Friday, December 12, 2008

My Thoughts On Christmas

I love how Christmas has two mascots: Jesus and Santa.

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.

The Immaculate Conception thing is totally ridiculous. It infers that no one who is born from their parents can ever be good as Jesus. I don't think Jesus should be worshipped so much as emulated. People will say no one can be as kind as Jesus, but if you choose to do so every minute, it can be done.

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 ('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, and decide, Who You Really Are."


Dämmerung Anblick said...

I've always found it bizarre to see how people could read the bible, get hung up on minutiae and use it to justify heinous actions.

Thomas said...

So true, Dammerung. The latest issue of Newsweek has an essay about gay marriage:

It basically says that opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture, but what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.

Here's some choice bits from it:

"The Bible endorses slavery, a practice that Americans now universally consider shameful and barbaric. It recommends the death penalty for adulterers. It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours."

"Should gay people be married in the same, sacramental sense that straight people are? I would argue that they should. If we are all God's children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color—and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that."

"My friend, the priest James Martin, says that in his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for "Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad."

Eric Curtis said...

Now that is a wonderful blog post.

The biggest problem I have with Christmas is the commercialization of it. It's not longer about celebrating Jesus' life but buying things.

Most people can't see or think through the historical context (especially the politics) that were going on at the time the Bible was written. Instead, people just like to be spoon-fed whatever their preacher or the evangelist on TV tells them. I have a deep hatred for those jokers on TV that go through the news and link current events to biblical passages. Usually, they are doing this to prove the end of days are coming. Like wars, famine, violence, earthquakes, trouble in the Middle East, and people generally being jerks has never happened until recently.

My Grandmother is a perfect example of someone like this, sadly. She watches those Sunday morning shows and the three cable news networks all the time. She swears the world has never been worse off than it is now. This woman lived through WWII, Stalin, and Mao. The body count between those three has to be over 200 million, but things are worse now! I blame the twenty-four hour news cycle we live in now for a lot of it, and Nancy Grace. I can't stand that harpy.

Wow, sorry for the Tolstoy

Thomas said...

Eric, great point about the End Times. People have thought the end was imminent for millennia and yet, we're still here. If you can't stand presumptuous preachers, you're gonna love this guy:

Jehovah's Witnesses believe we've been living in the "Last Days" since 1914. That's a heck of a lotta "Last" days.

Some Christians act like they actually want to live during the End Times (or in the case of W, maybe even help bring them about).

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go run to the mall to show my family and friends how much I love them. I only hope they love me even more.

Eric Curtis said...

"You're gonna love this guy":

Sell all your stuff and send it to him?! I've never wanted to put my fist through the monitor so badly in my life. That guy needs a cock-punch so hard that his Great-Grandfather feels it.

Sadly, it reminds me of something I read once on the web, but didn't bookmark. I talked about how the operators on the 1-800 prayer numbers really act towards the callers. They're basically telemarketers who receive calls. A lot of people who call in are elderly and mostly female. The operators remind them of past sins, and how a donation will help God forgive them.

Basically, they hint about that time in the backseat of their boyfriends '37 Ford, and they'll go to hell over it.

Utterly disgusting.

Thomas said...

Eric, calm down. That guy is not legit. I would've warned you, but it's sometimes better not to know ahead of time (see: Blair Witch). Several of the people who commented on the video also believed he was for real. This was my favorite: "Why does he need the money if he gonna be gone too!!!! What a crook..."

This vid of him and Gary Busey is even better:

Since this kind of thing does have a basis in fact (as you mentioned), I can understand your outrage.

Eric Curtis said...

Boooo! I wanted so badly to hate the guy. I wondered if it was satire, but it's hard to tell these days.

I'm going to pass it on to a few people who will bite, too. lol

Timothy Smith said...

Gay marriage should be allowed because its unconstitutional to do otherwise, period.

Makes me sick we take away civil liberties of millions of Americans for religious ideals. Seems very un-American.

Reading CWG is far easier then reading the bible Tom.

Never cared for religion much, I figure if you strive to be compassionate to others you have it down good enough anyway.

Rocketstar said...

I am the walrus.

Just watched a great documentary on Death and the Terror Management Theory of religion. It was awesome. I'll do a post about it soon.

Thomas said...

Eric, sounds good.

Tim, couldn't agree with you more. Compassion and empathy really are the key.

Rocket, can't wait.