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Christmas School Pageants
Over the last twenty years or so, most of us have noticed that the traditional Christmas school pageant, complete with the singing of Christmas carols, has been changed by the politically correct amoung us into a "Holiday Celebration", or even a "Winter Celebration". No mention of the "Holiday" is allowed -- this might offend the non-Christian population.
So, we are entertained by the singing of "Holiday Songs" such as Frosty the Snowman, and Jingle Bells, and such. The dreaded word "Christ" is never found in any of these songs. And everyone is equally offended.
A Modest Proposal
It occurs to me that the proper way for a multi-cultural society (see, I can be politically correct, too) to celebrate the "Holidays" would be to be inclusive (another good politically correct term!). Instead of prohibiting any celebration of the holidays, why not celebrate all that are appropriate to the school - in rough proportion to the student body makeup. This would turn the pre-holiday time when the students' attention wanders into a learning time. For example, a cosmopolitan school district should sing the following:
If your school doesn't have any Wiccans, you can omit their songs for brevity.
- Hannukah songs for the Jewish students
- Ramadan songs for the Moslem students
- Kwanzaa songs for those who follow this political holiday
- Yuletide Carols for the Pagans and Wiccans - O Christmas Tree and other songs that mention Yule, the pre-Christmas celebration of mid-winter.
- Religious Christmas Carols for committed Christians - Joy to the World, Oh Come Oh Ye Faithful, Little Drummer Boy, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and all those other songs that mention Jesus.
- Santa Claus and Presents songs for the non-religious - Up on the Housetop, I'll be Home for Christmas, etc.
- Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells for the atheists and Jehovah's Witnesses who don't want to celebrate any religious holiday.
The Pageant Program
Each section of the program should be clearly labeled.
- Songs for the Jewish Hannukah Celebration
- Songs for the Moslem Ramadan Celebration
- Songs for the Kwanzaan Celebration
- Songs for the Wiccan/Pagan Yule/Midwinter Solstice Celebration
- Songs for the Christian Christmas Celebration
- Songs for the Non-Religious Gift-Giving Celebration
- Songs to Celebrate Winter
Why should we do this? Three reasons:
Respect for Religion
By teaching about the religions, (rather than pretending that they do not exist), we will be sending a message to our children that religion in itself is worthy of respect and study. It makes an implicit statement that religion is more important than the World Wrestling Federation, than video games, than Barbie dolls, and more important than the latest tv show.
Understanding of Religion
To survive in this world, it is clear that we need to understand other religions than our own. The headlines of the world are dominated by the words "Jewish", "Moslem", and "Christian". Our children need to understand a bit about each religion, if only to understand the news of the day. A smart music teacher can teach quite a bit about religions using this format.
Development of Religious Teens
One of the problems with our public schools is the loss of religion. The direct result of this is that there is no basis for right and wrong. A non-religious teen simply tries to avoid his parents, the principal, and eventually the police. He is playing a game with people who are roughly his equals. A religious teen knows that "God will get me if I mess up." He knows that doing wrong is hopeless in the long run. You can't outsmart God.
It is in the best interest of our teachers and schools and students that our students have a religion. It is almost as good for the schools and teachers that the students respect religions. In both cases, it makes for a safer, more disciplined environment. It also leads eventually to less crime.
What about teaching the wrong religion?
People may be concerned that this is dangerous. The school will teach "wrong" religions -- my child may hear and convert.
This is nonsense. The school will go out of it's way to avoid offense. But more importantly, this will give parents a chance to talk more about the reasons that they are Christians or Moslems or Jews. It gives the interested parent a chance to re-enforce the religion of the family. It will bring out the religion in the child by creating interest where before there may not have been any.
Why different groups of Christmas Carols?
Why should we split up the songs we've grown up knowing as Christmas Carols into two or three different groups?
C.S.Lewis commented that Christmas is really two distinct holidays celebrated at the same time. One holiday is loud and obvious as Santa Claus, celebrated by the majority at shopping malls and in front of a Christmas tree filled with presents. The other holiday is a quiet holiday - as quiet as a sleeping baby, celebrated on Christmas Eve in candlelit churches by a minority of the population.
To committed Christians, there really is a difference. And the point needs to be made.
If you are able to influence your school program, this might be something to quietly try next year. And it might lead to something amazing -- students may begin asking for more information about that quiet holiday. "Who is that sleeping baby, anyway? Why's He so important?"
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