Thursday, December 19, 2013

Crosses are not Non-Denominational

Dead Christians Only?
This heading may sound like a real no-brainer but Christianity and it symbolism has become such a deeply engrained part of American culture that many people have blocked this simple truth from their awareness. I cannot tell you how many anti-war rallies I have attended where crosses were unilaterally carried to represent the dead.

Even the Lafayette hillside anti-war memorial is often referred to as "the crosses of Lafayette." Yes, and it certainly appears to be cross upon cross but, I am told, that there are a few crescents, stars of David and Buddhas amid the overwhelming number of crosses.

Many people tend to have these distorted memories of cemeteries as well. I remember reading an article that referred to the rows of crosses at Arlington National Cemetery. In fact, Arlington has rows and rows of tombstones, not crosses. Upon each individual stone there may be a cross, a crescent, a star of David and there is even the occasional pentacle from the Wiccan persuasion. There may be only a name with dates. It all depends upon the wishes of the deceased person or members of that family.

The fact is that the cross has become so pervasive it's actual meaning has been watered down to nearly nothing. For people who use it as a symbol of worship, this is a negative side-effect of the Christianization of America. A friend of mine visited a "women's spirituality" alternative house of worship. She described the room as having a cross over the podium but explained it was small and unobtrusive. She also told me it is a place of "non-denominational" worship.

Arlington: Tombstones, Not Crosses
A cross, no matter how petite and unassuming is not non-denominational. Growing up a Jew in an overwhelmingly Jewish neighborhood in the fifties, I often confused the cross and the swastika. Both were symbols emanating from a gentile world of otherness that I had been taught to mistrust and fear.

I'm not saying that this level of paranoia was constructive or healthy, only that it existed and it affects me still. A cross is a symbol of Christianity. There is nothing wrong with that. Just be mindful that it doesn't represent all of us!