Put the Christ back in Christmas! Say Whaaaat!!??

Okay, tis the season I know. It seems every year someone has to trot out the trite and inane message. Businesses put it on their signs along with Churches. News Opinion commentators advance the perspective as though they thought of this clever turn of phrase themselves and are the only ones for hundreds of years to have recognized this incredible travesty.

First of all, to whom is this addressed? If it’s a public message on the sign of a small business, a church sign or a on a Main Stream Media Opinion site, just who are they talking to? If they’re talking to me, as a secularist and atheist, what do I care? Christmas isn’t MY holiday, I don’t celebrate Christmas, so the message is meaningless to me. How could I put Christ back in Christmas, why would I want to, why would I care? If there is a problem with the way Christmas is being celebrated talk to the people whose holiday it is, Christians! After all Christmas is a Christian holiday! Why would you admonish non-Christians to put Christ back in Christmas?

Second, whose fault is it anyway? Christmas is a Roman Catholic Holy Day. The Roman Catholic Church put the celebration of Christ’s Mass on December 25 because it was already a festival day, a PAGAN festival day. The Archbishop of Cantebury has finally come out and acknowldeged this apparently little known fact. It was the time of the Winter Solstice. Converts were used to celebrating on that day so the Church commandeered the day to make the transition for them easier and so there would not be as much competition.

“In a final blow to the traditional nativity story, Dr Williams concluded that Jesus was probably not born in December at all. He said: “Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival.”” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/12/20/nwise120.xml

So, from the get-go non-Christian elements that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the “reason for the season” were incorporated BY THE CHURCH, into the celebration for it’s own reasons and “reinterpreted” to make them more palatable and “compatible” with the new “holi-day”. As the years went by more and more traditions were incorporated and celebrated by the faithful, the Christians, you know, the ones who are complaining now. The Church encouraged this to keep hold of people.

Christians then championed the codification of Christmas into society. Christians encouraged the incorporation of Christian practises and morals into the secular structure of society in an attempt to have a sort of theocracy or a Christian Nation rather than retaining the secular nature of society and keeping religion along with it’s rituals and Holy Days in the Church. This almost guarantees that as the society becomes more secular the practises would also be secularized. What is going to happen if you have a celebration sanctioned and recognized by government and broadly encouraged in society when the society becomes secular? The celebration will also become secular. Take about casting pearls before swine so to speak! If Christians had kept the Holy Day to themselves rather than foist it on society weaving it into the life of the community this would not have happened.

By the way whatever happened to the Reformation? I mean the Protestants sought to break from the Roman Church and it’s traditions, well, kind of when it came to the Lutherans and others. They sort of kept one foot in the door, same with the Anglicans, the Catholic Church by any other name. However, what of the Calvinists and the Baptists? They sought to distance themselves from all of the papist nonesense. What of their decendents the Presbyterians and Baptists of today? You would think they would be the first to let society have Christmas and deny all that popish business. No, they have jumped on the bandwagon and promoted and maintained the whole Christmas “spirit”.

I have an alternative admonition! How about “Put the MASS back in ChristMASS?!! Hmmm, not too keen on that are you?

If Christians want to put the Christ back in Christmas I’d say they need to talk to the faithful. Get the true believers to mend their ways. Get the faithful to clean up the celebration of Christmas. Let society have Santa Clause and ornaments and Christmas trees and all that stuff. Filter out all the misunderstanding, misinterpretation and mythologizing of the Christmas story as the Archbishop points out. Most of what you see in the “Manger” is speculation or outright fabrication even from an “historical” perspectives as taken from the original documents.

So, don’t admonish me to put Christ back in Christmas, talk to your own people. Own up to your responsibility for the mess you are decrying and bemoaning. Why get upset when the celebration begins to move back to it’s ORIGINAL meaning with Winter Solstices and other Pagan practises which eliminate Christ from the season. The real “reason for the season” is the Solstice if you really have to know. Why not just abandon “Christmas” as a holiday. Let secular society celebrate it as they will. Revamp it to be more religious, more specifically Christian. Remove all the pagan elements, remove the commercialism, Santa Claus (Saint Nicholaus, oh pleeese, this is a real stretch. Santa Claus is no more Christain and the Easter Bunny). If you are willing to “accomodate” for your own comfort, to be able to “participate” with the secular society you dispise, then just admit it. If you don’t want to give up the pagan elements of Christmas, just accept it and don’t trot out that worn and threadbare admonition “Put Christ back in Christmas”, or it’s close relative “Rememeber, Jesus is the reason for the season”, GAG! BARF!

P.S. Apparently the date for Christmas was set by the Council of Nicaea in around 325. The council was called by Constantine, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the one who converted to Christianity and then legitimized it as a “legal” religion. This was not the main reason for the council but apparently was done. It was set on that day because it fell between two pagan festivals one of which was Saturnalia in which the birth of the Sun God Mithra was celebrated. It gave the newly converted Christians a festival during the pagan festival time. It was inevitable they would incorporate some of their traditions into the Christian celebration.

P.S.S. This just in, Mike Huckabee refuses to apologize for Christian Christmas message. Personally I don’t see why he should but then it’s a clear example of the confused thinking I mention here in the post. Ironically the “cross” in the background in this Christian message was “unintentional”; it was only a bookcase, but the Christmas tree in the forground was entirely intentional. So, the clear, unambiguous Christian symbol was unintentional and not meant to be there at all and the pagan symbol WAS intentional. Amazing!

Random thoughts on a shooting at a Mall in Nebraska – Interdependence

Brad Warner talks of Interdependence in an article on the SG WEB site. He addresses the idea I often hear and have said myself, “My life is my own and I can do whatever I want with it as long as I don’t hurt anyone else”. It sounds good and perhaps it is true at some level and regarding some things. However it assumes we are all independent unconnected people. Even at a superficial level that is not so. Brad’s article is entitled “Your Life is Not Your Own (Sorry)”.

“Seeing that guy made me realize that my life really isn’t my own. We all imagine that our lives and our bodies are our own possessions to do with as we please. We figure as long as we don’t do something really egregious like knife our next door neighbor or go shoot up the local grade school it’s nobody’s business what we do with ourselves. But I wonder if that’s really true.”

http://suicidegirls.com/news/culture/22297

Consider the book by Ethan Nichturn (thanks Jared), “One City: A Declaration of Interdependence”. He argues we are all interdependent on one another not just locally and imediately but globally and internationally in almost every practical way. Truly but in a difference sense as John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Buddhism and Daoism would posit that we are connected as well at some “metaphysical” level, that we are each a manifestation of reality and the universe and not as separate and distinct as we would appear or seem to our “selves”. This “distinctiveness” is part of the “illusion” or the ego. It is part of the movie we have scripted and produced in our heads complete with cast, dialogue and sound track.

What I do effects others and what they do effects me in wider and wider circles of influence like ripples from a stone thrown into a pond. The impact of the stone sends ever widening waves of influence. Those waves of influence do weaken and dimenish as they reach further and further from the point of impact but the influence is still there. This is not to say I am entirely responsible for the nature of the influence or the response of the person being influenced. That person is effected by that ripple in ways that are unique to them and dependent on who they are and how they see themselves and life. There is little way I can predict or foresee except perhaps in my most intimate friends how what I do will effect another person. Even then I can’t really know.

To continue the image a leaf and a piece of wood will be effected differently by the same ripple and the ripple will in turn be changed as it passes so that it’s further effect will not be the same as it would have been. Within the confines of our own ego structure we are free to respond and can’t blame our reponse on someone else, like the stone as it were or any of the intermediate floating flotsam and jetsam.

We can even break out of our ego structure by becoming conscious “enlightened” people. That growing consciousness and “enlightenment” frees us to act outside our “samsaras”. It allows the wheels of our mental carts to escape the ruts dug over decades of stimulus and response; to change the synaptic connections we have forged over a life time of thought, perspective and emotions. It allows us to “step outside ourselves” and see reality in a different way. It allows us, to use the other image, to yell “CUT”, stop the action, send the actors to their dressing rooms, tear down the scenary and tear up the script; to end the movie if only for a moment. However, the moments multiply, they grow longer and eventually we don’t live mostly in a movie anymore.

As for the Mall in Nebraska in case you are one of perhaps three people that has NOT read the story, here are the basic details. A 19 year old guy with an AK-47 and two magazines of ammunition (probably 40 to 60 rounds) begins shooting on the third floor of a department store in the mail. He kills eight people mostly employees of the store, wounds at least three or four others one of which remains in critical condition. This sort of mass murder keeps happening. In some cases even more people are killed; “Virginia Tech saw 32 murdered earlier this year; the Columbine High School shooting left 13 murdered in 1999; Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, had 23 who were fatally shot by a deranged man in 1991; and a McDonald’s in Southern California had 21 people shot dead by an unemployed security guard in 1984”. The police were only able to get there to clean up the mess and in the case of the Mall in Nebraska they arrived in around six minutes. Six minutes and it was all over.

Here are some superficial observations. “Gun-Free Zones” are so silly as to defy reason. Nebraska has a “Concealed Carry Law” which permits citizens who can legally own a gun, have passed a safety and competentcy course and have a permit to carry a handgun for personal protection. However, businesses can post signs banning concealed carry on their premises. The mall in Nebraska had such a sign. So, who obeys this ban. Well, not the guy with the AK-47, that’s for sure. So, what exactly did the “Gun-Free Zone” contribute to the safety of those in the mall? Apparently not much. Had there been only one or a few permit holders it might have changed the situation and saved some lives.

This is not speculation. Armed Citizens reduce the number of casualties in multiple victim shootings like the one at the Mall in Nebraska. The media does not report these incidents or, if they do, they fail to report it was an armed citizen that stopped the shooter or reduced his effectiveness until police could arrive.

This is old territory. John Lotts has repeatedly reiterated the facts and figures. However, many, many people just don’t seem to see how obvious this is. Criminal don’t care about the law, that’s why we call them criminals. John Lott rang this bell regarding the shooting in Nebraska as he has in the past http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,315563,00.html

Guns, like many things, are not all bad or all good. They can be both depending whose hands they are in and what sort of mind is guiding those hands. That is the balanced view. That is what you do not hear in the over 2500 news stories on this Mall shooting. That is what you do not hear in the one million or so stories of people who use a firearm to protect their lives or the lives of others and the reports never make it beyond the local paper. In many cases this is because no one was killed or shot. Even when the burglar or home invaded or abusive spouse is shot or killed you may never hear that someone else is alive because they were able to protect themselves.

So here is the part about interdependence, you were probably wondering when I would get to it, or even if. The shooter was 19 years old. He had been thrown out of the house by his family years ago and was on his own, had been for a while; he was a “ward of the state”. He had taken refuge with a family he knew. He had lost his job, lost his girlfriend, had no real home or family and was barely past 18. I don’t know why his family threw him out. He had “mental problems” for which he apparently was not getting any help. I’d say the kid had a pretty shitty life up to this point. That doesn’t exonerate or justify his actions whatever his motivation might have been. I don’t know what he hoped to accomplish other than “being famous” and not “being a burden to anyone anymore” but whatever it was it did not justify what he did. He made the decision, he took the premeditated action, he did it not anyone else. I can find some compassion for the kid, for his life, his pain, his confusion, all of that. It sucks.

There were obviously a LOT of people in his life whose behavior influenced his. Lots of people with their thoughts, behavior and perspectives impacted this kid. He was stuck in some movie of his own making but there were a host of other characters in that movie as well. Can you say all of these people bear absolutely NO responsibility for what happened? Perhaps responsibility is not the word. I don’t know what that word would be, but you can see the interdependence here can’t you? As Brad Warner says, everything you do effects someone. Most of the people in this kids life had some part in what happened in the Mall in Nebraska.

On the other hand I know, personally, a guy with a life a lot like this guy’s. He was thrown out of his house at sixteen, took refuge with another family and was on his own. However, he made it through college, married, has a couple of kids, a house, a good job and hasn’t killed anyone yet. I work with him and he’s kinda OCD but hey, we all have problems, right. Like I said, he hasn’t killed anyone yet. He is a relatively stable, loving, compassionate, productive member of society. He could have shot up a Mall too but he didn’t. Then you have the rich guys with everything that go around beating up homeless people for kicks. So, it’s not all about a “shitty life” or “negative influences” or “economic and social deprivation”. It is about the equation of interdependent influence and personal consciousness.

Yes, we are all interdependent, other people influence us but that influence effects us based on our own pattern of thoughts, emotions and perspective, whatever they may be at any given time.

There is room for compassion and responsibility.