Ben Stein is an actor, writer, economist, and homespun philosopher. As a Jew, he has a unique perspective on Christmas. In summary, Ben says Christmas is for everyone, whatever religion a person professes, and that during this season, we should celebrate the spirit of forgiveness and love.
The following are quotations from some of his commentaries.
“I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.
“My wife and I celebrate Christmas, big-time. I am sure we have more decorations than anyone within miles of here has. Why?
“On a superficial level, it’s because the lights and tree and fire are festive. That’s innate. Humans love colored lights and fires. When I was a child in Maryland, the Gentiles had festive lights and we Jews didn’t. I didn’t like that. I saw no reason why the Gentiles should have all the fun and I still don’t. Having those lights and a tree – that’s what I always wanted – to have colored lights and to be a part of the dominant culture.
“It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
“I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the notion came from, that America is an explicitly atheistic country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
“Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand the Almighty? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
“However, I love Christmas for much more basic reasons. Christmas is about something huge. You can be saved if you simply make a contract to believe in God and (some add) if you act right. It has nothing to do with how you were born or into what tribe.
“This is a revolutionary, stupendous freeing of the human spirit. This is why Christmas is such a joyous time for people, whether Jews or Christians, or anyone else, who want to believe that we humans can be forgiven and go on to lead lives of triumph no matter what has happened in our past.
“That, and not shopping at all, not the retail numbers, is why Christmas is such a great time. The lights are nice and the tree is nice and the shopping is nice. But a dominant culture that says that love and peace are the highest values – that’s what I want to honor.
“We don’t honor retail sales numbers. We honor the spirit of forgiveness and love. That’s Christmas for me. Merry Christmas.”
“If someone from outside our faith can stand up for Christmas, surely we Christians can.
Posted on Fri, December 20, 2013
by Rev. Wilmer L. Todd