I am an 13-year employee of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The Medical Center is a first rate hospital and research facility, and I have enjoyed working there in the Davis Research Institute. Although the administration prides itself for its diversity, and theoretically tolerates individual religious and ethnic expression, it now seems that at least one form religious expression is no longer "tasteful."
A recent e-mail from the senior vice president specified the guidelines for holiday decorations. According to the e-mail, holiday decorations must be "balanced", "safe" and "tasteful". In describing what was and was not tasteful, the following instruction was given:
Tasteful seasonal decorations or wishes are appropriate (e.g. "Seasons Greetings", "Happy Holidays", "Happy New Year", "Happy Hanukkah"). Specific religious symbols or decorations (e.g., nativity scenes) should be confined to private offices, cubicles, or patient rooms. The Chaplaincy will also be placing holiday decorations in public areas.1
According to the instructions, "Happy Hanukkah" is described as being tasteful, while Christian nativity scenes are not. So much for tolerance! I replied to the research institute along with Jeanne Flores and her assistant with the following short e-mail:
As a member of the not “tasteful” religion for which there seems to be no tolerance at Cedars-Sinai, I found the following e-mail to be extremely offensive. Since when is “Happy Hanukkah” tasteful, whereas Merry --------- (oops! can’t mention that “C” word) is not? Maybe I am working at the wrong place, since the “J” guy (or me?) does not seem to be welcome here.
I received a number of replies from others in the research institute, all except one of which were positive. I have yet to receive a reply from Jeanne Flores or her assistant. However, I encourage you to wish her a Merry Christmas by sending her an e-mail through our form. Please be nice!
Many of you have requested guidelines for decorating the workplace during the holidays. We certainly want to encourage all of us to celebrate during this special time. Decorations in the workplace are welcome as long as they are "tasteful", "balanced" and "safe".
Balanced: We would suggest that in public, patient or non-patient areas, if any decorations are used, make sure that multiple religious traditions are represented.
Safe: Please keep in mind that many types of decorations may be in conflict with fire safety codes. Nothing may be hung from ceiling tiles or sprinkler heads, doors may not be wrapped in paper, no real trees or plants with lights, and corridors may not be blocked with large displays, etc. Employees may need to remind visitors of our safety policies especially relative to live trees, plants, and items requiring electrical power and remind them we wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.
Tasteful: In keeping with the healing environment we strive to achieve for our patients.
General Public and Patient Care Areas (Lobbies, hallways, treatment areas, diagnostic areas, inpatient units, and centrally booked conference rooms such as Harvey Morse, Educational Conference Center, etc.)
Tasteful seasonal decorations or wishes are appropriate (e.g. "Seasons Greetings", "Happy Holidays", "Happy New Year", "Happy Hanukkah"). Specific religious symbols or decorations (e.g., nativity scenes) should be confined to private offices, cubicles, or patient rooms. The Chaplaincy will also be placing holiday decorations in public areas.
We are what we think.
- 05/31/2016 09:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas’ system of thought was declared the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church, but what exactly did he believe and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of St. Thomas Aquinas—and why he still matters today. Who Was St. Thomas? St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was born in a castle…
- 05/24/2016 09:00 AM
Spheres of Awareness: 4 Unique Ways Humans Perceive Reality
An implication of being made in God’s image is that human beings have a unique awareness of reality. That reality is wide and deep and extends to four basic philosophical spheres or dimensions of life. The awareness of and interaction with these spheres illustrates humankind’s uniqueness and makes the discovery of four critical truths possible. Sphere 1: The Intellectual Human…
- 05/17/2016 09:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius passionately defended Christ’s deity during a time when Christological heresies were rampant, but what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of St. Athanasius—and why he still matters today. Who Was St. Athanasius? St. Athanasius (c. 296–373) was born and educated in the ancient city of Alexandria. Coming from a…
- 05/10/2016 09:00 AM
The Crowd Roared: Christian Reflections on Fame
Recently, I went to a Lakers game with family and friends, and I came away with a philosophical reflection. I noticed that every time Lakers star Kobe Bryant touched the ball, scored a basket, or even appeared on the big screen, the crowd at Staples Center visibly changed. Lakers fans became loud, energetic, and collectively erupted into a roar. There…
- 05/03/2016 09:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Anselm
Can faith and reason be compatible? Does reason support the truth claims of Christianity? Many people today believe in a false dichotomy that forces faith and reason into separate categories—but thinkers like St. Anselm, a medieval Italian, have offered compelling arguments for integrating faith and reason. St. Anselm’s ontological argument for God’s existence was a significant, though controversial, contribution that…
- 04/26/2016 09:00 AM
The Insatiable Search for Peace and Rest
Human beings were made for God (Psalm 100:3, Acts 17:26–27), but something has gone deeply wrong. Sin has cut us off from our Creator and left us out-of-sync with each other and ourselves. Under the curse of sin, we both desire God and resist Him simultaneously (see Romans 1). The consequence of this spiritual tug-of-war is that we often turn…
- 04/19/2016 09:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on Blaise Pascal
Did you know that the first digital calculator was invented by a seventeenth-century French mathematician? In his brief time on Earth, Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) wore many hats and left an imprint on both modern science and Christian philosophy that lingers to this day. Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of Blaise Pascal—and why he still matters today.…
- 04/12/2016 09:00 AM
5 Levels of Christian Faith
We often use the word “faith” to describe the core of someone’s beliefs—but people of differing religions use the term in very different ways. This has challenged me to more carefully probe the distinctive features of the word “faith” from the perspective of historical Christianity. Faith is much more profound than simply recounting our personal conversion story. Rather, Christian faith…
- 04/05/2016 11:17 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on C. S. Lewis
In the last decade a slew of Narnia movies were released in theaters and, though C. S. Lewis has been gone more than 50 years, his books are still as popular as ever. He’s the famous atheist-turned-Christian, but what exactly did he believe and what did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of…
- 03/29/2016 09:00 AM
Risen and What Makes a Good Christian Film
Christian filmmakers are on a roll. The last several years have brought us an increasing number of religious films, many bordering on mainstream and featuring globally recognized stars. But among the miraculous true stories and positive message films, Risen, the tale of a skeptical Roman soldier Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) encountering the risen Christ (Cliff Curtis), is the one that caught…
Last Modified December 22, 2005