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Yule Blog
One For All

The Christmas story suggests that we can somehow try to both be loyal members of our nations, our families, our tribes—and also to reach out to the broader human community of which we are also a part.

Published on: January 1, 2014
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  • Pete

    “People seem pulled in two directions. On the one hand, we form strong group identities; on the other we recognize universal values and acknowledge a duty, at least in the abstract, to help people everywhere regardless of their race, language, color or creed.”

    When have the Chinese, Indians, Africans, Arabs, etc. ever acknowledge a duty to help others? And when have others, other that the Americans, done it on a massive scale?????

    As for welcoming strangers, yes,many societies have done that and still do, but not on a massive scale that changes the host society or drives the host into bankruptcy. .

  • Anthony

    Two observations this New Year 2014: 1) your current Christmas essay utilizes Jesus and his birth as a pattern to overcome our great fear of the Other and the unfamiliarity of their ways while maintaining our inclination towards “Blood and Soil” (“…destructive passions that simmer just below the surface of even the most ‘civilized’ national communities”); 2) some call what you ask for (“we should reflect on the need for people who are grounded in their own culture but capable of reaching out beyond it”) the inside-out perspective. That is, we can never really experience what others are experiencing; but utilizing mirror neurons we can attempt to place ourselves in their skin and therefore better imagine their cultures/experiences. Summarily WRM, human nature accommodates various motives and and as you intimate struggles to balance universality with locality. One For All Yule Blog enables exploration of these motives and circumstances that may engage them. Again, thanks.

  • Engelina

    Thank you for these informative and thoughtful essays. Re. the loss of the court case in Malaysia concerning the effort by the Catholic newspaper to have the right to use the term “Allah” as another name for the God of Christian and Jewish scripture, I say hallelujah that they lost. Allah is no more like my God than a puddle is like the ocean. Allah demands the blood of a martyr in order to apportion redemption; God gave his own son so that I may be redeemed. Conflating the two names only serves to confuse. Mingling Christian practices with local custom is not always in the best interest of the Christian faith.

  • Peripatetic

    “The Christmas story …suggests
    that we can somehow try to be true to both ideals: to be loyal members
    of our nations, our families, our tribes—and also to reach out to the
    broader human community of which we are also a part.”

    As I’m sure you know, critics like the ancient Romans, Machiavelli, Rousseau, and Gibbon (among others) have doubted that Christians can be “true” to both since many real-world conflicts require ranking one over the other, and in such conflicts Christianity defaults into anti-war cosmopolitanism. What do you say to such (classical) republican critics who complain that Christianity does not allow one to stick up for her own as her own in a fight?

    • Tom

      As for me, I would refer them to Romans 13.

  • johngbarker

    The Yule series would be very helpful in explaining Christianity to thoughtful people who may be confused and repelled by the conflicting claims of the denominations. I would like to see the series released as a book, which makes it easier to present to friends.

  • Bernard Hassan

    Good article. May I point out that Francis Xavier was active in India, Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and Japan but died before he could reach China? You are thinking of the extraordinary but under-appreciated Italian Jesuit, Matteo Ricci, when you speak of the controversy over the “Chinese Rites.” Incidentally, in Arabic (which I am not: I’m Scots-American despite the appearance of the name), Allah is the word for God. Muslims create problems for themselves by using Allah in English when they should say God. They convey to those unsophisticated in history of religion or Islam that Allah is looked upon as yet another alien god. My erudite Egyptian-born Muslim friends say God when speaking English, Allah when speaking Arabic.

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