The Spirit of Christmas: Joe’s Perspective

In our world of inflexibility and absolutes. Where many believe their ideas are superior to all others and refuse to look at things from different perspectives, we still have the Spirit of Christmas.

Yet even this is under attack, but it’s not what you think. Not from my point of view anyway.

One of the expressions I love to hear is “We need to put Christ back in Christmas.” This statement assumes, of course, one holds such religious beliefs and ignores the equally beneficial nature of the secular aspect of the season.

But let’s explore this for a moment. Many people who have heard of Jesus Christ seem to think that Christ is his last name.

It isn’t.

Christ, the Anglicized version of the Greek, Christos, means “the anointed one.” Another interesting, yet an equally overlooked bit of trivia, is Jesus was a Jew. Christians, who came after Jesus’s time on the earth, believed him to be the Jewish Messiah as foretold in the Old Testament.

Here’s another interesting tidbit. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) have many similarities (and some stark differences) about the life and times of Jesus LNU (Last name unknown.)

The Canonical Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (like when Neil Young joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash) are the ones “accepted” by the Church. They excluded the Gnostic Gospels and a host of others. Paul, aka Saul, also is one of the accepted writers, but he never used the term, Jesus Christ. He might have said Christ Jesus, or Jesus the Christ (loosely translated from the original Greek) but I’m pretty sure he never listed him as Jesus Christ.

The third point, most Biblical scholars agree Jesus was not born on December 25. This doesn’t even take into consideration the myriad other similar “Messiahs” scattered through history (Apollonius of Tyana being just one example.)

Christmas, like it or not, is based on the legacy of a Pagan holiday and co-opted by the Christian Church to gather more faithful.

So, let’s review.

Jesus was not born on December 25th.

Christ is not his last name.

The “New Testament,” the go-to source for all things Jesus, has conflicting versions of his birth, life, betrayal, and death. All of which leads me to this, what does this have to do with the Spirit of Christmas?

Despite the unfortunate genealogy of the name, Christmas is a time for creating memories, remembering the Christmas of the past, and reaffirming our belief in the commonality of our humanity.

The magic of a Jolly Old Elf and flying reindeer whose sole purpose was to bring happiness to the world is enough for me. Or, any other tradition that tries to remind us of the power of seeking to make others happy as the key to our own happiness.

I will concede some aspects of my Catholic upbringing hold fond Christmastime memories. Mid-night Mass being one (although I may have enjoyed watching a few of my fellow altar boys fall asleep and slip off their seats more than the mass itself.) The music of Handel’s Messiah, with the words taken from some Biblical writing of Paul and others, always stirs my soul.

But I am comfortable that Christmas, and many other holidays derived from religious traditions and morphed into secularized versions, offers enough “Spirit” for me. I believe celebrating the “Spirit” of Christmas as a secular holiday, with the understanding that many hold religious tenets to be a significant personal aspect of it, would go a long way to making this a better world.

On that note, may you enjoy the Spirit of Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

 

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8 Responses to The Spirit of Christmas: Joe’s Perspective

  1. Peggy says:

    After Margaret Mary’s funeral I came home and was sitting on my porch thinking about Margaret Mary and I wanted to knw that she was ok and had made it home. I asked for a sign. Maybe a dove flying by and I thought the most I would get would be a white pigeon that I see all the time, but that didn’t happen. I forgot about those thoughts until 2 days later I woke up and walked into my kitchen and sitting on my table was a small plastic white dove. I live alone and I never said anything to anyone about my request. Was it an Angel who delivered the sign to me, I don’t know but it made me feel better knowing that she had made it home. If you have an explanation for how the Dove was on my table I would welcome it. The sign gave me comfort

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are always things the seem to defy explanation. As I said in my piece, when people are in the midst of a suffered loss small things can take on enormous meaning. My issue with people “believing” in Angels is more of a practical nature. Much time, effort, and resources are expended “worshiping” a specific god (dependent on one’s geography or upbringing) and defending that choice from all the others. In some cases, actively seeking to destroy differing beliefs. That is my point.
      I am certain that Angels of the type described in texts like the Bible or Quoran do not exist. However, what happens to the fundamental element of life when the body dies is still unknown. No one has ever offered a believable or remotely verifiable explanation.
      The fact that you sought out a sign then found what you were looking for does not mean an Angel appeared, it means as I said in the piece, the human mind will go to extraordinary lengths to protect itself and relieve pain. It is just as likely the dove was always there, just not as noticeable or put there by someone who knew it would bring comfort. Always look for the simplest explanation (Occam’s Razor) rather than an explanation you might find more comforting. Do Angels exist? I don’t think anyone can be 100% certain, but one can be certain enough that the evidence would tend to show they do not. Most actions attributed to Angels eventually are explained.
      Here’s my best argument. Of all the people I have met in my life, Margaret Mary would be the top of the list for those qualified for the status of Angel.
      And, assuming for arguments sake she is one, I would have received an equally meaningful sign in the form of a slap in the back of the head or kick in the ass. Angels as an element of faith (hope) for evidence of an afterlife are harmless enough, when kept personal. But I don’t see too many believers hurling themselves off bridges in the hope that an angel will catch them.
      As to what really happens at the point of death….remains (no pun intended) to be seen.

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  2. Peggy says:

    And some day when you least expect it you will receive that slap in the back of the head.

    Like

  3. bruce says:

    your explanation of the Anthropic Principle is a self-defeating concept.
    to say the universe exists because we perceive means we must first exist to perceive but we are part of it so if we don’t first exist to perceive it we can’t exist to perceive it. Now this paradox could digress infinitely if actual infinities could possibly exist but according to big bang cosmology actual infinities can not exist.

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  4. Kent Harrop says:

    Hi Joe, a few comments on Religion and Politics? piece. Good writing. Well reasoned. A few comments. You suggest that most religious folk would outlaw abortion. I’d counter that many may have moral issues with abortion but also are pro-choice and believe strongly in the woman’s right to control her body (I’d put myself in this category). Regarding ‘many would want to dilute’ the separation of church and state, I’d counter that a significant % are supportive. I’d have to research the numbers but many if not most see the need for the First Amendment, it’s only the vocal Religious Right (who are an overall minority of religious voters) who take issue with the First Amendment. They have the loudest microphone but don’t represent the views of the majority in the various faith traditions.

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    • I agree that there is a variety of opinion regarding the pro-choice argument. My concern is with the vocal, if minority, religious who clamor to impose their religious based morality on secular matters.
      Some would equate secular with amorality. I would argue that secular morality is equal to, if not superior, to any faith based morality. Perhaps it’s time for the “silent majority” of religious to support a discussion of the proper place for religion is in the privacy of ones thoughts and places of worship

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      • Kent Harrop says:

        There are several groups that lobby for protection of the First Amendment for all religions and from religion. A source I like is the Baptist Joint Committee which advocates effectively for separation of church and state and the rights of the religious and non religious. Their site:
        bjconline.org

        Liked by 1 person

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