A "Stolen" Holiday and other ramblings

As Christmas day gets closer it seems i have less and less time to blog. It also doesn't help that i usually blog from work so my time is even more limited. It has been a huge help fasting from direct Facebook access as i have been able to refocus on the things i am supposed to. Last week i blogged about my feelings regarding "a tale of two Christmases", and a gaming and WWW acquaintance, sent me an e-mail regarding some points of the history of Christmas. So that i do not misquote i will past a copy of it here:
Hiya. The main reason I asked the question I did, is because your comments about people losing the "true spirit" of Christmas struck me as somewhat humorous, in a wry, twisted way. Being a Christian, you may not like what I'm about to say, but I hope you will take it as openly as you have everything else in all the discussions I've seen you in. *** WARNING: religiously contentious issue below *** Simply put, Christmas is a "stolen" holiday. Most of the traditional Christmas trappings come from an older, pagan winter festival. With the exception of Santa Claus, who was originally St. Nicholas, a very real Christian figure, who has since been corrupted and re-imaged thanks to commercialism (iirc, the current image of the fat guy in the red-and-white suit came from a Coca-Cola ad). It has even been argued that it is impossible for the holiday of Christmas to truly match with the supposed time of Christ's birth, because middle-east shepherds did not "watch their flocks by night" in the middle of December. So, in my eyes, the Christ in Christmas is nothing more than the artificial add-ons made by a church intent on conquest by conversion. Indeed, many of the Christian holidays and events are repackaged pagan festivals. And, granted, commercialism has made large and somewhat unsavoury inroads to all these holidays. So much has been lost or altered through time and meddling, that nobody can say what the "true" spirit of any holiday is. All that remains for sure is that Christmas/Yuletide/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is a time for friends and family to gather for a feast (meaning good food, plenty of booze, and a bucketload of fun) and restrengthen bonds that may have weakened over the year past. And that, more than any influence of any faith, is the best reason for a holiday I can think of.
I quote his e-mail not in an attempt to pick it apart, because that is not why i did it. I quoted it because i wanted to make sure i did not mis-represent what he did indeed say. I appreciated his e-mail because he was not trying to lambaste me for being a Christian. He was not trying to belittle my belief in Christ. What he was trying to point out that the Christmas "season" and my point of lamenting the loss of Christ in "Christmas" has no basis because in its origins this season had nothing to do with Christ. This is not some humanistic attempt to undermine my faith, it is the truth. For brevity i am not going to go into it here - but there is little doubt that Christ was NOT born in December, but that the "Christ Mass" was implemented during this season by the church of old in an attempt to help ease the conversion of "pagans" and "barbarians". His e-mail helped me realize that the loss of Christ in "Christmas" i was lamenting really has nothing to do with the loss of influence of Christians during this time of year. It was never really "ours" in the first place. He helped me see what i was really trying to say... That we as Christians need to keep the season and remember why we celebrate Christmas. We have a tradition of celebrating Christ's birth during this time of year and that is not a bad thing, but we cannot expect the world to conform to how we want to celebrate. We are to be "in the world", but "not of [the world]". Here was my response to his e-mail:
Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Life can get in the way of simple correspondence. :-) I, in turn, had to chuckle at your e-mail. I was already aware of the holiday we currently call "Christmas" being a "stolen" holiday and that it is pretty unlikely that December being the actual time of birth of Christ. I had actually blogged about this (albeit not very in depth) not too far back. Your points are quite true, and they did get me thinking about other areas of the season if you will. ***Religiously contentious content to follow*** ;-) In my opinion the church has done this sort of thing all too often. I mean, most of the "Holy sites" in the middle east (referring strictly to the Christian ones) are highly suspect at best. The Crusades... yea, like forcing your will upon a populace converts anyone... not to mention the amount of damage done to probably the most "civilized" cultures of the day - and the loss of knowledge when the Europeans moved through North Africa and the Middle East. Sad really. Oh, another thing about the Christmas traditions... no where in the scriptures does it say that there were three wise men (magi). It does not mention a number, but only refers to them in the plural sense, and it merely lists three gifts. I am by no means a Biblical scholar. I guess what i really want this time of year, especially for Christians, is that this should be a time of reflection of why we celebrate the birth of Christ. We do indeed need to know that this season is a "borrowed" ;-) season, but it is less important to know the exact day as it is to know the who, and what His life ultimately accomplished. In many ways [my friend] the American church as a whole really has strayed from the teachings of Christ. The focus has turned away from God being the focus, to mankind being the focus. These are very broad statements, and I am not really sure how effectively I could discuss such things. I appreciate your willingness to share your points below. I hope you have a great holiday season, and that you get to "feast" and renew your relationships that you have allowed to lapse over the past year. Merry Christmas from your "religious" friend. -[samurai]
This, along with a few other conversations i've been having lately, have been helpful for me to be more aware of what Christ may be doing in my life lately. Where He may be leading me... hopefully i won't let fear get in the way... this time. Ok... on to my other thoughts... i want to take advantage of my time since i may not get to blog again tomorrow... Recently it was announced that McG has already begun work on a sequel to next May's Terminator Salavation. wOOt!!! \o/ I had heard that they were probably going to try and make it another trilogy in the Terminator story line. I also was able to see the second movie trailer: (http://rss.warnerbros.com/terminatorsalvation/) There are several other movies coming out around that time that i am really looking forward to... but this is my "big" one. I recently had tried to run a separate blog on my Fallout 3 experience, but it just wasn't working. I am also having trouble capturing and sharing my screen shots, so instead of boring people in a separate blog i thought i would just bore people here from time to time. LOL Anyway... I am going to run for now.... May God our out His Spirit upon all who stumble upon this blog.


Susan said...

There are some powerful thoughts in BOTH of your emails. I think definitely food for thought and a GREAT discussion topic.

:-) Susan

Ms. Coffee said...

I agree with Susan! Great discussion topic and good points in both as well.

You always find a way to make me think about things.

You know now much I hate using my brain! ;-)

It will though - be printed and brought in for my Bible study group tonight because this is part of our topic.