Truth and Democracy

Inviting those who live in the right-wing alternate universe to join the rest of us out here in reality.

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Location: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Keep Christ in Christmas"

So, you wanna keep Christ in Christmas, huh? Funny thing is…Christ was never more than a small part of Christmas from the beginning.

“What did he say??!!”

“That’s crazy talk, right?”

Nope. It’s historical fact.

When the Roman Emperor, Constantine, declared Christianity the official “religion” of what was left of the empire in the 4th Century, his mother, Helena, wanted an official commemoration of Christ’s birth. No such prior observation existed. December 25th was chosen in order to take advantage of an already popular celebration, the birth date of the Roman God, Mithras. For the people of Rome, Christmas quickly became a time of drunken revelry and public rowdiness. Only the priests observed it in quiet reverence.

Since the date also coincided with the Pagan northern European Solstice Festival of Yule, a 12 day feast, it was an easy sell to the north of Rome as well. But the secular observation of the holiday as a time of “good cheer” (public drunkenness) only intensified there. Worse yet for the “Keep Christ...” crowd, the Europeans melded much of the Yule celebration into their Christmas. To this day, a majority of those things we associate with Christmas actually originated with Yule; the hearth flame, candles (lights later), the tree, wreath, holly, mistletoe..etc. Even jolly old St. Nick originated in northern Europe. While he did travel the countryside bringing gifts to good children, he was followed immediately by a demon who would torture the bad children (try taking your kids to the mall to see him!). It took a 19th Century NYC poet to bring us the Santa Claus we have today.

Many British still celebrate Christmas by dressing in costume or masks. The tradition of Caroling began as an effort to get free booze from your neighbors. Ask a knowledgeable friend what the phrase “Here we come a-wassailing” really means. The Industrial Revolution in America ultimately resulted in the commercializing of Christmas, as our nation’s great Capitalists sought to take advantage of perhaps the only Christmas custom which actually had its roots in the Bible, gift giving. Christmas has now become more of a year-ending business frenzy than anything else, its own sort of “Christmas bonus”, for retailers all over the world, without which our currently stagnant economies might bust. “Keep Christ in Christmas” you say? It would be more appropriate to ask if you can “find Christ” anywhere in Christmas, despite its name.

I find your little signs (and sometimes not so little) to be a personal annoyance because you seem to presume that Christ was ever a major part of the holiday, he was not. TV talking heads and fundamentalist preachers droll on and on about “liberal” secularism destroying Christmas, another one of those signs goes up in the neighborhood, and another American buys into a false narrative of human, religious, and even American history. The fact is that the secular elements of this holiday were ALWAYS more popular, right from the start.

Still want to “keep Christ in Christmas”? Fine, here’s how:

Start by throwing that pretty tree into the trash, along with all your lights, wreaths, holly, garland..etc. No Santas, reindeer, elves, snowmen, no cards, nothing. You can keep the Nativity scene; provided you acknowledge that even that is based on misreads and faulty translations of the New Testament, as well as a mish-moshing of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. House looks pretty hum-drum, huh? Now pile the whole family into the car (oh, I’m sorry, male family only) and head on down to the first church you can find that doesn’t have any of those “secular” decorations. Remain there in quiet meditation and prayer from about 6pm Christmas Eve until Midnight Christmas Day. Congratulations, you’re keeping Christ in Christmas now, just as Constantine’s Holy Men did over sixteen centuries ago. (Try selling the kids on this idea too!)

As for me, I’ll still be laughing at your foolishness. Why? Because the entire premise of the three major monotheistic religions is an absolute delusion. Imagine I have a 9 year old daughter. She’s a very imaginative child. She has literally had hundreds upon hundreds of imaginary friends ever since she was three or four, never a real one. It seems as if there’s a new one every week or so. All of them have been products of her imaginative little mind. But the new one she’s talking to right now over there on the living room floor, I’m 100% convinced that this one is really real, although I can’t see her and there’s no evidence she’s any more real than the others. This is more than faith, it is sheer lunacy. Yet the version of human history one needs cling to in order to be a Christian, Jew, or Muslim today is every bit as fantastic, maybe more.

Mankind spent thousands of years, from region to region, all over the earth, creating “God” concepts or Spirits of Nature based on their unique cultures and surroundings. Men fabricated the very notion of a God. But, in the greatest cosmic coincidence of all time, there really was a real God, just one, who chose to reveal himself only to a small and oppressed tribe in the desert, forsaking all the rest of humanity, many of whom that tribe didn’t even know existed. THEY were his “chosen people”. Kind of like my daughter is to her invisible new friend. Utter fantasy.

PS - Nearly every crucial detail in the New Testament narrative of Jesus' birth, life, and death, is plagiarized from the story of the Egyptian God, Horus, which predates the time period of the New Testament by more than one thousand years.
         And don't "Keep Christ in Christmas" this Saturday. Then you're only commemorating an ancient Roman God or the Winter Solstice, remember? Better to pick a day from the calender at random, you've got a 365 to 1 chance of getting it right.


Paul Roth, Jr.