Friday, December 02, 2005

A Pagan Symbol by Any Other Name...

I'm a Christian. I don't apologize for that, and I won't try to prove it to anyone either. Jesus knows, and that's all that matters. And he loves me, this I know, for the Bible Tells Me So.

The Bible tells me lots of other things, too. Like Hallmark kind of misses the mark when it puts out that Peace On Earth line of Christmas cards. But really, how many cards are they going to sell if they put in the actual Jesus quote:

"Think not that I am come to bring peace on Earth. I came not to bring peace, but a sword."

Probably not too damned many.

And how come if the Bible is supposed to be literal truth, Jesus was always speaking in metaphors and parables? Find me one depiction of Jesus with a literal sword strapped to his side. Maybe hanging on the wall of a ranch in Crawford....but I digress.

What I'm really ticked off about today is the controversy in Roanoke, Virginia over what to call the decorated evergreen tree they are putting up downtown. Is it going to be a Christmas Tree or a Holiday Tree?

Now, that might not be up there with the religious argument over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or whether or not Jesus owned his own clothes...but it sure as Hell was important enough to push aside the City Council debate over the Stadium for a few days.

And it isn't even a home grown controversy. It is raging in nearly every town in the country thanks to Jerry Falwell, who is trying to save Christmas from those minions of the devil, the evil God and America hating liberals. It is part of something he is calling the "Friend or Foe" campaign.

Oh, yeah, that sounds like Christmas to me. Because nothing says "Christian" like exploiting your savior for political purposes and ginning up fear of persecution to rally your base before an election year.

But before all you Christian Soldiers go marching off to War, let me fill you in on a few facts your enflamed passions might not have considered.

The Christmas Tree in downtown Roanoke has been called a Holiday Tree for at least the past five years...that's as far back as anyone can remember.

Most people will refer to it as a Christmas Tree anyway, and this controversy is not the most important thing on the ACLU's to do list. Christianity is not in danger of being outlawed. There is no more truth to this spurious claim than there was in the claim that if elected Kerry would ban the Bible...a claim distributed throughout West Virginia by the Republicans.

The Christmas Tree itself has pagan roots, and was even banned by the Catholic Church for a while. In 1659 Massachussetts passed a law that could send you to jail for putting one up, or celebrating Christmas in any other way than by going to church.

Jesus wasn't born on December 25th, the Bible says the birth was at the time of the lambing. That's in the Spring. The Catholic Church chose December 25th to make it easier to convert pagans because they already celebrated that date as the pagan holiday of Saturnalia--exchanging gifts, hanging up green stuff in their snow covered houses, and trying to cheer themselves up from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

And lastly, perhaps most importantly...this tree put up by the City of Roanoke is designed not to bring souls to heaven but downtown to shop. Call it a Commerce Tree and at least be truthful about it!

Do you really think Jesus wants his name on anything to do with shopping? Does God really want his name on our money? You know, that thing for which the love of is the root of all evil?

Does Jesus want us to spend a precious moment of our God given lives debating this in our homes, schools, town halls, church basements, and call in radio shows?

Read Second Timothy: "Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness."

So there you have it...I'm going to say this as gently as I can...Please stop fighting about stupid things and start living like Christ came here to convince you to live. With kindness, generosity, humility, and forgiveness.

That's what I want for Christmas...don't you?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always called it a Christmas tree because that's what it is. I don't call a manorah holiday candles because that's not what they are or a Kwanza symbol a holiday symbol.
In God we trust on money,so what? I say leave well enough alone.
Merry Christmas Archie.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Archie Levine said...

But what about the point of the piece? Doesn't it bother you at all that Jerry Falwell is going against scripture to create arguments where there would otherwise be none?

And is clearly doing so political rather than religious reasons?

Or that Christians claim persecution when anyone makes an effort to be inclusive of all the holidays which fall at this time of year?

Or, in reference to your post, what if we started calling it a Saturnalia Tree, since that is what it really is.

Again, VET, I have to wonder if in your rush to post comments you skip the step of actually reading the post you are commenting on.

Merry Saturnalia to you, too.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Foamy the Squirrel hates Christmas Haters.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get my information from Jerry Falwell. Alot of things are said in the name of religion or politics.
In my lifetime Christmas was always Christmas. That's my story and I' sticking to it although I do wish everyone Happy Holidays.
But again why all the debacle over a Christmas tree. Call it what you want and I will call it what I want. After all,it's a free country. Thank God!

11:03 AM  
Blogger R said...

It's not a "Christian Tree" Vet. I've read the bible up one side and down the other and no where is there mention of a Tree laden with tacky baubles and flamable foam. Sorry. It is a PAGAN...that's right.. PAGAN symbol used to celebrate WINTER Solstice. The fact that we Christians decided we liked it and took it over does not now mean it has something to do with Jesus Christ. He probably thinks we are insane. But that cuts to all the issues surrounding this debate. The notion of "I go to church consider myself a Christian and so therefore if I say it is so it must be. I create morality because of my percieved piousness." If that were the case than molesting a child would be Christlike. The Priest did it. It's not in the bible but they are "godly" can't they decide that is correct behaviour? Wrongo Bucko. Know your Bible before you call yourself a Christian. It bothers us TRUE Christians.

8:55 PM  

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