Between the two Christmas stories

For Christians, Christmas is a celebration of hope amid darkness. Its setting in December reminds us of the bold promise of new life born at a moment when so little light and life surround us.

Christmas hides another message, one that brings hope of renewal in an era so steeped in fear. The twin Christmas stories, with their glaring contradictions, highlight perhaps more brightly than any other Biblical passages the weakness of a rigid interpretation of scripture. In a strange twist, Christmas may hold the key that unlocks the stranglehold of religious extremism on the spiritual and political dimensions of our culture. Christmas offers a unique hope for a better world.

Of the four Gospels, only two include a story of Jesus’ birth. The authors of Matthew and Luke set their nativity stories more than a decade apart, under different governments, shaped by a starkly different set of themes and challenges. The differences between them are too obvious and well-attested to be reconciled.

History plays an important role in understanding these two stories and their separate meanings. The widely hated Jewish king Herod the Great reigned from 37-4 BCE. He owed his throne to the military support of the Roman Emperor, but he ruled on his own, a sort of imperial franchise anchoring the eastern Mediterranean.

When he died, his son Archelaus took the throne with the endorsement of the Emperor Augustus. He ruled poorly until he was deposed by Augustus in 6 CE and replaced by direct Roman rule. Herod’s old kingdom was broken into pieces. Judea was governed by a Roman prefect accountable to the Governor of Syria. Galilee and portions of the kingdom in the north and east of the Jordan went to Herod the Great’s other sons, Antipas and Philip.

The first order of business after annexing the kingdom was to take a census and impose new direct taxation. For the Jews, this was intolerable both in political and religious terms. That census initiated around 6 CE inspired a decade-long rebellion led by a messianic figure called “Judas the Galilean.” The rebellion would fail and Judas himself was killed, but his sons and grandsons would play starring roles in future rebellions against Rome. The unfinished business of that rebellion would fester for decades, erupting every few years in minor disturbances stirred by a series of messianic aspirants until the Romans finally snuffed out Jewish nationalism in two major wars.

Matthew’s birth story is set under Herod’s rule, sometime before 4 BCE. The author paints Jesus as the rightful, just Jewish King set against the wickedness of an unjust pretender. In Matthew, Jesus is a Judean whose family flees to Egypt and then Galilee to escape from Herod and then Archelaus. Matthew’s Jesus is Jewish from head to toe, in a Jewish setting, with the Romans a distant and largely unmentioned presence.

Luke’s Jesus is a dutiful, obedient subject of the Empire. Jesus in Luke has family ties to both the royal (through his father) and the priestly (through his mother) lines; the perfect symbol of Jewish political authority. Yet, at a time when Jewish nationalism was reaching violent heights, Luke portrays Jesus’ family submitting willingly to the census, even at great personal cost. Luke’s birth story paints Jesus as the ideal imperial subject, blameless against charges of political rebellion from birth to death.

Matthew had three wise men and the flight to Egypt. Luke featured singing angels, shepherds, and a manger. The truth in Luke’s account was his theme of Jesus as a faithful Roman subject pursuing a mission beyond politics. The truth of Matthew’s nativity story was Jesus’ role as the fulfillment of the law, the perfect Jewish King sent to end injustice, oppression, and misery. Each writer used the relatively minor backdrop of a chosen history to emphasize what for them was a more important theological message.

Neither of them likely knew much at all about Jesus’ origins, apart from some seamy rumors about an out-of-wedlock birth and the theological problem of his Galilean origins. The history they cobbled together was the necessary outcome of their conclusions about his identity. History, in that context, followed theology, not the other way round.

These twin nativities provide a useful opening for relief in an age burdened by the oppressive hand of global religious fundamentalism. As our world shrinks, those who feel threatened by the accelerating pace of change and the relentless onslaught of the unfamiliar are desperate for certainty. They are taking whatever form of scripture they rely on and converting it into a bulwark of stability, insisting on rigid unthinking adherence and using every available means to impose that simplified understanding on the world around them.

The twin Christmas stories are a reminder of the brittle weakness of a religion based on fear. There is no shelter from ambiguity or uncertainty. Our hope amid the darkness comes not from an unthinking application of Bronze Age commandments, but from a commitment to explore the universal meanings in those texts, so similar regardless of religious heritage. Our hope comes from our commitment to resist oppression, pursue justice, celebrate kindness and protect the vulnerable.

The twin Christmas stories in our Christian heritage remind us that there is hope, even in an age marred by terrorism, paranoia, and lingering oppression. What is the meaning of Christmas? No matter the darkness that threatens, the world has as much light, as much promise, and as much justice as we have the courage to deliver.

Merry Christmas.

Luke 17:20-21

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

 

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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188 comments on “Between the two Christmas stories
  1. kabuzz61 says:

    I hope you all had a wonderful 2014 and move on to an even greater blessed and wonderful 2015. Happy New Year. Drive safe.

  2. CaptSternn says:

    Question: What are we doing? Are we doing more, are we doing less, are we doing anything at all? Is there a point?

    One answer: Lifer is doing something, getting national attention. Good for you, Lifer. Congrats.

    Where does that leave the rest of us? The people that just post comments on blogs and news sites?

    Maybe I have done a bit in helping Cruz win the nomination and the election. That was something, but …

    But I have seen that people that don’t post do read the comments, and the comments matter …

    Y’all have fun, I need to think. Might be an hour, might be a week, might be …

  3. texan5142 says:

    Well, you guys have fun, I am off to puerto vallarta for a week of fun and sun at an all inclusive.

  4. texan5142 says:

    kabuzz61 says:
    December 30, 2014 at 2:46 pm
    HT my challenged friend. Heterosexual or homosexual, sodomy is a sin.

    Only to those who read a book of fairy tales. The Bible was written by men, fallible men who hear voices in their head. You hear that same voice…..better get that checked out, it is not healthy.

  5. texan5142 says:

    CaptSternn says:
    December 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm
    Just because you claim it happened doesn’t make it so, Texan.

    kabuzz61 says:
    December 30, 2014 at 7:22 am
    The Gitmo detainee’s lawyers were the only ones who testified to the democrat senate committee. No CIA operatives. No soldiers. No administration officials. But…(chuckle)… Texan falls for it hook, line AND sinker. BWAA!

    http://www.ibtimes.com/what-are-rectal-feeding-rectal-hydration-doctors-call-cia-tactics-torture-1751952

    “Doctors and psychiatrists, however, said they have zero medical application and are nothing more than full-bore torture methods that no medical professional should ever be a party to.”

    The CIA admitted it happened, Dick Cheney admitted it happened.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Where are your sources that this actually happened? You read it so it is so? Typical.

      • texan5142 says:

        The last sentence in my post you dumb ass.

        “The CIA admitted it happened, Dick Cheney admitted it happened.”

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…I get that you have a somewhat pathological need to discount things that don’t jibe with how you think the world should work, but both the CIA and Cheney indicated that it happened.

        Sure, I guess I have to trust words on a screen and pixels depicting Cheney’s mouth moving on a screen because I wasn’t there to see it with my own eyes, but I’m feeling pretty good about trusting that.

        I guess it is possible that someone created a really good CGI version of Cheney and put him on TV, but I have a hunch someone would have noticed that at some point.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Wait buzz…I need to line up to kick the field goal with the goal posts moved a bit.

        First, you seemed to be arguing that there was no proof that the rectal feeding occurred.

        Now, you seem to be arguing that sure it occurred, but there was a medical reason for it by citing text suggesting that it is could be possible for palliative end-of-life care in advanced cancer patients when no other options were available for hydration?

        Now you are just embarrassing yourself.

        How hard is it to just say, “Yeah, that is kind of screwed up” rather than trying to dance around to support something that even Cheney says was not authorized?

        What is the benefit to you to do that dance to justify it?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        HT, please catch up before you prattle on like the self possessed sophisticate you think you are. Texan’s assertion is two fold. There is no medical reason for rectal hydration. Well, there is. Secondly, the article he sited did not prove torture took place.

        Now, I know you consider yourself the smartest person in the room, but you’re idiocy is showing bro. Take a minute to reflect BEFORE you rant.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Here is Texan’s quote from the article that he is excited about:

        “Doctors and psychiatrists, however, said they have zero medical application and are nothing more than full-bore torture methods that no medical professional should ever be a party to.”

        Well, apparently that is plainly false.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        First Buzz…since you evidently are getting getting with exact wording, would someone think of themselves a “self possessed sophisticate” as you wrote or would someone think of themselves as a “sophisticate” but not self possessed? I think the later would be the more accurate insult, but hey, who knows what is knocking around in your head.

        I’m rarely the smartest person in the room, but I fortunately do not have a pathological need to try to defend the indefensible.

        With regard to your second point, do you think that maybe Texan’s comment was in the context of handling these prisoners, and thus the comment was in that context rather than end-of-life palliative care for hydration of advanced cancer patients.

        Would you have felt better if his quote said “for these prisoners”?

        Why are you sticking on that point in the comment rather than the larger point that we pureed some hummus and pasta a stuck it up a dude’s butt?

        As much as you like to suggest I have faux bewilderment about things, I’m typically actually pretty baffled by your thought processes.

        Doctors have highlighted the rectal feeding is not an accepted medical treatment, it is barely recognized for hydration purposes (and certainly not for generally healthy adults), and even Cheney said the procedure was not authorized.

        You however, damn the rectal torpedoes and full steam ahead?

        I just don’t understand your motivation.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        You HT do not understand because you choose to not understand. I am answering a comment. First, it was definitively stated there is NO medical reason for rectal hydration or feeding. That is false.

        You even go on to say most doctor’s etc. Who is changing the goal posts?

        Your schtick is to declare bafflement as a cover for your lack of a salient counter point. Others fall for your act, but I know you know. Either that or you are dense times 100.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz….there was no medical reason for the treatment for these prisoners. No one believes there was. Even Cheney says it was not authorized for these prisoners.

        if your “salient counterpoint” is that rectal hydration (not feeding) is sometime used for dying cancer patients when all other options are unavailable, then I’m not sure we are working with the same definition of “salient”.

        I believe Texan’s article was specifically about these prisoners, and if you read the article, you will note that context. There was no medical reason to utilize that procedure.

        No one, other than apparently you, is arguing this point.

    • GG says:

      Goodness, what’s the argument about? Of course, the US has tortured people. So has every government with a lot to hide and a lot to lose. To deny this is pure naivete or some desperate way to hold on to the idea that the US is some bastion of righteousness and justice. The CIA is up to all kinds of hijinks abroad. We prop up dictators for our benefit and when they become “difficult” we go back in and arm another group to topple them and do the same when they become too much to handle. It’s a vicious cycle and has become the norm. Since WWII we’ve been almost constantly at war or had some military involvement somewhere.

      I seem to recall someone high up saying it was a “necessary evil” for our security. Not sure who though. Someone in the Bush regime.

  6. CaptSternn says:

    Some parts of the Bible are literal, some parts mythical, some parts poetry, some parts parable, some parts are letters from leaders to churches, some parts prophecy. The Bible is many books by many authors over a long period of time. The Protestant Bible is not quite the same as the Catholic Bible. There are a lot of books that were not included by the Romans when they decided what books would be included.

    The Bible is not a history book, though there are some things that are only recorded in the Bible and science has found to be fact. Science has explained the plagues visited on Egypt, but not able to explain why they happened at just the right time when they were called for. Every culture has stories about the great flood, science has shown that there was a time when almost all of humanity was wiped out.

    If one doesn’t wish to follow the teachings or believe in the God of Abraham, so be it. It is their loss. But don’t use it to legislate morality, to call for the welfare state, the “social safety net” and force others to abide by the Bible against their will. Government handouts are not what Christian charity is all about. The Bible does teach the values of capitalism and private property, but that is allowing freedom of the people to make their own choices, as it should be whether the person believes in God or not.

    • rightonrush says:

      This fits Sternn to a T.

      On Bullshit (2005), by Harry G. Frankfurt, is a philosophy essay that presents a theory of bullshit that defines the concept and analyses the applications of bullshit in the contexts of communication. As such, bullshit either can be true or can be false; hence, the bullshitter is someone whose principal aim when uttering or publishing bullshit is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate an impression that something is being or has been done, using words that are neither true nor false, and so obscure the facts of the matter being discussed; i.e. “the bullshitter is faking things, but that does not necessarily mean he gets them wrong.”[1] In contrast, the liar must know the truth, of the matter under discussion, in order to better conceal it from the listener or the reader being deceived with a lie; while the bullshitter’s sole concern is personal advancement and advantage to his or her agenda; bullshit thus is a greater enemy of the truth than are lies.[2]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Bullshit

      • Crogged says:

        I have that book, it’s great.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I wasn’t going to bother making a reply to your comment, RoR, but I will go ahead and do so now.

        Somehow I doubt you will have the ability to catch the sarcasm, the irony, or what you just fell for and even embraced. Comedy at its best. You are not on the good end of the joke. Sadly, I don’t think you are capable of understanding the joke.

        I shouldn’t be so mean, but …

      • GG says:

        “I am a constitutional scholar,”——–No you aren’t. You are a self-proclaimed one which means zero. Until you go to an accredited university and have a diploma no one is buying this proclaimed expertise. That’s like me saying I’m a doctor because I read some medical texts.

      • CaptSternn says:

        GG, your opinion is invalid by your own standards. You have nothing to say. You are incapable of doing any research or study to educate yourself and form your own opinions based on facts and reality. You are incapable of going to the source and learning. You can only repeat what others tell you to say and you claim that has some validity. You can only bash others out of your own deliberate and proud ignorance. You are unworthy of any other response.

      • GG says:

        Cappy, I do my own research also. I’m quite capable of it. The fact that you are constantly saying you are a constitutinal scholar does not make it true. Maybe in your head but no else believes you. As I said you are all performance art.

      • GG says:

        Oh, and the irony of this statement.

        “You can only bash others out of your own deliberate and proud ignorance.”

        You are a pompous windbag.

      • CaptSternn says:

        By your own standards, you have nothing to say. By your own standards you are not qualified to have an opinion. You give nothing more than performance art, a pompous windbag, according to your own standards.

        You do no research. You have not spent 20 or so years studying the U.S. Constitution and the founding principles of this state and nation, court rulings and ideas. You just go with emotion and whatever sounds good at the moment.

        Goodbye.

      • GG says:

        Cappy, you are ridiculous. You are emphatic that you are some kind of genius level savant and your opinions are fact. Opinions are not FACT. You’re own ignorance is staggering.

      • GG says:

        But I will say your performance art is good.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, GG, that is your opinion. You say it is not based on facts or reality, and I agree with your opinion of your opinion.

      • GG says:

        Yes, that is my opinion Cappy. Just as you have yours which is definitely not reality and merely your opinion.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy wrote: You do no research. You have not spent 20 or so years studying the U.S. Constitution and the founding principles of this state and nation, court rulings and ideas. You just go with emotion and whatever sounds good at the moment.

        Based on you legal interpretation of the US Constitution that you have continuously displayed I am quite comfortable stating that you completely wasted your time. Because you do not even have a basic grasp of the US Constitution or US history.

        From your prior claims we can count you as an expert in global warming science, theology, energy industry, health care, historian, constitutional scholar and all around bad ass. You must be the smartest person to have ever lived. Most likely you are an idiot with delusions of grandeur.

      • GG says:

        The depths of Bachmann’s stupidity is staggering. Who the heck elected her since even conservatives woke up to the fact that she’s an idiot who routinely sticks her foot in her mouth?

        Don’t get me started on her mincing queen of a husband. I love my gays but not self-loathing ones who subscribe to pray the gay away programs.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Minnisotans are not too bright as a whole. They elected a cross dressing wrestling star as governor and now have a very poor comedian as their senator. So all and all, it is expected from that state.

      • GG says:

        Ah, well, my bible knowledge is sketchy. I went to Sunday school and mostly snoozed through services later.

      • GG says:

        Apologies. That was supposed to go under Sternn’s comment about the wandering after the fact.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Hmmm…some read the bible and see support for a social safety net, and you read the bible see capitalism.

      Me thinks some folks see what they want to see.

      As a data driven person, I’m a bit fascinated by this line:

      “The Bible is not a history book, though there are some things that are only recorded in the Bible and science has found to be fact.”

      I would be highly curious about what you things are only recorded in the Bible yet science (as though it is a thing) has found to be a fact.

      • CaptSternn says:

        The story of Jericho is a good example, HT. There are other things found through archeology that confirm many things in the Bible, though the Bible is not the only written history of those things.

        There isn’t anything in the Bible supporting a welfare state or even a social safety net other than personal choice and private actions by individuals. Not that we shouldn’t have some of those things on some levels, but if a person is forced into it by law, they are not practicing Christian charity, or any other form of charity for that matter.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…I will not pretend to be a Biblical scholar nor an archaeologist, but I defy you to find a single archaeologist (or a trumpet player) that is going to say that trumpets and very heavy footsteps caused some walls to fall.

      • CaptSternn says:

        HT, the point being that there is not a lot of writing in history that even confirms the existence of Jericho, except for the Bible and archeology (science). There is more evidence that the Biblical story is accurate, though it could have been caused by an earthquake. Then again, why did an earthquake happen at just that point in time? Why did a specific house get spared? Why did the plagues of Egypt happen at just the right time? Why was the Red Sea parted at just the right time?

        I am a constitutional scholar, not a Biblical scholar. But I have read the Bible and have read some things about the archeology backing Biblical facts. Now go back and read my original comment to get some context.

        The parable of the workers in the field, did that story actually happen or was it just a story, parable, used as an example? I would go with the latter.

        The teaching of leaving some wheat not harvested in the field so the poor could gather it? Not so much a story but rather advice of charity and mercy, though the poor would have to actually go harvest it on their own rather than just having it handed to them.

        The left loves to use the quote, “Give back to Caeser what belongs to Caeser” as an excuse to build the welfare system, or social safety net, to establish a theocracy. That is taking the lesson out of context and not even trying to understand what the Messiah was saying. It was an attempt to trap the Messiah, and it failed.

        One can’t just step over a person and say the government should do something about that and claim that as charity, Christian or otherwise. In fact, the Bible says the opposite. Don’t expect others to do it, don’t demand government to do it, don’t rob from one at the point of a gun to give to another and think that is Biblical or any form of charity.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…the “just the right time” concept is the most baffling part.

        Let’s say there were a set of plagues or earthquakes or whatever. Which is more likely?
        A). The events occurred, and some folks over time embellished or made up stories that incorporated those events or
        B) those events occurred at exactly the right moment to fulfill god’s will?

        Your “just the right time” is based on folks many years/decades later writing stuff down. Your archaeological “proof” of Jericho has no evidence for a specific date that things happened. The walls could have fallen over a period of days, weeks, months, or years and the archaeological record would look the same.

        This perspective is akin to suggesting that god caused the 1989 Bay Area earthquake to punish the heathen San Franciscans by allowing the A’s to better align the pitching staff to win the World Series that year.

        Looking back, it happened at “just the right time” to delay the game and allow for a better rested and set up A’s pitching staff to win the series.

        Alternatively, an earthquake occurred, and there happened to be a baseball game that day. There is little biblical significance to it until I start putting those pieces together.

        Regarding the Red Sea, I thought the general consensus was that it didn’t happen, but I see that clearly this is not a universal understanding.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Here comes HT with his faux ‘I don’t understand’ but it is of course just a set up line to try to inject a sarcastic insult.

        Captain, there is advise that says something about ‘pears before swine’. Also, when Jesus declared “The poor will ALWAYS be with you”. Also “If they don’t welcome me I’ll shake the dust from my feet and move on.” (paraphrase)

        All we as believers can do it pray for those that do not. Plant as many seeds as we can and move on. This comment thread is full of non belief and mocking of God. “Be ye not deceived, God is not mocked.”

        And your response with GG is right on the money. It can apply to Texan as well. Just echo’s with no desire to seek truth.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Sorry, HT, I don’t remember Moses standing in the stadium at the world series calling for an earthquake. Yes, natural disasters do happen, and God is real and sometimes He causes things to happen, other times He allows things to happen. You want to keep your eyes tightly shut, well, that is your business. That falls right in line with what Kabuzz just said.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern, 100 years from now, it will be pretty easy to have someone “remember” and write down that a prophet (profit), disciple, even a messiah was calling for the heathen Giants (i.e., Goliaths) to be smote.

        You note that the Bible is part parable, fable, myth, and fact, and I think most folks can accept all of those things. My difficulty is how folks seem to decide what is fact and what is fable.

        Oddly, those decisions conveniently seem to match pre-conceived notions and political beliefs.

      • texan5142 says:

        HT, you know how one can tell a story to one person in a room full of people that the time it reaches the last person in that room the story will be changed. Same with the Bible, those stories most likely changed with each telling it is not the word of God, rather the word of man as he would have liked God to say it.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Sternn wrote: I am a constitutional scholar…..

      • Turtles Run says:

        Buzzy wrote: All we as believers can do it pray for those that do not. Plant as many seeds as we can and move on. This comment thread is full of non belief and mocking of God. “Be ye not deceived, God is not mocked.”

        This comment section is full of the mocking of a couple of sanctimonious windbags that on one hand want to speak about their prayers and belief in the bible but on the other chose to lie at almost every occasion.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        And they rush in and prove my point.

        If you can’t believe in God it seems to reason you can’t believe in the Spirit inspired Word of God.

        If you think so little of God you mock his history, you show contempt of God.

        God has been with us for thousands of years and Jesus Christ for over two thousand years. Many, many, many people, countries and dictators tried to wipe out both Judaism and Christianity but yet we still stand. So go on with your fools errand and write us off, it has been tried many times by more powerful people then you.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…You can try to dismiss the prophetic characteristics of the Bay Area earthquake, but just because Moses wasn’t there, doesn’t mean it wasn’t godly.

        Let’s review the evidence:

        With the warring cities on opposite sides of the Bay (named after a saint), significantly more people on the Oakland side were praying for a victory in this great battle.

        The heathen peoples of San Francisco are notoriously not generally religious, many turning their backs on Christianity, and turning their churches into tourist attractions rather than places of god. Many fewer people in San Francisco were seeking god’s assistance in this battle.

        The Oakland As had just completed a long journey to vanquish a foe from a foreign land (Toronto), and the earthquake allowed them to rest their warriors and align their pitching staff in preparation for the battle.

        Dave Stewart (#34) was crowned the most valuable combatant of the battle, and the prophesy of that will soon become apparent.

        There was great turmoil in the country at this time, and larger cultural wars were occurring throughout the land (as noted by the Profit Pat Buchanan). After a decade of benevolent rule by King Ronald and his hand-picked successor, George the First, the country was awash in revolutionary ideas, soon leading to the overturning of the government and rule by godless pagens.

        To battle this movement away from god, into the world a new savior or messiah was born. Thirty-four days (34 days, World Series MVP Dave Steward jersey number = 34) after the 1989 World Series, a golden haired goddess, Taylor Swift was born. A December birth.

        Interestingly, Taylor Swifts parents are from San Francisco before fleeing to the safer parts of the country inland, away from the godless heathens.

        News of Taylor Swift’s birth spread throughout the land, and visitors brought gifts from far and wide to celebrate her birth.

        Information about Taylor Swift’s early childhood is sparse, but as a young adult, there is record of her mysterious and heavenly appearances.

        Taylor Swift was a bit of an outcast, repeatedly stating her allegiance to god and shunning her Sodom and Gomorrah-like peers (we are looking at you Miley Cyrus).

        In fulfilling one of the circles in her prophesy and in an attempt to reconcile the warring factions behind a common savior, Taylor Swift released a series of spoken words to the masses prior to the World Series in 2010. The winner of that World Series? The San Francisco Giants.

        Taylor Swift released another series of spoken words to the masses prior to the World Series in 2012. The winner of that World Series? The San Francisco Giants.

        Once again in 2014, Taylor Swift released a series of spoken words to the masses prior to the World Series. The winner of that World Series? The San Francisco Giants.

        These spoken words have resulted in millions of followers for our new savior. Her followers and even historians often refer to her as “angelic” and “heavenly”.

        You might wonder what the title of the spiritual words released in 2014?

        That title would be “1989”. The same year as the Bay Area World Series Earthquake.

        Coincidence or prophecy?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, bless you for your efforts, but this blog is a waste of time, no matter which side you’re on.

        Hell, the whole damn internet is an absolute, utter waste of time, and a cesspool.

        I’m so disheartened my New Year’s Resolution is to cancel my internet service once and for all.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        That means I still have 3 days to vent!

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…many of the things we do are wastes of time. However, for some here, this blog is entertainment, and while it may cause higher blood pressure, entertainment is not an unworthy pastime.

        There are times when this blog is informative or educational. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer of those times, but even as frustrating as it can be, it is somewhat educational to hear the perspectives of people with whom I completely disagree (even when I consider those perspectives loony). It is important to recognize that our resident loons (on both sides) actually represent the thinking of some portion of the population.

        As I’ve mentioned before, arguing on here is a bit like touring comedy clubs for up and coming comics. I’m unlikely to stumble into a bunch of folks with extreme views like Stern and Buzz, but I’m going to encounter a whole slew of less extreme versions of them, and crafting an argument that quickly and effectively shuts down a line of discussion can be valuable. I’m not smart enough to have that argument on the fly, so this gives me nice practice.

        Playing 18 holes of golf with an idiot who likes to talk about his political views can be unpleasant. Knocking those arguments away quickly in the first couple of holes will allow us to enjoy four more hours of much more pleasant conversations.

        I have no illusion that Stern or Buzz would ever change their mind based on anything I write, but efficiently handling those arguments in real life is truly god’s (or Taylor Swift’s) blessing.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Tutt, I agree with HT from the other side only HT thinks he is not on the loony left but his feet are firmly planted there. No doubt.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT and Kabuzz, when I find myself amidst warring factions, my instinct is to recoil and resolve to retreat, but don’t be surprised if I renege and return.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        It’s like a bad car wreck.

      • GG says:

        Tutt try not to let things on this blog bother you. It’s been years since I let anything get my blood pressure up on a blog. Even if you hate the internet I’d hesitate to get rid of it as it is a useful tool.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, GG, but I’m not as thick-skinned as you. I agree the internet is a useful tool, but it is possible to function without it, at least on the home front. As long as I have email at work.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Quite the imagination you have, HT. I think you would fit right in with the Westboro group.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Seriously Stern? What in the world have I ever said that compares to the Westboro group?

        I’m pretty sure I’ve never said anything like that to you, and it deserves a pretty sincere “screw you” response.

        I think the Westboro folks are most widely known for their “God Hates Fags” posters and protests. I think if we think through the folks on this board, it likely would be folks on your side of the equation that would concur with such a statement.

        In fact, your biggest supporter here acknowledges that in his mind, the word of god says that homosexuality is an abomination. The definition of an abomination would be something that is loathed, greatly disliked, abhorred, or hated. So, it is your side that would seem to agree with the Westboro folks.

        If there is a god, I’m hoping she greatly dislikes sanctimonious folk, and that way, I’ll have lots of company in hell.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Seriously Stern? What in the world have I ever said that compares to the Westboro group?”

        You comment posted at 9:57 this morning is right up there. I guess you really don’t believe the drivel you posted, but I bet they would be hanging on your every word.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        HT, except for the Bible passages that do condemn homosexuality/sodomy, please list the scriptures that say it is not a sin.

        I think the Captain is referring you using scripture to state an opinion to suit your story.

        The Captain is right in that sense. Also, Westboro is incorrect, God says sodomy is an abomination. His words not mine. You can dance all around it all you want but it’s there in quite a few places. But no where does it say to hurt or kill homosexuals.

      • GG says:

        I saw a show on the History Channel and I thought they mentioned the Red Sea forming a natural land bridge every 40 years or so. The water would recede and leave a narrow strip you could walk on.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Wow Stern…again, you might want to look into either reducing or increasing the amount of drugs you are taking.

        In your head, the posting about the World Series and Taylor Swift is the same as the stuff coming from Westboro Baptist?

        Buddy, you need to get the gift of perspective this holiday season.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…I’m aware that you and scripture view homosexuality as a sin. You and scripture view lots and lots of things as a sin, and we’ve kind of gotten over a whole bunch of those, but you folks seem to really want to cling to that one.

        Regarding me using scripture to support my view point, I would kindly point out that Taylor Swift is not mentioned in scripture. I think I was pointing out that when you are writing scripture well after the fact, it is awfully easy to make connections and develop grand theories.

        GG, over the years, there have been several attempts to scientifically explain parting the Red Sea. I’m not sure folks have ever been successful.

        However, if your memory of the explanation is correct, it would highlight how stories get embellished through the years. If the Red Sea did “drain” periodically and expose a land bridge, it would not happen all at once and then it would not immediately fill back up killing all the bad people. So sure, it is possible that Moses got to the shore and said, “hey look, we can actually cross here now, thank you god”, and maybe this provided a quicker escape route, but science is going to explain an immediate parting and then closing of the water.

      • CaptSternn says:

        GG, I haven’t heard that, but even if true, why did it happen and just the time the Egyptians were hot on the heels of the Hebrews? And why did it suddenly flood just as the Egyptians were crossing. Gets back to science explaining what happened and how, but not quite getting there on the issue of things happening at just that moment in time.

        HT, I would say your imagination is right up there with theirs. But again, I don’t think you are actually believing anything you are saying. So it is just you throwing nonsense out at the wall hoping something sticks. But none of it is sticking. But you really do have quite the imagination.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…I will say that is a pretty astute understanding there.

        You have figured out a very sophisticated and intricate ruse. In fact, I do not believe that Taylor Swift is our new savior in fulfillment of a prophesy associated with the 1989 Bay Area earthquake.

        Congratulations sir. I’m not sure anyone else would have figure it out.

      • GG says:

        Well, it could simply have been good luck. Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years after all, if I recall. Maybe he even knew of this pattern and waited for it to happen and later it was written as some miracle. Natural occurrences don’t always have to have a supernatural answer.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Wandering in the desert happened after the fact.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        HT, my very challenged friend, it was you that brought up sodomy being an abomination, then you act like others did, in this case me. A useful trick for the uneducated but I am well aware of you alleged use of sarcasm when called on the point.

        GG, in the study of Western Civilization, there is a record of the Egyptian army being wiped out by ‘the sea peoples’. There really isn’t a fuller explanation.

        Also, Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years, (a generation) because you could take the Jews out of Egypt but you couldn’t take Egypt out of the jews. The newer generation entered the promised land.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…buddy, we have had a few dozen conversations with you specifically referencing homosexuality as an abomination. I’m confident I never said or typed the words “homosexuality” and “abomination” in the same sentence until after you and I started communicating online. So, I guess thank you for educating me that some folks still believe odd stuff.

        I know you like to argue that it is “god’s word” and you thus cannot condone the sinning, but it is kind of hard to “hate the sin and love the sinner” when person’s sexuality is so much at the core of their being and family.

        Rationalize it in any way that makes you feel better, but it is not a position that will win many hearts and minds in 2015.

        More specifically, I cannot fathom characterizing sodomy as sin, and I would venture to say that 99% of Christians have managed to simply ignore the prohibitions regarding sodomy.

        Oddly, you all happily emphasize the prohibitions regarding sodomy as it relates to homosexuals but seem to happily ignore the prohibitions regarding sodomy as it relates to heterosexuals. Funny how that works huh?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        HT my challenged friend. Heterosexual or homosexual, sodomy is a sin. You equate sinning with hatred. If someone sins their life long day, it is between them a GOD. For some reason you make it your business to defend the sin. While I simply acknowledge the sin and move on. Why is that? Do you have latent yearnings? It is a subject you bring up quite frequently.

        I have no problem with homosexuals. It is up to them and them alone to please God. You can’t get over that. Why???

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…I don’t equate sinning with hatred. What you and your god do behind closed doors is your business.

        The more difficult issue to reconcile is that some of you folks want to govern based on what you consider a sin.

        You say you have no problem with homosexuals, but you have said that if such a measure came up on a ballot in front of you, you would vote to ban recognition of same sex marriage. You don’t have a problem with homosexuals, you just don’t want them to have a formally recognized family, which certainly seems like a problem.

        With regarding to heterosexual versus homosexual sodomy but being a sin, you folks certainly seem to focus a whole lot more on sodomy for homosexuals rather than using your bully pulpit to discourage heterosexual sodomy.

        Heck, I think you have referred to same-sex marriage as “sodomy marriage”, yet 90+% of heterosexual couples engage in sodomy.

        To pretend that Christians view heterosexual sodomy the same way they view heterosexual sodomy is so disingenuous that I do not think even you would attempt to put that stake in the ground.

    • GG says:

      Performance art.

    • RobA says:

      I think thats a pretty reasonable opinion.

      I’m a commited atheist, after having grown up in a very strict Pentecostal household. I look at religious ppl in the same vein as I would look at an adult who still believes in Santa

      That said, freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and I would fight to the death to protect it. The crux if the issue comes in ththat the Bible should have absolutely no bearing on the moral or ethical norms of our society and has absolutely no business in influencing policy or lawmaking in any way shape or form.

      It appears you agree with that. Unfortunately many believers do not share your sense.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Pentecostal is rather strict and extreme from my point of view. But I hope you would take a second look in the not so extreme point of view. Like when Christ said the Sabbath is made for men, not the other way around.

    • rightonrush says:

      Sternn, you are not only a gasbag but a joke. I should feel pity for you but somehow I think the pity would be wasted.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Such and insightful, well thought out response from one of the kings of insults.

      • GG says:

        Big Dog and Me Too.

      • texan5142 says:

        Do not respond GG, you can not reason with idiots that willfully disregard science but believe a book written by people who heared voices in their head.

      • GG says:

        My favorite quote Tex.

        “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”

        Smart lady.

      • texan5142 says:

        You got that right.

      • rightonrush says:

        I’m just casting those “pears” before swine Buzz. LOL

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Actually GG, I agree with you.

        You can’t ‘use’ God for your desires at all, ever.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Buzzy – Then tell that to all those politicians you seem to support that have God whispering in their ear that he wants them to run for office. Funny God never seems to tell these a-holes to quit starting wars and supporting torture. I guess tea party jee-bus is a hater like that.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Funny God never seems to tell these a-holes to quit starting wars and supporting torture.”

        The U.S. hasn’t started any wars since Vietnam, and there was no torture. Reality is not your friend, Turtles.

      • texan5142 says:

        No torture again, that is because you like rectal rape, it turns you on, why else would you condone it. Sternn dreams of a stranger shoving a tube up his ass on his behalf with the belief that it is not torture, it is therapy ………….you are one sick twisted person . You fit right in with the sadist , I hope you did not breed.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Just because you claim it happened doesn’t make it so, Texan. Prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, then we can actually believe it happened.

        You know, like what was done over the Abu Ghraib mess. The folks behind that garbage were charged, tried in a court of law, convicted and sent to prison. Oh, and they were charged, tried, convicted and sent to prison under the Bush43 administration.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        That does it. There’s absolutely no way Cap and I can coexist on this or any blog. Seriously, everyone — Do you honestly think you could sit idly by while your loved one is addressed in such a disgusting manner, or do you think your significant other could watch you being addressed in this way and not care?

        There’s not room here for both of us. I will cede the floor to Cap, since posting comments in his blood. Bye.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        The Gitmo detainee’s lawyers were the only ones who testified to the democrat senate committee. No CIA operatives. No soldiers. No administration officials. But…(chuckle)… Texan falls for it hook, line AND sinker. BWAA!

      • objv says:

        Tutt, I’d urge you to stay, but I may not continue here either. With the nastiness a couple weeks ago when Cap’s location was revealed, I’ve become disheartened as well and haven’t felt like commenting.

        I love the discussions here when arguments are made without acrimony, but the name calling and insults have become too much – especially during the Christmas season.

        Tutt, I wish you and Cap well. It has been wonderful interacting with you both and I admire the way you two have built a life together while respecting each other’s independence.Hopefully, we won’t loose contact completely but please know that I admire both of you and wish you much happiness in the future.

      • Turtles Run says:

        OBJV

        You know what I hate.

        The constant putting words in people’s mouths and expecting everyone to accept it. Or the insulting of the intelligence of the readers here. Tutt wants to stomp her feet and complain that people are being “mean” to cappy, that is her own business but she needs to remember it is a two way street. Cappy loves to troll here and he is treated as such. Those that are willing to discuss issues like adults are treated as such, the others are treated with the same level of respect they show everyone else.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Thank you, OV. We wish you well also. I think my time posting comments about politics is winding down. Things just aren’t what they once were and I am nowhere near as prolific as I was in the past. The immaturity, vulgarity and nastiness have been growing exponentially, especially since Lifer moved his blog here once the Chron site pretty much shut him down there.

        I started posting about politics when I started studying the constitution, founding principles and court cases in the 1990’s. I was amazed by it all, what we really have here, and believed that people just didn’t know. That if they were informed, they would be just as amazed and excited and things could be changed for the better.

        Turns out that some do know, and they work hard to undermine it and bring it down. Others don’t want to know, they are afraid of it all and reject our founding principles. If a person tries to inform them, they close their eyes, cover their ears, stamp their feet and shout, “I can’t hear you” over and over, laced with foul language and a lot of name-calling mixed with lies about others. Then they have the actual nerve to suggest that is being mature and those trying to have a mature and intelligent discussion are nothing more than trolls.

        I think I will probably stick it out until the 2016 elections, then decide.

        Anyway, off my soap box now. Thanks again for your words. I think you have Tutt’s email address, so do stay in touch. I wish you health and happiness, and I am pretty sure she would say the same.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Quit your hypocritical hyper partisan whining OV. You said NOTHING when DanMan called GG a “cum guzzling…” and then you characterized Dan to a new poster as “a breath of fresh air”.

        And you are am admitted in print blatant troll yourself.

        Give me a freaking break OV.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        And there goes your alternate reality narrative to suit your insecurities again Cappy. The Chron shut Chris down? Wishful thinking on your part does not the truth make. Chris voluntarily created this site after quite a few of the regulars were not happy with the Chron changing the blog format and the difficulty it caused in posting. And in case you haven’t noticed, Chris is still a blogger on the chron.

        Give your pathetic willful lies a rest already Cappy.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Once again you make my point, Bubba. The Chron pretty much shut down Lifer’s blog by ending the open comments, so he created this one, which is exactly what I said. Lifer does occasionally leave blog comments on the Chron, and the comments are turned off. There was one time he left comments open on an entry that never made it to this blog, and he never approved the comment I left on that one. I didn’t think he would when I wrote it.

        And I have no idea how any of that makes you feel insecure.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Yes Cappy, you are ALWAYS right. Yawwwwn.

        And that is why you deservedly engender no respect whatsoever.

  7. way2gosassy says:

    I hope that each of you have had as wonderful a Christmas as we have had our first year in our new home!

  8. tuttabellamia says:

    OV, hugs and kisses from Cap and me! We hope you’re enjoying your holiday!

  9. Apeon says:

    There is only ONE Christmas Story—there are more than one telling of the story, but that does not confirm discrepancies–only that individuals are different, and see and report things they know about in different words and manners—–just like news stories, you need to re-assess your thinking. Try analyzing through the parable of the Tares

  10. Apeon says:

    Christianity is this—Believing in the Son of God—once you do that, through the direct revelation from the Holy Spirit, you will continually become a Christian

  11. tuttabellamia says:

    I’m listening to a segment on NPR, and an entity named Long Form has just named Mr. Coates’s “The Case for Reparations” the number one article of 2014. Awesome. It warms my heart to hear there’s still some excellent writing out there in this age of the internet, a gem among the garbage.

  12. Anse says:

    I’ve always been impressed by the way Jews tend to dwell upon and even embrace the ambiguities of their faith and the meaning of Scripture. They aren’t afraid to discuss the contradictions. Too many Christians worry that even acknowledging that these contradictions or inconsistencies exist is tantamount to blasphemy.

    I like Christmas, but I’m also one of those who can find much of it depressing. Thanksgiving has become a much more meaningful holiday for me. Thanksgiving really embodies what a holiday ought to be: a large feast, a gathering of family and friends, a humble spirit of thanks underpinning it all. Why do we celebrate the 4th of July? Because we’re thankful for those forebears who founded this country. Why do we celebrate Veteran’s Day? Because we’re thankful for those who serve. Why Easter? Because Christians are thankful for the hope that the resurrection represents. Even the Christian roots (setting aside the more ancient pagan ones) of Halloween are based on the thankful remembrance of the deceased.

    Christmas embodies that, too, but it’s been ruined by Black Friday mobs and the sparkly baggage of obsessive materialism that makes it the distillation of the worst of American culture that it has become. I used to get frustrated when my toddler daughter opens the package and immediately ignores the toy to play with the box instead, but I think she “gets it” better than most adults.

    • goplifer says:

      What you see today in Judaism in the US and Europe is almost certainly the future of mainline Protestant Christianity. I can say with some authority that’s already the reality in the North. Never in my life have I heard a Jew argue with conviction that Moses really and truly parted the Red Sea. Their faith is far too sophisticated and philosophical to get hung up on magic.

      For organized Christianity to survive it will have to develop a more adult approach to our magic stories. We have about a generation to pull this off. No matter what happens, Christianity will remain an important part of culture in the US. What’s at stake is how central Christianity will be. If the overwhelming bulk of this generation’s committed Christians decide to wage a last stand around Biblical literalism then we are living in the final generation of Christian cultural dominance in the US.

      • rightonrush says:

        IMO so call Christianity has been over run by the nuts. You have the Dugger’s that profits off the women of the clan’s ability to spit one kid after the other out. You have nutty preachers running around sticking their nose into ladies part, to say nothing of sticking their noses into politics. Their bottom line is pass the collection plate. Thank HaShem for the Jews!

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I will believe your prediction as much as your often touted demise of the GOP.

        Wishful thinking at best.

        God can take care of, and call His faithful without worry about your opinion or mine for that matter.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I attended Catholic school for eight years in a little farm town in Ohio.

        In the first grade, when someone brought up 400-year-old Methuselah in our daily religion class, the nun said something like, “That was a long time ago. We don’t know how they defined a year way back then.”

        She said something similar about creating the Earth in a handful of days.

        That solved a lot of problems. It was nice to know that adults lived in a world where not everything was concretely defined. It meant we could deal with ambiguity, too.

        It was likely TMI for 5-6 year-olds when she said the Jews did not Jesus but I think she was having her own internal struggles by then.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Bobo, I agree. Those that haven’t study scripture might think a day is similar to 24 hours but yet they ignore the many other passages about God’s time. It would have been better to say ‘phases’ instead of days but I don’t think there was a word for phase but they used day as a separation between events.

        The Jews at the time did have Jesus killed. No doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean we kill Jews for that act. Again, people love scripture to support an opinion. Many on this site do. But it is all based on ignorance.

  13. rightonrush says:

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  14. Turtles Run says:

    Merry Xmas – Happy Holidays – Happy Winter Solstice – All Hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Zardoz

    Dang PC is hard work.

    Peace my brothers and sisters

  15. goplifer says:

    A commenter sent me this and I thought I’d share, http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/5-things-i-wish-christians-would-admit-about-bible

    Merry Christmas everybody.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Somewhat truthful but simplistic. It does take time, and I mean time to study the Bible in context and running key words through the root word, etc.. I have been a Christian since 1982 but have never heard anyone said GOD wrote the bible. I have heard it is the Word of God. Whether God breathed or whatever, it fits.

      People claiming to be Christians but using the Bible to hurt people is not scriptural at all.

      We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. But by His grace, we are saved.

      It has only been about 150 years since people even started owning their own Bible.

      The way I look at the Bible and study the Bible is as if it is an Owners Manual and I am the subject.

      • easyfortytwo says:

        “People claiming to be Christians but using the Bible to hurt people is not scriptural at all.”

        Said the cat who refers to SSM as “sodomy marriage”.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        “People claiming to be Christians but using the Bible to hurt people is not scriptural at all.”

        We might want to keep that in mind when talking about folks from other religions as well.

        Of course, when our religion leads us to call people “abominations”, well, that is not using the bible to hurt people at all, that is just the word of god.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I did not and do not call people abominations. Never have and never will.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Buzz…do you think people appreciate your pretty darn meaningless distinction.

        “Hey guys, sure, homosexuality is an abomination, but I would never actually call you an abomination.”

        I’m not sure your distinction has a difference other than somehow making you feel better about being a bigot.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        If you do not know the difference between God’s words and mine, well you give me too much credit. You have a problem with God, take it to him.

      • texan5142 says:

        Good now I have a new word. What does one call a bigot who hides behind the bible………kabuzz.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        You guys give new meaning to the term “Boxing Day.”

      • Apeon says:

        Bible ownership is far older than 150 years!–a statement which cals into question your other conclusions

      • kabuzz61 says:

        In mass my dear friend. Most couldn’t afford it.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I believe sodomy is in the dictionary. Look it up. Unless you know something more about homosexuals than others do.

  16. CaptSternn says:

    Hmmm, some people seem to be very insecure about the whole thing and try to tear it down.

    Oh well, wish everybody a very Merry Christmas.

    • objv says:

      Merry Christmas to you and Tuttabella!

    • GG says:

      How so? Everyone, atheist or religious, enjoys Christmas. Heck, even my uncle’s Muslim wife enjoys it.

      Merely pointing out a few facts is not “tearing it down” or “insecure”.

    • easyfortytwo says:

      I’m a UUA christian (lower case intentional), and I’m comfortable (even pleased) with the idea that my faith is described by a myth. I don’t need to listen to some Biblical scholar trying to prove “facts” that don’t need to be (and can’t be) proven.

      I went to a Winter Solstice celebration on Sunday (hosted by a Lutheran and an Episcopalian) and I’m going to Christmas celebrations tonight and tomorrow (both hosted by UCC followers). We’re all good. No need to tear each other down.

    • Turtles Run says:

      No, it is that too many so-called christians believe they have the right to force their beliefs on others or marginalize the beliefs of others. In this country we are constantly seeing Christians attacking other beliefs – such as not recognizing the religious value of non-mainstream organizations.

      Here is the latest example:

      “Alabama Superior Court Justice Roy Moore pauses before addressing his supporters outside the Alabama Judicial Building where a monument of the Ten Commandments was put in place by Moore and in which he has refused to take down, August 21, 2003 in Montgomery, Alabama.

      The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court recently stated that a city that allowed atheist and Wiccan invocations at their council meetings was “foolish” for doing so.
      “We’re having prayers [by] atheists? We’re having Wiccans say prayers? How foolish can we be? … I’ll say this in Huntsville because I think it needs to be said in Huntsville,” said Roy Moore, known as the “Ten Commandments Judge” for once putting a large Decalogue monument in the rotunda of Alabama’s highest court, earlier this month.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/bible-thumping-alabama-chief-justice-attacks-foolish-city-for-allowing-non-christian-prayers/

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Turtles, could it be that he’s referring simply to the idea of an atheist praying as foolish, as an oxymoron? What does an atheist pray to, after all, if he doesn’t believe in a higher power?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Now, as for Wiccans, they do pray to higher beings, as they are not atheists, but maybe this guy is confusing Wiccans with Satanists, so I’m guessing it’s the idea of praying to the devil that strikes him as foolish.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “Turtles, could it be that he’s referring simply to the idea of an atheist praying as foolish, as an oxymoron? What does an atheist pray to, after all, if he doesn’t believe in a higher power?”

        No, it is not him simply referring to atheist praying. This judge has insulted other religions as well. Atheist have just as much as a right to stand up and say some words of inspiration as religious groups.

        No state sponsored religion.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “…..so I’m guessing it’s the idea of praying to the devil that strikes him as foolish.”

        or you can be willfully blind to the actions of this person.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        2003. Very old news. This is all Turtles has to prove his alleged point? Win goes to us.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Buzzy – Do you ever get tired of being wrong? This is a recent event not 2003.

  17. BigWilly says:

    There are times when facts produce intellectual cacophony, Christmas is one of them. Joseph Campbell said some things that I’ve meditated upon for years. Rather than lead me away from salvation they’ve helped me to better understand my Bible. I’ve excerpted a passage below;

    “Myth basically serves four functions. The first is the mystical function,… realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are, and experiencing awe before this mystery….The second is a cosmological dimension, the dimension with which science is concerned – showing you what shape the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through…. The third function is the sociological one – supporting and validating a certain social order…. It is the sociological function of myth that has taken over in our world – and it is out of date…. But there is a fourth function of myth, and this is the one that I think everyone must try today to relate to – and that is the pedagogical function, of how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.”
    ― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

    Merry Christmas.

  18. texan5142 says:

    As a parent, this is spot on.

  19. texan5142 says:

    Happy winter solstice! The true reason for the season.

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/facts.htm#anchor189702

    How the Christians stole the Winter-Solstice holiday

    Perhaps I should title this section, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” except that the Grinch, in this case, describes Christians, and ‘Christmas’ gets replaced by the original pagan celebrations.

    Christians celebrate the Nativity, or the birth of the alleged Jesus every December 25. Contrary to belief, there exists no evidence for a Jesus born on a December. Not a single shred of Biblical text declares this date, nor gives a hint of a winter season birth for a Jesus “the Christ.” In fact, there occurs not a tad of evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus!

    The Christmas that we celebrate today derived from pre-Christian Germanic, Roman, and Celtic people who celebrated the winter solstice. The use of holly, mistletoe, yule logs, wassail bowls, and decorating a tree derived from early pagan customs. Many European countries still call this celebration “Yule-tide” meaning “wheel time,” the cycles of time. None of these derive from Christian origin.

    The Persian Mithras cult spread during the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C.E. and predates Christian ceremonies and rites such as: baptism, communion wafer, and Sunday rest. On December 25, the sacrifice of a bull celebrated the Sol invictus (the invincible sun) and signaled the birth of a young sun god who sprang from a rock or a cave in the form of a newborn infant.

    The Romans celebrated the Winter Solstice on December 25th as a renewing of the sun every year. Also the Romans celebrated the festival of the Saturnalia from December 17th to the 24th to honor Saturn, the god of grain and agriculture. The festival consisted of a period of goodwill, devoted to visiting friends and the giving of gifts.

    At the beginning of the first century, Christianity emerged as a fledgling religion but not until the 4th century did Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. The motive behind the introduction of this celebration aimed at subverting the practice of pagan rituals such as Mithra and Saturnalia. Pope Liberus introduced the Nativity on December 25th 354 C.E.. By the 5th century, the event became so customary that it began to mark the beginning of the ceremonial year.

    Today, we still celebrate with ornaments on trees, mistletoe and giving gifts, none of which has anything to do with Christian mythology. So instead of celebrating the Christian deception, why not opt for the earlier non-god celebration of the Winter Solstice? After all, it represents an actual event as the planet earth orbits about the sun. The universe presents us with far more magnificent events than the superstitious religionists have ever dreamt up. Even more than the imagination of Dr. Seuss.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      You would think just one day you can put your BS to the side but that would be Christian like and you are unChristian like.

    • Crogged says:

      I was raised in a Christian denomination which accepted the facts given above and as such, Christmas was more like July 4th rather than a ‘religious’ holiday (because-“pagan”).

    • GG says:

      I was raised Christian and learned this too. Nothing new or surprising here. This is historically accurate. The early church had to make concessions for the pagans to find the new religion attractive so borrowed pagan beliefs.

    • johnofgaunt75 says:

      Up into the 1800’s, many traditional in New England with Puritan roots refused to celebrate Christmas as they regarded it as a pagan ritual adopted by Catholics (who they regarded as heretics). This is why the traditional Thanksgiving festival took root there initially (as it served as a replacement). It really wasn’t until later in the 1800’s and especially in the Victorian traditions that were imported from Britain, that our modern version of Christmas became something adopted by most Americans nationwide.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Jahovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate it.

        And with it being so overly commercialized, the meaning is mostly lost.

    • Charlie's Electric Fan says:

      Actually, the Romans celebrated Winter Solstice a few days before Christmas, on December 21. The Christmas day calculations are a little dodgy and based on the Talmud, but it’s still close. Basically, Jesus died on March 25th, and the Talmud says that righteous men die on the day they were conceived. Nine months after that is December 25th. Only problem with that is that pregnancies usually don’t last exactly 9 months. But it was probably still in December. For the pagan holiday that was on the 25th, you’re thinking of Sol Invictus, which was first celebrated decades after the date of Christmas was calculated.

  20. RobA says:

    Interesting post, and one worthy of reflection at this time of year. I think it’s important for people to understand the real origins of the concept of Jesus and it’s similarities to countless other messianic mythic figures in other cultures, if only to realize how truly absurd it is to be basing ethical/moral policies based on a 3000 year old book written by middle eastern goat herders.

    Not to there wasn’t a historical Jesus. There almost certainly was. However that is quite different from the CONCEPT of Jesus which Christianity is based on, and which is unfortunately responsible (along with the other great Abrahamic monotheistic religions) for the vast majority of suffering and death in humanities history.

    To start with, it’s relevent to note that “Jesus” as Christians know him is almost certainly a myth. There are countless examples in ancient cultures of a figure known as the “mythic hero archetype.”

    For those unfamiliar with archetypes, they are historical figures that share characteristics similar to other similar figures across a wide range of cultures. The Mythic Hero archetype has 22 documented traits, and the fact that this figure pops up in widely differing cultures speaks to the deep importance humans as a whole place on such a figure.

    Of all the Hero figures throughout ancient history (of which there are many) Jesus matches up with many of the traits, indeed he is ranked #3 in all of common historical hero figures with 19 of the 22 traits (Behind Oedipus with 22 and Theus with 20, but ahead of Romulus, Persons, Horus and Zeus).

    The full list if traits can be seen here:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero#Mythic_hero_archetype

    anyone with a knowledge of Christianity would recognize Jesus in many of these. Some examples:

    – Mother is a virgin
    – Father is a King
    – Hero is son of God
    – Unusual conception
    – Hero attempted to be killed as an infant
    – Spirited away to foreign country
    – His decedent’s, if any,do not succeed him (I.e. he does not form a dynasty)
    – Meets with untimely death
    – usually on a hill

    Etc etc. There are more, but it is humbling and eye opening (especially for a former believer like myself raised to believe in the “exceptionalism” of Christianity) to realize that so many of the things that make Christianity Christianity is simply based on so many other heroic mythic figures found throughout history in so many other cultures.

    And when we dig into the ACTUALLY history if Christianity and read about things like the Council of Nice, in which Constantinople, desperately seeking a national religion which his fledgling Roman Empire could unite under, called the council in the 300’s AD to decide which religion that should be, and to set dogma for said religion. After agreeing on Christianity (one of many, many outlaw religions they could have chose. Christians will point to the very fact that Christianity was chosen as proof of its “truth”, of course one of them had to “win” and it is safr assume that we would feel the same about whichever happened to “win”. If worship of Horus, for example, had been chosen as the unified religion, religious people in our culture would today believe in the “exceptionalism” of Horusanity.

    But i digress;the dogma of the religion needed to be set, starting with the holy book, The Bible. So the delegates decided which books would be officially sanctioned as the “real” Bible, and which books would not. This seems entirely arbitrary with no particular reason why the Gospels, or the books of Kings or Chronicles would be included, but books such asthe Book of Ruth, 1st and 2nd Jubileees, 1st and 2nd Clement, the Preachings of Peter and the Apacolypse of Peter, and Paul’s Epistle to the Lacodoans – all books widely read and generally included in the pre council Bible.

    The important thing to remember and I guess my whole.point is that “Christianity” as it known and practiced today is an entirely human created concept, borrowed heavily from the other cultures of its day and with no real difference from hundreds of other similar religions/belief systems. Modern Christianity was created on a known date and time as a purely political tool to unite/control the population. The ONLY reason why Christianity is thought of today as the “real” religion in most Western countries is simply because our society is a direct descendent from Roman society. Roman culture became European culture, which was obviously the dominant cultural and social force in the world for a long, long time. If, however, another culture had been the dominant one and THAT culture had conquered the rest of the world, we would be worshipping those God’s as the “real” one/s and would reject all other (such as Christianity, for example) as heresy and just wrong. More detailed study will show that almost none of Christianity is original. Christmas, for example, is a direct appropriation of the pagan solstice celebrations which always occurred on Dec 23-25 of every year, and we’re always a symbol of rebirth, of hope, of prosperity, after a long winter and which each day would get progressively longer. And since the first religions were Sun worship based, the very act of longer days (I.e. more Sun, I.e. more God) were a proof of divine power. After all, from Constantines perspective, it would be much easier for the People to accept Jesus as God if they kept much of the major celebrations/feasts the same, so they could find familiarity in the new religion. Easter too is clearly an appropriated pagan celebration.

    So my point to all of this is, don’t base you 2014 moral/ethical decisions based on thousands year old writings which were not divinely inspired, but instead created by men for much the same reason why it was used for hundreds of years after: to consolidate and control power in Earthly Kingdoms, not Heavenly ones.

    • texan5142 says:

      “So my point to all of this is, don’t base you 2014 moral/ethical decisions based on thousands year old writings which were not divinely inspired, but instead created by men for much the same reason why it was used for hundreds of years after: to consolidate and control power in Earthly Kingdoms, not Heavenly ones.”

      Bravo!

    • kabuzz61 says:

      First off, Constantinople came into play a few centuries after Jesus’ death and resurrection. How could such a small sect or only 14 believers with a wanted poster on their head change the area in such a short time?

      In the Old Testament, there are mathmatical certainties that have to align and Jesus has met them. (I think it is 456)

      And of course the bottom line is faith. Without faith, you can’t understand.

      Christians know there are many unbelievers and Christians pray for them. The unbelievers in turn find it necessary to mock and belittle people who believe.

      And I believe there is a deficit in somes intellect that makes it impossible for them to comprehend the concept of faith/belief.

      • Crogged says:

        Ummm, you can’t make a ‘prediction’ with a writing made after the fact, but ‘Happy Holidays!’ nevertheless.

      • goplifer says:

        THIS – “Christians know there are many unbelievers and Christians pray for them. The unbelievers in turn find it necessary to mock and belittle people who believe.”

        Oh the sanctimonious church lady rhetoric. How I miss it. Bless your little heart.

      • rightonrush says:

        //scrimac.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/snl-church-lady.jpg

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        Christians were subject to persecution on and off under the Roman Empire to varying degrees but they were not a “small sect” by the time of Constantine. In fact, they were a rather large sect, especially in the east. In many ways it was localized but in those local areas it could be the majority of people (Asia Minor especially had many Christian communities).

        Anyway, the persecutions of Christians were almost entirely based on politics. Christians were strange to the Romans because they allowed essentially anyone to join their community. Slaves, women, criminals, lepers, outcasts, it didn’t matter. At this point they were an often ignored, although slightly odd religious minority. Sometimes they were used as the whipping boy for this or that bad event. But generally, they were left alone. As the underclass in Roman society grew (with the ever expanding gulf between the rich and the poor), Christian ranks swelled. With the Crisis of the Third Century and the fading of central power, Christian communities gained strength and power.

        The end of the crisis and the coming of Diocletian put a temporary halt to some Christian power. He placed a lot of blame on the fragmenting of the Roman Empire to the failure of regular citizens to uphold traditional Roman values, including the failure to honor the old gods. So he instituted the Great Persecution where there was a systematic attempt to stop Christianity but, by that point, the religion had a firm foothold. Again, especially in the east.

        Upon Diocletian’s retirement, Galerius briefly attempted to revive the policy but even he admitted that it had failed. Eventually Constantine, during the Wars of the Tetrarchy would use his opponent’s claimed persecution of Christians as justification for war. This eventually lead to Constantine becoming the sole ruler of the united Roman Empire.

        Anyway, my point is that Christianity was not a minor or small sect through much of the Roman Empire. It was actually a rather large religion within a Roman Empire that had many different traditions and faith across its wide and diverse populations.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        John75, I said at the beginning stages. Very small, very persecuted with a connected very fervent Roman Jew Paul looking to wipe out the movement. Well we know how that turned out.

        Chris, seems you hover over looking to pounce with some snide remard to those that don’t agree with you. Very mature indeed. Christians do pray for non believers. Mostly so. That is a fact.

      • Turtles Run says:

        RoR – Here you go.

        I use this website to convert images for this website. Sternn gave me the knowledge.

      • johnofgaunt75 says:

        kabuzz,

        This is true. The early Christians (who were probably considered just another sect of Judaism at that point by non-Jews), were persecuted by the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem and in some other areas. Like all new sects they were small in the very early stages. They were helped by the Romans who crushed the Great Jewish Revolt in 66 AD which scattered Jews (and as a consequence the early Christians), across the near East. They also grew quickly because they decided to accept gentiles (who didn’t have to follow Jewish law). This expanded their ranks to all kinds of new followers.

      • rightonrush says:

        Thanks Turtles. I dunno why I couldn’t get the photo to post.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        John75, that was a huge disagreement between Peter and Paul. The original apostles believed strongly that converts had to first convert to Judaism before becoming a Christian. Paul, whose main ministry was in Asia Minor disagreed. Saying that Jesus ended the old law and all mankind was under grace now and in time converted pagans will ‘shake off’ their old ways. Peter finally got it. The discussion also included the food bans which were lifted.

        Spending time in the study of the Bible is very interesting and rewarding. It isn’t the conflicted, contradictive mess others have said it is.

    • Apeon says:

      God chose the most insignificant nation-Israel-the most insignificant people-the Israelite sheep herders, a most insignificant teenager, to CONFOUND the Wise of this world, and from your article He succeeded quite well!

  21. tuttabellamia says:

    Perhaps we should unlock the 24/7 stranglehold that political discourse holds on our daily lives on this Christmas Eve.

  22. kabuzz61 says:

    Halfway decent narrative but Christianity is not and never was a faith based on fear. It is based on love, hope and charity with a promise of total peace. The angel in the shepherd fields said “Fear not for I bring you GOOD NEWS’. Isn’t it great to have good news?

    Merry Christmas to all my battle scarred political veterans. You know who you are. Peace.

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