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2 Extreme Right Views On Christmas


BeachOfEden
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From:

December 7, 2005

Beliefnet.com

 

"Conservative Christians who are disappointed in retail stores that wish customers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" are equally frustrated with this year's White House Christmas card. Though the White House holiday greeting is always religiously generic because it is sent to people of all faiths, Washington Post reporter Alan Cooperman writes that some conservative Christians feel slighted"

BeachOfEden: "Don' they always say they feel slighted no matter what time of the year or what season it is?

 

"Cooperman reports that Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative web site WorldNetDaily.com says that Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one."

 

BeachOfEden: Oh my GAWD! You mean this this Copperman guy is SO far right that even Bush seems too liberal for him?

 

"I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."

BeachOfEden: Maybe you should hold up a cross and hiss at it.

 

"Other Christian groups are not bothered by the cards. "I think it's more important to put Christ back into our war planning than into our Christmas cards," said the National Council of Churches' general secretary, the Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman."

 

BeachOFEden: What? He is saying he wants to put the theme of Christ back into santa Clause or this war over in the middle East? Yes, let us rememeber the true meaning of this war!

 

From the History Channel:

 

History Channel Article On The Real History of Christmas

 

 

Saturnalia

 

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun. Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra's birthday was the most sacred day of the year. In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday.

 

Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?),

 

Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

 

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today's Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the "lord of misrule" and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined "debt" to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

 

An Outlaw Christmas

 

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

 

Oliver Cromwell

Corbis-Bettman

 

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

 

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new constitution. Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

 

Ok..so this basically leaves of with '2' 'different' far right religious reactions to all this. One, you can be the like the extreme far right Evangelical Protestants who choose to re-write history the way they like it, and try and force their verison of what 'they think' Christmas 'should' be about and try and force their perfered version on all of society..and tagged all who dare not concure with them UNAmerican and UnChristian...or you can take the flip side far opposite extreme right view on Christmas that the Jehovah's Witnesses do. The J-Dubs acknowledged all these facts that the history channel gives..and in response they basically hold up a Bible and hiss at the mere mention of the word Christmas, that 'they' deem NEVER was about Christ in the first place..but instead always was really about the birth of the Roman pagen god Mirtha on December 25 and about the mythical Santa Clause.

 

..Or..here another thought...in Holand they celebrate simply Winter Fest..from the end of Novemeber till Feb to give a cheerful distraction from the long and gloominess or winter. In this winter fest they is neither a deperate attempt to try and make this Winter festival appear to be about Christ or religious in theme. There is no mythical Santa Clause and there is no religious war that neither makes this winter Festival try and seem neither Saintly nor Satanic in nature, and as for myself this is the version I choose to adopt, the Winter Festival.

 

 

 

Make sure to watch

 

The History of Christmas

 

on Saturday, December 24

 

@ 7:30/6:30c

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When I was growing up I celebrated a kind-of "agnostic/Christian Christmas."

 

When I became a JW I gave it up.

 

When I left JW's and became pagan, I celebrated solstice.

 

And when I came back to Christianity, I re-adopted Dec 25 as the day of Jesus birth (whether it's historically true or not).

 

JW's are all about the holidays being pagan, satanic and evil. Many Christians blindly think it was Jesus' birthday and won't hear a word to the contrary.

 

I don't deny that Christmas is pagan in origin. However, contrary to my former view as a JW, I now applaud the Church for adopting some pagan customs and incorporating them into church tradition (rather than condemning them for "apostacy" or being "wordly").

 

I think the myths of Christmas are deeply and truly Christian, even if they are not historically Christian. :)

 

Merry Christmas (and if you're not Christian, then Happy Holidays).

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Many Christians blindly think it was Jesus' birthday and won't hear a word to the contrary.

You know what? Even in my fundamentalist church growing up, we didn't have any particular fixation on December 25 as being the historical birth date of Jesus. And considering all the conservative and fundamentalist Christians I've known in my lifetime, I can't think of a single person who does. As the above article makes clear, the Bible makes no mention of the date, so any reason for celebrating it on December 25 is clearly based on tradition of some sort. I honestly don't know of any "extreme right view" about Christmas that includes an obsession with the date of December 25.

 

I think the myths of Christmas are deeply and truly Christian, even if they are not historically Christian.  :)

Exactly. :)

 

Personally, I think Christianity intuited something profoundly right in its adoption of the winter solstice for the Christmas celebration. It symbolizes that God comes to us in the midst of our darkness -- in our darkest hour, in our darkest places, when we can barely detect that there is any light left to follow. And so we celebrate the New Birth on the darkest day of the year, at midnight, surrounded by the dim glow of candlelight, as the world slumbers in its ignorance.

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Many Christians blindly think it was Jesus' birthday and won't hear a word to the contrary.

You know what? Even in my fundamentalist church growing up, we didn't have any particular fixation on December 25 as being the historical birth date of Jesus. And considering all the conservative and fundamentalist Christians I've known in my lifetime, I can't think of a single person who does. As the above article makes clear, the Bible makes no mention of the date, so any reason for celebrating it on December 25 is clearly based on tradition of some sort. I honestly don't know of any "extreme right view" about Christmas that includes an obsession with the date of December 25.

 

I wasn't referring to an "extreme right view," or to any group, but to individual Christians I encountered in my door-to-door preaching activity when I was a Dub. I did it for 10 years. Believe me, it came up in coversation A LOT. The first thing people wanted to know was "Why don't you celebrate holidays?" and "Why don't you believe you're going to heaven?" Maybe it's a Mormon thing? They are rather literal. I did most of my door to door work in Utah - Mormon central USA.

 

I also encountered individuals on other bulletin boards (when I was a Dub) who, for whatever reason, felt the need to argue that Jesus was born on Dec 25. Perhaps they didn't really believe it. Perhaps they were just being argumentative. I certainly didn't make my experiences up. :huh:

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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I wasn't referring to an "extreme right view," or to any group, but to individual Christians I encountered in my door-to-door preaching activity when I was a Dub.

I was referring to the topic title, not to anything you said.

 

I also encountered individuals on other bulletin boards (when I was a Dub) who, for whatever reason, felt the need to argue that Jesus was born on Dec 25. Perhaps they didn't really believe it. Perhaps they were just being argumentative. I certainly didn't make my experiences up.  :huh:

What can I say, that's just really interesting! I just can't recall anyone in my experience ever getting too banged up about it. I can even remember a pastor or two saying Jesus was probably born in the spring anyway. Probably motivated by some of the same Bible-centrism that the JWs are coming from -- Bible doesn't say December 25, so some Catholic probably came up with it, and you know how much fundamentalists loved being identified with those papists. I guess it's just a big world out there. I was just making the observation that the December 25th obsession is not universal among fundamentalists.

Edited by FredP
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One of the truly profound aspects of Christianity is its powers of adaptation. It has been noted elsewhere here that the Catholic Church adopts local custom and ritual, to an extent, into its services when evangelizing missionary or native and indigenous communities. This probably has its roots in instances such as this.

 

Scholars have determined that Jesus was likely born in about 6 b.c. and was probably born in early March or late February. This would make him a Piscean, the symbol for which is the fish that swims two ways. This would have been an important symbolic sign to pagan believers that the king of kings was a transcendant, creative, and powerful soul according to zodiacal lore.

 

This was important in ancient times when much of belief was tied to superstitious and supernatural legends regarding things of the spirit world. Literacy based belief was only for the super rich and the ruling establishment. Ordinary people were still mostly driven by their superstition-based observances of the passing scene.

 

I believe that the aspect of this time of year, the end of December, is the most important determinant of the continuing appropriateness of the fixing of the celebration. Yes, the darkness begins to recede and the light begins to return. And it is very important that we remember that the pagan believers were mainly agricultural-community oriented people. To them the turning of the seasons and the fruitfulness of their pursuits in seeking their livelihoods was intimately tied to the cycles of planting, cultivating, growing, harvesting, and consuming the foods of their labors. That is why the OT and the NT are so chock full of agricultural allegory and metaphor.

 

As an aside, I'm not so sure Mithras was an exclusively Roman deity. My recollection is that the Greeks also celebrated his presence in caves and his ability to slay bulls. Corn also had someting to do with their rituals, but these largely remain a secret to us even to this day. By the way, corn was not known as a grain in Europe at this time since it was still the exclusive crop belonging to American natives until it was brought back to Europe after Columbus's visits, along with tomatoes. But the term was used generically beginning in the middle east from about 10,000 years ago to describe any variety of grain grown for consumption, yet another of those harmonic convergences that needs some research and explaining. But who's got the time?

 

Thanks for posting the historical information Beach. It broadened our collective search for meaning here .

 

flow.... :)

Edited by flowperson
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In addition to the date of Jesus' birth , the number of magi is interesting too. Last year,the pastor at our church asked the children "how many wise men were there" ?. They all chimed in "three". He asked them " how do you know". They said " the Bible says so" . He said " no it doesn't". In fact the Bible doesn't say there were three magi or a hundred. Three wise men are assumed because there were three gifts(pretty useless gifts except for the gold}

 

I believe the wise men are only mentioned in Matthew, and the shepherds only mentioned in Luke.

 

MOW

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Scholarly pursuits have fixed upon Arabian and Persian lords as the probable identity of the wise men. I agree that the number of them was not known, but the gifts that they brought were of great intrinsic and material value at the time.

 

It has also been interesting to me that they were deemed "wise" men. Not rich men, regal men, or princely men, but wise men. Of all the virtues most highly valued by the peoples of Asia and the middle east was wisdom. The eldest men of the people were deemed to have seen and experienced the most in their lives, and were looked to for guidance by the people and their rulers.

 

Wisdom is also something that is associated with the serpent in the asian subcontinent. So metaphorically, to have wise (serpent) men see the looked-for sign in the sky and to then have responded by travelling to view the new king of kings while offering their gifts and respect would be an attribute of the story that could cast a wider net around potential believers of the new faith.

The serpent was also a supposedly common symbol of power during the time of the OT stories. Moses reputedly had a staff of power with a "brazen" (brass) serpent attached to the top, which when touched to the area of a poisonous snake bite could nullify the poison and heal the bite.

 

flow.... :rolleyes:

Edited by flowperson
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Three wise men are assumed because there were three gifts(pretty useless gifts except for the gold}

Ahh yes, the gifts. Gold is what you give a king, incense is what you burn at funerals, and myrrh is what you embalm people with for burial. If the magi had literally brought these gifts to an infant it would have been silly. Their value is symbolic: this would be a king who would rule by dying.

 

Actually, I believe the consensus is that the magi were astrologers. Obviously, the mastery of astrology was considered to be an advanced form of wisdom in the East and West alike; and these men were, after all, following a star which they believed would lead them to something of import. From an inner perspective, the astrological connection seems worth pointing out, in the sense that the New Birth can take place in us when all the various parts of ourselves are properly aligned.

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Ok the big (and I have to say new) tv viewer here-- I saw something on the Star on PBS, and they said they may have come from Iran, were most likely Zoerastrians, and were astronomers (astrologers). They talked about the star being a astrological (and astronomical) even-- would make sense, why didn't anybody else talk about it or see it?

 

Yes, since I have reentered Christianity (or since I don't consider Christian Science too much Christian-- entered it), I have really liked the whole symbolism of Christmas coming at the longest, darkest month of the year-- just then the light starts coming back (solstice) as the new Child is born into the world. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, and this month is really LONG.

 

--des

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I was referring to the topic title, not to anything you said.

 

Ah, got it. Sorry. It was a bit confusing.

 

 

What can I say, that's just really interesting!  I just can't recall anyone in my experience ever getting too banged up about it.

 

It probably was a knee-jerk reaction by people who weren't to happy to have a "cult" preaching at them. :rolleyes:

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Wisdom is also something that is associated with the serpent in the asian subcontinent. ... The serpent was also a supposedly common symbol of power during the time of the OT stories. Moses reputedly had a staff of power with a "brazen" (brass) serpent attached to the top, which when touched to the area of a poisonous snake bite could nullify the poison and heal the bite.

 

The snake, while eating its tale, grows at the same rate at which it consumes itself: Everlasting Life

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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What can I say, that's just really interesting!  I just can't recall anyone in my experience ever getting too banged up about it.

It probably was a knee-jerk reaction by people who weren't to happy to have a "cult" preaching at them. :rolleyes:

Heh, yeah I suppose so. :D

 

Oh yeah, so what do you get when you cross a Jehovah's Witness with a Unitarian?

 

Somebody who knocks at your door, but doesn't know why.

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Wisdom is also something that is associated with the serpent in the asian subcontinent. ... The serpent was also a supposedly common symbol of power during the time of the OT stories. Moses reputedly had a staff of power with a "brazen" (brass) serpent attached to the top, which when touched to the area of a poisonous snake bite could nullify the poison and heal the bite.

 

The snake, while eating its tale, grows at the same rate at which it consumes itself: Everlasting Life

 

Of course the OT states emphatically that G-d hated serpents, and then there is Matthew 7, 9-11 which, in my opinion is one of the most enigmatic passages in the NT. It's highly symbolic and IMO touches upon the real meaning of the church being founded on the "rock" of Simon Peter.

 

Add to this the fact that the "orouboros" (sp?) or the serpent swallowing its tail was a sign placed upon the tomb markers of some very early Christians, up until about the third century a.d., and you have another of those strange convergences that should be explored in depth sometime by someone, but like I said, not me. There just isn't enough time.

 

I believe that it has something to do with symbolic interpretations of the meaning of sexual relations. But again, that's only an opinion. But wouldn't Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell have a ball doing a sermon on the subject?

 

flow.... :D

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It is interesting that the far right Christians..be they Protestant ones or Catholics ones always love to put both the UU's and JW's and Bahia and their "BLEEP" list. Ironic..when you stop and think that both UU's and Bahia are all for social justices..must like we Prog Christians are and yet JW's are completely NOT for Social Justice..and yet why do the fundie branches of Protestants and Fundie branch of catholics place the fundamental far right JW's on the same level as the very liberal/progressive UU's and bahias????

 

This all goes back to what I was talking about how the fundi Prots and fundi Caths are obessesed with the debate of the trinity..thus is WHY they stict the very fundi JW's on the same BLEEP list with the very liberla UUs... Does this fail to make sense to anyone else here???

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Aaaaah, OK, makes sense now. Heh heh heh.  :lol: (I didn't know that about Unitarians.)

Well, the joke really turns on the fact that Unitarian Universalism has become a really big tent. While there are still loose historical ties to the actual doctrines of Unitarianism and Universalism -- which both arise out of liberal Christianity -- UU isn't really a Christian denomination in any sense of the word anymore. Not that there aren't plenty of Christian UU's, but it's become just as much a home for the eclectic spiritualist, as the liberal Christian. UU has become particularly attractive to pagans, for whom there isn't really much else in the way of established religious community. So it's an attractive alternative for that reason. UU is all about finding your own path, your own theology, your own spiritual practice, etc., so there really isn't any "UU theology" per se.

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Aaaaah, OK, makes sense now. Heh heh heh.  :lol: (I didn't know that about Unitarians.)

Well, the joke really turns on the fact that Unitarian Universalism has become a really big tent. While there are still loose historical ties to the actual doctrines of Unitarianism and Universalism -- which both arise out of liberal Christianity -- UU isn't really a Christian denomination in any sense of the word anymore. Not that there aren't plenty of Christian UU's, but it's become just as much a home for the eclectic spiritualist, as the liberal Christian. UU has become particularly attractive to pagans, for whom there isn't really much else in the way of established religious community. So it's an attractive alternative for that reason. UU is all about finding your own path, your own theology, your own spiritual practice, etc., so there really isn't any "UU theology" per se.

 

When I read the joke the first time, I read Unitarian and thought "not Trinitarian." I then thought "Huh? Non-Trinitarians don't know why they are at your door? But JW's ARE Unitarians."

 

When you then explained that Unitarians are famous for not knowing exactly what they believe, I still thought it must be a poke at non-Trinitarians.

 

I didn't get that you were talking about UU's until JUST NOW! :lol::lol:

 

That you were talking about UU's should have been self-evident, based on the punchline of the joke, but for whatever reason (lack of caffeine?), it wasn't. :rolleyes:

 

Yes, I do know and understand that about UU's. (I'm so embarrassed at my brain sometimes!) <_<

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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All of our brains work a little differently from each other. It would REALLY be a boring world if they worked all the same way, no?

 

And from what I've observed, most people here have brains that work excellently, yours especially. Besides, on another thread here Fred is openly admitting to being looney. Well, I'll admit to that too. I believe that's inevitable since it's my firm belief that life's mostly a joke, and it's a joke on us.

 

Keep laughing and smiling !!

 

flow.... :D

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Fred is very right about this on UU's. For 5 years I have visted UU churches in both Ventura and Santa Barbara and there IS most positively a VERY strong anti Christian and basically both anti-deist and even anti-theist mentality there. This really sucks for all the Liberal Christians, Liberal Jews and deists in their churches and thus is why they don;t stay long. Most UU Christians I have talked to keep switching back and forth from visiting UU's to Episcopalians. Infact, I have a newspaper article about this that I saved about the hostility from a vast majority Humanist UU's towards their theist and deists UU's brethern. I'll find it and post it on here so you can all read. It's pretty eye-opening.

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