You know, I woke up this morning kinda cranky. That and I’m really tired of hearing everybody go on & on about the stupid christian holday. On facebook, on twitter, in my email…everyfreakinwhere! What, are we all six years old now, jumping up & down in front of a brightly-colored basket full of poison treats??

Hey…NEWSFLASH!

Dead person dead.
Dead person, nice as he might have been, did NOT get up & walk outta any cave! (ya think?)
Dead person stayed dead & his people made up propoganda to help them try to buck their legal Roman occupiers (yeah, that worked out real well).
Dead person’s people’s fairy story got outta hand…waaay outta hand.
Millions upon millions of people die as a result.
Along the way, they steal perfectly good pagan holiday practices from perfectly good pagan people everywhere and then stamp them out (ie kill them too) while working said practices into their own uses (twist & bastardize…yeah, great.)

Yeah this is a stupid, sad and ridiculous “holiday”.

Now gimme all your jelly beans and shut up about it! 😉

christ_crucified_w saints I am forever amazed how many people aren’t familiar…nay, are downright  ignorant…of their own religion.  I mean all of it…the history and how it came to be, what influenced it and how it has evolved over however long it’s been around into what it is now, why they beliefve certain things and why they do whatever rituals, ceremonies or prayers…even what its actual formal doctrine and/or dogma is.  How can one say this or that is their religion if they don’t even know what that religion is and how it functions??

You would think this lack of familiarity would give them some pause, keeping them from attempting to argue points about which they feel strongly with non-believers, or partial-believers, or alternate-believers (it does seem that most people do profess to believe in something).  How in the world can one really truly expect to be able to pull this off and be taken seriously if the persons with whom they are debating…or worse, trying to “convert”…know more about the damn belief system and its history than they do?!  I just don’t get it.

The part that really gets me is when Party A (Mr/Ms Ignorant) is confronted with the additional/correct information from Party B (whom Party A is attempting to convert or sway in some way to their thinking).  Reactions from Party A vary from blandly discarding whatever info/tidbit/discrepancy has been provided…a reaction akin to fingers in the ears, singing la-la-la-la-la to crowd out the sound of the offending information…all the way up to flat-out anger and/or fire-and-brimstone sermon tactics, complete with self-righteous indignation.  It baffles me.  It humors me.   And then I get pissed off.

I mean, I don’t like to usually get into religious discussions with anyone.  This is something that I deeply feel is the ultimate personal space and an area that any discussion really should be only between an individual and whatever Higher Power they feel they subscribe to…and possibly, from time to time, with one learned in that chosen belief system, should the person feel the need for assistance and guidance.  However, with “The Holidays” upon us, there seems to be some discussion throughout certain areas of the blogosphere regarding the Christmas Controversy, or War on Christmas, or what have you…and it’s evolved into there being all manner of persons going off on others about what’s what, what’s wrong or right or about the sanctity of the holiday and the birth of Christ and such…it’s actually got me a bit upset.

Now if you subscribe to the Holy Virgin Birth Theory, then fine.  I don’t but that’s great if you do and it works for you.  But doesn’t that mean that you believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would have you Love One Another and promote peace and harmony and do for others as you would wish them to do for you?  Isn’t that the whole idea to those folks that celebrate Jesus’ birth this time of year?  So, why all this animosity about whether there’s a tree or an angel or a Santa or a menorah hanging out for all to see?  Or not getting well-wished in the way you want it?   We used to call that looking a gift horse in the mouth.  Who Menorah_mosaic cares if someone says Happy Holidays to me…I have a holiday this time of year, too!  It’s not the one they were probably thinking of, but so what?   Do I care if they call out Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah to me?  Well, no, not really, because it’s the idea behind the sentiment that counts.  Hell, I’d be okay with someone wishing me a Happy Kwanza…though I don’t even know exactly when that is…because damn it!  That’s their version of their Winter Holiday. 

And there’s another thing…I’m sorry, but the Christians do not have a monopoly on December 25th as a holiday.  In truth, they stole it from the pagans…you know, those peoples that used to abound throughout the world…including throughout the Roman Empire…with many different gods for different purposes and each one had their own feast day?  (Sounds like the Saints to me, but that’s another topic for another day…)

So, let’s discuss the Ancient Romans, since they celebrated Saturnalia from December 17th through the 23rd…and boy was it a doozy of a time!  Feasts and parties and games and gifts and…hmm…sound familiar?  Yeah, well they also had animal sacrifices and the parties were pretty famously full of debauchery.  So much so that more that one Emperor even tried to shorten the festival days from seven days to first three (Augustus), then five (Caligula), but to no avail!  Nope…the people loved their festival.  Over time it eventually evolved into Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, “the birthday of the unconquered sun”, which was celebrated on December 25th, and although  the feasting days were now fewer (they still had another feast day on Dec 19th), the revelry continued unabated. 

Somewhere along the line, the Christians started getting better press…Constantine converting was a huge help with that…and because of the popularity of these very pagan celebrations, the Church eventually felt it best to declare Jesus’ day of birth to coincide….how convenient!  The idea is so that the masses would be able to more easily adjust to to incorporating Christian modes into their lives, and do away with the old pagan rites.  Well…good on paper, but not necessarily so in action, at least not at first.  A great deal of the pagan rites and practices just migrated over to the new holiday.  The Tree, the Yule Log, the abundance of extra candles (normally a very wasteful and a costly thing), the holly and mistletoe (both green with berries, they were and are symbols of life in the “death” of Winter), the giving of gifts, the plethora of sweets and heaps of feasting…all pagan in origin. 

So…who’s desecrating who’s holiday with adding a babe in a manger, a supernatural “star” in the sky, and a few astrologers/magicians stopping by with gifts (a little late) a few weeks later?

WICCA_L See, but the pagan way isn’t like the Christian way.  We don’t say “Our way or the highway”  (or rather, “Our way or the flaming stake”!).  We go…”Sure, whatever.  Just don’t mess what with we already got going good here and I don’t really care what name you put on the day”…’cause we all know what day it really is.  That’s our motto:  “An ye hurt none, Do as ye will.”  We didn’t really mind the Christians changing the names of a bunch of our deities and putting “St.” in front of the new names. Whatever…we know who they are, they haven’t changed.  Just different words…a rose by any other name, I say.  But then, over the centuries…and with the help of some menacing threats from the Church causing us to start keeping things closer to home and even under wraps…well, it all just eventually blended together…into one “new” religion…and into the one Winter Holiday.  A big showy mass for the baby Christ…Christmas. 

Kinda silly if you ask me, because anyone that knows any Roman history would know that the census was always taken in the Spring and that’s why Mary and Joseph supposedly had to make a road trip to Bethlehem.  That, and the fact that shepherds don’t now nor ever have tended their flocks in the field in Winter…

And I didn’t even get into the whole correlation with Mithras

© 2008 D. Kessler

world-religions Here’s the thing…

It concerns me that the word “religion” is evermore becoming synonymous with only Judeo/Christian/Islamic theologies.  While scanning around the blogosphere, I did a Google search and I had to click through quite a few pages before I got even one mention of any other belief system! 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines religion thusly:

re·li·gion  \ri-ˈli-jən\ noun
 
– a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
– a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

So, then… ANY belief system to which one regularly and with conviction adheres is religion.  This includes, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Baha’I, Shamanism, Wicca, Rastafari, Sikism…Good grief, I could go on and on!  Better you click here for a fairly comprehensive list and additional resources of information, compliments of Wikipedia.

ANYway…

Don’t get me wrong…My mother is a Christian, as were our ancestors, and therefore she raised me as a Christian, complete with an education via church-run schools.  I respect the Judeo/Christian/Islamic theology immensely .  I just don’t agree with what comes across as the exclusion of all the other belief-systems when referring to religion, especially when Christianity and Islam together only comprise approximately 3 billion (just under half the world’s population of 6.7 billion)…and Hinduism & Buddhism (3rd & 4th, respectively) account for 1.1 billion.  This leaves 2.6 billion people’s beliefs out in the rain!

“The need of the moment is not one religion, but mutual respect and tolerance of the devotees of the different religions.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

major-world-religions If we can’t bring ourselves to learn about and discuss a varied list of religions, how can we even expect to begin to understand the world we live in and our relationship to the billions of individuals that make up that world?  The Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance has a wonderful site to kick-start such a quest… and hopefully to help initiate more discussion in Blogland.

© 2008 D. Kessler