Category Archives: Christianity

Behold, Christmas is upon us….

…and I wish I was somewhere else. Pluto would probably be pretty quiet right now….

I have already ranted blogged at length about how American culture denigrates and corrupts Christmas, particularly from my perspective as a Christian, so I will not belabor the point. Instead, I just have a few curmudgeonly, very-nearly Scroogish observations about the season–

1. I’m currently working a temp job at an office supply store which runs a loop of Christmassy songs that sound as if they’re mostly from the Big Band era or earlier. Having listened to this stuff for hours on end, I have one pressing, existential question–

Just how many versions of Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer are there?

I mean, I’ve heard versions by Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, and Burl Ives, along with jazz versions and scat versions. There’s probably Andy Williams, Perry Como, and Elvis Freaking Presley versions, too. There may even be a Mormon Tabernacle Choir version, which, if it does exist, is probably a definitive sign of the demise of American culture. I mean, what’s the big deal?

2. While we’re on the subject of Rudolph, it probably says something about me that I have always thought Rudolph should have told Santa to shove it. On the other hand, Rudolph could be taken as a metaphor for how oppressed classes still lend their support to their oppressors in the service of some mythical greater cultural good that purports to shower blessings on all members of society, while actually disproportionately advantaging the dominant/oppressing class (and, crap, I’m not even a Marxist). I mean, what’s does Rudolph get out of hauling that heavy sleigh through the mucky weather? A warmer stall in the stable? Extra deer-chow? Single-payer health-care? Not on your roasted chestnuts, brother….

3. Regarding Santa– if you took at least one secular song about him seriously, you’d have to report him to the cops as a peeping tom and creeper….

(The Boss almost makes the song decent, though…)

4. In that same vein, we now have Elf on the Shelf. Frankly, I had never even heard of this until this year, and I agree with the criticism that it equates good behavior with gifts. And, yeah, it’s kinda skeevy and creepy, too. The frightening thing is that some people make this their whole holiday tradition. Freedom of religion, sure, but oh, wow….

5. Re: the War on Christmas controversy– well, duh, when did these numb-nut right-wingers actually get around to noticing? (Answer- when it served their political agenda, of course). Hot flash, bunky– there’s been a war on Christmas for at least the last century. However, the main adversary of Christmas hasn’t been those nasty, perfidious secular humanists (most of whom are actually very nice people) or the advocates of political correctness (who are mostly folks trying to balance out centuries of oppression embedded in language and conceptual categories)– no, the great enemy of Christmas is the commercial impulse of American culture, in particular, and Western society in general. Linking Christmas to commerce drains the sacred and powerful out of the whole business (C.S. Lewis, as usual, wrote a short but pithy satire on the subject) and obscures it’s great and critical point– the inauguration of God’s decisive redemptive act in human history.

6. Which brings me back to those asinine Christmas songs I have to listen to at work. In removing the central, true message of Christmas and focusing instead on the ‘festive season’, these tunes– many of which were written by very good song-writers, who had no idea they were participating in a cultural and spiritual debasement– take Christmas and make it sound as if it’s a double-helping of pink cotton-candy, rather than the awesome– ‘awe-full’– act of redemption it actually was. Listening to this crap, which I would never do willing on my own (I’ve walked out of church services where they sang “Jingle Bells”), is worse than fingernails on a blackboard. It doesn’t help me get through my shift.

Sigh. As I said, this is a curmudgeonly, intolerant, ‘bah-humbug’ sort of rant (Scrooge’s problem was not so much that he disliked Christmas celebrations, but that, in the sour bitterness of his soul, he forgot God’s call to mercy and charity, of which Christmas-keeping is, properly, just a reminder). It’s my way of blowing off the pent-up steam of frustration at all the things that irritate me at this time of year. I don’t expect to startle anyone with my insights (none of which are original with me), and certainly I don’t expect to affect the course of my native culture. Just an old fart venting….

But what, you may ask, do I choose to listen to for Christmas? If you’re curious, give this a listen. And if that doesn’t completely re-frame your perspective, try this.

Just strap yourself in first.

Later.

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Dang those Middle Eastern Refugees!

Saw this today as I was driving through North Seattle–

IMG_20151121_124206799_HDR

If that doesn’t sum up the whole dust-up and brouhaha about letting refugees into the US, let’s try some Stephen Colbert–

And if that isn’t enough for you, let’s try some old-fashioned scripture–

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:5

The cynical fear-mongering by the right-wing in this country is sickening and depressing. These know-nothings understand perfectly well that people seeking refugee status in the US already have to pass a gauntlet of verification that typically takes years. Knowing that, though, they still posture and play legislative games to please their base, a slice of our demographic that is obsessed by ideological purity and conspiracy theories. Meanwhile people are left to suffer, and America is held up to derision. More than one commentator has pointed out that this sort of nativist effluvium plays right into the hands of the terrorists, giving them an unearned propaganda victory.

It’s especially sickening that many of these nimrods loudly profess their Christian faith, while apparently missing one of the core messages of the Gospel. Really, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that too many people in the American church have lost sight of important aspects of the Christian message, their field of vision being occluded by things basically un-Christian– capitalism, individualism, nationalism, racism (yeah, that’s there, no matter how many times people deny it, it’s a factor. Sorry the truth hurts).

Fortunately, there’s Sojourners

https://sojo.net/articles/rejecting-refugees-rejecting-christ

Even there, though, there’s contention– don’t read the comments on that article unless you have a strong stomach.

It’s depressing. I really don’t know if this country has much of a future with half our political landscape spewing this sort of crap. All we can do is tell our senators to oppose this legislation when it gets to the Senate.

That, and pray.

A quote for the day

Madeleine just about says it all–

“What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.”

—Madeleine L’Engle