Archive for the ‘Christians’ Category

Whose war on Christmas?

‘Tis the Season of stupid comments about Christmas and a “war on Christmas”.
Funny, but people forget about, or are just plain ignorant of, the FACT that some Christians did not like Christmas based upon its pagan origins and traditions (pretty much all of them are Pagan). 

Christmas was banned in Puritan England and New England as well as Scotland.  Other Protestant faiths refused (and some still refuse) to celebrate Christmas.  It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday!

I’m going to grab this comment as a pretty good summary of the state of Christmas in the US:

Christmas is actually a perfect example of the way that a nearly homogeneously Christian dominant culture has segued into a pluralistic one. Christmas is a national holiday mostly because it’s always been one and the inertia is too strong. But Christmas has been co-opted by secular society to the point that it is celebrated by the popular culture as a nonreligious holiday. All the Christmas specials about the “true meaning of Christmas” being abstract notions like “giving” and “caring” and “family” and so on.

The other part of this is that lots of voters still believe that America is a “Christian” country–whatever that means–and any politician who so much as suggested demoting Dec. 25 from its status as a federal holiday would be committing political suicide for no tangible benefit.

So, there really isn’t a “secular war” on Christmas and Christians, it’s that some people don’t realise that the holiday has become secular, rather than religious.

The World Turned Upside Down

Since we are getting into how screwed up things can be when one forgets the lessons of history, or succombs to a more pleasing revised version of history, I present the ballad The World Turned Upside Down.

This was first published on a broadside in 1643 as a protest against the policies of Parliament relating to the celebration of Christmas. Parliament believed the holiday should be a solemn occasion, and outlawed traditional English Christmas celebrations. There are several versions of the lyrics. It is sung to the tune of another ballad, “When the King Enjoys His Own Again”.

Listen to me and you shall hear, news hath not been this thousand year:
Since Herod, Caesar, and many more, you never heard the like before.
Holy-dayes are despis’d, new fashions are devis’d.
Old Christmas is kicked out of Tow
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn’d upside down.
The wise men did rejoyce to see our Savior Christs Nativity:
The Angels did good tidings bring, the Sheepheards did rejoyce and sing.
Let all honest men, take example by them.
Why should we from good Laws be bound?
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn’d upside down.
Command is given, we must obey, and quite forget old Christmas day:
Kill a thousand men, or a Town regain, we will give thanks and praise amain.
The wine pot shall clinke, we will feast and drinke.
And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn’d upside down.
Our Lords and Knights, and Gentry too, doe mean old fashions to forgoe:
They set a porter at the gate, that none must enter in thereat.
They count it a sin, when poor people come in.
Hospitality it selfe is drown’d.
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn’d upside down.
The serving men doe sit and whine, and thinke it long ere dinner time:
The Butler’s still out of the way, or else my Lady keeps the key,
The poor old cook, in the larder doth look,
Where is no goodnesse to be found,
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn’d upside down.
To conclude, I’le tell you news that’s right, Christmas was kil’d at Naseby fight:
Charity was slain at that same time, Jack Tell troth too, a friend of mine,
Likewise then did die, rost beef and shred pie,
Pig, Goose and Capon no quarter found.
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn’d upside down.

Of course, those who take the term “Conservative”, yet are hardly holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, are more than willing to turn the world upside down.

Even more amusing are the ancestors of the Puritans who want to put “Christ back into Christmas” when Christians were trying to ignore the holiday because of its pagan connections.

Christmas Oldies

The Moody Blues: Don’t Need a Reindeer

I like the sentiment.

This one is appropriate to the Occupy Protests. I dedicate it to all those people who say the US is a Christian nation, yet are the most unchristian people I know. Unfortunately, they don’t know who they are.

As the song says:

Once in Royal David’s City stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby.
You’d do well to remember the things He later said.
When you’re stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
you’ll laugh when I tell you to take a running jump.
You’re missing the point I’m sure does not need making;
that Christmas spirit is not what you drink.

So how can you laugh when your own mother’s hungry
and how can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song.

Hey, Santa: pass us that bottle, will you?

Another Christmas Song

Hope everybody’s ringing on their own bell, this fine morning.
Hope everyone’s connected to that long distance phone.
Old man, he’s a mountain.
Old man, he’s an island.
Old man, he’s awaking – says,
“ I’m going to call, call all my children home.”

Hope everybody’s dancing to their own drum this fine morning –
the beat of distant Africa or a Polish factory town.
Old man, he’s calling for his supper.
He’s calling for his whisky.
Calling for his sons and daughters, yeah –
calling, calling all his children round.

Sharp ears are tuned in to the drones and chanters warming.
Mist blowing round some headland, somewhere in your memory.
Everyone is from somewhere –
even if you’ve never been there.
So take a minute to remember the part of you
that might be the old man calling me.

How many wars you fighting out there, this winter’s morning?
Maybe it’s always time for another Christmas song.
Old man he’s asleep now.
Got appointments to keep now.
Dreaming of his sons and daughters and proving ,
proving that the blood is strong.

The Gospel according to Conservative Christians

For Barb:

See also:
Pastor David Platt on the Gospel of Wealth
Christianity, The Golden Rule, and Social Justice

Christianity, The Golden Rule, and Social Justice

I have had these thoughts simmering in my head for a while after having received something from a Jewish Social Justice site talking about the golden rule: Love your neighbor as yourself.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

The Golden Rule is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment, and a reciprocal responsibility to ensure justice for others. The main point of the Golden Rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people with the same consideration as he would expect to receive, not just members of his or her in-group. The “golden rule” is exemplified in many Christian stories, in particular the Parable of the Good Samaritan. One point that gets missed is that the Samaritans is that the Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along, yet the Samaritan was the only person who helped the traveller.

It seems that the question being asked today is “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) with the answer being “NO”.

But does the Bible make a responsibility to watch out for and care for one another? When one turns to the New Testament, it becomes clear that the answer is in the affirmative. In fact, there are many passages which emphasize that people do have responsibilities to others, and not just our immediate families: hence the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10: 29-37

These were two groups that normally did not get along, yet the Samaritan showed the Jew compassion. Southern Beale had an interesting quote from Ezekiel 16:48-50 about Sodom and Gomorrah where God compares Jerusalem to Sodom:

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.

“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

Daisy Deadhead pointed out that Christ was no fan of the rich, and that is the Gospel. Daisy points out the passage:

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:21-22

That is not the only place where riches and materialism are pointed as being contrary to proper spiritual growth. For example:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20

Oddly enough, we have those who would say that the Gospel of Social Justice is a perversion of Jesus’s message, yet that statement is wrong. There are more than enough examples of where there is the commandment to “be your brother’s keeper” in most of the World’s religions. I have only scratched the surface of where the Bible commands that should one maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor. The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God’s deep concern for both.

Ultimately. there is nothing wrong with a prosperity gospel, as long as it makes clear that EVERYONE deserves to share in the prosperity, not just the few. But, that’s prosperity and not GREED that I am talking about. Social justice is about treating others as you would have them treat you. Indeed, it is being your brother’s keeper in that you watch out for his welfare as you would your own.

See also:
Isaiah 58
Versions of the Golden Rule in 21 world religions
Am I My Brother’s Keeper? | Daily Devotion from Genesis 4:9-16 |
The Bible on the Poor or, Why God is a liberal
God Calls Us To Show Mercy and Compassion to Our Fellow Man
How Greed Destroys America

The Wisdom of Father Dougal

Six pints of bitter. And quickly please, the world’s about to end.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Mark 13:31-32

Acts 1:7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

It amazes me that Millennialism has a following, but it does. This is because people have been predicting the end of time since Jesus died: possibly even before he ever existed (if he existed).  The results are that we are still here.  That gets me to where the title of this post comes from-Douglas Adams’ The Hichhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy:

ARTHUR and FORD enter the pub and FORD goes straight up to the counter.
FORD: Six pints of bitter. And quickly please, the world’s about to end.
The BARTENDER looks at FORD a tad questioningly over his glasses, but FORD is staring out the window. The BARTENDER looks at ARTHUR instead, but ARTHUR shrugs helplessly and looks at FORD. The BARTENDER looks down at the glass he is polishing and simply begins preparing their drinks.
BARTENDER: Oh yes, sir? Nice weather for it. Going to the match this afternoon?
FORD stares at the BARTENDER.
FORD: Well, no.
BARTENDER: What’s that, forgone conclusion, you reckon? Arsenal without a chance?
FORD: No, no, it’s just that the world’s about to end.
BARTENDER: Oh, yes, sir, so you said.
The BARTENDER stares over his glasses at FORD as he prepares the drinks. FORD stares back. The BARTENDER looks back down.
BARTENDER: Lucky escape for Arsenal if it did.
FORD looks a bit confused. FORD frowns.
FORD: No, not really.
The BARTENDER takes a deep breath, then looks back up at FORD.
BARTENDER: Alright, then, six pints.
The BARTENDER places the drinks on the counter. ARTHUR, who has turned back, gives a weak smile. ARTHUR turns around and smiles weakly at the rest of the pub. People give him odd looks. A DRUNKARD looks at the beer on the table, then at ARTHUR and FORD. After a moment of staring, he smiles drunkenly.
FORD: Get off, they’re ours.
The DRUNKARD almost falls out of his chair. FORD turns back to the BARTENDER and gives a strained grin.
FORD: Here you are, keep the change.
The BARTENDER looks a bit surprised.
BARTENDER: What, from a fiver? Thank you, sir.
FORD: You’ve got ten minutes left to spend it

World’s End Pub, Chelsea

As with most Millenialists, the person predicting the world’s end this Saturday has been wrong before. Religious leaders, scientists, fiction writers, and others have made tens of thousands of predictions of apocalyptic scenarios that were supposed to have happened in our past. All have failed. I see no likelihood that predictions of such disasters in our future will occur.

What are some other notable Judgment Days that have come and gone?

1284: Pope Innocent III declared in 1213 that the world would end in 1284, 666 years after the founding of Islam. While of course it didn’t, the prediction was used as propaganda to help stir up support for Crusades against Islam.

Feb. 24, 1524: When in 1499 Johannes Stoeffler, a respected academic and adviser to royalty, predicted the world would end in a catastrophic flood on Feb. 24 of that year, people took note. As the day grew nigh, more than 100 publications were circulating around the Christian world talking about it. People abandoned their homes and took to the hills or to boats they stocked with supplies.

In London, an elevated fortress was constructed and stocked with two months of provisions. On the European mainland, a German count had a three-story luxury ark built for friends and family. Just like in the Noah myth, crowds gathered, many mocking him – then it started to rain.

The crowd went into a panic, and hundreds were killed in the stampede toward the ark and other boats. When the count refused to let anyone on his ark, he was dragged from the boat and stoned to death.

April 1843: William Miller, a fundamentalist American preacher, predicted the Second Coming for April 1843, with followers of Christ ascending to heaven on Oct. 23, 1844. His followers became known as the Millerites, and thousands of them made preparations as the time drew near.
Some dressed in white robes and climbed hills to be closer to heaven when the time came. When it didn’t happen, Miller changed the dates, saying he made a calculation error. After a couple of more misses, most stopped listening to him.

May 19, 1910: The End of the World was predicted when Haley’s Comet appeared (and on it’s numerous appearances throughout time). “YOU ARE NOW IN THE COMET’S TAIL, FEAR NOT,” screamed a headline across the front page of the The Times Newspaper of Hammond, Indiana printed on May 18, 1910. “If this is the last edition of THE TIMES we wish you a fond farewell,” the paper continued.

If you are reading this after May 21, congratulations. You have survived yet another doomsday prediction.

Just in case, the Christians really are swept up to heaven, there is a service that will make sure their pets are cared for!

See also:
Mark 13-31-32
Acts 1:7
US preacher warns end of the world is nigh: 21 May, around 6pm, to be precise
Atheist’s dog-sitting is a rapturous business
Competing theories of eschatology, end times, and millennialism
TEOTWAWKI: “The-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it” prophecies
It’s the (Alleged) End of the World as We Know It
44 failed & 1 ambiguous end-of-the-world predictions that were to occur between 30 & 1920 CE