Republican Rep. Henry E. Brown says religious freedom means the right to embrace Christ's birth; Onkar Ghate from the Ayn Rand Institute argues that it's the season for earthly pleasures. Your thoughts:
Christmas reflects the joy and pride of a (still existing) individual freedom in America: to be able to earn and buy almost anything existing in this world. Not all cultures can experience that joy. Some, like the Europeans, have the hope of being like America, so they started to celebrate America's Christmas more widely, with Santa Claus and commercialism, but they still have a long way to go to shake off their feeling of (religious) duty. One wonders if they ever will feel as free as we Americans, since they do not have the ideas or institutions that comprise the American culture and secure the framework for our happy individualism.
PETER LEEFLANG Dedham, Mass.
I totally agree that it is the ethics of duty and the psychologically poisonous consequences of thinking that you have to "buy the perfect gift" or "not forget anyone on your card list" that turn the joyous celebration of earthly pleasure into stressful misery for many. Though the above are not Christian duties, it is the same mentality that says, "You must go to midnight mass," or that you must accept that you are fundamentally evil and that your salvation is gained through the dutiful acceptance of the slaughter of a perfect being. That is death worship! Pass the eggnog; I'm looking forward to playing with my new toys.
ANDREW BRANNAN Burlington, Ontario
Why would anyone be offended by being wished "Merry Christmas"? I don't believe in Islam, but if someone of that persuasion was to wish me peace and happiness with a reference to one of its religious days, I would not be offended!
DON FISCHER Sabetha, Kan.
In this Christian society, it is too often that people are taught to feel guilt for the best within them—for the pride of ability, the exhilaration of profit, the joy of sex. Thank you, Dr. Ghate, for reminding us that this life and this world are all we've got and that they are precious. I hope readers will use the perspective provided in this article and take a moment to think about what's really important.
SAM TENNEY Mission Viejo, Calif.
Dr. Ghate has identified the spiritual meaning of Christmas—banishing duty, confirming joy and benevolence, and reminding us of what lay beneath the excited anticipation of our childhood Christmases. Let's all welcome back the light.
VALDA REDFERN Bradford on Avon, United Kingdom
I find it ironic that in a country so focused on individuality and diversity, it is becoming frowned upon to express our own ideas. If I celebrate Christmas, what is wrong with me expressing it? If you celebrate Hanukkah, I'd be more than happy to hear you tell me "Happy Hanukkah." If you're offended, move to some country where no one can express ideas and freedoms don't exist.
AMBER STEIMLE Lawrence, Kan.
I agree that government should encourage free expression of faith in the public arena, not ban it. Christmas is a holiday of love and joy, not hate and anger.
EUGENE L. ROTHFUSS Colby, Kan.