My sister forwarded this to me in an email. I have thought about what Ben Stein has written and I think he deserves a response. I do not agree with everything he says, but he is passionate and his comments are thought provoking. I have commented in italics/bold after certain paragraphs.
Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America ...
The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I agree. We have become afraid of speaking our truth in fear of "offending" someone/anyone.
I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.
I do not think we are an atheist country. On the contrary, we are a country rich in religious and spiritual diversity, but there is a pervasive sense of "don't talk about it" like the military's "Don't ask, don't tell."
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God ? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
I don't and will never worship celebrities. But, his question begs another question: Why has TV, computer games, IPad and the Iphone become more important than our spiritual journey?"
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.
Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'
In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
I part ways with Ben here. Our children are not responsible for the terrorist attacks, or the wars, or the famine, poverty and suffering that we experience globally. Our children, nor God in my opinion, is responsible for Katrina, the earthquakes, the tsunamis, or any other weather tragedy that befalls us.
If our children have no conscience, we must look to how they have been raised. We, the parents, are responsible for teaching our children right from wrong, instilling strong values, and cultivating a deep spiritual life. Our schools, government, clergy, TV, twitter and facebook are not responsible. God's presence must burn brightly in the home.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'
Now, I completely agree with that statement - "We reap what we sow." Are we sowing seeds of love? Are we a living embodiment of love? Personally, I do not think God gives a hoot about a lot of stuff, nor do I think he controls the weather. I think God -- All That Is -- a divine, intelligent, vibration of pure love, is only interested in our journey of learning how to love. I believe that this divine intelligence is always present, always accessible, always available to us. We must ask and be open to receive. The darkness we witness in our world is the absence of love.
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
I could care less what other people think. But, I do not forward chain emails that have an explicit or implicit threat, nor religious, political, or lewd emails. Just not what I do. Animal emails I tend to share, as well as inspirational. I have passed this on Ben as I do think you have us thinking...not necessarily agreeing. And, that is what healthy discussion is all about. We need not be bullied into sending or not sending. What we need is to think and reflect more deeply on the issues that we care deeply about.
Pass it on if you think it has merit.
If not, then just discard it.... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.
My Best Regards, Honestly and Respectfully,