Friday, December 15, 2017


I hate what Christmas has become -- snow, trees, jingles bells and all that stuff.  The only part that may be right is the lights, for it is when the Light of the World, Christ Himself, came down to the most lowly level of humanity--the Lamb of God born in a stable, and first worshiped by shepherds. I'm with Linus and Charlie Brown--see "Charlie Brown's Christmas" - the best Christmas special ever made, in my opinion.

Actually, Jesus probably wasn't born in December at all, or even winter.  If the shepherds were out in the fields with their flocks at night, it was probably lambing season, which would have to be spring, or perhaps even summer.  The Roman Emperor probably wouldn't have called for his census in the middle of winter, either.

The Bible never mentions any dates of Jesus' life, except the ones that coincide with Jewish Holy Days, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, which is in fall, and the Feast of Passover, which is in Spring.  There is certainly deep significance that the Lamb of God was sacrificed at the time the lambs were sacrificed to celebrate the passing over of the Angel of Death in Egypt, back in the Old Testament.

The early church (not the first century believers, who celebrated Easter every Sunday, "The Lord's Day")  but the State Church that was founded by the Emperor Constantine in the 300's, decided to replace pagan holidays with Christian substitutes.

Hence, we got All Hallow's Eve, and All Saints Day to coincide with Samhain, the pagan observance of the midpoint between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice.  Christmas got to replace the Winter Solstice, which was the time when the days finally began to lengthen again.  In pagan times, there was fear that as the days shortened, the sun might disappear forever, hence the Solstice was a major celebration.  While the actual Solstice is around Dec. 21, it wasn't until Dec. 25 that people were assured that the days really were getting longer.  Hence Christmas.  As I said before, the link with light is interesting.

Next came the midway point to the Spring Equinox, which is Feb. 2.  The Medieval church celebrated it as Candlemas, when all the candles to be used for the coming year were blessed.  Don't ask me how Groundhog Day got in there!  Maybe something linked to the Greek myth that this was when the goddess Proserphane was released from the Underworld by the Dark Lord for six months, so there could be spring and summer.

Easter usually falls near Passover, because it is the one date mentioned in the Bible.  There is an echo of the pagan, though, because the ever-changing date of Easter is determined by where the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring falls.  This was probably a sign to the pagan world of when to plant their crops.   Interesting that Jesus compared his death and resurrection to the planting of a 'dead' seed and the rising of a new plant.

Next comes May Day, the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.  It was a pagan celebration of fertility and the first fruits of the land.  Now the Catholic church observes it as May Crowning, when Mary is honored as the Queen of Heaven.

That leaves the Summer Solstice, which is still observed in northern lands with big bonfires.  Celebrating the light of the longest day.  I don't know of any observation in the church of this.  Also neglected by the church is August 1, the midpoints between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox.  There may be some saints' days I'm not aware of, not being Catholic myself, though I did teach in a Catholic school for 12 years.

Anyway, that's my two cents worth.  But in my opinion, we should be sending Easter Cards instead of Christmas cards.  It's by far the more hopeful and true of the Christian Holy Days.  As St. Paul says in I Corinthians 15, if there is no resurrection from the dead, we are without hope, and most to be pitied.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Saturn and The Old Year - Another Holiday?

Winter Solstice is only 9 days away. I realized I'd better wish you all "Io Saturnalia!" That's Latin for Merry Christmas, except that it was pre-Christ's birth, so Christmas didn't really exist yet. 

Saturn was the "grandfather" of the Gods, having been the father of Jupiter (Zeus in Greek) who was, in turn, father of most of the rest of the gods in mythology. I find it interesting that old Saturn still shows up this time of year, as Father Time, portraying the Old Year who is going out when we welcome in the Baby New Year. So perhaps I'd better amend my post to say Io Saturnalia and Happy New Year! 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Jael and the Teacher

I am trying to start my New Year's resolution early and blog at least twice a month.  Following is a short scene of one of the main characters in my first book, "The Peaks at the Edge of the World."  This book is to be re-released, newly revised, this winter by my new publisher, First Steps Publishing.  This scene isn't in the book, but is one that very well could be.  It's a kind of "sound bite" of one of the themes of the book.

     I looked up at Master Stone.  "Sir, I don't understand why you're so opposed to books."
     "Books are forbidden by the Council, lad."  The man towered over me, and I tried to keep my head up and my eyes on him.
     "But, sir, if we destroy all the old books, we'll lose the knowledge in them."
     "Bah!  All we need to know has now been programmed into the Terminals."
     I wanted to say more, but my heart was pounding hard against my breastbone.  'What can we really trust?' I thought.  'How can we know for sure what's been kept and what's been deleted?'
     He was still staring coldly at me, waiting for a response.  'Fight or fold?' I asked myself.  Finally, I found my voice:
     "My father often told me the best way to check the facts was to find the original document, sir."
     "Well, all those so-called originals are digitized now, Jael," he snapped.  "Old books just waste space."
     "Very well, sir.  I will accept your opinion."  'For now,' I added to myself.