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Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Conspiracies

Presents, trees, family and friends, eggnog, reindeer, corny old movies, potentially even cornier music, red and green decorations hanging everywhere, cards from people you've never met, sales, and conspiracy theories.

Ah... Christmas.

I was thinking about writing a series on this, but "the bounce has gone out of my bungee." And I did a series last week, so... yeah. No series. Just a few points that have struck me over the last few weeks.

Twice now I've heard people discuss the things that Christmas "borrowed" from pre-Christian beliefs. Seems to be a rather popular topic this time of the year. And why not? If Christ's birth is merely the conglomeration of myths cut and pasted together, then that sure puts Christianity in a bad light.

Trouble is: While many of the commonly cited religions/mythologies do predate Christ, their ties to Christ don't appear until well after Christ Himself.


Winter Solstice has long been celebrated by cultures worldwide. And with good reason: Agrarian cultures are tied closely to the changing seasons. But ties to a Son of God, born of a virgin, later to die a martyr's death and rise again to save mankind... yeah, those all got tied to various mythologies post-Christ.

My mom researched this a few weeks back in response to a letter she received. And my pastor talked about it yesterday. Since it came up twice, thought it was time to pass it along. Fear not: If anything, pagans borrowed from Christians for this one.

On the other side of the conspiracy fence is the group of Christians who decry Christmas because it borrows from pagans. Yep, that's right: Same complaint, slightly different bent. The argument goes that since this is a man-made potentially borrowed from pagans "holy day," we are to avoid it. Much like Halloween, only without the added ammunition of demons and ghouls.

Thus far, I haven't seen anything in Scripture that even hints at staying away from remembering Christ and spending time rejoicing in His goodness to us with friends and family. I've read a few blog posts on this recently, but they have been far from compelling. But, sure: The consumerism is a tad out of control. And it's a pain to find presents for everyone <smile>.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Solstice or nothing, I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter. I do love me a good conspiracy <smile>.

For me, the only question that remains is this: Why do we have so many songs about Christ's birth, but so few about His Resurrection?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father


Annemarie said...

Addressing your very last question...

We have a very young music pastor and he loves to sing all the verses of every song. OK, sometimes it's tedious, but this Christmas I am amazed to find how many of the songs that I have song for years actually have verses about the death and resurrection of Christ. Neat-o.

And, I read an interesting post yesterday about O Holy Night. It talked about translation errors. Fascinating.

Meg_L said...

Luke, I have tons of trouble with this one:

"Trouble is: While many of the commonly cited religions/mythologies do predate Christ, their ties to Christ don't appear until well after Christ Himself."

But I'm too buried to respond with justice (Want to help unpack some boxes? Or finish shifting my kitchen to the new house in time to cook Christmas dinner?)

In short, the early Christians acquired the local "pagan" practices in order to keep their new converts from deciding it wasn't fun to be Christian. Hence the fact that the connections didn't appear until well after Christ.

Including that Christ was not born at Midwinter.

Have a great Holiday and I'm hoping to be settled in here in a few more days.

Luke Holzmann said...

Annemarie, that is a great point. You are right: There is a lot about Christ's work on the Cross in carols. And that is great! But those are specifically "Christmas" songs... I'm really hoping for more and more great "Easter" songs. But maybe I should just be happy with what is out there.

And thanks for the link! Learn new things every day <smile>.

Meg, I look forward to the time when you have time to respond in full! Should be most interesting <smile>.

I would love to swing by and help you unpack. We've helped several friends move over the years and it's always fun to haul junk around. ...when it's not my junk <smile>. When it's my junk I always ask myself, 'How did I get all this stuff!?!' <smile>

But I don't think you're near enough to Englewood, CO for it to be practical. But if that's not the case, drop me an email!

You are right: I know Christians have a long track record of trying to make Christianity more "hip" by absorbing the cultural things around them (Xboxes at Youth Group, anyone?). So you're right on there.

I've read conflicting arguments for the origins of several of the traditions that we have. Some say it was such and such monk while others say it was the Celts... that kind of thing. But my post was about the actual story of Christmas. Christ. The claims about Him.

The traditions, date and some of the trapping may very well have come from various cultures Christians found themselves within. But the story of Christ's birth was not drawn from pagan myths.

Sorry if my point was unclear.

You have a great holiday as well! And may everything fall into place quickly as you settle in. <smile>



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