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ChristmasThe great theme of Christmas is an ancient one; it lies, indeed, at the root of our years, for it brought a before and after to the centuries.

PrayerReligion, said Bertrand Russell, is “a disease born of fear and a source of untold misery to the human race.” Russell’s opinion has gained wide currency as the perception that Western Civilization is passing into a post-Christian phase gains hold. For the secular mind, this change to a post-Christian world can’t happen too soon. Religion to the secularist is a barbaric superstition, and a dangerous one, that tends to drive its most fervent adherents to violent acts. Proof of this, for those who hold this view, is found in the terrorist attacks perpetrated by zealots, like Osama bin Laden and others, who use religion to justify their murderous acts.

thomas KinkadeIt is easy to see why the enchanting paintings of Thomas Kinkade have captivated millions of admirers worldwide. On his canvases, alluring scenes — of idyllic cottages and cabins, romantic Victorian mansions and lighthouses, and chapels in sylvan groves — come alive, offering windows into worlds of serenity and splendor. Because his paintings glow with the light of candles, lamps, and fireplaces, as well as the sun and moon, Kinkade is known as “The Painter of Light.”

Christmas GiftThe illustrious Christian writer C.S. Lewis could be unequivocally grumpy about certain contemporary Christmas customs, if we judge from his essays on the subject. For example, in his 1970 essay collection, God in the Dock, Lewis has two such articles, of which the better known is entitled "Xmas and Christmas," undoubtedly a masterpiece in the art of social commentary. Written in imitation of the style of ancient historians, and wittily subtitled "A Lost Chapter From Herodotus," Lewis takes note of the "strange" habits of the people of the remote island of "Niatirb" (Britain spelled backwards), which require every citizen utterly to exhaust himself fighting his way through crowds to buy greeting cards and gifts in celebration of a feast known as "Exmas." On that day, though so "pale and weary" from the "Exmas Rush" that they look as if "some great public calamity had fallen on Niatirb," the "Niatirbians" nonetheless eat and drink to excess, so that "on the day after Exmas they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and reckoning how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine." Nevertheless, Lewis goes on to say, among a small number of the "Niatirbians" there is a separate feast, known as "Chrissmas" (by some inscrutable caprice falling on the same day as "Exmas"), in which the birth of a Child to a fair woman is called to remembrance with great solemnity, according to certain religious rites.

HopeAs I see it, the beginning of the United States of America was the most dramatic and significant episode in a long pilgrimage — the pilgrimage of the Christian idea of law, liberty, and self-government. Christianity is the master principle of our organic documents of government — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

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