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Christmas not that unique

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Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 8:04 p.m.

Regarding Maris Sanner's comments on faith and Christmas in her letter, “Jesus' birthday” (Dec. 15): Even segments of the New Testament disavow that faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. Consider, “Faith without works is nothing” (James 2:14). Two of the New Testament's final judgment accounts say nothing of faith. Works are the only criteria on which Jesus takes people into heaven, both say.

Pre-Christian gods/heroes had many of the same traits as Jesus — virgin birth, saviors who die and are resurrected, etc. These include Adonis, Attis, Dionysius and Mithra.

If your faith works for you, fine. Just get over the notion that only those of your faith will be “saved.”

This “Christmas” celebration is not a unique event. It's the continuation of similar, pre-Christ winter solstice events when the light of the world, the sun, is reborn, gaining about a minute of daylight from December 20-21 until June 21, when we start losing daylight again.

In a sense, Jesus is the personification of that solar rebirth.

So, we light the darkness of winter with our candles and our tree and building lights, share gifts, etc. — just as pre-Christian religions did.

The followers of Mithra, who dates five centuries before Christ, celebrated his birth on Dec. 25. This caused the church, long after the time of Jesus, to establish Dec. 25 as Christ's birthday too, making it easier to absorb Mithra's followers into Christianity.

Bruce Braden

Carmel, Ind.

The writer is a Mt. Pleasant native.

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