Summary: The medieval Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, would have a lot to say in today’s modern times about how different religions can come together and find common ground.
I am an Agnostic man of mixed Hispanic and Ukrainian Jewish background, but I have long been fascinated by the illustrious figure of Maimonides. Here I want to explore what a returned Maimonides would teach us modern Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Agnostics interested in the Middle East and religion around the world this holiday season.
I think Maimonides would be shocked that in the 21st century there is so much seemingly religious conflict around the world – fundamentalism as well as hostility to religion in the West. He had lived in a time of change in which the Catholic West was trying to conquer the Holy Land from Muslim control, an era with other hot spots like Al Andalus and Byzantium. The three religions were trying to make sense of newly rediscovered texts by Aristotle and others, as well as the Hindu-Arabic numerals that would pave the way for the Renaissance. Maimonides would notice how we are living in a time of change, in which religious institutions in democracies are having to deal with mass secular culture and the increasing spread of scientific knowledge as well as immigrant groups with different cultures, or even moralistic intervention, due to globalization.
Summary: St. Nicholas was a self-sacrificing, generous man, who deserves credit for inspiring the idea of Santa Claus we have today.
Note: This article was originally published on RenewAmerica on December 19, 2013.
I find it very troubling when someone’s legacy is discredited, especially if that someone was a saint who dedicated his life to helping the poor. While it is apparent that secularists have hijacked Christmas, hearing the media speak of good ol’ Saint Nick as though he was a myth conceived from a poof of fairy dust is taking things too far. While Meghan Kelly’s description of the mythical Santa is accurate, it did not carry with it an abjuration that one is not free to create one’s own mythical Santa-like figure. Anyone has been free to do so since the birth of Santa Claus in America. However, since his story is derived from the real life of St. Nicholas, calling him a myth is inaccurate. It is more fitting to call his story a legend, though over time the lines between fact and fantasy became blurred as Santa took on new and creative character traits. Even though the creative minds of authors and illustrators over hundreds of years gave St. Nicholas a gradual transformation, his essential attributes have endured the test of time. For instance, St. Nicholas, the real person, lived in A.D. 270 in the Roman town of Myra. He was a beloved bishop who cared deeply for the poor. Wearing a red bishop’s cloak and accompanied by a little orphan boy as his helper, he would secretly toss sacks of gold through the windows of the needy, pay for the dowries of impoverished young brides, and deposit coins and treats in the shoes of children. Read more about There’d be no Santa Claus without St. Nicholas: Remembering the Saint behind the Legend …
“Stories are more than chronicles. They are more than just adventures, or captured creativity. A true story telescopes a life, like a photographer improving a photograph. The artist knows how to saturate and brighten, darkening the shadows to throw the light into sharp relief.”
“Opening under the war-torn skies of WWII Britain, Joshua Douglas discovers a ring that transports his sister, Tess, and himself into a bright and wild world called Fantasy. There, they learn that they have been prophecied for generations, and are expected to preserve Fantasy from an evil invasion.”
Come swimming, my darling, my lonely-eyed one,
Come swimming, our journey is hardly begun.
This dark-pebbled shore brings us down to the sea
But we must decide now to linger or leave. Read more about Departure …