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Do Our Christmas Practices Profane The Sacred?

Educational Value of Video Production: I wonder what kind of video production would I have to do to convey this simple point of view?

The Morality of Christmas Practices:

For decades I’ve wondered whether I belong to the majority or the minority by wishing that all of the commercialism that is attached to the Christmas Season could be left far behind us?  Given the way our world of commerce is generally dependent on this season of spending, or as I am temped to term it, a frenetic frenzy of commercial spending.  The reasons I feel we’d be better off for getting rid of this annual commercial spin and not all of them are of a religious origin.

Do Our Christmas Practices Profane The Sacred?

Do Our Christmas Practices Profane The Sacred?

The Christian Justification for a Pagan Christmas:

While I’m not a Seventh Day Adventist, I am, nonetheless in complete agreement with them on how the birth of the Christ Child has been mixed & mingled with the money changers thus profaning the sacred.  In all innocence, I assert, we’ve been taught and usually, what’s sung to the cradle travels with us all the way to the grave.

The way Christmas is celebrated today is a hodgepodge of Pagan practices cobbled to suit the market forces.  Including the tree dressing!  That on the table, I still love all the lights and the glitter.  Santa Clause, a character known today was once an historical figure whose origins are found in Turkey. The North Pole, the midnight ride with magical sleigh and mythical reindeer, are, as we all know, the stuff of children’s stories.  Lovely stories, I’d like to add.  But to overlay, this Santa who ‘knows if you’re naughty or nice’ and rewards you accordingly is a travesty when it replaces the sacred hour that Jesus of Nazareth was born, heralded as the Christ, only begotten son of God.

Video Production:  Interview With Jesus of Nazareth:

Don’t mean to undermine my serious point but would you agree with me that to have Jesus of Nazareth brought into a recording studio and interviewed, like any other video production; record that commentary of his on the current practices regarding the Christmas seasonal spending would you agree with me that he’d most probably find our ‘current’ Christmas practices repugnant? Would he even know what the heck we we’re talking about since everyone now knows that he was not even born in December, no matter what calendar you’re referencing!
Does anyone doubt that once he figured out that this spending spree, was instigated to celebrate his birthday, by both those religious and secular types, does anyone actually think he’d say, “Gee, what a party!?!  All this for me?!”  I sincerely hope that no one would think he’d say that.

I can see all the emails and comments on this blog now! LOL  There are those who would love to give me a blast about the fairy tale of God impregnating a virgin with His only son to later kill him with the cruelest of deaths, in order to save what he already had – us, His Creation.  I also agree with that… thrown about as it is, peppered with disinformation or no historical underpinning at all, is equally full of myths and legends.  It seems we are prone to taking crumbs, a bit from here and a slice over there and whipping them into a loaf served at the last suppers from many a table!

So, endeavouring to stay clear of all known ‘facts’ including those that are spun into what could only be honestly called a ‘fable’ – I’d like to just discuss the damage this holiday often causes… especially to those that it is often intended for: the children.  Taking all the fact and fable into one bit arena… I’ll set everything aside except for the children.
Christmas Message as it Communicates to Children:

For those of you who’ve not had to endure hardship, or very little of it, try to imagine you’re a child; let’s say, for the lack of argument, one under the age of 10.  Let’s suppose you and your family are enduring drastic hardship… the worst possible way to have to face this is if you’re living in an otherwise well heeled neighbourhood but if you’re poor, you’re probably going to live among others who are also poor.

Let’s say you all know about Santa Clause, who’s been working with his many Elves making toys all year long. Hopefully one of them in the very least is for you!   As a child, you probably would’ve been told that Santa Clause, Old Saint Nicolas is watching everything you do…and, he’s keeping score!

Just for a moment, think to yourself, ‘what the hell does this have to do with the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of God’s only son, the Christ?!  Even if you do not share in or practice a Christian faith, you still must wonder why our economy is so precariously poised on the now infamous, ‘Black Friday’ and the flurry of gift returns that subsequently follow on in the preceding 2 weeks following the December 25th affair!

Anyway, back to the way you’d reason about Christ & Christmas, Santa Clause & presents if you were a child. Rife confusion is introduced when the child is taken to church or plays a part in the annual Nativity school play.  Worse yet, and this is more and more found to be common place – the child knows nothing whatsoever about Jesus in the manger or Jesus on the cross!?

What the child, especially one born to poverty will know is this:  the lack of presents under the tree from Santa means they’ve done something wrong.  Suppose they have friends whose families are not quite as strapped for funds,  who they know are ‘bad’ and yet those kids return to school from the Christmas break, piled high with their Christmas gifts.  How would you balance, or perhaps, how did you balance all of this in your head?   When the jolly ole St. Nicolas wasn’t happy with you…how does a child process this?  How do they figure out why folks are giving presents to each other when the Three Wise Men gave them to the baby Jesus?
Teach the Children:

Why not teach them Christian history which documents Saint Nicholas?

What are we teaching the children about Christmas?  With so few children these days  involved in any sort of liturgical calendar or Christian community,  then the only celebration is purely secular.  A festival of sharing and receiving presents.  Nothing wrong with that.  A seasonal holiday set aside to exchange gifts, eat, drink, and rush into the shopping malls for the customary discounts.

My Proposal:

Would be to set a clear definition between the sacred and the secular.  Mark them well and ensure that no child feel deprived or punished.  What about those who are more comfortable with the pure secular version of this festivity, reduce the spending in so doing remove some of the emotional weight that usually attaches itself to this practice.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if it were to be taken back to what it once was – the exchange of gifts that n individual actually makes themselves.  Sharing a meal, having the exchange of conversation about how we feel, what we think, conclusions that have developed throughout the year…wouldn’t that be an alternative and useful modification?  Since almost every smart phone, tablet and laptop computer have video recording capabilities, why not begin the creation of a family heirloom in the production of videos?

I would propose for those who do want to teach their children about the sacredness of remembering the birth of Jesus the Christ, that they have open conversations about this Christian celebration.  Discover what the child already knows about it, if anything and fill in the blanks or throw out the misconceptions.
Reformation of New or Revival of an old Economy:

And finally, I’d say we need to get involved with the entire restructuring of our central economics.  What the hell happened?!  Shouldn’t we be asking of ourselves how the sacred was so grossly profaned?  Should’t we now be wondering how it is that only when individuals and corporations, going into debt is required to keep an economy ‘upwardly mobile’?

Part of the citizenship we enjoy in America was instigated in part by a very small sect of Puritans calling themselves Pilgrims.  They fled the mercenary foundations of European homeland believing it to be sinful and entirely contrary to their core values of their Christian faith.  They passionately sought a better life and risked life and limb to find it.  This is not a romantic fancy of mine  it’s history.  They documented it.

They knew far more about the primitive Christian church than most professing Christians do now. They had less archival discoveries drawn from the many archeological digs that we have and yet what they did know, they practiced.

They pooled everything they owned and shared from a common pool.  The original, you could say, of the oft quoted:

“From each according to his ability to each according to his need”

There was no shopping frenzy.  There was a self formed family who all agreed to share everything with each other and worship in the spirit.  No need for a shopping spree on the run up to December 25th or the stampede to return the unwanted gifts for the exchange of those preferred.
I need to shut up now – its the season! LOL and I have to get on with some other video productions.  This is a first draft set out here and no doubt would have been seriously condensed were it to go through a rewrite.  And while I’ve yet again provided Hamlet with a no doubt  irresistible urge to say: “words, words, words”  I nonetheless stand by all that I’ve gone on about in this blog article.

I hope someone out there hears me and will enter into conversation about this with anyone who will give it the time of day- because this is more than a travesty to the sincere simplicity that generated the commonly agreed Christine beliefs.   This is a well engineered commercial fiasco.

And while i do so love the many pagan practices now infused into the commemoration of the Saviors birth, the glitz and sometimes glamour, I prefer the cooking and shared meals, the hymns, the romance of church candles, the scripture, and I abhor what its become and I think that to remain silent about it is to condone it.

Next time I write about this, I’ll do so more precisely as this part of our history is actually very interesting. That is to say, the way these pagan festivals were woven into the Christian’s practices is very revealing about who we are.

Maybe I should sign off – Bah humbug!  But then again, that’s another story! LOL
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The Story of Silent Night:

Many of us know the origins of the hymn Amazing Grace but far fewer know the story of how one of our most beloved hymns ‘Silent Night’ came to be. Now this is history I wish we had a video production of and there is a reason why I wished we had video footage! Its because the facts that I’m going to set down here is just one of the stories that’s told about this hymn.

If you really want to appreciate the ‘effects of the oral tradition’ go and read a few of the stories about the origins of this Christmas Carol. More or less the hard facts you find are the same but the way they’re put together varies. Its interesting, really it is.

Silent Night: The Poem

It was a poem a Clergyman wrote during the few days that preceded one Christmas Eve in 1818. That was 195 years ago and it doesn’t seem its worn out its welcome yet! This Clergyman lived and served in a small Austrian Village, nestled in the Alps, known as Oberndorf.

The Clergyman, Father Josef Mohr took a journey on foot to visit a family who lived in a cabin high in the mountains. Its recorded that as he walked he became very aware of the beautiful landscape. The blissful silence of the snow covered ground. The dark beauty of the Alpines against the very azure blue sky and the music that sang out from the creeks he first followed then crossed as he made his way to the awaiting family.

When he arrived, it was early evening and he was warmly greeted at the door. When he stepped in, the first thing he saw was a newly born babe with its mother in adoring attendance. Since we have no video production to view on YouTube LOL or a viral video to view that was sent to us thru one of the many social media networks, we’ll have to rely on those who’ve suggested that this walk put Father Josef Mohr into a reflective state of mind about the original Nativity scene. There would be no doubt his state of mind since he was in the middle of preparing for the upcoming caroling service that he would officiate Christmas eve.

When he left the family and headed home, it was nightfall and the moonlight glistened from the snow covered hills and gleamed from the babbling brook. It was a silent night and he felt it to be a holy night. All is calm, all is bright. But wait..!

What Went Wrong?:

While he was away, as the story goes, well at least one version of the story, his friend and colleague Franz Gruber, who was also the Choir Master and village music teacher, sat down to the organ to do a bit of rehearsal for the Christmas Eve service. and what do you think happened…why the organ was breathless and that means that no sound came from it! It was broken. This was a disastrous time for this to happen; it’s Christmastime and on Christmas Eve the organ is played while everyone sings hymns together. No organ, no music… but wait because when Father Josef Mohr arrived home, he sat down and penned the poem that was to become one of the most beloved Christmas carols of the Christian world. Even non believers sing this hymn during the Christmas Season and it’s now 195 years old!

When Josef and Franz were trying to figure out what to do about the upcoming service and the broken organ, he showed his poem to his friend, the music teacher. He loved it and said that the very words suggested a simple tune and in his mind the poem was really a Christmas Carol.

The Collaboration:

Wonderful, don’t you think, that while we don’t even have a video production we can view to prove this to ourselves, we are told that we can rely on the fact that like most music teachers, Franz Gruber played more than one instrument; he also played the guitar. He took the simple loveliness of the beautiful sparse poem now titled ‘Silent Night’, and set it to a memorable melody. The rest is history and most of that is well documented. How the Christmas carol was taken by the organ mender (someone had to come and fix that breathless heap of wood! LOL ) back to his small village and taught the simple song to a small group of children.

The Journey of Silent Night:

Then it ended up in the most famous cathedral of Salzburg, St. Peters. Then it travelled somehow to Paris…then to London and from there it arrived like so many other immigrants, to America. First in the big cities then to the small towns and now everywhere, during the Christmas season, you’ll hear ‘Silent Night, Holy Night.

The First TIme I Heard It Sung In Austrian:

SwaddledBabesI don’t think I shall ever forget hearing it for the first time in it’s original language, Austrian. My friend sang it to me one Christmas Eve. Michele was Austrian and we were both sitting in her new gorgeous A-frame house overlooking Lake Kooteny in British Columbia, Canada. It was dusk, we were seated side by side in recliner chairs that we had pulled up close to the floor to ceiling windows. The Canadian Rockies were, of course, snow covered. The night was clear, cold and the sky was a mix of purple and indigo. It was stunning.

This gorgeous painting we gazed upon, mixed with her obvious home sickness drew the Christmas Carol, Silent Night out of her. I had never heard her sing before. She was 53 and I was 24 or 25. I remember thinking about how she had taken up piano lessons and I wondered why someone so old would do something like that! So in my characteristic and sometimes, though not meaning to be, unkindness, I ask her why she was doing that? Because everything in my mind set, following on from a very industrious and utilitarian upbringing as an American, I factored that it was a waste of time unless you were ( I love this next useless phrase) unless you were ‘going to do something with it’.

I was taken aback when she simply said that she had always wanted to play the piano and this was the first time she could. She was doing it for herself. I’ve never forgotten that. It was a lesson that is still with me. There are so many things that I still want to do and in the ways of the world, if it’s only value is to be measured pounds and pence on a bottom line, well then, these things I want to do are equally a waste of time.

Precious Memories Teach Me Still:

What I most recall about listening to her singing that carol in Austrian and then teaching it to me was the depth of her longing for her homeland. I knew that they had come out of Nazi Germany and immigrated to Canada to escape so much unspeakable sorrow. And her singing that song, on this Christmas eve was particularly poignant since she did not consider herself a Christian.

The belief in God, as she put it, died in the horror of the war.
You have to admit, that the singing of this hymn by this woman would be memorable to anyone. She’s left us now, where we go when we die, I don’t know… but I do know we live because life is deathless by its nature just as light has no darkness by its nature.

Michele was beautiful. She had dreamy blue eyes and blond hair with many curls. She had a noticeable nervous tic that was somehow endearing. Although she was overwrought most of the time and had a profound and noticeable capacity for critical thinking. She introduced me to many aspects of literature and was always interested and impressed about my passionate interest in the Bible and my knowledge of its writers.
Today is December 11th, 2013. Christmas Eve is soon here – I’ll have to sing to her, this hymn in her mother tongue; I wouldn’t want her to think I’ve forgotten it.