December 19, 2005

Why Now?

Why celebrate Christmas now? What made the early church start celebrating in December? We've been taught that it was to compete with pagan holidays -- in fact, one of my favorite cartoons recently mentioned it. But is it right?

Maybe not. Head over to Between Two Worlds and check this out. And think about what you've always been taught about Christmas, and how it may all be wrong.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:31 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 08, 2005

Political Clout?

Still think that the "Religious Right" is running things in the US? Still think that evangelical Christians have all kinds of political muscle? Well try this on for size:

We can't even influence the White House Christmas card. Excuse me -- holiday card.

While everyone is up in arms about the "War on Christmas"(tm), the White House (where George W. "What a Fine Born-Again President" Bush lives) sends out a Christmas card that wishes everyone a happy holiday season.

I personally have no problem with this. It is, after all, a season of many holidays. There are a LOT of holidays crammed into the space on the calendar between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, so calling it the holiday season is completely correct and accurate in my own humble opinion.

But haven't we been complaining about this? (And by 'we' I mean evangelical Christians in general, specifically those whom the rest of the world consider our "spokesmen") Yet "our President" isn't on message. We can't even get him to change. How much political power do we really have? Or are we all finally ready to admit that the GOP treats us like the crazy rich aunt that nobody admits they're related to until she's got presents to hand out.

We have a lot more to be concerned about this year. There are better places to spend our resources. I don't like the idea that companies are putting policies in place that don't allow employees to say "Merry Christmas" to people, but I can't change people's stupid misunderstandings of the word tolerance. What I can do is share the truth of Christmas with as many people as I can, in the knowledge that this truth can transform lives.

And I can wish everyone I see a Merry Christmas.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 06:09 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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December 06, 2005

The Feast of St. Nicholas

Most of what we actually know about St. Nicholas of Myra is legendary. He was wealthy, having inherited a fortune as a young man when his parents died. He gave gifts from his wealth to the needy, but preferred to do it secretly -- giving rise to part of the Santa Claus legend. Some even say that he threw gold coins down the chimney, where it would lodge in the stockings that were hung up to dry overnight.

Nicholas later became the bishop of Myra -- rather against his will, according to the accounts we have. He was a champion of orthodoxy, and was especially incenseced at the Arian heresy that was running rampant. Legend has it that he actually punched Arius in the face during the council of Nicea, and would have been removed from his bishopric had a vision of CHrist not told the other assembled bishops that Nicholas had done well.

We do not know when Nicholas was born, so his Feast Day is the day of his death, somewhere between 341 and 352. Nicholas is venerated by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, but it is the Russian Orthodox Church that holds him in the highest regard. He is the patron saint of seafarers, scholars, bankers, pawnbrokers, jurists, brewers, coopers, travelers, perfumers, unmarried girls, brides, robbers and children.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:41 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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A Voice of Reason in this Season

I'm on a roll with Christmas posts today. This one also touches a bit on the whole politically-correct view of tolerance.

Story 1: A chaplain at Georgetown University in Washington DC threatened to resign if the school went through with plans to remove crucifixes from it's classrooms -- a move toward a policy of tolerance at the once Catholic school. No surprise there.

The chaplain is Muslim.

Story 2: From the Cincinnatti Enquirer interview with Karen Dabdoub, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations:

Who are we fooling? The Jews don’t put up a tree for Hanukah; the Muslims don’t put up a tree for Ramadan. It doesn’t take away from my celebration of my holiday for other people to celebrate their holiday. I don’t want anybody’s holidays to be watered-down. I think they’re all wonderful.

Now that's tolerance. I don't have any serious awards that I give out, or Ms Dabdoub would get one. BIG thanks to GetReligion for this one.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Priorities? What Priorities?

OK, when I first heard it, I thought it was a joke. I figured someone had pulled a Larknews and written a fake story, and then some folks with an axe to grind picked it up and ran with it. It's happened before.

But no -- it's true. The "mega-churches" have cancelled their Christmas day services.

I was going to parody this decision, but I can't. And I'm not going to pull any punches on this. more...

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:07 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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December 04, 2005

A Nice, Commercial Christmas

I'm torn on this issue, I admit. On the one hand, the pig-ignorance of people who insist on calling them "holiday trees" when Christmas is the only holiday currently being celebrated that features a tree as a symbol bothers me beyond belief. I think that it's stupid to ignore the fact that the nativity is an important symbol of the season. And I plan on sending the ACLU a nice "Wise men still seek Him" Christmas card this year.

But, on the other hand, I've been an advocate of less commercialization at Christmas for a while now, and it seems that when we boycot and protest and complain that stores aren't saying "Merry Christmas" we are actually encouraging the increased commercialization of this holiday. We're telling them that our idea of Christmas includes sales and shopping, charge cards at the ready.

I really don't care what the rest of the world calls this time of year. Last year about this time, I asked the non-Christian world to get their hands off our holiday, and it was pointed out to me that Christians are at the front of the charge, making the "holiday season" more a celebration of conspicuous consumption and debt than a celebration of the birth of our Saviour. What is our main purpose this time of year?

Don't get me wrong -- I'm still planning on exchanging gifts with my family this year. My daughter loves the idea that Santa is going to come -- though she's worried about how he's getting into the house, since we have no chimney. It's a fun time of year.

But we act as if it's our main focus. We get mad if the stores where we're spending our money don't recognize our holiday. We make sure that everyone knows it's Christmas, not "the holiday season."

And our Jewish friends sit back, with their ages-old tradition of Hannukah, safe from the commercial exploitation that we've brought on ourselves, and smile. Or maybe they laugh.

{edit -- a VERY well-written commentary on this can be found here}

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:22 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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