It's time for me to recycle one of my old posts on the meaning of Christmas. Here it is. Some highlights:
Christmas perfectly exemplifies the larger phenomenon of the unique culture that is the West which has a religious (Jerusalem) and a Secular-Pagan (Athens) origin. Culturally, the West presently is and always has been every bit as much of a Pagan society as it is Christian.
And what makes the West special is this unique combination, this tension between Athens and Jerusalem. The orthodox and the Pagan agree on some matters, vehemently disagree on others, borrow from one another and create separately and together. Indeed, this tension enabled the West to be the greatest creative force there ever was.
Were I to write this passage today, I think I'd use fewer words. I'd describe the West as an evolving conversation between our religious (Judeo-Christian) and secular-pagan (Greco-Roman) roots.
In last year's post, I jokingly put forth this line: "Merry Christmas fellow Secular Pagans. It's our freakin' holiday too." Sometimes religious conservatives freak out when you point out that secularism and paganism have as much ownership rights over the heritage of the West in general and the United States in particular as Judeo-Christianity. That line led to one religious conservative to describe me as "a militant secular pagan." I don't think he understood that the line was a joke, and that I don't place the term "secular pagan" as part of my personal identity. However, it is an important term for understanding the vital non-Judeo-Christian roots of Western Culture.