The Christmas Secular fall out.

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Drifterwood, Dec 23, 2007.

  1. Drifterwood

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    Just Asking made a very interesting point in NJ's Christmas message to non christians. He said and I paraphrase, (so he can put me right :smile:) that Christmas was becoming so un christian that maybe christians should walk away from it and celebrate Christ in another way.

    My point is not to attack Christianity for taking over previous festivities at this time of year (everyone does that) but that now we have a more secular community or rather a less christian dominated one, are we reverting to a spiritual but non christian celebration of this time of year?

    It seems fairly obvious to me in the Northern Hemisphere that this time of year is a natural end and therefore new beginning. A time to have a party, to look back at the old year and to look forward to the new. A natural break in the course of our lives. As less of us are practising christians, is this what we are doing with christmas now? If you are a christian, does this bother you?
     
  2. Principessa

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  3. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    Christmas is a pretty non-Christian holiday and has been for a long time. There's a reason that the Puritans (those Godless fucks) didn't celebrate it. It's a convergence of pagan ritual and consumerist orgy, with Christian themes injected into it as an afterthought.

    For me Christmas is a time to be with family, exchange gifts and get off from work.
     
  4. sweatyblackballs

    sweatyblackballs New Member

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    I think one thing that I hear constantly is about the 'Holidays'. Here in England it is referred to in that way now in the media, I think that is an extension of something we have adapted from the North America's use of the same term. There is no real mention of Christmas and people also call it 'Xmas' a great deal more than they used to. This is probably also a great deal to do with political correctness. Here it is widely deemed 'unfair' to celebrate Christ so widely when there are other religious groups that are offended by the very mention of Jesus being the Son of God. So the 'Holidays' in more inclusive.
    Personally, I love God and I celebrate him daily. I'm not a diehard religious fanatic but I do have a relationship with God and that is faith-based, so I think Christians who think this way don't really subscribe to 'Christmas' in it's commercial sense because like you all said, it has little to do with a celebration of Christ.
     
  5. SpeedoGuy

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    I hope Christians can set aside their resentment and unhappiness. They have their own reasons for joining the party much of the rest of the world likes to throw around the end of each year.
     
  6. JustAsking

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    Keep in mind that reaction to the perceived "War On Christmas" is not really a Christian one. It is a more part of a culture war than it is a religious one. It is from the same right wing that is bothered by separation of church and state, and the lack of the endorsement of religion in the schools. The phrase "The War On Christmas" was a trumped up notion from a John Bircher in the 1950s.

    The John Birch society is a cultural/political one that pushed an early form of right wing doctrine. They were famous for the bumper stickers that said, "My Country, Right or Wrong.", or "America, Love it or Leave it!". You can see the beginnings of the anti-patriotic notion that dissent is un-American.

    My point (and more to the point of this thread) is that people from the mainstream Christian denominations could care less if people say Happy Holidays. Most mainstream Christians (which represent 80% of the world's Christian population) celebrate Christmas the same way as everyone else, which is both a secular and a religous holiday. They do not resent the idea that it has a large secular component.

    The only thing they are concerned with is what everyone else is concerned with, which is the secular component has taken on a huge materialistic aspect to it which is no good to anyone except corporate balance sheets.

    Most Christians would be perfectly happy if a large component of Christmas is secular except for the crass commercialism of it.

    Those that are vocal on about the War On Christmas are those who are under the absolutely false and ridiculous notion that religion is under attack in the USA. They labor under this illusion while living in the most religious nation in the world, whose very constitution guarantees that their religious practice and their religious expression is protected by the might of all three branches of the government.

    But no, they are not happy with that. They point to the objections to school prayer, to the removal of Ten Commandment monuments from courthouses, and the ban on Nativity scenes on the steps of the town hall, and lament that the secular forces of evil are trying to drive religion out of the public sector. The stupid ones are too dimwitted to see the difference between a public expression of religion and a government one, and the smart ones are too dishonest to not exploit that confusion. Don't mistake all of this as a Christian response. This is merely cultural and political.

    I think most mainstream Christians would be all too happy to cut Christmas loose as a Christian holiday, put up a tree, drink the wassail, eat figgy pudding, raise a glass of wine over a Menorah with their Jewish brothers and sisters, and then quietly celebrate the birth of Jesus in church or at some other time of the year if that is what it came to.
     
  7. Axcess

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    Jesus wasnt born in december 25. Any christians here know the info of in what time of the year was Jesus really born ?
     
  8. JustAsking

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    December 25th was declared to be the date by the Church in 440AD. From a biblical point of view the date is arbitrary. The tradition came from the church coopting the Babylonian holiday called Saturnalia which even predated the Romans. Saturnalia was a feast to the Sun God at the solstice. Solstice festivals to the sun gods are not unusual, since the point is to encourage the sun god at the solstice to turn around and start making the days longer (always a good thing in an agrarian society).

    It was a good idea for the Church to coopt that holiday, since one of the innovations in novel theology that the Jews brought to the world was a rejection of the notion of perpetual universal cycles and an embracing of a more linear vision that God creates the world, works creatively in the world, and then brings the world to some wonderful conclusion. Instead of cycles, the world starts with a beginning and comes to a culmination at the end.

    There are a couple of theories about the actual birth date of Jesus based on the relationship between the birth of Jesus and the various religious holidays that are mentioned in the Bible, or by John the Baptist's testimony on a number of things.

    One likely date is around Sept 29th, 2 BC and another is in May or June of 2 BC. The year is in dispute and varies between 2BC and 4AD, depending on which historical theory is right about the dates of the reign of Herod.
     
  9. Axcess

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    Man thanks for the info . It is sad that the exact date or month of Jesus birth is unknown . It would be cool to celebrate Christmas when Jesus was actually born . I'm agnostic but I respect the historical Jesus.
     
  10. SpeedoGuy

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    I'm having a hard time differentiating them, JA. Regrettably, I view Christianity (as practiced in the US today) much less as an expression of personal faith and much more an expression of conservative politics. They seem to be one and the same.
     
  11. Osiris

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    I'm all tired out having my wife take me to pick up "a few more things"... $800 later. OY! That is the last time I turn my back on her to get a Starbucks.

    I couldn't agree more. Media and the card companies truly have been forcing Christmas down people's throats. We who are faithful were content with things as they were, then along come the people who are not Christian and then the war started.

    It wasn't us Christians who fired the shots over your bow, it was the media, the stores, and the card companies.

    JustAsking? How about I bring a lovely goose along for dinner?
     
  12. JustAsking

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    Speedo,
    Yes, I completely understand that point of view. You would be surprised, though that the right wing Christianity you are reacting to represents only about 20% of the USA Christians and much less of the world's Christians.

    What you see as cultural conservative politics masquerading as religion is not part of the mainstream. They are, however, the most vocal, and at the moment, in this time of national fear, they easily resonate certain frames in the American psyche. They also are good press, and they have long since learned to take advantage of it. Finally, their message is as simple as it can get, which plays well in this sound bite journalism world of ours.

    My great disappointment is that mainstream Christian denominations are as ineffective as the Democrats have been for a long time in being able to put out their own message. Besides lacking the PR skills, the machinery, their message is more nuanced, and therefore more difficult to fit in a CNN news flash.

    Let it be know here that most of the complaints about religion I see here on LPSG I happen to agree with. It is too bad you don't get to see and hear what a Grace centered Christianity sounds like.
     
  13. Axcess

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    Justasking are you a Protestant Christian?
    I have read the teachings of the Orthodox Christians and for example 2 main differences exist between Orthodox and Catholics and Protestants.
    1 Original sin : According to Orthodox Christians only Adam and Eve are guilty of the first sin the rest of the humanity suffer only the consequence of that sin, not the guilt of that sin .
    According to Roman Catholic and many Protestant ALL humans are guilty of the Original sin .
    2 . Trinity : According to Orthodox Christians the Holy Spirit only came from the father vs according to the Roman Catholic and many Protestant churches creed the Holy Spirit came from both the father and the son .
     
  14. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    The Origin of "Xmas"
     
  15. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    Birthdays weren't really commonly observed at the time and place that Jesus was born. So guessing is the best we can do.

    I agree with everything JustAsking has said in this thread.
     
  16. JustAsking

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    HD,
    I am a Protestant Christian, but being a Lutheran, I consider myself a "reformed" Catholic. So although the cross is empty over the altar in my church, I consider myself part of the body of the one worldwide universal church.

    As for sin, and original sin, I find that question hard to answer without defining sin, since what I define as sin, man is guilty of both having original sin and suffering the consequences of it. But first, let me say that if you gentle readers stick with me for a few minutes here, even the atheist secular humanists will find a home in what I am about to say about sin.

    One of Luther's great contributions to the church was to bring it back to a definition of sin that grounds it in the very essence of life, rather than some theological abstract notion. While Luther was at the top of his game as an extremely exemplary monk, he realized that if the game of sin and salvation was all about perfecting one's behavior, then he and the rest of us were all screwed. This came from his self-realization that although he was at the top of the ladder of holiness and sanctity, that he knew deep down inside that he was still the same rat-bastard that he always was and he was really not much different than anyone else.

    In rereading Romans, it dawned on him that this is what St. Paul was writing about all along. He rediscoverd that what Paul was writing about was the fact that all of us are flawed and mostly self-serving creatures, who even at our best are still far from any kind of perfection. We are mostly influenced by our creature nature and will more often than not be more self-serving than other-serving.

    He realized that if this was the case, "the deal" with God could not possibly be some kind of arrangement where God trades us eternal life for our good behavior. Because if that was the deal, then no one wins.

    So with that rediscovered interpretation, sin is redefined (or rediscovered) as not a deviation from a God pleasing standard of behavior. It is redefined as the all too human bondage man has to his creature nature that causes him to be self-serving in the face of misery and suffering in the world. Any secular humanist would define sin in the same way. As imperfect creatures, our free will is somewhat limited by our tendency to be self-serving even against our own ideals, let alone God's ideals. If you don't think human free will is limited, just ask your nearest alcoholic or crack addict about his actual life as compared to his ideals for his life.

    I think anyone could agree with a definition of sin that casts it in terms of our response to the misery and suffering of others. In this light, sin becomes a "relationship problem", between man and fellow suffering man, and man and God. So sin in my life is the sum total of all the things I do to contribute to misery and suffering in the world, and all that I do not do to decrease it. One might think this is much better news, until one considers the almost infinite misery and suffering in the world and one considers how far short my response to it is. And my response falls short because I can't help it. In this new definition, you can rightfully call me a sin addict, whose addiction has no less of a stranglehold on me than any other kind of powerful addiction.

    So knowing my addiction, and the addiction of every human on the face of the earth, what is a God to do? The answer is (and you can find it also in Romans) is that God does the same thing we would do with an addict, which is instead of punishing us, he seeks to rehabilitate us. So instead of death ("... for the wages of sin is death"), he sends us Jesus.


    Our salvation, then is not to come from our behavior as much as it is our own faith in God's promise of unconditional love and forgiveness (which Christians call "Grace").

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." -Ephesians 2:8-9


    So the right way for a Christian to regard himself and others is about the same way an alcoholic regards himself and his fellow AA members. Each of us is to recognize that there is very little difference between the best and the worst of us. Since there is no hope of a complete recovery, we are released from the burden of expecting one. All we have to go on is the recognition of our own weakness and the reliance on the fellowship and support of our fellow addicts.



    Much like at an AA meeting where everyone introduces themselves by giving their name and acknowledging their affliction, so do Lutherans start their church service a reading from The Book of Common Prayer which is a general confession:
    Most merciful God,​

    we confess that we have sinned against you​

    in thought, word, and deed,​

    by what we have done,

    and by what we have left undone.

    We have not loved you with our whole heart;​

    we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.​

    We are truly sorry and we humbly repent​
    The point of this is not to wallow in guilt, however. The point is to realize the same kind of freedom an alcoholic would realize when finally understanding that being free from alcohol is not some kind of test of strength of will that he is continually failing. The freedom of acknowledging your affliction is the freedom to rethink your entire life and then do something with it under no obligation than it is simply necessary.

    As a Christian, then, once I acknowledge my inevitable weaknesses and inability to achieve any kind of behavioral perfection I am free to realize that I am released form all such obligation. I can then, with the help of God, simply roll up my sleeves and see what I can do about misery and suffering, not as an obligation, but simply because it is necessary.
     
  17. sweatyblackballs

    sweatyblackballs New Member

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    Hey man, just had a long read of that. Thanks. Very informative. Having read that it makes me glad that I am in no way, form or fashion 'religiously inclined' but rely solely on my love for God to reinforce that removing the 'Christ' is indeed a commercial device to neutralise Christ in 'Christmas'.
    Let me tell you where I'm coming from a little. I grew up in a Pentecostal church and struggled long and hard as I matured in age to fight against the ideals of the COGIC (CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST, Inc.) church with its rules, distinctions and religious ideals. For instance, my mother still does not wear trousers in church as she is not permitted to. Women are not allowed to wear bold jewelry and overwhelming colours in Choirs and Praise teams either. Make-up is disallowed. This is in my branch of the church here in the UK and is still evident in American branches from what I have seen firsthand, but by no means all. I still worship in COGIC, but I am now entirely focussed on God and do not participate in anything that leaves me subject to these ridiculous religious laws. I do believe that Christmas is commercialised and for some time it has been politically incorrect to call it 'Christmas' here in the UK and to that extent the 'X' is used to remove Christ. I understand what you posted and considered it, but this is where it gets complicated because that is a 'Church Of England' viewpoint ... it was not the bible that replaced the Christ in 'Christmas' it was the church and that is what makes it religious, when man is involved and makes these distinctions based on what exactly! I have quoted from the piece below to support what I hope does not sound like ramblings above:

    'Its origin is thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the Church. It is simply another way to say Christmas, drawing on a long history of symbolic abbreviations used in the church.'

    I hope this makes sense ... I am coming from a faith based place. A church that is moving away from religion slowly into encouraging a personal relationship with God, therefore when I object to the 'X' it is purely personal! Make sense? Hope so. :wink:
     
  18. JustAsking

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    What about Original Sin, then? Well, the modern mainstream Christian notion of Original Sin fits right into this. Original sin appears right off in Genesis as Adam and Eve begin to move through their garden world. There is something different about Adam and Eve compared to all the rest of the creatures in the garden. That difference is the difference that comes from them being made in God's image. That difference begins to manifest itself as Adam and Eve start to exhibit behavior that is independent from God's will.

    The most eventful willful thing they do is to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil even though they were commanded by God not to eat from it.

    Lest you think this is a story about apples and talking snakes, then think again. This is one of the most profound allegories in the Bible when it comes to the nature of human existence. What this apple eating signifies is that moment in deep time when mankind achieved its distinguishing consciousness, self-awareness, imagination, and reason. Only through these mental capacities could a creature have a "knowledge of good and evil". Why is this such a big deal? Because from these capacities come the potential for a person to model the world around him mentally, and understanding the consequence of his actions.

    In other words, it is the transition from a creature who simply follows its biological programming, like all other creatures do, to a creature who is aware of itself, aware of others, and can model, imagine, and project mental scenarios were he can either bring about great good or great evil to others in the world. Only man can create something like an atomic bomb, and with it create vast plans for either using it or not using it. Only man would die for a concept, such as democracy or loyalty to the crown. A dog, on the other hand, hasn't the capacity for modeling a given scenario and projecting the consequences of choosing one alternative over another in any sense that is beyond its biological imperatives.

    This huge distinction between man and the other creatures of the earth, make man into a being that needs to develop a notion of morality. The tragedy is that this "thinking reed" (as Pascal described us), is capable of imagining acts of extreme goodness (as defined by service to others in misery and suffering) but due to the legacy of his creaturely past, his ability to sustain such acts is limited by his addiction to self-presevation and self-service.

    So there you have it. We are all heirs to the original sin of that first hominid who woke up one morning and achieved conscious self-awareness. Being like him, we all operate within the sinfull limitations of that first mental act, and we all suffer the consequences of it.
     
  19. JustAsking

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    As for the "X" in Xmas, before you get too concerned with it, remember that this is not just an effort to get the world Christ out of the world Christmas. The use of the letter X to denote Christ is traditional from the times when early Christians were trying to avoid persecution. X is the first letter in Χριστος which is the Greek word for Christ. An early abbreviation for Christ was Xp which when superimposed on top of each other is the ancient Chi-Rho symbol. Using X for Christ is not a sign of disrespect. It is a well established Christian tradition.
     
  20. NCbear

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    I'm with you on that, completely. I wish all those "WWJD"-T-shirt-wearing people would read their Bibles and try to understand Jesus' basic message.

    Sheesh.

    NCbear (who thinks the historical Jesus taught from a radical point of view that would be unacceptable today in many Christian churches -- so unacceptable that if He returned, He'd be crucified again, and for the same reasons)
     
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