Put the “Mind” Back in “Your Own Business”

Pagan Yule was around long before “Christmastime” and was centered around the winter solstice…  So I really wish everyone would stop trying to bully other people into saying “Merry Christmas,” if they don’t want to.  If you celebrate Christmas and wanna say “Merry Christmas”, more power to you, but trying to force others to “put Christ back in Christmas” is just as bad as others forcing trying to force you to say happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  As for Jesus being the “reason for the season,” no; the reason for the season is a physical, seasonal change in the position of the Earth relative to the Sun.  There is nothing in the bible that says Jesus was born in December, or more specifically, December 25th.  In fact, there is speculation because of some astronomical and cultural references, that he was born in the summer.

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History convincingly shows that Dec. 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. (source)

A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that Dec. 25 is an unlikely date for Christ’s birth. Here are two primary reasons:

First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8)

The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.

Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4)

Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.

Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then . . . to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism.” (source)

 

Not everyone is Christian, but we all deserve a “happy holiday.”  That is all.

Have a "cool Yule..."  Or a "Merry Christmas..."  Or... whatever!

Have a “cool Yule…” Or a “Merry Christmas…” Or… whatever!

Related articles:

https://alienredqueen.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/have-a-very-secular-christmas/

http://backporchtheology.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/the-war-on-happy-holidays/

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Have a Very Secular Christmas?

So, I’ve been giving this some thought really probably ever since I had my child, but more so now that she is growing up and coming to an age where she’ll be able to anticipate the holidays and internalize some of the associated traditions and ideas.  As my regular readers know, I have what some might call a “crisis of faith.”  My heart wants to believe in a loving God, but my intellect and reason just don’t accept it.  And contrary to what some may say, wishing doesn’t make it so.

I am acutely aware of how my adult perception of Christmas and its origin has changed in relation to the hopeful magic of childhood Christmases past.   I was never what I would call “strong” in faith, but now that I have pretty much decided where I come down on the organized religion issue, I am unsure how exactly I want to represent Christmas to my child.  It’s certain that I do want to celebrate with my family in some way.  To me, right now, Christmas is mostly about family, togetherness, and love…  But why should we celebrate that in December instead of all year round.  I am fine with objectively explaining to my daughter, when she is old enough to understand (she is turning three next month) the reasons why the majority of people who celebrate Christmas do so (“Jesus is the reason for the Season” and all that jazz) but I do not feel inclined to raise her in a religion or even in a belief in a supreme being.  A large part of me feels that indoctrination of young children is wrong because it sets them at a disadvantage for later autonomous decisions regarding religion.   For example, had I not been taught as a child that I was supposed to believe in God, would I be so uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t believe?  

Then there is the “Santa question.”   We believed in Santa as a kid, and it was fun and relatively harmless, even when we found out he wasn’t “real.”  And yet,  I find I am loath to lie to my kid, even if it is a fun and harmless lie like Santa.  And yet regardless of what I tell her, I wonder how many of my friends and relatives and even random but well-meaning strangers  will thoughtlessly ask her if she’s “excited for Santa” this holiday season…

So I am left with the question of how I want to present the winter holidays to my child.  The only reason Christmas is even celebrated in December is because of Christianity’s attempts to combat or counterbalance the pagan holidays and rituals of excess practiced during that same season. (source 1, 2)  Basically, Jesus was not born on December 25th, and there is no date given in the bible for his birth, although certain astrological references lead some scientists to believe he was actually born in the Summertime.

Do I take a more naturalistic or pagan approach, celebrating the time of year and nature’s cycles, and then maybe meld into it my feelings of family and tradition?  Would it make some people feel better if we celebrated the holiday but didn’t call it “Christmas?”  Guess it’s a good thing it’s only the end of July… then again, wasn’t Jesus born in the Summer? 😉

This is the optimal idea...

This is the optimal idea…

...and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

…and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

(Click here for more on why Christmas may be celebrated on the 25th of December.)

Valentine’s Day: Happy or “Humbug?”

I’ve been seeing about a fifty/fifty split on Facebook posts between

“Happy Valentines Day, [so-and-so]! I love you, (blah blah blah…)”  and

“Screw Valentine’s Day! It’s just a Hallmark holiday anyway!”

Personally, I can’t think of a reason to complain about a day where there is an abundance of chocolate and flowers around, and an increased chance of sex!  Saying those things are bad is like saying you like to kick puppies.  Also, the nay-sayers are fooling themselves if they don’t think every other holiday has become a “Hallmark holiday” as well.

Like I told my friends, via my own status, even Christmas is commercial now.  I highly doubt the twelves disciples gave one another expensive electronics or fancy jewelry to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  Anytime a holiday results in almost as much stress (or more) as it does joy, the holiday has likely become too commercial, or strayed too far from its original meaning.

I was thinking to myself today, the point of Valentine’s Day, or any holiday, is that its significance is what you make it.  What you put into it is what you get out of it.  So, if you want to celebrate V-day, great! If not, more power to ya!  But then this day took an interesting sort of turn which left me feeling a little confused, disappointed, silly, and finally, pissy…

In the spirit of this post, I was originally going to do a Valentine’s Day photo shoot (incognito, of course!)

By the time I got done exercising, I was feeling confident and inspired.  I knew hubby was coming home for lunch (he usually does,) and I wanted to wash the funk off before he got home, but I was going to wait until after he left to go back to work to get all fixed up, and I’d also have a nice deer steak ready for dinner.  But I had some extra time when  got out of the shower, so I got dressed up in a cute little vintage strapless number that’s been gathering dust in my closet, shaved my legs, put on some make-up… I even crammed myself into those pain in the ass spanx so I’d look extra svelte in my dress.

Granted, hubby says I always look beautiful…bleh.  But when I dress up, dammit, I feel pretty…only, when hubby walked through the door, his face hanging cuz he had a headache (again,) and… nothing.  Not only was there not a “you look great,” or “Happy Valentine’s Day,” there was no change in facial expression whatsoever.  

Already feeling embarrassed, I mumbled something about wanting to look cute for Valentine’s.  And then I said, in my daughter’s direction, “But now Mommy’s going to go change cuz she just feels silly.”

~sigh~  So for about 20 minutes I kind of wanted to cry, and then hubby left to go back to work and he kissed me twice and told me he loved me…

Hubby is a bit short on romance, but he’s a good guy and he does love me.  Last night when we got back from a couple of errands, he whipped out a bag of Andes Candies he had managed to sneak by me  (I heart Andes Candies) and he said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Well, it’s the little things that count, right?  So I made myself some “Valentine’s Day comfort coffee” with Hershey’s syrupand dropped a couple of Andes in it to make it extra minty-chocolatey.  And now I’m going to go smoke a “Valentine’s Day cigarette.”

Yay, me.

I guess I’m still a little bummed, so… dammit, I better get some extra Valentine’s Day sex tonight, or someone’s gonna be in trouble!

Are You There, God?

When I was fifteen, I told my dad I didn’t want to go to church anymore.  I very calmly explained to him that it wasn’t right for me at that time in my life.  I never wanted to believe just because I was afraid not to, or because I was afraid of death.  (And believe me, I am afraid of death.)  I told him maybe one day– when I was ready– I would come back to the Church.  I tried to explain my well-thought-out reasoning to him maturely…

And then I told him if he tried to make me go, I’d stop coming to his house for visits on weekends.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to go to church anymore.  Maybe he understood…maybe I broke his heart a little.  But since that time I have been searching, in my own way, for the answers.

For some people it’s simple.  Some people were  raised with a faith that they never felt the need or desire to question.

Some people are so immersed in their faith that they literally can not conceive of someone doubting God’s existence; they use rote faith as proof… ie. “How can you look around at this beautiful world and not see God everywhere?”  Sort of  solipsistic, isn’t it?

And then there are those who insist that faith is about believing in the absence of evidence.  In other words, if you want to believe, you just believe.

I am none of these people. I have issues with organized religion.  I’d love to believe there is a God, but I’m not sure I 100% like the Catholic God I was raised with.  Or rather, the representation of him.  Many, many Christians interpret sections of the bible in ways which suit them, latching on to certain ideas, rejecting or ignoring others.  And then there is the question of how literal the bible is to be taken, and then how to interpret the contradicting ideas–

-Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live… but…

-Thou shalt not kill.

Only God is allowed to judge, yet we make judgments on our fellow man all the time, often based on our interpretation of “God’s word.”

Then there is the question of whose God is the “right” God.

Also, I have a very analytic mind.  My majors in school were Psychology and Sociology, so I tend to approach the idea of religion and faith in the context of those disciplines.

But all of that’s academic.  In other words, it’s not the real point of this post.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went through a period of many losses.  Jobs, family members, a miscarriage, our home…  At four and a half months pregnant, hubby and I uprooted and moved 800 miles on three hours’ notice.  We were going through a very financially and emotionally stressing time, my husband’s unemployment at one point being held for three months (three months with NO income and a baby on the way,) and my mother and I were in the worst fight of our lives.  I actually worried the stress would harm my unborn baby.

My best friend, who is pretty much “born again,” only not in the annoying, bible-thumping way, urged me to come to church with her, and to put my trust in God and ask for his help.  So I tried.  I really did.  I prayed, although my praying was stunted because I constantly over-thought everything even AS I prayed.  I would tell God about my day, and then say, “But I guess you already knew all that…”  and then chide myself for presuming to guess what God may or may not know.  (Weird, I know, but I’m Obsessive-Compulsive, so what do you expect?) I found it hard to concentrate, and my mind would wander so I actually started keeping a prayer journal.  I also did go to church with my best friend.  My husband went once or twice, more to support me than out of any feelings of faith.

And the funny thing is…I actually did start to feel a measure of peace.

Fast-forward to after my daughter’s birth.  Like most new mothers probably, I was overwhelmed with emotions, chiefly deep love and deep, deep fear.  Becoming a mom changed me in many ways, some expected, some not…  One key difference is that I became infinitely more sensitive to media reports of violence against children.  Especially violence perpetrated by people the children are supposed to be able trust.  Like their parents.  The number of family annihilators, mothers murdering their infants, and children abused in horrific ways is staggering.  And it was weighing very heavily on my soul.

The point is, at that important juncture of my life, when I should have been the most thankful to God, when I should have looked to God the most for guidance and peace, I could not– can not– reconcile myself with the idea that a “loving god” would allow such horrors to happen to innocent children.  All the “God’s plan, mysterious ways, devil’s influence, sins of humans” platitudes in the world are not enough to make me alright with this.

It has been told to me more than once by people of faith that people in general tend to blame God when something bad happens, but often don’t give Him credit when things go their way.  My question is this; conversely, then, why is it okay to give Him credit for the good, but not look to Him for a damn good reason for the bad (especially something as bad a the murder of a child?)

I know it may sound like I am preaching here, but really I am just trying to sort out my thoughts, and please forgive me if this blog entry is very stream-of-consciousness or seems to ramble.

These are the things I think about when I lay awake in bed at night.

I would love to believe we are not alone in the universe, and when I try to pray at night I can almost feel like I might be talking to someone…  But when I step away from that isolated moment, I feel the sterile and empirical “alone-ness” of the human condition– that all life on this planet is the result of a coincidental series of optimal conditions.  That when we die, we cease to exist.  That there is no judgment for the wicked people who would harm their own babies, aside from that which we mete out here on earth (our “justice” could never be enough for these people, and some escape the law entirely.) That no amount of praying can protect my child.

eye of God

I keep telling myself– hoping to myself– that by the time my death approaches, hopefully after a long life filled with love, that I will have found the answers.  That I won’t be afraid anymore.  Now, as any good mother would, I care more for my child’s health, life, and happiness than my own anyway.  So I will continue to seek the answers, however passively, and hope that one day I will be at peace with whatever those answers are.

Maybe there is a God, but He is unlike anything written in the Quran, the Bible, or ancient mythologies.  Maybe he is an observer.  Maybe He is Love, or maybe He is completely ambivalent.  Maybe He is infinitely more complex and inscrutable than we could ever conceive with our piddly human minds.

The only thing I can know for sure is that I have to do the best I can with this life, and the best way I know to combat the fear I feel is to fight it with love.  I’ll make sure those dearest to me know how much I love them.

*This is an intensely personal entry for me.  In some way I can’t define, I am uncomfortable with it, and even now hesitate to click the “publish” button.  Maybe for that reason more than any other, I have to post this entry.