Opinion: "Happy Holy Days"

December 14, 2005

Source: Scripps Howard News Service


On December 14, 2005 Scripps Howard News Service ran an opinion piece by David Walters, a Memphis columnist. "When I was a kid, there were only two holidays in December. Christmas and Christmas vacation.

Now, Americans will celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.

They also celebrate the eight days of Jewish Hanukkah and the seven days of African-American Kwanzaa.

And every so often they celebrate the 40 days of Ramadan in December.

December isn't changing.

America is.

In Los Angeles, there are more Buddhists than Lutherans or Episcopalians.

In Chicago, there are more Muslims than Presbyterians or Methodists.

In Memphis, there are more Hindus and Sikhs than Quakers and Unitarians... America isn't a Christian nation. It's a nation of Christians. It's also a nation of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Shintoists and every other sort of religious adherent, not to mention atheists, agnostics and undecideds.

How we handle that might be our greatest challenge of this century.

'In the New World of religious diversity, pluralism is not a given but an achievement,' Diana Eck, founder of the Pluralism Project, wrote in Harvard Magazine a few years ago. 'Pluralism will require not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding ... In the world into which we now move, our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly'... So, this holiday season, don't just 'tolerate' the holy days of others. Get to know them. Watch. Ask questions. Participate... Happy holy days."