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December 23rd, 2013
03:29 PM ET

A Christmas apology, and the seeds of hope

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - This week we celebrate Christmas, and as a Christian, I want to say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that this season has become about fights over manger scenes on public property, about complaining when clerks say, “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas,” about rampant commercialism and faux persecution.

I’m sorry that Christians in the United States can be so entitled when we’ve long enjoyed majority status, when we can be so blind to our own privilege.

It is ironic, really, because in the church calendar, the seasons of Advent and Christmas call us to reflect upon and celebrate what Christians believe was the most radical act of humility of all time - the incarnation.

The doctrine of the incarnation holds that the God of the universe, in his love for humanity, emptied himself of his power and became human, like us, in the form of Jesus.

The word incarnation literally means “to make into flesh” and refers to the apostle John’s teaching that “(t)he Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

“No one has ever seen God,” John explains, but Jesus “has made him known.”

In other words, if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus -

Jesus, who was born as an oppressed minority in an occupied land,

Jesus who was an immigrant,

Jesus, who surrounded himself with the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the “untouchables,”

Jesus who was criticized by the religious for hanging out with sinners,

Jesus who treated women with dignity and respect,

Jesus who taught his disciples to love their enemies, to give without expecting anything in return, to overcome evil with love,

Jesus who suffered,

Jesus who wept,

Jesus who - while hanging on a Roman cross - said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Quaker theologian Elton Trueblood put it this way: “The historic Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ does not simply mean that Jesus is like God. It is far more radical than that. It means that God is like Jesus.”

It means that God suffers, God forgives, God fellowships with the poor, God cares for the sick, God loves His enemies.

Even as a lifelong Christian, I struggle with doubts about God. I struggle to make sense of the violence in the world, the violence in the Bible, the violence in my own heart. I don’t have all the answers.

But even when there’s nothing left to my faith but a little seed of hope, that hope is in the incarnation, in the radical teaching that God loved us enough to become like us, and that when God wanted to show us what he was like, God showed us Jesus.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" and "Evolving in Monkey Town." Evans blogs at rachelheldevans.com, and the views expressed in this column belong to her.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Christmas • Faith • Holidays • Opinion

soundoff (2,872 Responses)
  1. Richard Dawkins' son

    Saying "Happy Holidays" to a Christian is like saying the n-word to an African-American.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins' son

      🙂 j/k

      December 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Happy Holyday isn't offense, but lacks distinction from other holy days like the Sabbath, Passover, Easter, etc. Christmas gives the holyday a distinction from the others and is thus preferred.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • K-switch

        If holiday = holyday, what is holy about Jan. 1, George Washingtons birthday, MLK's birthday, Columbus Day or Labor Day?

        December 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Live4Him

          I don't consider them holy.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • K-switch

          So holiday does not equal holy day, glad we can agree.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • Fants

          Secularists stole Holy Days from religious people and made it holidays.

          Just like Christians stole Christmas from Pagans.

          December 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Mirror on the wall.

      That's the ugliness about it. They go about offending people in a willing manner, then they smilingly say that 'happy holidays' is 'more inclusive'. Really dishonest, nasty people. Haters.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
      • bajadelmar

        Time for your meds??? It's all in your head bigot.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • Mirror on the wall.

          Yeah sure, asking for 'Merry Christmas' on Christmas day is bigotry. It shows how twisted you are.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • K-switch

      So what if you said, "Happy Holidays N-bomb!", to an African American Christian?

      December 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • William Clark

      Not hardly. I'm a believer and thanked several people at retailers for wishing me "Happy Holidays" and thanked them in return for the same. Get your facts straight.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Darren

      Count me out of that fact. I am a Christian and I don't believe that there is anything wrong with saying Happy Holidays! In fact, I take it as how it is meant to be (a statement of best wishes for the holidays). I don't believe that God would harbor anger at someone for offering best wishes. I don't understand how anyone could take offense to that. It is confusing.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      You're joking – but there appear to be plenty who are that ridiculous and controlling.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  2. Boo

    How about judge people by their deeds and demeanor not what holiday greeting they may or may not voice.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Mirror on the wall.

      willingly hurting people's feelings is a deed.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      Oh no, xians get to make up the rules as they go along. They're better than everyone else and they never miss an opportunity to let everyone know about it.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  3. His panic

    😀 😀 😀 My post was deleted. 😀 😀 😀 The Truth is hard to take! Those who really, really Trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Only Son WILL NOT Panic Neither will be suffering these seasonal attacks or anxiety fear Panic and remorse, but faking it will NOT work. 😉

    December 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Trevor

      If you do panic or have anxiety, that is ok. Even Jesus disciples had moments of doubts and anxiety. And Jesus still loved them. We are not all saints like "His panic".

      December 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
      • His panic

        With due respect I MUST DISAGREE. Anxiety, fear is NOT the same as Panic Animals as well as people do Panic and go into stampedes. People who Panic often get themselves involve in brawls and riots. Those who really, really Trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Only Son can and have been occasionally anxious or even in fear like you. However they don't go into stampedes or get involve in brawls and riots. Neither have been the ones involve in those things she mentions in the article. Trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's Only Son and you WILL NOT PANIC even if you are momentarily anxious or in fear of some real danger.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • Trevor

          I was on a Christian mission trip that went bad. Pirates stole our small sailing vessel. They tied me up and rap*d my wife right in front of my eyes. I called to God for help. They killed her and threw her overboard. They kept me alive for ransom but beat me severely. I called out to God for help. 12 days later I was rescued, but have been the victim of panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • His panic

          Sorry but your experience does not contradicts neither refutes what I have been saying.

          Taking your wife in a dangerous trip like that was not a good idea. I doubt very much that God told you to do that. Though you may feel like is "Panic" it may be not. PTSD sounds too "dogmatic" and pseudo-scientific. I'll accept you are very stressed, yet you haven't got involved in a brawl, riot or stampede. Therefore yours is not the type of Panic I'm saying. Panic is a whole different thing!

          December 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • My Name is Bond

      You are giving her an attack! Shut the hell up hispanic you are making me bloody mad! I'm on your case in my next movie... er... I meant in my next Mission.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  4. Kevin C

    Tomorrow marks marks the turn of the season, the rebirth of the sun and the slow march towards warmer summer days.

    In the morning I will be lighting a big bonfire to welcome the sun back. A circle will be cast in my garden, although at moment with forecast, it looks like it will be in my living room instead, for the four elements of air, fire, earth and water.

    Christmas for pagans like me is different from our other days, which usually involves channeling my power for the benefit of supplicants from all over the world with problems that only a white witch like me can solve. You know, mending broken relationships and finding lost pets.

    The first spell I ever did was when I was 16 and it was to find someones lost cat. The lady lived by the marina and was convinced the cat had died. I did my hocus pocus and lit a candle over a photo of the cat, and three days later, she called me and said "you have to come down here and see this". I went along to her basement flat and found eight to nine cats sitting outside – including her own.

    In pagan culture, people used to light fires and candles to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. Later, of course, the Christian church replaced the rebirth of the sun with the birth of Jesus but most of what we do at Christmas is pagan, like finding lost pets.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Wasn't that Saturday (21st)?

      December 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • Kevin C

        No, you Christians stole December 25th from us Pagans. Sorry, it is a historical fact.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
        • James

          Yes and no. The Solstice was the 21st. Christmas was originally set to Dec 25th by Pope Julias I and Constantine primarily to quell the Roman Saturnalia festival, but also to cut back on Solstice celebrations.

          (and yes, I am a witch who studies history)

          December 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • K-switch

          Seems silly to not celebrate the lengthening of days on the shortes day of the year. Is this an ancient calender discrepency?

          December 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
        • Kevin C

          Saturnalia is celebrated on December 17th. Last week.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          When you said "Tomorrow marks marks the turn of the season, the rebirth of the sun and the slow march towards warmer summer days." I presumed you meant the shortest day which was 21st. Not sure what else it could refer to.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • Kevin C

          I'm referring to the fact that Christians stole December 25th from us peace loving and highly intelligent Pagan beings. Look, I'm sure you don't want to face the facts and you think Christians invented "December" and the number "25" and the suffix "th", but those are all pagan concepts. The Christians stole them from the pagans and told everyone else they invented them.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
      • K-switch

        Yes sir.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • Pleo

        The Romans celebrated it on the 25th. Technically, the solstice is on the 21st. (Usually. Aometimes it's on the 22nd depending on your location). But yes, the christians blatantly stole it from the Romans. Although in a way it's kind of funny. Because it serves as a yearly reminder of how christians fail to see that all their story of Jesus is, is an allegory for the Sun. The Sun that is born in December, rises to glory, descends into "hell" at night to do battle with Apep (Satan), and emerges victorious the next morning and ascends into the heavens. Christians are the only ones who fail to recognize allegory for what it is, and instead take it as literal human history.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Kevin C

          Right. Even though Christians were Romans, they stole it from themselves. And then they went to Northern Europe and stole all my pagan brother and sister's Christmases. After that they went back in time and stole more Christmas from the ancient Greeks.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
        • Hmmmm

          This says it was celebrated on the 17th. And later expanded to the 23rd

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

          December 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Kevin C : Tomorrow marks marks the turn of the season, the rebirth of the sun and the slow march towards warmer summer days.

      You seem confused. Winter solstice (i.e. December 21st) is the shortest day of the year and thus the 22nd would mark the 'slow march towards warmer summer days'. Tomorrow, we celebrate Christ's birth more than 2000 years ago.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • Kevin C

        Belsnickeling is celebrated on December 21st. The Christians haven't stolen that one yet.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Live4Him

          Well, there are almost as many pagan holidays are there are days on the calendar, so I'm not surprised that you have one named Belsnickeling.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Kevin C

          We have to hide most of our holidays, or else the Christians will come steal them.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Kevin C : We have to hide most of our holidays, or else the Christians will come steal them.

          Ever hear of Wikipedia? Most of them are listed there in case you forget one.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
        • Kevin C

          Wikipedia! They list pagan holidays that don't sound anything like Christian holidays. If you do some research on a site like that, it is hard to believe that anyone would say a modern day Christians stole a holiday from an ancient and extinct tribe.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
      • Science Works

        L4H

        And Xmas was made a federal holiday in what year in the US ?

        And why ?

        December 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
        • Live4Him

          What difference does it make? For me, Christmas is about celebrating Christ.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Science Works

          History !

          December 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Pleo

          "What difference does it make?" he says. Not that I expected anything else from a christian. It's the typical "I believe what I believe, don't confuse me with any evidence that might disagree with it."

          December 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • Nope

          Guess what. Pagans stole their holidays from someone, too. And in 50 years someone will still Christmas from us and celebrate it differently.
          Celebrate how you want. Pagans and federal rules don't dictate what everyone else believes.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
        • Science Works

          Pleo

          MAYBE it could be a learning moment for L4H – but I doubt it.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
      • Pleo

        Again, it was blatantly stolen from the pagans. It marks the birth of the Sun. Christians stole it from the pagans. As you probably know, if Jesus existed at all, and that's a big if, December isn't even close to the right date when he would have been born. It would have been sometime closer to June. The Romans did not hold censuses that required people to ravel to their birth district in the middle of winter.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • Kevin C

          Right. The Bible doesn't say Jesus was born in December. And not all Christians stole the holiday from the pagans.
          Some Christians celebrate a stolen pagan Christmas on January 6th.
          Some Christians celebrate a stolen pagan Christmas on December 23rd.
          I wish they would have just stolen 1 pagan holiday from the 1 pagan tradition and all stuck to that.
          But noooooo.. they had to go and steal all different kinds.
          Some Christians even stole the tradition of not celebrating Christmas at all from Pagans.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • devin

      I hope your ideology is a comfort and serves you well in the end.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  5. Pleo

    I'm sorry that christians still think this is "their" holiday, given that all they did was steal it from the pagans, where it is known as Yule, and celebrates the birth of the Sun.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Stan

      No, they stole it from the Romans.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
      • Frank

        Uh, nooooo.... they stole it from the Celts!

        December 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Pleo

        Pagan (noun): a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome).

        December 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • Stan

          BIG difference between Roman pagans and Germania pagans.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  6. EX Catholic

    Good Lord in Heaven there are so many misconceptions in the article, that I don't know where to start, but I'll give it a try.

    First of all those who came up with all of these charades of "christmas" was the roman organization erroneously called the catholic church. That organization and her subservient Post-reformation evangelicals/protestants maids, are the ones who have made it the way it is; a commercial worldly and idolatrous enterprise. Where the poor are made to feel more poor, the lonely and the sick are made to feel their pain more.

    It is the romanists who made a vociferous spectacle about manger scenes in public places or about clerk/employees not saying the "right" commercial slogans. The RCC and her subservient maids; post-reformation evangelicalism and professional Protestantism.

    I don't have to apologize for nothing of that! Because after being saved by the Real Christ, I did not continue in that charade. Neither been involved in any of the things she has done and is apologizing for now. If this lady has any conscience problems, that her problem not mine.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      She's apologizing for the others who call themselves Christians, but make Christmas into a war they wish to win by forcing Christmas down other's throats. If you aren't one of them, congratulations. But it doesn't make what she says any less true for the other types of Christians.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
      • EX Catholic

        No sorry Susan, but it just does not work that way in the Kingdom or the church.

        What you are pontificating to me sound very romanist.

        Each and every person, each and everyone MUST and will be held accountable for their own words and actions. She and no one else can make-up for the errors of others. I don't and will not.

        That happens in a culture and in a society where a sense of Justice has been lost. Where people are always looking for somebody or something else to blame, for some scapegoat, rather than to admit, repent and make a resti*tution for their own wrong doings. Just like Adam did in Eden after the fall, when he tried to blame it on Eve. That just human nature.

        God is not going to admit or accept to that in Judgment day. Neither are we required to do it. Jesus did not do that neither required his disciples to do so. The apostles DID NOT taught that either. It is not sound doctrine.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          She doesn't need to apologize for what others do, that is true – but, given that so very many extremely vocal people (just read these forums) claim to be fighting this war in the name of Christianity, I completely get saying something to clearly state that you are NOT one of those people who believes in this war. Making this apology, to say that this is NOT what she thinks Christianity is about, that she isn't one of those Christians, is not a bad thing.

          December 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  7. Russ

    Please people look around you. You really think some magical invisible deity created this universe? Something so vast that the most powerful telescopes can't see the end of it. Something that keeps recreating itself year after year? He reaised his hands and "POOOF" look what I created. Oh, I'm sure you'll say God is still hard at work rearranging the universe. Uh huh, isn't happening, didn't happen and never will. Only the weak need a god to put their hopes and dreams into. To excuse them from their hypocracy. The strong create their own and live like a "christian" without having to give their hard earned money to some church so some minister can drive a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. Get over yourselves and just practice what you preach and the world would be a lot better place to live in.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  8. YeahRight

    Dear Rachel, there is a reason you still have doubts about God. It is because your intuition, which is correct, is screaming for you to pay attention to it, for it knows that God does not exist; that the Earth was not created 6000 years ago; that we did not just magically appear on Earth one day. Your intuition also knows that Religion, like every other socio-political paradigm, was invented for one reason and one reason only: so that the ruling elite could exercise oppressive power and control on the underprivileged class, and use them to wage war in their interest.

    The sooner you can free yourself from your oppressive religious views, the sooner you will be free.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • fred

      Sorry to hear about your loss. Life is very precious.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Chris

      "your intuition, which is correct"...Ok so when an atheist say like..C.S. Lewis' or Leah Libresco's intuition is screaming doubt about their atheism...what makes their "intuition" less credible? Nothing.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        Saying her intuition is correct in this case, doesn't say that intuition is always correct. And it's no surprise an atheist thinks atheism is correct, just as a Christian thinks christianity is correct – if you didn't think that, you wouldn't believe it.

        I'm not the biggest fan of intuition – it can lead you to something you should think about and consider, but it's inclined to reflect your biases and your fears, not always a genuine perception.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Steve Thompson

      Your description of the abuses of religion are accurate but not universal. People can take anything beautiful and make it all about power and influence. But your description, with it's admitted ring of truth to it when you look around, do not at all sound like an accurate description of Jesus Christ. It's him this is all about. You can dismiss the church for being silly sometimes, and you can dismiss the church for being self-serving and even evil sometimes. But it's not about the church. It's about Jesus himself and he's the one we have to make sense of.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • TheBBT

      All atheists I know have doubts about their beliefs. Except the arrogant ones. They always insist they are right. But that is arrogance, not intelligence.

      All Christians I know have doubts about their beliefs. Except the arrogant ones. They always insist they are right. But that is arrogance, not intelligence.

      All agnostics I know have doubts about their beliefs. Except the arrogant ones. They always insist they are right. But that is arrogance, not intelligence.

      All Hindus I know have doubts about their beliefs. Except the arrogant ones. They always insist they are right. But that is arrogance, not intelligence.

      All Jews I know have doubts about their beliefs. Except the arrogant ones. They always insist they are right. But that is arrogance, not intelligence.

      All Buddhists I know have doubts about their beliefs. Except the arrogant ones. They always insist they are right. But that is arrogance, not intelligence.

      All politically-correct secular humanists I know have doubts about their beliefs. Except the arrogant ones. They always insist they are right. But that is arrogance, not intelligence.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • JAMES OLIVER

        I don't doubt that parts of you post are accurate. Just a bit curious about the agnostic. Can you be unsure that you are unsure? Wouldn't being unsure be enough to say that you unsure as opposed to be unsure about being unsure.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          Definitely applies as well to the agnostic as anyone else. There's many an arrogant agnostic, insisting that theirs is the only correct view, since you can't be positive of anything, only the agnostic is honest. It's as much arrogance and incorrect as any other view – it's the same desire to put yourself and your knowledge above all others.

          And it comes from a strawman view of both religion and atheism, thinking that atheism means certainty (almost always untrue for most atheists), that religion means certainty (untrue for some believers).

          December 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  9. Mirror on the wall.

    Why do people say Happy Holidays? What other holidays are there on December 25? Are you as intolerant and spiteful that you are unwilling to say 'Merry Christmas'?

    December 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      I said it below and I'll it again...
      If you have a problem with someone taking the time to acknowledge you at this time of year because they don't say 'Merry Christmas', then the issue is yours alone and not that of the other person.
      Have a Happy Holiday...may you be surrounded by good friends, good family, much peace and love.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      They do it to specifically to iritate Chrstians.

      (this is sarcasm, my second favorite "asm")

      December 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Cosmicc

      Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanza, Saturnalia, and, as crazy as it sounds, Festivus (yes, there are people who actually celebrate it).

      December 24, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
      • Mirror on the wall.

        Ramadan is not on Dec 25. Hanukkah is neither. Saturnalia and Festivus are made up holidays with the intent of polluting Christmas.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • James

      What other holidays are there? There are over 120 different religious and cultural holidays that are celebrated in the US alone between Dec 15 and Jan 15th. Happy Holidays includes ALL of them, including Christmas.

      To say that we should ONLY invoke Merry Christmas is to say that one religion's celebration supersedes all others, because the others don't matter.

      And in this country, that is NOT permitted.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
      • Mirror on the wall.

        Please give some examples of your '120 holidays' that fall on Dec. 25.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • istenno

          ok, then, i am going to go out on a limb here and assume that you ONLY say merry christmas to people on December 25 and not any other day of the year.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • K-switch

      It would appear that you are intollerent of people who say "Happy Holidays".

      December 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • istenno

      when i say happy holidays, i'm including the winter solstice and christmas and new years and whatever other celebration the person i'm speaking with may celebrate. what's wrong with wanting to wish everyone a good season, regardless of their religious choice? why are you so hateful to everyone not like you?

      December 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      It's the holiday season. There's Christmas. New Years. Festivus. Kwanzaa. Winter Solstice celebrations of a million different names. And for those with nothing else happening on those days, a celebration of a few days off of work.

      Bing Crosby and the Happy Holidays celebration – this is nothing new, in the past some Christians weren't so very obsessed with seeking insult and looking for reasons to be miserable.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  10. Henry Allen

    I'm agnostic about creation. Even so, I enjoy Christmas. I applaud everyone, no matter their beliefs, who celebrate peace and goodwill towards all. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, folks. For a moment at least, let's take time to be good to each other, our families and ourselves.

    December 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  11. Chris

    I do not get offended when other faith celebrate their holy times, and wish me peace or what not. if they are offended by mine, GET OVER IT.
    At least we do not make others observe our tradition of a Christmas Ham. But during Ramadan in an Islamic country you better not be see eating or drinking when the sun is up you or you will go to jail. It insults them! I'm insulted by the PC culture.

    December 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Cosmicc

      I don't have a problem with people wishing me Merry Christmas and I will return the greeting, but they should not be offended by the fact that I do not share their belief. I don't have a problem with my neighbors decorating their property, within the realm of good taste, but I have a huge problem with religious displays on public property.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • istenno

      as an atheist, i don't mind people wishing me a merry christmas. i choose, however, to offer a more general and open-ended greeting during the winter holiday season. i have no idea what faith someone holds by looking at them...

      December 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      So you wish to be as wrong as they are?

      No one is saying they are right – they're an example of what we don't want to be. So I don't get why some Christians hold them up as an example. Is it really OK by you that if you're not as bad as they are, then it's all good?

      December 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  12. Merry Christmas

    I don't care if store clerks say Happy Holidays. I don't like it when stores say to the clerks that they CANNOT say Merry Christmas!

    December 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Happy Holidays

      You can open your own store and tell people say 'Merry Christmas'.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
      • Live4Him

        I can also stop spending my money in stores whose employees DON'T say Merry Christmas.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          There is nothing that screams hatred for CHristianity like the phrase "Happy Holidays".

          December 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
        • fred

          Blessed
          Now you do know that Holidays is from the word holy days and means happy, holydays. I wish you an yours some Happy Holy Days !

          December 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • James

          "There is nothing that screams hatred for CHristianity like the phrase 'Happy Holidays'."

          Really? So showing respect for non-Christian holidays, and not putting Christianity ahead of everything else, is a hatred of Christianity ?

          Sorry to tell you this, but the world does NOT revolve around YOUR religion.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          fred and James,

          The sarcasm apparently evaded you.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • Bobo

          To Cheeze who said: There is nothing that screams hatred for CHristianity like the phrase "Happy Holidays".

          That is the most intolerant, stupid comment on this board –

          December 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Bobo,

          Can you explain why you find that intolerant?

          And do you have a Schnoodle named Mister Maloonigans?

          December 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • fred

          Blessed are the Cheesemakers
          Happy Holy Days !
          They are holy and blessed because every day reminds us of the hope we have. That hope was in a child that reminds us we too can have the light shine bright within. A hope that is limited to what science has discovered to date is limited by man. I see no sign in the cosmos or evolution that life has ever been limited by man or man's thoughts. What exactly is the logic or reason for arbitrarily limiting hope to science or man's thoughts when you know that is unsupported and un reasonable?

          December 24, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          A happy holiday season, whatever you choose to do with it.

          But I do find it odd when some choose to 'celebrate' by turning it into a war, where "Happy Holidays" is the enemy, and "Merry Christmas" is your weapon, a holiday of spite and bitterness.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          fred,

          I have no idea what you are talking about.

          Axial Tilt is the reason for the season!

          December 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • fred

          Blessed
          Earth's axial tilt is an "accident" and like most of science cannot, does not and never has been able to explain the hope which was reflected in all its radiance in Christ. As with all things God a perfect time

          December 25, 2013 at 9:19 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          fred, You're not making any sense – how are they connected?

          December 25, 2013 at 9:33 am |
        • fred

          Santa
          Merry Christmas!

          The tilt of our axis which made existence as we know it is simply an accident if there is no God. There are some science theories of how it happened all of which are the result of accident. Those who do not believe in God believe the accident theory where as those who celebrate the birth of Christ know it was not an accident.
          When I think of the Birth of Christ it was at a perfect time when man was furthest from the source of physical light and spiritual light. That light came into the heart of man then and every time a Christian is born again of water and of Spirit. At that point of birth we grow more and more in the light of Christ. We move into spring and summer and life eternal with a hope that never dies.

          December 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I find it curious you feel this is a slight and don't just chalk it up to the store wanting to be viewed as inclusive to all.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Cosmicc

      There are two sides to this; first is that the person saying Merry Christmas wants to share his joy of the season, the second is that the person receiving the greeting may or may not share that joy. Since being a non-believer and having to hear that repeatedly will make you feel "othered", an outsider. Saying "get over it" only makes that feeling of otherness worse. So, what is a store owner to do? Honor the feelings of the customers who may be hurt by the greeting, or honor the wish of believers to receive the greeting? There is no clear answer, but it's up to the store owner to decide, not the employee.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  13. Carl

    Whatever...

    December 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  14. swohio

    No offense, Rachel, but you seem to write a lot of articles that are negative of Christians. Tell me, do you ever have anything positive to say about us? Do you even THINK any of us deserve a positive word....a chance to be heard? Or do you simply wish, as a Christian yourself, for everyone else to simply take your word for it, as if you're right and the rest of us Christians are wrong?

    December 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      If you believe, REALLY BELIEVE, in something important, doesn't that mean you take it seriously?

      You don't just let go when people try to mischaracterize it, when people turn it into something else, when people try to lead others down the wrong path. Because it's important.

      I'm not a Christian – but if you are, then it's important. And you shouldn't sit silent as people turn "Merry Christmas" into a weapon to hurt others, when that's the last thing your religion should be about.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • AE

      As a Christian, I don't think she speaks negatively about Christians.

      There are certain aspects of Christianity that have a negative reputation. And that reputation was certainly earned. It is not fair to pinpoint those negative things onto every single Christian. But one should be able to understand why that reputation exists. Not all Christians act as lovingly and are as forgiving as Jesus asks them to be. But, they are only human.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Jerri McLemore

      I'm sorry, but she seemed, to me, to be advocating the principles of Christianity.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Joe

      She speaks about her doubts and hopes. Nothing bad about that. As for the criticism,...perhaps it's because Christians,...certain groups anyway,...have been behaving so badly lately. Certain Christians have become enamored with their own "Christianity" to the point of it being sinful,...prideful (according to the Bible). How much criticism will it ? I'm not Catholic,...but the new Pope seems to have it right. At least that's one !

      December 24, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • soheagle

      I think Rachel is on the right track with what many people in this country, Christian or Non-Christian think of us. I would not take offense to her writings, but rather let it be a time for introspection on our own walk with God. Christianity has lost relevancy because we have not adapted to change – I think Rachel has some good points on what needs to change.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Ann

    There are no happy holidays without the happy birth of our savior who died for our sins. It's "Merry Christmas".

    December 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Lisa

      Saving us from exercising the free will that God gave us?

      December 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
      • Joe Cool

        No – freeing us from the consequences of when we wrongly exercise that free will.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
        • Live4Him

          Exactly

          December 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • sam stone

          free will and an omniscient god are incompatible

          December 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • Lisa

          "Wrongly" use a freedom that he gave us? What kind of "free will" is that, then? It would only be a real freedom if there were no punishment for not choosing what a mindless robot would.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      So you celebrate by turning Christmas into a war, where "Happy Holidays" is the enemy, and "Merry Christmas" is your weapon, a holiday of spite and bitterness. Wow. So not the Jesus I've heard about.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • Cosmicc

        BINGO!

        December 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      If you have a problem with someone taking the time to acknowledge you at this time of year because they don't say 'Merry Christmas', then the issue is yours alone and not that of the other person.
      Have a Happy Holiday...may you be surrounded by good friends, good family, much peace and love.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Joe

      The "Holidays" traditionally include Thanksgiving, Christmas,...and New Years. They are not universally celebrated by all citizens,...that's why "Happy Holidays" came into being. Put you persecution complex away and enjoys the "Holidays" !

      December 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • dman

      So you're OK that Jesus was elevated to God? Let me ask you this; Why do you ignore the First Commandment? In your bible it says "I am the Lord God, and that you have no god but me". But Jesus is also referred to as the "son of God made flesh". Or do you want to continue in ignorant bliss?

      December 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • JLEE

        Just wanted to let you know that Jesus is God and was not elevated to God; He IS God incarnet, the 3 in one, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is hard to understand everything and, we as human beings, will never totally understand the complexity of God. Just know "that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not parrish; but, have eternal life." John 3:16. Blessings to you during this Christmas and/or Holiday season; whichever you prefer.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • sybaris

      an alleged omnipotent spirit comes to earth, rents some flesh then returns to where it came from

      yeah, some sacrifice

      December 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      sin is a man made concept, ann

      it does not exist outside the mind of believers

      December 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • James

      Then feel free to celebrate his birth in late spring, when he was born. The REAL reason for this season is the WInter Solstice. The fact that are NOT a Christian nation, but one that embraces ALL faiths, means that we do not put one religion's holiday above others. Happy Holidays covers everyone.

      Keep Christ in Christmas, and OUT of all the other holidays he has no place in.

      December 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  16. Ralph

    Thank you for your kind words ... it's sad that most of your readers didn't "get it" ..

    December 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Drew

      Well said Ralph

      December 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  17. Susan StoHelit

    A happy holiday season, whatever you choose to do with it.

    But I do find it odd when some choose to 'celebrate' by turning it into a war, where "Happy Holidays" is the enemy, and "Merry Christmas" is your weapon, a holiday of spite and bitterness. That's what makes this article, and some of the comments here, so refreshing.

    December 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Betty

      I grew up in a community where not everyone celebrated Christmas. It was respectful to with them a Happy Holiday or Happy Chanukah if they were not religious like me. And lots of kind Jewish people and non-religious people wish me a Merry Christmas. It warms my heart.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        It is ironic – the 'christian' warriors act like Happy Holidays is this modern invention – but it's been a traditional greeting for centuries.

        December 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Live4Him

      It is a holyday, but which one is it and why is it holy?

      December 24, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
      • James

        It's a celebration of MANY holy days. That's the whole point.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
      • K-switch

        What is holy about Jan. 1, George Washingtons birthday, MLK's birthday, Columbus Day or Labor Day?

        December 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        Many different holy days – a winter solstice celebration is pretty common in most religions. And of course, Holidays – a word that evolved from holy day, but that does not mean holy day – Veterans day is a holiday. It just means a day off, a time for some celebration.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  18. Matthew

    CNN always gets the most liberal, apostate Christians to speak for us. This woman must be the Protestant apostate to match the pope's apostasy.

    December 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Fred

      And Fox always gets the most backward, narrow-minded, bigoted Christians to appear. One imagines that the majority lie somewhere in the middle, right?

      December 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You say "apostacy" like it's a bad thing...

      December 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Aaron

      Then explain why she's wrong.

      Also, if you're concerned about the "pope's apostasy," I imagine you're a catholic... which means that according to your own religion's doctrine, God literally speaks through the Pope. Apostasy is defined as "renunciation of a religious faith." Do I need to explain your comment's blatant irony?

      December 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  19. AE

    "Sadly, the way we as Christians have historically responded to the gift of the Eucharist is to make sure that we understand it, then to make sure we put boundaries around it and then to make sure we enforce both the correct understanding and the correct boundaries. But on the night Jesus was betrayed he didn’t say 'this is my body broken for you…UNDERSTAND this in remembrance of me….he didn’t say ACCEPT this or DEFEND this or BOUNDARY this in remembrance of me he just said do this in remembrance of me'. – Nadia Bolz Weber

    December 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Lisa

      Exactly how many Conservative, protestant Christians actually observe the Eucharist at all?

      December 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • AE

        What protestant denominations do not offer communion?

        December 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  20. kdlitid

    There is nothing "Christian" about self-hate and loathing. You people REALLY need to stop this...it is a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord...not to encourage others to chastise themselves for being who they are. I'm a white, God-fearing, Christ-loving, tax-paying, hard-working, flag-waving combat veteran...and I know there is a God and that Christ was his son...but nobody....and I mean NOBODY is going to tell me how I'm supposed to worship Him or that his message at any time during his life was to hate yourself for who you are. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! HAPPY HANNUKAH!!! And GOD BLESS THE USA.

    December 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • sunnylovetts

      AMEN x1000

      December 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Stance

      I think Jesus wants us to help God's people – the poor, the widowed, the orphaned. God bless those people, too. Not just the white American Christians. Amen.

      December 24, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • Justice

        Amen... a million times!

        😀

        Words on a page, but written on our hearts.

        December 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.