And how ironic is it that when you flip the letters of Santa a bit, it turns into Satan. Jesus and Satan together again just like in the good ol' days. I believe a number of things in the Good Book, but not the Manger story. That's the justification for giving gifts over the holidays; because the Wise Guys gave them to Baby Jesus way back when (or maybe it's cuz of Santa).
I'm certain the story was written many years later as a way to address Jesus's birth. But they forgot to fill in the blanks as to what he was doing between the ages of 1-29. It's like he fell off the face of the Earth. Make something up, whatever, but don't say he was born and then pick up the story three decades later. We don't get to see the man develop, see how he came to be the person he is. By the way, if the Bible is the end-all, be-all, why is there such a thing as Christian book stores?
I love Jesus. It's hard to find a better way to live than the philosophies he espoused. But some of the stuff the church fathers made up about him are really messed up, so much so that Thomas Jefferson created his own account of the Gospels in which he took out all the miracles.
Many people think the Gospels were written by the disciples when in fact all of the writers knew about Jesus only second (or third) hand and through prior oral accounts. The four books weren't written until decades after Jesus' death.
Some time ago, I read the account of a man (www.nderf.org/wayne_h's_nde.htm) who crossed over and while on the other side, had a riveting experience in which he learned what he believed to be the truth about Jesus. However you feel about NDE's, the following makes much more sense to me than the Gospels' origin story:
"I had the 1st person experience of the one called "Jesus." I had his entire life (remember, time does not exist). His name was not Jesus, something more like Josephus. He had regular mom and dad, no God intervention. He had a difficult birth and an NDE during birth. He had a difficult childhood because of his near death experience, he knew too much. As he got older, he began to tell people about his experience. He told people not to fear death because they would live forever. He told people that after death, there was perfect peace and a perfect state of love. He told people that everyone was exactly the same and everyone could know who they really were and awaken to their spiritual self."
"He drew a small crowd of followers. After a time, some of his followers wanted to form a religion and replace the Jewish priests because of the money and power. He cast the power mongers out of his following. Five of them conspired against him. At his trial there were three witnesses against him, all were his followers. He was hanged (not crucified, he was just a petty criminal to the Romans). Being in a hurry, the Romans cut him down a little early and his loyal followers carried his body off. He revived having had a second near death experience (his "second coming" so to speak). He lived for awhile hiding from his 5 traitorous former friends, but died after a bit from his injuries."
One of the reasons I don't go to church is because the religions stick to their ancient texts without realizing that there are actually better books out there, books that can be used to inspire even more greatly than the Bible. My favorite author is Neale Donald Walsch. I was fortunate enough to meet him this past summer and wrote quite extensively about it here. He has written some stuff that puts most all of the Old Testament to shame. Check it:
"You are goodness and mercy and compassion and understanding. You are peace and joy and light. You forgiveness and patience, strength and courage, a helper in time of need, a comforter in time of sorrow, a healer in time of injury, a teacher in times of confusion. You are the deepest wisdom and the highest truth; the greatest peace and the greatest love. You are these things. And in moments of your life you have known yourself as these things. Choose now to know yourself as these things always."
"When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts—thoughts that negate your highest idea about a thing—think again! I want you to do this, literally. If you think you are in a doldrum, in a pickle, and no good can come of this, think again. If you think the world is a bad place, filled with negative events, think again. If you think your life is falling apart, and it looks as if you’ll never get it back together again, think again."
"Worry is just about the worst form of mental activity there is—next to hate, which is deeply self destructive. Worry is pointless. It is wasted mental energy. It also creates bio-chemical reactions which harm the body, producing everything from indigestion to coronary arrest, and a multitude of things in between. Worry, hate, fear—together with their offshoots: anxiety, bitterness, impatience, avarice, unkindness, judgmentalness, and condemnation—all attack the body at the cellular level. It is impossible to have a healthy body under these conditions."
"If you want guarantees in life, then you don’t want life. You want rehearsals for a script that’s already been written. Life by its nature cannot have guarantees or its whole purpose is thwarted. Know and understand that there will be challenges and difficult times. Don’t try to avoid them. Welcome them. Gratefully. Cultivate the technique of seeing all problems as opportunities. Opportunities to...be, and decide, Who You Really Are."