Short essays written for the La Jolla Veteran's Hospital newsletter in La Jolla, California
It is no secret that God and religion are being marginalized, that is to say considered irrelevant in modern secular society. Many work hard to remove all reference to God in our culture and nation. Consider Christmas, although a legal holiday by Act of Congress (signed 1870, June 28, by President Ulysses S. Grant) the religious significance is being systematically eradicated. For example, the secular “language police” have made sure a Christmas Tree is now a Holiday Bush and the proper greeting is no longer “Merry Christmas!” but “Happy Holidays!”” Here in San Diego a popular community celebration, for years called “Christmas On the Prado” and held in beautiful historic Balboa Park, was renamed a couple of years ago as December Nights in order to mollify the secular language police. The list goes on and on.
Secularism claims to be indifferent to religion. It claims to be inclusive of all. What is missed is that Secularism itself has the essential marks of religion. What are the critical ingredients of any religion? “These are: narratives, symbols, and traditions concerning the meaning of the universe and its existence, of human life, and of societal values and how they should be carried out.” Religion has a public aspect and the Secularist Religion has spared no effort in its desire to establish itself as the public national and world religion. Furthermore, it makes no apology for imposing its values on all. It is “politically correct.”
Secular values are disguised by politically correct jargon. If Godly people were more aware of the secular value agenda, they might see the need to embrace and celebrate traditional religious beliefs in our society instead of eradicating them. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the laws of secularism were explicitly laid out in 1998 by Robert Greene in a book entitled The 48 Laws of Power. Among the most egregious secularist principles are: learn to use your enemies; conceal your intentions; court attention at all costs; get others to work, but take the credit; use selective honesty; appeal to self-interest; crush your enemy; keep others in suspended terror; discover each man's thumbscrew; create compelling spectacles (the aura of power).
What is so nefarious about this establishment of secularism is that its values are diametrically the opposite of the values embraced by the traditional religions. How different are the value systems of most world religions, so well summarized in the Sikh proverb: "If you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all." (Sri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan). In the Eastern Church, we go beyond saying "Merry Christmas!" We exchange the Christmas greeting "Christ is Born!" with the response, "Glorify Him!" We have a sense of the birth of the "Prince of Peace;" "Emmanuel," not the 'prince of darkness or power.' Along with Isaiah the Prophet we proclaim: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." And his peace shall have no end, for God is with us!" (Is 9: 2,6-7).
During colonial times in Plymouth Colony it would not have been "politically incorrect" to celebrate Christmas. Neither should it be "politically incorrect" to celebrate the beautiful feasts of the other religions that make up our free and great nation.
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V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist.
Fr. Morelli is the Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Religion Coordinator (and Antiochian Archdiocesan Liaison) of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion.
Fr. Morelli is a Senior Fellow at the Sophia Institute, an independent Orthodox Advanced Research Association and Philanthropic Foundation housed at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City that serves as a gathering force for contemporary Orthodox scholars, theologians, spiritual teachers, and ethicists.
Fr. Morelli serves on the Executive Board of the San Diego Cognitive Behavior Therapy Consortium (SDCBTC)
Fr. Morelli serves as Assistant Pastor of St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church, San Diego, California.
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