This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Pagan Christmas!

No, this is not a shout to the motorcycle gang. I am publishing it now for two reasons. I will tell you why at the end. This essay is somewhat of a Christmas tradition for me. It is based on a response on the Washington Post's On Faith blog I made to the question of keeping Christ in Christmas in 2007, which I crossposted on another of my blogs that year and updated on my Daily Kos blog last year.

The original author commented on Christ's birthday being December 25. This is not really true. Jesus was actually born April 17, 6 BCE according to researchers who are knowledgeable about the astrology of that era (essential knowledge if you wish to duplicate the work of the Magi who found Jesus based on his astrology).

Christ is only about Christmas because early Christianity hijacked the winter solstice, which at the time was dated December 25 (due to the progression of the equinoxes). I stridently reject calls to keep Christ in Christmas or to ignore the traditions which have their roots in paganism. Pagan celebrations were not about the Roman, Celtic or Norse gods. Rather, the pagan gods are explanatory tools to better explain man and how he deals with the world around him.In the northern latitudes, people get depressed as the shadows grow longer. Pagan rituals, as well as the placement of Christmas in December , where it no longer conflicts with Eastertide, have the purpose of raising our spirits - often with spirits and revelry, as well as the lighting of fires and candles (note Chanukah). It fulfills a deep need within us, regardless of the deity we accept or reject. This is also why many groups of Alcoholics Anonymous have "Alcathons" this time of year.

Those of us who are Christians proclaim Jesus as the light of the world, so the placement of Christmas here is appropriate for Christians. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Christmas cycle is the lighting of candles in a dark church at midnight Mass - which also occurs at the Easter vigil. The roots of this are all pagan. However, we must mind our manners when dealing with unbelievers. Jesus did not condemn the unbelievers. He saved and saves his wrath for those who profess to follow him but practice intolerance toward others.

Now, why am I doing this column today? The first reason is that the solstice is almost upon us, so it is topical now. Indeed, Chanukah is in full swing, making publication now even more timely, The second reason is that I am having surgery next week, so I won't be writing a column any time after Monday. Indeed, this may just be the last one for a while unless the bishops give me some reason to do so in the next few days.

So let me say it now. Happy Pagan Christmas!

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