonable faith with
an'unknown god1
Readers who have pondered the
significance of my Column title,
“The Altar of an Unknown God,”
will find enlightenment here. The
following meeting of the Greek and
‘For we also are His offspring.
Paul beautifully knit together the
truth he had seen revealed with the
cultural context he addressed.
When he encountered metaphysi­
cal questions within the
culture the altar “To the
unknown god”— these
questions he answered
through his Christian,
monotheistic viewpoint,
yet without discarding
the Greeks’ cultural ref­
erence (“as some of your
own poets have said...”).
A healthy Christian per­
spective sees the Faith not as
an antithesis to other world
views—i.e. Christianity is to­
tally true and all other paths
are totally false—but as a
completion of other forms of wis­
dom and knowledge. It may be the
ultimate truth, but as C.S. Lewis
claimed, other faiths may contain
“at least some hint of the truth.”
Lewis saw Western religious
thought as “something coming
gradually into'focus. First you get,
scattered throughout the heathen
religions of the world. . .the idea
of a god who is killed and broken
and then comes to life again.”
Then the Hebrew scriptures
come along, and religion becomes
slightly more focused—“con­
nected with a particular nation...
then, in the New Testament, the
thing really happens. The dying
god really appears—as a Histori­
cal person, living in a definite place
in time.”
My aim is one with Paul’s—to
present a “reasonable faith,” which
is relevant to and understandable
by my surrounding culture. If my
message is true, it is the one cure
for a dying world, and the one an­
swer to an eternal question. I
would therefore “be a Greek to a
Greek, and a Jew to a Jew,” so that
all might be saved. / show you a
more excellent way.
TI he AI tar of an
U n I< nown Cod
Copy Editor
Christian mind, re­
corded in the Book
of Acts, is my inspi­
ration and the model
for my own dis­
Paul of Tarsus,
journeying throughout the Medi­
terranean region spreading the
Christian faith in the First Century
A.D., found himself in Athens, and
began preaching in the market­
place. When the Stoics and Epicu­
reans encountered him, and heard
his strange message about Christ’s
death and resurrection, they
brought him to the council of the
Areopagus to hear his new doctrine
of “foreign gods.”
Paul’s response to the Greeks is
fascinating. Though initially upset
at the idols (a major Jewish taboo)
about the city, he did not attack
Greek thought, but rather synthe­
sized it with his Christian message.
Here is what he said to the assem­
“Men of Athens, I perceive that
in all things you are very religious,
for as I was passing through and
considering the objects of your
worship, I even found an altar with
this inscription: ‘TO THE UN­
“Therefore, the One whom you
worship without knowing, Him I
proclaim to you. . .for in Him we
live and move and have our being,
as some of your own poets have said,
Christmas every day?
Christmas in September?
Crazy as that sounds, it’s true.
I walked into work mid-Septem-
ber—before school even started—
io find that my store had just got-
EAWAsy vs.
R ea L ity
Staff Writer
ten a shipment of hip­
swaying Santa Claus
dolls that sing “Jingle
Bell Rock” until your
face implodes from
That immediately
plunged me into a dark mood that
has yet to lift.
My next thought was: “What
happened to Thanksgiving?”
Is it just me, or is the Christmas
Season coming earlier and earlier
every year? By the year 2005 I
expect the age-old joke of “Christ­
mas In July” to be a reality! And
by 2015, it really will be Christ­
mas every day of the year!
Did I miss the point of Christ­
mas entirely? I thought Christmas
was about family celebration, giv­
ing, love and charity.. .did I miss
the mark?
‘Christmas is a religious holi­
day. Thanksgiving is
not—it is a patriotic
holiday, and if any
holiday should be. ex­
ploited, it should be a
patriotic one. And yet
Turkey Day is tossed
by the wayside and
Christmas is extrava­
gantly exploited to the
point of causing no few
handfuls of hair to be sud­
denly detached from their
former roots.
I saw a Thanksgiving
card the other day that
made my stomach turn. The gist
of it was: “Thanksgiving: Today
we eat, tomorrow we shop! (I love
this Holiday!)”
Have we lost all track of the
meaning of Turkey Day? Stores
seem to have five major themes for
decorating or sales. Valentine’s
Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Hal­
loween and Christmas. St.
Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving
are only two of countless holidays
dismissed or overlooked, but
which are no less important. It
seems the only people who ac­
knowledge a lesser-known holiday
are car dealers, who offer “One
Day Only Savings Just For This
Generic Holiday,” which is miss­
ing the point of that holiday any­
And exactly what ever happened
to Chanukah, Ramadan or
Kwanzaa? They are just as impor­
tant to those who practice them as
Christmas is to those who practice
that holiday. Christmas is no more
important to a Christian than
Chanukah is to an orthodox Jew. So
why is our country’s businesses pro­
moting one religion’s holiday over
all others, when America claims to
be the “melting pot” nation? Christ­
mas is no more sacrosanct than
Chanukah or Ramadan, or Kwanzaa
for that matter. It’s all in what a per­
son believes.
That is all Christmas is, when
you break it down and look at it
in its rawest form. It’s just a reli­
gious observation of the birth of a
Christian figure, and to promote
Christmas as a holiday and
downplay all other coinciding
holidays is wrong.
Absolute problem
Once again Joel Shempert has
used his column to promote the idea
of an Absolute Principal using the
idea that murdering children is
wrong. He says that this is some­
L etters to t I te
Ed ¡ tor
thing that most people will agree
on. I too agree that killing children
is wrong and do not want to under­
mine his argument that Iraqi chil­
dren are dying at the hands of U.S.
However, he once again runs into
a logical problem in appealing to
an Absolute Moral Authority (for
him expressed as the God of the
Bible) by ignoring biblical stories
while constructing his philosophy.
I suggest he read Exodus 12:29, “At
midnight the Lord killed every
first-born in the land of Egypt, from
the first-born of the Pharaoh on the
throne to the first-born of the pris­
oner in the dungeon, as well as all
first-born of the animals.”
The implication is that
the author of Moral Au­
thority says killing chil­
dren is wrong then goes
against his own injunc­
tion by killing innocent
Egyptians. Substitute
history’s Egyptians for today’s Ira­
qis and you see the dilemna.
If Joel wants to inform of the crisis
in Iraq and exhort us to action in de­
fense of innocent children he should
be commended. But if he is going to
muddy his argument by once again
resorting to defending his version of
Absolute Authority he should realize
he runs the risk of diminishing his
own authority in educating us to this
unfortunate reality.
Bill Briare
Religion Instructor
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