Photo of the day (Merry Christmas)

From a Big Picture gallery:

General view of the Guinness Christmas lights world record made in Canberra, Australia, Nov. 24. Homeowner David Richards switched on more than 500,000 lights to raise money for the charity SIDS and Kids ACT. The previous record was 350,000 lights. (Alan Porritt/EPA)
And since it is Christmas, I really enjoyed this appreciation of Christmas coming from a rabbi (seen in his syndicated column):

However, beyond the tinsel and toys, what I love about Christmas is very deep and reaches out to non-Christians in gentle but profound ways.

I love Christmas most of all because of its universal message of hope, symbolized by the manger. I love mangers. I love the animals more than the three kings, but the baby Jesus in the cradle is my real favorite.

At his birth, before his adult mission that theologically divides us began, the infant Jesus was a symbol of inchoate hope. He was hope the way all babies are hope. Carl Sandburg once wrote: “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.” I agree, and the baby Jesus is a symbol of all babies and the way they gently help us upgrade our idea of life and its spiritual possibilities.

The more advanced element of hope symbolized by the birth of Jesus is the hope that we might all find a way to correct our lives, which are all broken by sin.

Each religion has a different way to teach hope. I believe God’s Torah is my hope for a life of virtue and salvation. Whether I need Jesus’ hope will be sorted out by God in the fullness of time, but this week I’m uplifted by the great story of hope contained in the Christian account of the birth of Jesus. A baby in a manger seems to me to be a perfect depiction of a future that’s neither bleak nor abandoned…

Christmas is certainly one of the greatest holidays any religion has ever produced. Its combination of twinkle and hearth, cookies and wreaths, plus the promise of a redeemer for this wounded world, and of Santa while we wait, is extraordinary and alluring, magical and moving.

Well, if you put it that way, Merry Christmas to all.

(Of course, when it comes to thinking of baby Jesus, I think Will Ferrell has permanently ruined it for me:)

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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