Prof. Mead, I give you the gift of my rapt attention for the coming year. 😉 Of course, your writing makes that ever so easy.
A Merry Christmas to you and yours.
I’ll be sending along that gift. In the meantime, thanks for the gift of your Yule Blog.
There is a lot of evidence that the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.
I recommend this article for a serious look at this subject. “Calculating Christmas
William J. Tighe on the Story Behind December 25”
Speaking of gifts, how do loyal readers support this site, besides subscription?
“Religious tolerance for minorities in our midst, respect for the dignity of all human beings, solidarity with Christians and others wickedly persecuted for their beliefs around the world: these are three of the gifts we can bring to the manger on Christmas Day, and one somehow thinks both the baby and his mother would prefer these to yet more gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Walter Russell Mead)
The irony, of course, is that religious tolerance and pluralism is not a gift from any of the world’s major religions but instead was born of the Enlightenment. Prior to the Enlightenment much of the Christian world was often as barbaric as much of the Muslim world is today. As Jews reflect on Hanukah they would do well to remember that the heroic family of the Hanukah story, the Maccabees, were religious zealots who brooked no dissent and were perfectly willing to use violence against those they viewed as apostates. Hindu on Muslim violence is not exactly rare in India which suggests that religious intolerance is the default position for many adherents of non-Abrahamic faiths as well.
Who would have guessed that the greatest gift to “the baby and his mother” was not delivered by the Wise Men but by Enlightenment philosophers and political theorists many of whom were atheists, agnostics or deists?
I for one welcome the gift of a nice, old fashioned fruitcake.
Otherwise, excellent post.
WRM, in the spirit of this season: the gift of good health to you; and to your readers & commenters continued respect and dignity.