Celebration of lights not specific to Christianity

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By Bruce Levy

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My experience of the Celebration of Lights was radically different than the one described by Lee Downen in his December 4 column: “Celebration of Lights Reminds Us the Coming of Christ is Near.”

And it is because of that that I was somewhat surprised to see Mr. Downen’s use of the pronouns “we” and “us” throughout his column. It is perhaps ironic that pronouns that aim to be inclusive, work here to exclude a large segment of the campus community from such a valued SMU tradition.

For me, the Celebration of Lights is about the promise of inclusion, the promise of a pluralistic America that in its public ceremonies–even at a private university with the word Methodist in its name –recognizes and honors the beliefs and faith traditions of all its members.

I speak for no one other than myself, but I want to recognize the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Secular Humanist, Agnostic, Atheist and other students who also attended the ceremony on Monday night, and who no doubt took away from it meanings other than the one Mr. Dowden describes and attributes to all of “us.”

It is the inclusive, pluralist vision that makes this a great university. It is a vision worth celebrating, protecting and defending throughout the year, the urgency of which is made clear by Mr. Downen’s heartfelt, but exclusionary message.

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