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I am not typically a holiday person. My socially phobic nature would have me out of costume at Halloween, staying in New Year’s Eve, and away from the crowds on the Fourth of July if it weren’t for a wife who drags me out.

    Somehow, this all changes at Christmas. Instead of dragged down, I’m somehow energized by it. I love everything about it. My winter doldrums and seasonal affective disorder always lifts for a few weeks, until it comes crashing back down each January.

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If there is one thing that can make religion unpopular in today’s pluralistic society, It is the idea of claiming access to exclusive truth.  On my mission I learned firsthand how the act of sending someone to your door is felt deeply offensive for so many people.  It is one reason religion is just something you are not supposed to talk about, in the interest of keeping peace.  Religion is simultaneously deeply personal and deeply divisive. 

     When you feel a strong spiritual bond of community, spirituality and faith, the proselyting of others is seen as an assault on everything you stand for.  At the same time, helping others see what you have and sharing it also becomes important the more invested you become and the more joy you find in your faith.  Calm assurance that you are “right” has been used to justify coercion, violence and even genocide against outsiders through history.  This in spite of the fact that such actions are almost always roundly condemned in the holy writings of all the faiths involved. Read the rest of this entry »

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