Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ho-ho-hoo boy

Last night I was listening to Jersey 101.5 on my radio dial, because good gravy, a whole MONTH of unrelieved holiday music is a little much (thank you, WPLJ), and they had our newish Governor, Richard Codey on. One of the topics that the host brought up was the issue of Christmas carols in schools, and that it's to the point where even the orchestral arrangements of religious songs are being left out. Well, Duh, Eric Scott, just because the song doesn't have words doesn't make it a different song. But once again, I leave the point I'm attempting to make.

When I first heard about New Jersey schools that were trying to eliminate the religious songs from their holiday concerts, I was in favor of it. I, as many of my 11 readers already know, am Jewish, and sometimes Christmas can leave Jews feeling kind of left out. South Park didn't have Kyle sing the Lonely Jew on Christmas song because nobody ever felt that way. But now, I've reconsidered.

I think about the Constitution, and the bits that people interpret to mean "separation of church and state", and I see a line that says that no religion will be favored, nor will any religion be denied the right to practice. I'm paraphrasing, here. So what I'm thinking now is that there's no reason to ban any religious music. Let's celebrate good music, no matter where it came from! Why can't we just be super-inclusive, instead of all-exclusive? Let's do Christmas songs, Hanukah songs, and some songs from some cultures that we'd never think of as being "mainstream". Surely someone else has a December holiday that we can sing about, no? How about Buddhist Bohdi Day, they have any songs for that? I honestly have no idea.

Anyway, I've definitely switched up my thinking on this. I think that we should celebrate everyone's festivals at a concert, and not try to deny them just because everyone doesn't celebrate them. A concert should be first and foremost about lovely music. Censoring it for religious content in schools now seems to me as bad as censoring it for "adult content" on record albums. I mean, are we trying to protect our children from disturbing religious ideas?
OK, last side track before I finish this non-directional ramble - big statues and images of a guy hanging dead, all bloody and nailed to a cross, that's kind of disturbing. It just is. OK, off the side-track.

The goal of most religions that I've run across is peace and morality (most, most!). These are not issues that children need to be protected against. The truth is that Christmas in the US is all about shopping, and Santa, and presents. Jewish/Muslim/Hindi kids never feel left out that they don't get to go to midnight mass and sit on a pew singing prayers and listening to a sermon; no, they feel left out of getting piles of presents. Singing or not singing certain songs probably isn't going to fix that.

Codey didn't really state a preference on the issue one way or the other, by the way. His answer was that he thinks that there are much more important things to worry about. Good point.

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