Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Now that Christmas season is upon us, I'm having recurrences of guilt about my exploration of Islam. I feel like I'm betraying Jesus, whom I've come to love deeply throughout my life. From the earliest years of my life I'd been attending Sunday school, singing "Jesus Loves Me," celebrating his birth, mourning his death, and rejoicing at his resurrection. He's been my Lord and Redeemer and I kind of feel like I'm just dropping him for the new guy.

Obviously, there's no need to feel guilty if Jesus was actually the Muslim version of Jesus rather than the Christian version. If Jesus was only a prophet and not the earthly incarnation of God, then as God's prophet he wouldn't want to be worshiped. This, of course, brings us back to the root of the problem... was Jesus simply a prophet or was Jesus the Son of God, sacrificed for our sins, resurrected on the third day?

Even though Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity, Christmas is always the season that most reminds me of Christianity. Although Christmas has been overly commercialized and many people go through the Christmas season without ever giving a thought to the reason for the holiday, the decorations, food, and music are a constant reminder to those who are conscious of the reason. The rest of the year it's easy to lose sight of God. Most of society is secular and one has to work to keep God in focus. During Lent it's a little easier because fasting is a constant reminder; I'm sure Ramadan is the same. However, during Christmas, secular society hangs out all sorts of reminders of God and Jesus.

More important than the community traditions are my family traditions, which are probably pretty common among American families. What makes them important is that they are my best memories. As a child, I spent my everyday with my immediate family but the holidays were also spent with my extended family, which made them special. We'd get dressed up, have nice meals, go to candlelight vesper services at church, and gather together to open presents and play games. Now, that my siblings and I are adults and scattered around the country, the holidays are one of the few times I see my family each year and I just keep adding to my best memories. Without Christmas, I wouldn't have any special time with my family. I could still visit but the chances of all of us being together at once is slim without a special occasion as a catalyst. Even if it did happen, the magic of Christmas would be missing.

Truthfully, without family, this whole process would be much easier. It's not that my friends won't question me; I wouldn't be surprised if a few are absolutely horrified. However, I don't hold them on the same level as my family. I've gained and lost friends in the past but one can't just make new family. My parents brought me into this world and raised me. They made me who I am and gave me so so much. Growing up with my siblings, they were always my closest friends. Of course we fought plenty but now they're my closest friends.

However, my relationship with God comes above my relationship with anyone else so, if it comes to that, it's a sacrifice I'll have to make.

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