"[If Parliament] may take from me one shilling in the pound, what security have I for the other nineteen?" ~ Richard Henry Lee
Fun With the Sun, or It Takes a Mensch to Pan Christmas
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There has been a lot of grumbling lately by the activist right about the so called, "War on Christmas." Here is my account of what some these evangelical "O'Reillyites" are like.
This weekend while Christmas shopping at the mall I had some "sun" fun with a protestant charismaniac churchaholic I knew from that Ass-emblies of God Pentecostal Church that my family quit going to.
(The same denomination that John Ashcroft belongs to.)
Recognizing me, he approached and remarked that he hadn't seen me in church lately.
(Yeah, like three years. Did he just notice?)
He and his group were there 'undercover witnessing for Jesus' by handing out Bible tracts about Christmas.
(Against mall policy)
After a little small talk I started to leave but he wanted to "discern my walk with the Lord." So, to make sure I was still "saved" he started asking about my church attendance and prayer life. I mentioned that I go as often as the "spirit" moves me and my "prayer life" is just fine and private.
I started to leave because I had other errands to run, but he moved in front of me and wanted to continue our talk. I said no, I had to go. Trying to placate him by covering all the bases, I light heartedly with a chuckle wished them a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and a Happy Winter Solstice.
He moved in front of me again and objected to my wishes with an emphatic undulation in his voice, "JEEeeezus IS the REEEASON for THE SEEEASON!!!! YOU should only say MERRY CHRISTMAS!!"
Well, I just couldn't help it. I had wanted to leave. But, he was insistent. You know the "spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!" I could feel the horn nubs starting to sprout above my temples so I quickly repressed the over whelming urge to send him to meet JEEeeezus.
(Okay. If you insist, I'll play. Time for the bait)
Smiling, I "innocently" asked, "Uh, what 'season' would that be, exactly?" "You know good and well what season! The Christmas Season! That is what it is supposed to be about, you know! Jesus the Light of the World, in a manger, Son of God, Shepherds, Wise Men, Shining Star." He went on. "We need to get back to the REAL meaning of Christmas!!!"
I knew the type, well meaning in their own eyes but, so hurtful. I was raised with them. I even was one of them long ago, in a galaxy of cognitive dissonance, far, far away.
(Ahhh, a nibble on the bait. Now for the hook.)
So I responded, "Well if that's true then why are you so adamant about saying, Merry Christmas? After all, you aren't a Catholic are you?"
"No I'm not a Catholic! What does that have to do with it? Rome has corrupted the Gospel with pagan practices such as calling men 'Father', chanting and praying to Mary and Saints and 'Rosemary' beads! I'm a Born Again, filled with the spirit believer. My Jeeezus is OFF the Cross, not still on it!"
(Alrighty then, he took the hook! Now to play out some line.)
I responded quietly with a hint of a smile but firmly, "So then why do YOU say 'Merry Christ Mass? That phrase is the celebration of the Catholic Mass. It is the celebration of Jesus' death, where he turns into bread and wine and then is eaten by TRUE worshippers. So, why don't you say, HAPPY JESUS BIRTHDAY?"
He is now looking at me with a wide-eyed expression as his mouth opens and closes without sound.
(Now to set the hook. I was on a "holy roll.")
"Furthermore, 'The Season' has always been the Winter Solstice season! From the most ancient time when men first noticed that the Days, the SUN, Light diminished then became more plentiful, they celebrated the end of the OLD and welcomed the NEW year. The 'Jesus' story is a reworking and blending of various cultures' Winter Solstice celebrations and mythology. It is a time to celebrate! Have a good time. Be with friends and family! The spring will come, crops planted, herds replenished with young, light, warmth and harvest will come again! Why get hung up with only one theory of renewal? Celebrate the 'Season' in whatever way you prefer."
He retorted to me, "I will celebrate in the TRUE WAY! Not in one of YOUR mythological pagan ways!"
(Got him. I just had to reel him in.)
I had to say it. I really couldn't resist. "Excuse me? I think that you are confused with your own sanctimonious dementia to see that YOU have the mythological belief system! Show me the historical proof, the scientific evidence, that Jesus was born around the time of the Winter Solstice! You can't because it doesn't exist. I'm not saying that Jesus never existed, or even that he wasn't special. I'm not even saying that you can't celebrate his birthday December 25th. I'm saying that Jesus is not THE reason for the 'Season.' Historically, culturally, scientifically the TRUE REASON for the Season is the astronomical proof of the Winter Solstice! How you celebrate it, how others celebrate it, how others ignore it is their personal belief system. Denigrating them because they don't follow YOUR preferred belief myth system sounds awfully, Al Qaeda of you!"
(Now he is flopping around like a fish out of water.)
I'm not sure exactly what it was he responded to, but his eyes started to bulge, he turned red, and he started to shake and quiver a bit while he stammered spittle laden gibberish out of his mouth like Robert Tilton or Jimmy Swaggart, "Hah shondaledona, santome cupa, hee babababa!" He then started to shake his feet at me and I thought he was going to start dancing "in the spirit" but instead he starts saying, "Ichabod! Ichabod! The Lord has departed! I shake your dust off my feet!"
Then as he marched away from me he says, "Satan's claws are in you! Get thee behind me Satan!"
(I wonder if this is what Jesus meant by "I will make you fishers of men?")
With a big smile, I called after him, "Don't you really mean, Santa Claus? Have a Merry Christmas anyway!"
(Ho Ho Ho. Fala lala la. That was fun. Back to Christmas shopping.)
St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople at the end of the fourth century wrote: "On this day also the Birthday of Christ was lately fixed at Rome in order that while the heathen were busy with their profane ceremonies, the Christians might perform their sacred rites undisturbed. They call this (December 25th), the Birthday of the Invincible One (Mithras); but who is so invincible as the Lord? They call it the Birthday of the Solar Disk, but Christ is the Sun of Righteousness." http://www.locksley.com/6696/xmas.htm