I used to wonder quietly to myself, as a boy,
why “Christmas” (apart from the family, and the presents
of a new book, teddy bear, and the always appreciated
extra-large tube of Smarties) never ‘sat well’ with me.
I always felt cheated by the whole idea of Christmas …
as though I was expected to believe a monumental lie.
Lying was wrong … but – at school, church,
and in society at large –
I was being asked to believe this one.
From just quietly watching and listening,
I was aware that my biblically-Puritan Mum and Dad
always seemed to stress the idea of Christmas
as a time for … family;
but they never spoke of it having anything
to do with “Baby Jesus”.
I knew full well the account of Constantine, who
– through fear of losing the rapidly dwindling
Roman Empire –
in an attempt to ‘win over’ both pagan practitioners
as well as the rapidly-escalating converts
to a notion called Christianity …
took the pagan practices of his day
and swapped gods for ‘saints’
in order to create a new Roman Universal
– (or, Catholic) – Church in which,
all Roman subjects
were now counted as “Christians”.
I certainly knew that WHATEVER ELSE
shepherds did in the northern latitudes of Palestine
at the end of December …
… sitting out in the fields
“keeping watch over their flocks by night”
was … NOT … one of them.
Nor did any Roman governor or Caesar
demand that “all the [Roman] world should be taxed”,
and expect people to travel by foot
in the height of winter.
Not one word or sentiment in the old Bible
so much as hints at the winter fiction
of “Christ’s Mass”
But there was something – other than
the popish – that always made me feel that
something … was ‘wrong’.
Liquor was always advertised – everywhere –
in the weeks leading up to ‘Christmas’.
I had some idea of “office parties” as being
people who work together, getting drunk together.
And that neither my mum or dad;
nor either of my grandparents
bothered with such things.
Nevertheless, I kept all these things to myself –
figuring that there was something
that I simply did not understand.
And then, one day, I found the answer.
Accepting the cordial initiation
of a family who lived in Saskatchewan,
my parents took me for an extended visit to Canada
which is where, in 1966, I saw – and heard – “myself”
The programme was called
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”.
It was a tremendous relief to realise
that I was not alone.
And that another little boy – with a round head –
also thought that there was something wrong
with a holiday that equated “Baby Jesus”
with ‘getting things’ … greed, and Self.
I learned, at an early age, that the surest way
to win the hatred and contempt of mankind,
was to call for people to think and consider;
rather than just blindly following the multitudes
– religious or otherwise.
“Good men shall then be manifested:
their principles, their practices …
They who are now accused of hypocrisy, and obstinacy,
and pride, and peevishness
because they could not swim with the stream,
nor run with others to the same excess of riot,
will then be manifested to be
men of integrity and humility;
and to have declined the course of others,
not out of foolishness preciseness …
but out of conscience …” [ John Owen ]
Whilst my wife and I do enjoy
having a special meal on Christmas Eve,
we despise – and purposefully remove ourselves from,
the vacuity of garish “Sale Now On’ signs;
hordes queuing to get into shops;
and the ‘party mentality’ of liquor and frivolous laughter.
And this year was no different.
I have learned a great deal
about modern humanity from the Internet –
every one of them, things that I wish
I now knew nothing about.
It was only during the past few weeks,
for instance, that I have come to understand
that the mentality of modern multitudes
is so self-centred that it has become common practice
to return gifts
in order to get something “better” –
and that people will even include
shop receipts with their gifts
so that the recipient can return unwanted items;
or hand them a ‘gift card’ so that they can
‘buy their own’.
( And modern-minded people
think that there is something wrong
… with … MY … thinking??? )
When I was a boy, you appreciated a gift
( whatever it may have been !!! )
because of … THE PERSON … who gave it.
I remember having two copies of Enid Blyton’s
“The Valley of Adventure” –
one from each set of grandparents.
I treasured both:
because I treasured the Givers.
What a disgusting state of degradation
is humanity now in.
Every time that I imagine that the last
21st century “revelation” has taken me
to the absolute depths of social depravity
and manifest obscene selfishness …
… I soon discover that there is always
one more thing,
prevalent in modern society,
that I could never have so much as imagined.
In the 1960’s, Christmas was touted
as a time for “the joy of giving”.
What it is passed off now-a-days as being,
I cannot even begin to fathom.
I mentioned my confusion, as a boy,
of equating “Jesus” with an openly pagan holiday
such as the 25th of December;
of my distrust of “churches” and their “pastors”
who would tell me from their pulpits
that shepherds in Palestine
sat out in freezing cold fields at night,
of a Roman ruler who expected
all the people of the empire,
to walk or ride their donkeys
into government centres “to be taxed”,
in the middle of the coldest time of year
in the northern hemisphere;
of my disbelief at the veracity of such ‘teachers’,
as the record of history demonstrates
that it was the emperor Constantine who
– to save his rapidly flagging empire –
sought to unite the regular pagan population
with this new expanding movement of people
who were following some character
called “Chrestus”, or Christ …
… by decreeing a Roman church
in which all Romans were “Christians”,
and pagans could still worship gods as “saints”,
and practice their old religion of priestly intercession,
albeit with a “cleaned-up” veneer.
I certainly could not fathom
how any mature man or woman
could find anything “Christian”
in the drinking and gluttony
that was the very hallmark of
“The Christmas Season” –
Or why those who went to “church”,
and claimed to be different from … “the world”
would do everything they could, to imitate it.
The Puritans never acknowledged Christmas.
Cromwell banned the pagan festival.
But then of course, modern church-goers
have nothing whatsoever in common with Puritans.
CHRISTIANITY in Christmas ???
It is an absurdity that, for me,
is impossible to take in.
Yet multitudes will whip themselves up
into an evangelical lather in order to
defend the notion.
And I cannot but wonder … Why?
Even — IF — the practice was just … “questionable”
… (which it is not),
WHY do you defend it so vehemently ?
The celebration of the Winter Solstice.
Drunken orgies lasting from 17th to 24th of December
were recognised by Aurelian as “Saturnalia”.
The day after, gifts were exchanged in order
to celebrate the re-birth of the sun.
This was known in England, as the Festival of Fools.
To draw pagans into the Catholic “church”,
Pope Gregory decreed that all pagan festivals
be incorporated into Roman religious paganism.
The worship of Mithras, and Saturnalia,
became Christ’s Mass.
The public copulation, drunkenness, and debauchery,
of Christ’s Mass had become so repellent
by the mid-17th century,
that Cromwell outlawed the whole debauched event.
Christ’s Mass was restored along with Charles II.
Twelve Days of Christmas originated
with the Yule Log being burned for 12 days;
a new animal or human sacrifice being added
each separate day, in honour of the god Jul ( pron. “Yule”).
A lantern was to be placed in the window of homes,
to indicate the family’s figurative participation
in the animal and human burnings.
Thus, the custom of Christmas lights on a house.
The belief that Mistletoe could subdue a woman
so that she could not resist any sexual advance
was why any Victorian woman caught under Mistletoe,
accordingly, was expected to submit to a kiss.
Trees in groves were sacred to pagans in Europe.
Bringing the tree into the home
brought that blessing of nature-spirits
into the family house.
Why people who claim to honour Christ,
would want to associate that name
with such practices of pagan debauchery,
had always perplexed me.
Would they associate their mother’s name
with some brothel?
Would they connect their father’s name
with a drunken bawdy house?
Why then, equate Christ’s name
with pagan revelry?
It made me question the integrity of the most
who claimed to be … “Christians”
NEW “CHRISTIANITY” …
By 1980, “churches” were selling tickets
for every type of crowd-pleasing mass entertainment
imaginable … we even saw the beginning
of “Singing Christmas Trees” !
The prefix ‘anti’ certainly has the meaning of “against” –
but it equally denotes the indication of a “replacement”
– a substitute – that is presented in place of the real thing.
Even as a child, I was aware that
no greater substitute ‘Christ’ – or, ANTI-christ – exists
than the worship of Self.
“Me” and My opinion … MY “church” … MY denomination –
that – is Antichrist.
Whether ecstatic fantasists or militant theocrats,
“My church” – “my denomination” – plainly
over-rides any consideration of biblical example.
Militant “Christians” imitate the vindictive example
of the vicious ‘world’ to which they imagine themselves
to be morally opposed.
Whatever they say, or write, their nature and conduct,
rarely reflects what they claim to represent.
Seeing that an assembled crowd had no intention
of listening to them, the disciples in the gospel
referred to an incident involving Elijah
and certain priests of Baal:
and asked about bringing down fire upon this current,
The response that was given them by Christ
exposed the true nature of such malicious “evangelicalism”
and directed those Christians to take a good look
… at themselves.
“ … he turned, and rebuked them, and said,
Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.”
In the Bible, it is the False Prophet who is malicious:
who calls down ‘fire from heaven’.
Such “Christians” might rather consider
the example of the Bible that they Claim to follow,
and adjust themselves accordingly.
Or pray for the grace so to do.
That is the only directive given to qualified
when speaking with the ‘unrepentant’
in the world.
“And whosoever will not receive you,
when ye go out of that city,
shake off the very dust from your feet
for a testimony against them.”
“Christmas” – just like many “Christians” –
has nothing to do with Christianity.
The vast bulk of them will not make the mature
and determined effort to discern …
“… between the righteous and the wicked;
between him that serveth God
and him that serveth him not.”
… AND OLD ATHEISM
Of course, it would be nice, too,
if mature Atheists would do similarly.
Judge the nature of the tree – any tree !!!
by the fruit that it bears.
The God Delusion ? Hardly.
For any atheist to cite the example of religious
humanists such as hypocritical “Christians”,
shows a complete lack of understanding,
and betrays an ignorant fanaticism
that should be embarrassing.
Many a brazen atheist sets himself up
as competent expounders of biblical doctrine.
I recall seeing a few segments of a film
called “The God Delusion”, in which
a refreshingly soft-spoken, and exceedingly polite
academic was (as he thought) ‘stating the case’
for the absurdity of God.
Yet, to do so, he cited PERVERSIONS of Christianity
as Examples of Christianity:
Reciting the conduct of the Roman Catholic Church,
for instance – an institution which places Mary, the Priest,
the mass, the wafer, icons, beads, wafers, water,
tradition … and the Pope
in the place of Christ who is (at least, in the Bible)
both the sole head of the church;
and the sole mediator between God and man
– characteristics usurped by Rome, and which demonstrate
that it has nothing whatsoever to do with biblical Christianity.
The same gentlemanly academic
then voices his disgust of the Bible
by repeating the account of the Levite
who threw his concubine out into the arms of sadistic locals
to be raped to death.
It never would have occurred to him
that that account was presented in the Bible
specifically to demonstrate …
the depraved state of people – even ‘religious people –
at that particular time.
The actions and statements of
belligerent fundamentalist bullies,
and head-in-the-cloud evangelical humanists,
have nothing whatsoever to do
with Biblical Christianity.
Just like Christmas.
“The Lady Doth Protest too Much”
“Keep the ‘Christ’ in Christmas”
is the clarion cry of church-going multitudes.
But Christ was never in “Christmas”.
And it has always staggered me,
to see the pseudo-theological gymnastics
that folk will do
to ‘defend’ this particular pagan festival.
There is not a thing in the world wrong
with having a special day set aside
where family comes together;
and where ‘good will to all men’
is studiously exercised.
There is nothing wrong with selecting a gift
and giving it to someone as a token of love,
or friendship, or admiration.
But for self-styled Christians to focus
on the beauty of fir trees
which are specially-decorated in ASSOCIATION
with RELIGIOUS observance …
… and then claim that this PAGAN custom
of decorating and setting up a tree
in connection with pagan religious observance,
has no similarly with THEIR decorating a tree
for their evangelical religious observance
( remember: they insist that Christmas is “Christian” )
… is patently absurd hypocrisy.
Rather than follow the biblical directive and
abstain from all appearance of evil,
they balance on the edge of a precipice, and –
secure in their own high estimation of themselves –
fashion their “faith” according to their own opinion.
Christmas, it seems, is a temporary madness.
The sun reaches its ebb at the winter solstice,
the 22nd of December, in northern regions,
‘dipping’ below the horizon before ‘rising again’
after three days.
It was characteristic of the feast of Saturnalia,
that people would ‘wassail!’ –
toast each others’ good health with liquor.
Folk receive Christmas Cards from family members
who do not think twice about them
for the other 51 weeks of the year.
And on Christmas Eve, walk about
in an emotionally-inebriated stupor
of “cheer” and “friendship” – which will promptly
vanish two days later.
Everyone seems to unite at “Christmas”.
People claim to be Christians
and do all they can to imitate the world at large.
Atheists despise Christians
for reasons that have nothing to do with Christianity.
And all of them are fully convinced
of their own ‘good will towards men’ … at Christmas.
People love “Christmas”
because Christmas … means fun.
Affixing “Baby Jesus” simply allows self-imagined
“holy” people … to “join the party”.
A use of the name of God, which, I truly suspect,
is nothing short of blasphemy.
Those who genuinely love God above self
will fear to offend his holiness:
if they might err in matters controversial,
they will err on the side of separation from the world,
rather than imitation of it.
“Christmas” has not one thing to do with Christ,
and – for the life of me –
I could never understand the obsession
amongst church-goers to insist that it does.
Have a family holiday.
Enjoy a large meal.
But do not make your frivolity out to be
some type of ‘reverence’ unto God.
And why not take all the ‘good will towards man’ hypocrisy,
and continue it for longer than two days … ?
Party Time … THAT is the Meaning of Christmas.
And after all the greed, good times, and gluttony has finished,
people will remain the same self-centred,
self-seeking, and self-motivated creatures
that they have been – and will, perhaps, continue to be –
for the duration of their lives.
The only real “good” that could ever come from Christmas
would occur if people would force themselves to stop
in their mad rush for the next quick fix of entertainment,
and ask themselves:
What Does My Life Represent?
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
are excuses for ‘feeling good’ – hedonism,
drunkenness, gluttony – without guilt.
And what a shame it is that these same
partying multitudes would not change their lives,
and think less of pleasing self for two or three days;
and instead, show Good Will, courtesy, consideration
– and be friendly,
for the OTHER 363 days in the year.
Somehow, I cannot help but suspect
that this will be
just another Christmas.