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Random Thoughts on the Subject of Christmas

I read an article about a YMCA that replaced its Santa with Frosty the Snowman. This was a decision by the local management, not some upper-level YMCA ruling. They said it was because they wanted to make their annual seasonal celebration more inclusive for everyone. I heard earlier from a friend that a YMCA in Pennsylvania was going to let them hold church services in their building, but then decided they shouldn’t. After all, that C in the name shouldn’t be misconstrued as implying that they support Christianity.

But back to the Santa thing. Please tell me when we got to the point that Santa Claus was a Christian symbol in America? I know there are historical roots in Roman Catholicism or Orthodox belief with Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas, but I always thought that Santa Claus as an American institution was pretty much non-religious. Frequently he has quasi-religious characteristics, such as keeping a watch and a list to see about that whole naughty and nice thing, rewarding the good (candy and toys) and punishing the bad (coal and switches), and the ability to travel the world and make his deliveries in a single night.

Some Christians hasten to point out that Jesus Christ most likely wasn’t born in December, that this time-of-year celebration has many pagan roots and elements and is hardly Christian anyway. Even those conservative Christians who are glad to celebrate Christmas have frequently spoken out against Santa as usurping the place of God. They object to Santa taking on some of God’s attributes and crowding out the birth of Christ entirely. Sometimes Christ is allowed to co-exist, but it has always seemed weird to see the nativity set alongside the sleigh and reindeer on so many lawns. The church I grew up in had Santa Claus visit the Sunday School children. That was weird, too.

The true meaning and purpose of Christmas has been leaking out of the American brain for years. I’m going to continue this ramble in a later note, but let me leave you with this thought. Are you just as guilty as secularists and the rest of the confused country of making this holiday, this “Holy Day,” incomprehensible to the world?

Every year there are politically correct government or management decisions to cut out nativity scenes, to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” to stick to non-religious Christmas music, to avoid any reference to the true reason we have this holiday at this time.

More and more, however, Christmas trees are no longer welcome, decorations on desks at work are banned, and anything that reminds us that Christmas is anything but a winter holiday with possible time off from work is taboo. It’s okay to display lots of commercialism starting sometime in October, to go nuts with the lights and lawn displays, to max out the credit cards buying stuff. It’s also okay to make fun of Christmas, to emphasize that it’s totally mythological. Santa and Jesus are equally fairy tales.

The TV show “Bones,” about a forensic anthropologist and an FBI agent who solve crimes, apparently loves to do Christmas shows. One had a murdered temp agency Santa who seemed to be the “real” Santa. He refused to work on Christmas Eve, designed toys, and wore real ermine on his suit.

Another one had Dr. Brennan (Bones) expounding on how she takes a trip out of the country at Christmas to avoid the whole ridiculous celebration. She is reluctant to even enable her incarcerated father and brother to celebrate Christmas together.  Brennan objects to lying to her brother’s adopted children and pretending he is not in prison, just visiting his father. Booth (the FBI agent who is a practicing Roman Catholic and very badly represents the faithful) states that to make all this happen they are going to have to practice deceptions, and that you have to tell lies at Christmas. It’s part of the deal, apparently.

Secular Humanism has been taking aim at Christmas for years. They’d like to wipe it out of existence. Kwanzaa seems to have been invented to further that purpose. Every year you see t-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming “Festivus for the rest of us.” (If I understand it right, Festivus is some sort of celebration invented on the TV show “Seinfeld” and adopted by secularists as if it were real). Winter Solstice is another great one to bring up. Pagans can celebrate their holiday, but not Christians.

Hannukah seems to have been squeezed almost into non-existence as well. When we delivered to Michaels craft stores in Jewish areas they complained that management never sent them any Hannukah supplies. Nothing even remotely connected with Christmas or the true God in the minds of Secularists can be permitted. Every year they push the envelope further. Sometimes people push back. Even Jews want the trees, they want Santa, but do they want the true God or Christ?

The movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” deals with a congressman who, in one scene, speaks to a constituent who wants to keep a creche (nativity scene) at a firehouse. There is opposition and the man wants Wilson to make the opposition stop. Wilson says to him, with the wisdom of Solomon, knowing his people and his towns so well, that he should move the creche to a nearby church lawn, and adds, “everybody lives.” Wilson is depicted in the movie as a hard-living, hard-drinking, womanizing reprobate, but a man who still takes his political and social responsibilities seriously. And he wants to keep Christ out of secular life, over on the church lawn where He belongs.

So, see, in a way, this incident with the YMCA kicking out Santa means secularists are trying to attack Christianity when they attack Santa, and trees, and Christmas carols. I guess our culture is so warped now that we may have to consider Santa an ally, though I’m not necessarily ready to fight to keep him in Christmas celebrations.  I am ready to point out that this is another attack by Secular Humanism, and we should take it seriously.

I’d lots rather fight to keep the creches at the firehouses (the town I grew up in had one for many years), the wise men and the star up on the hill near Arizona State University in Arizona. I’d like to see stars or angels on treetops and along city streets (though the depiction of angels is a whole other subject). Now and then someone speculates that maybe the reason we give presents is because the wise men gave gifts to Jesus. I’d fight to keep that in too.

We read the Christmas story with whatever family we can gather at Christmas. The whole thing, from Zacharias to the return from Egypt, out of the Bible, not a Bible Story Book. I would definitely fight to keep that. That’s the most important thing to keep, honoring and recognizing the importance and authority of the Word of God. We should do it all year long, but maybe if you haven’t really studied the Word of God and accepted its authority in the past, this is a good time to start. To keep Christ in Christmas and in America we have to keep the Word on our lips, in our minds and in our Hearts.

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Giants, Genetics and Original Sin

After the death of Virgil in the First Century BC, the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar posthumously published his Aeneid. Caesar Augustus loved this book because it took the history of Rome, romanticized it and treated it as “prophecy.” Virgil built on an existing legend about the founding of Rome. He expanded a story around that legend based on the Odyssey. The most famous part of the book is the story of the Trojan Horse.

The hero of the Aeneid, Aeneas, son of Venus, was one of Hector’s commanders. He fled Troy with a small band of Trojans when it fell to the Greeks. They built ships and sailed to Italy, with many adventures along the way. They were commanded by the gods to join with the existing people in Italy and to build Rome. Aeneas and the Trojans were opposed and attacked by the Latins, led by Turnus. Turnus is described by some scholars as having a mother who was a nymph, and the Aeneid states that his sister was a nymph. In the final scene, Turnus and Aeneas fought to the death for Lavinia, the daughter of the old Latin King. By killing Turnus and marrying Lavinia, Aeneas united the Trojans with the Latins.

Both Turnus and Aeneas are described as giants. Aeneas challenged Turnus to single combat soon after the arrival of the Trojans, but Turnus was afraid of the larger Aeneas, so Turnus repeatedly stirred up many cities against the Trojans.

At the end of the duel, Turnus picks up and throws a stone with one hand which Virgil describes as requiring 12 men of today to lift. Though the giant Turnus was stronger with one arm than 12 of Caesar’s legionnaires, he was no match in size or strength to Aeneas. Yet the Iliad repeatedly describes the giant Hector as much larger than any other Trojan. Hector’s mother, Hecuba, is described by some accounts as being the daughter of a river god.

Hector was equally fearful of facing Achilles in single combat because he was so much smaller than Achilles, son of Thetis. Thetis is described by some accounts as a nymph, by some as equal to Neptune and one of the descendants of the Titans, and by others a creator-goddess. Though no other Greek was able to stand before Hector, the larger and stronger Achilles humiliated and defeated Hector in single combat.

That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Gen 6:2-4

“Sons of God” has two possible meanings. It either means that line of Adam’s son Seth, spoken of in the Scriptures as having descendants who “began to call upon the name of the Lord” polluted itself by intermarrying with pagans. or that the “Sons of God” were fallen angels.

Normal men filled with the Spirit of God did superhuman feats of strength. Jacob and Moses both lifted a great stone off a well that seems normally to have required many people to move. Samson (although he does not exemplify the best in God’s servants) performed stunning feats of strength. So it is possible that the descendants of these earlier, formerly godly people, who intermarried with pagans, might have produced “giants” or “mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

Many ancient sources claim that the “giants” and “mighty men of old” were pagans who believed in many gods and goddesses. Their parents were at least part “divine.” The phrase “Sons of God” is the also found in beginning of the book of Job where the phrase clearly means angels or demons. Some say that Gilgamesh of ancient Mesopotamia, who was said to be “two thirds god,” Hercules, the son of the god Zeus, and other ancient “superheroes,” Herakles in the Indus Valley of India, the Viracocha of the Incas, and even Nimrod of the Scriptures, may have all been the same person or his descendants.

This is food for thought, a point on which good men can disagree. The “superpowers” described in ancient documents could be the remnants of God’s great blessing, or they could be indications that the great deceiver, Satan, used his rebellious angels to try to corrupt man beyond his fall and drive a greater wedge between the Creator and His creatures. In any case, the “superpowered” actions governed by enormous pride, the conflicted beliefs about God or “the gods,” and the despairing or outright evil decisions made by these demigods and heroes of old, and the people who lived around them, indicate the workings of our fallen nature and Satan, the “accuser.”

Understanding genetics can help us understand what the sin nature is and how sin is passed on. Some scholars arrive at the interpretation of the Sons of God being Seth’s line because they do not believe that angels or demons have the power to interact with the human race genetically. This position requires belief that the genetic character of original sin literally makes man “born in sin” only because of Adam’s sin.

In the passage in Genesis these “sons of God” are clearly male, spoken of as taking wives. If they were angels or demons, this would call into question the genetic character of Adam’s original sin. Man could not be held fully responsible for his need for redemption if these were non-humans introducing corruption into the genetic material.

In many ancient cultures, most notably the Egyptians, inheritances of property and position passed from mother to daughter. Mitochondrial DNA is DNA in a cell outside a nucleus. It is passed from mother to daughter without any genetic recombination. This explains Christ’s redemptive power, as the “one born of woman,” having Mary’s mitochondrial DNA passed on but not Adam’s original sin.

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