On Reclaiming the Spirit of Christmas, Building Community, and Shows for the Coming Year

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 8:39 pm

On Reclaiming the Spirit of Christmas, Building Community, and Shows for the Coming Year

“I’m not going to buy any presents this year. We will go shopping as a family for these homeless teenagers, and I’ll try to be honest about the equivalent I would spend on my own children on the commercial holy days if I believed in them. I report this in some hope of feeding a little rebellion I sense many of us are quietly tending. But I also make it public to be sure I follow through.”

~Krista Tippett on “Why I Don’t Do Christmas”

Me and ThemKrista (@kristatippett) isn’t a big fan of playing the “Christmas game” of obligatory gift-giving. As a matter of fact, she’s a bit of a Bah Humbug character.

I confess to my inner Scrooge – how I think Xmas has come to distort us; how I’m seeking recovery this year.

She’s not alone. Diane Warren commented:

“Thank you for expressing so eloquently what I feel. It is always good to know there is connection, and through that validation, with others on an internal level that is so deep it is not often expressed. Belief systems are tricky; even to oneself.”

Advent ConspiracyPeople aren’t just stewing in their “Scrooge-friendly juices” though. People are telling us about the many good works going on: an Episcopal church sponsoring a “diaper ministry,” an artist helps save local wildlife by selling paintings of tigers (inspired by Alan Rabinowitz), an adolescent working on his Eagle Scout project buys new undergarments for others less fortunate because he put himself in somebody’s place and thought “I would want to wear new underwear and socks.”
Check out the hundreds of comments on our Facebook page, our blog, and on Twitter (@beingtweets). Read, share, and discuss “Why I Don’t Do Christmas” with your friends and family.
Native Detroiter Gloria Lowe, whom you might remember from our show “Becoming Detroit,” echoes Krista’s sentiments. Barbara Jones, Gloria Lowe, Krista Tippett, and Barbara Stachowski.How about these closing lines from “Turning To Instead of Against Each Other”:

We are facing an economic and spiritual crisis that threatens our survival and our deepest humanity. But it also an opportunity. It is an opportunity to create a more just way of living. In earlier, more dangerous times we created families, villages, places of worship and respect for one another. We have that creativity within us still.

Let us all celebrate this holiday season through the eyes of a “beloved community,” turning away from wanting things to valuing people. We can turn to one another and ask what kind of community we can create together.

Take a few minutes and read the rest of Gloria’s essay. You won’t regret it.

Anger is a moral response. But the exacting measure of our humanity is how we wield and transmute it – the legacy we give it in the world.

Presence in the Wild with Kate BraestrupLike many of you, we are still thinking through the horrific tragedy in Connecticut. We heard from many kind listeners who thanked us for broadcasting Krista’s interview with Kate Braestrup as a response to the unfolding news. Though it was not our intent, it was the right conversation during some of our country’s darkest hours. I offered a brief explanation about why we chose last week’s program.
As we plan the next season of The Civil Conversations Project, we’re thinking about how we can foster a better public dialogue. But what’s our approach? As Krista said to me this morning:

“How do we talk about gun violence without it devolving into the same old debate? If we try to turn this into a discussion that draws on our shared humanity, surely we’ll find a way to bring in subjects like mental illness.”

How do you think about our national conversation on these subjects? Who would you like to hear in dialogue wrestling with these important issues? Write me at tgilliss@onbeing.org or @trentgilliss.
On a bit of a lighter note, this image by C. Edward Brice paired with "The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff." ~Carl Sagan photo by C. Edward Brice http://bit.ly/VUx0VaCarl Sagan’s words really grabbed our readers this week:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

Two shows we’re working on for 2013:

Editing last summer’s interview with the wonderful Roshi Joan Halifax @upayazen – the embodiment of “engaged Buddhism.” Will air in Jan.

Segovia Youth Commemorate MassacreTalk about unforeseen adjacencies, Roshi Joan quotes this week’s subject:

“We have gravely underestimated the human spirit.” ~Teilhard de Chardin, “Evolution proceeds towards spirit.”

And a conversation we recorded last week:

Lovely, unusual interview yesterday with Natalie Batalha of @NASAKepler – on exoplanets, love, and the future of space.

“What we observe out there is that nature is creative, prolific, robust.” ~Natalie Batalha, Kepler Space Telescope Mission

Here’s wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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