24 December 2013

What is this "Christmas Story?"


“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”

“So then, just as you received Christ Yeshua as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

- Colossians 2:2-4, 6-8, 16-17

In my honest opinion, many of the ‘actions’ and ‘themes’ of this time of year do not reflect the example of Christ, although some of the religious like to repeat the mantra “Jesus is the reason for the season” while they are standing in line buying up what their credit card can swallow.  Folks suppose the purchase of ‘things’ bought and wrapped somehow says I love you.  Where did that come from?  When the magi came and gave their gifts to the infant Christ, they did it out of honor and tribute to Him being King… King of kings!  It can be said the gifts represent gifts one would bring to a birthday party, but how do you gift the Living God?  By mostly giving things to others which are doodads, novelty and trendy?  

Let us look to giving a lasting gift.

I desire you to know the reality, which is found in Christ!  I desire you to be built and rooted in the faith as you were taught ( by the Spirit and His Word ).  I desire you to allow the shadow of the world’s ways to pass and for you to pursue, in faith, the path and purpose He has for you… and surely it is not to reflect the world and the world’s ways, but to be a living sacrifice and light to this dark world and be utilized as a vessel of His Spirit.

I’m not trying to be a scrooge, but I would like to express the reality of things as they are, aside from childhood emotions, sentimentality, religious beliefs built from man’s doctrine beyond scripture, cognitive dissonance caused by realizing the supporting and efforts in continuing pagan rituals and adherence to secular culture’s generational repetition of tradition.  These are the justifications of the actions and themes of this time of year people use to continue on their path and shrug off points made herein as ‘scroogy.’

My aim and goal is that you understand, as the scripture is stating; understand and be able to decipher what ‘is’ and what is not.

Some of the themes of this time of year are:

- consumerism

- many songs singing about everything BUT what Christ exemplified


- a tree brought into the house

- a few other mostly pagan-based rituals and traditions, having been adopted as Christian traditions yet still lacking anything substantially Christian as for what that term Christian means: Christ like.

Much like when in spring, a bunny rabbit, some chicken eggs and chocolates somehow have something to do with Christ rising to life from the dead.  And when one considers that ‘holi’day is called Easter ( google Ishtar, which is yet another pagan god ), one can see that clearly for what it is, if only they put their mind into thinking and cease the novelty of following the crowd.   Folks, out of habit and cultural conditioning, forward that mantra of ‘happy easter’ and have no clue what they are really repeating ( perhaps ignorantly invoking and celebrating a pagan god? ).  

Same can be said with the winter season’s celebration of things and the repeating of a holiday riddled with pagan themes.  

Looking at the passage in Colossians, it is clear that one will not be condemned if they partake in any kind of secular cultural celebration.  Yet one should search out what exactly it is they are celebrating, looking for themselves what the words and actions mean.  For me personally, the more I’ve learned about secular ‘holi’days, I have found they have more to do with the continuance of pagan rituals and less to do with my faith ( and in no way further my faith but instead lead me into more consumerism and the buying and selling of the Babylon system which has enslaved the world ).  For this reason I have steered clear due to my conscience and desire to not be swayed in any way from Christ’s reality.

The passage does encourage the believer to further deepen their knowledge of Christ.  And what would that knowledge of Christ be?  Would it be being able to recite passages of scripture on cue?  Perhaps, yet I see it as being more so ‘knowing’ Christ by doing what He did; action and themes of what He exemplified?  What were His actions while in the flesh?  He served the needs of those marginalized and shunned by society.  He fed the hungry.  He helped the blind see ( think spiritually and metaphorically ).  He befriended those who the religious would deem undesirable.  He walked outside the typical and the only path He would come close to reflecting the culture was the law that drew Him to obedience, to which He fulfilled.  I doubt we would have found Christ in line at the mall if not to help others and preach the Word to them, but not so much buying a shopping cart full of stuff for his mom and brothers and sisters.  

Ask yourself also if you will consider the poor and homeless for a single day, as many do for ‘thanksgiving,’ and would you ‘help’ them with more ‘things,’ or with real necessities like food, clothing and the means to shelter themselves from the cold.  Many folks who are out in the cold have lost their minds due to an economic meltdown brought on by the sifting of the market by the very same mechanisms which market consumerism to you… and many folks ignorantly are out there supporting these very same mechanisms with their shopping… a vicious cycle not easily recognized, but felt when the desire for more is never satisfied.  

Have you noticed how mainstream culture reminds you to do ‘good’ things as a passing suggestion but not as a mainline theme?  Was Christ’s attention to the needs of others a passing distraction or a centered focus?  Could the afterthought of the poor and needy be because feeding the homeless doesn’t equate to profits for companies selling trendy and plastic things?  

And when considering your ‘giving’ like Christ, may I suggest going a step further from the easy move of giving to a charity, to instead going directly to the source: finding those who are in need and handing them your gifts directly to them.   Doing so will eliminate the waste and risk of giving to charities, for however famous and well recognized their brand may be, your entire donation doesn’t go to the source of the need.  Yet, when you give to those face to face, not only does the 100% you give directly impacts the recipient, the human impact both the giver and receiver experience is priceless… the human experience of love in action.  

Let us also consider not just a thanksgiving day or a Christmas day, but every day those who are truly Christ in disguise:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

- Matthew 25:31-46

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Let us now look at the influence still persistence of an empire thought to be long gone to history, but the remnant and adoption of their continued rituals, customs and modes of thought still ever-present in today’s Amerikan and worldwide consumer empire:

( the following excerpts are from wikipedia entries with attached links )

Religio

Religio among the Romans was not based on "faith", but on knowledge, including and especially correct practice.  Religio (plural religiones) was the pious practice of Rome's traditional cults, and was a cornerstone of the mos maiorum, the traditional social norms that regulated public, private, and military life. To the Romans, their success was self-evidently due to their practice of proper, respectful religio, which gave the gods what was owed them and which was rewarded with social harmony, peace and prosperity.
Religious law maintained the proprieties of divine honours, sacrifice and ritual. Impure sacrifice and incorrect ritual were vitia (faults, hence "vice," the English derivative); excessive devotion, fearful grovelling to deities, and the improper use or seeking of divine knowledge were superstitio; neglecting the religiones owed to the traditional gods was atheism, a charge leveled during the Empire at Jews, Christians, and Epicureans.  Any of these moral deviations could cause divine anger (ira deorum) and therefore harm the State.  See Religion in ancient Rome.

Sacerdos

A sacerdos (plural sacerdotes, a word of either masculine or feminine gender) was any priest or priestess, from *sakro-dho-ts, "the one who does the sacred act."  There was no priestly caste in ancient Rome, and in some sense every citizen was a priest in that he presided over the domestic cult of his household. Senators, magistrates, and the decurions of towns performed ritual acts, though they were not sacerdotes per se.  The sacerdos was one who held the title usually in relation to a specific deity or temple.  See also collegium and flamen.


Sigallaria

The Sigillaria on December 23 was a day of gift-giving.  Because gifts of value would mark social status contrary to the spirit of the season, these were often the pottery or wax figurines called sigillaria made specially for the day, candles, or "gag gifts", of which Augustus was particularly fond.  Children received toys as gifts.  In his many poems about the Saturnalia, Martial names both expensive and quite cheap gifts, including writing tablets, dice, knucklebones, moneyboxes, combs, toothpicks, a hat, a hunting knife, an axe, various lamps, balls, perfumes, pipes, a pig, a sausage, a parrot, tables, cups, spoons, items of clothing, statues, masks, books, and pets.  Gifts might be as costly as a slave or exotic animal, but Martial suggests that token gifts of low intrinsic value inversely measure the high quality of a friendship.  Patrons or "bosses" might pass along a gratuity (sigillaricium) to their poorer clients or dependents to help them buy gifts. Some emperors were noted for their devoted observance of the Sigillaria.

In a practice that might be compared to modern greeting cards, verses sometimes accompanied the gifts. Martial has a collection of poems written as if to be attached to gifts.  Catullus received a book of bad poems by "the worst poet of all time" as a joke from a friend.  Gift-giving was not confined to the day of the Sigillaria. In some households, guests and family members received gifts after the feast in which slaves had shared.


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The Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome, is an early reference to the date of the nativity as December 25.   In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus.

Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.

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In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in western Christianity focused on the visit of the magi. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the "forty days of St. Martin" (which began on November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours), now known as Advent.  In Italy, former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent.  Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.

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Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens.  Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.  The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques, and pageants. In 1607, King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games.  It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.

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Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the "trappings of popery" or the "rags of the Beast".  The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. King Charles I of England directed his noblemen and gentry to return to their landed estates in midwinter to keep up their old style Christmas generosity.  Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England's Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647

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In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.

At the same time, Christian residents of Virginia and New York observed the holiday freely. Pennsylvania German Settlers, pre-eminently the Moravian settlers of Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz in Pennsylvania and the Wachovia Settlements in North Carolina, were enthusiastic celebrators of Christmas. The Moravians in Bethlehem had the first Christmas trees in America as well as the first Nativity Scenes.  Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom   George Washington attacked Hessian (German) mercenaries on the day after Christmas during the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, Christmas being much more popular in Germany than in America at this time.

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In Britain, the Christmas tree was introduced in the early 19th century following the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover by Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III. In 1832, the future Queen Victoria wrote about her delight at having a Christmas tree, hung with lights, ornaments, and presents placed round it.  After her marriage to her German cousin Prince Albert, by 1841 the custom became more widespread throughout Britain.

An image of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle created a sensation when it was published in the Illustrated London News in 1848. A modified version of this image was published in the United States in 1850.  By the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.

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Christmas is typically a peak selling season for retailers in many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate. In the U.S., the "Christmas shopping season" starts as early as October.  In Canada, merchants begin advertising campaigns just before Halloween (October 31), and step up their marketing following Remembrance Day on November 11.


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According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime."

Alternatively, it is identified with the "tree of paradise" of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.

10 December 2013

Mandela's South Africa or Rhodes' South Africa?

I read about Cecil Rhodes earlier this year and gained a glimpse of what South Africa became after being colonized by the same mind that also colonized India, Amerika and several other places around the world.

After the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, and the reaction of people who'd rather follow propaganda and vilify a popular stranger ( while emulating another popular stranger who recently passed away ) without giving thought to the bigger picture, I thought it prudent to share my two cents and perhaps ( you may agree or disagree ) a few insights I've discovered.

Please take the time to read about Cecil Rhodes, who he was and his role on the African continent: Cecil Rhodes ( if you don't like wikipedia as a source, go ahead and change what is posted or go elsewhere to read about this man.... but be sure to include not only the imperial accolades but also the crimes and the reaction of humanity as a whole ).   Be sure to also read his quotes at the bottom.

I share about Cecil Rhodes prior to Nelson Mandela because, as with anything else, folks should know what came first in order to clearly 'see' what is 'now' and why things happen as they do.

In reading about Rhodes you may see the purpose of colonization was to expand one tribal mind and, by default and as always happens, displace another tribal mind... and the further purpose really is to grow the appetite of man in not only what they eat for food, but what they purchase with money... the justification for penetrating non-western cultures today.

The desire for this tribal mind's consumerism and money worship is behind the continued building of empire, with religion, terrorism, injustice and other platitudes used to hook and crook the masses into accepting supposed 'necessary evil' ( one evil recently being called Operation Iraqi Freedom ).

Far too many people accept the current paradigm of empire, accepting the domination of one people over another, of the justification of slavery in order to build city, state and kountry... and instead of bringing remedy and recompense for past crimes, factual history and clear reason is muddied and people are simply lead to desire to plow forward without rendering true solutions to the 'problem.'

People, by default, continue to pursue their programmed reality and plow ahead not seeing they are living a lifestyle based on lies, deceit, murder, genocide, thievery and other crimes against individuals and humanity as a whole... but may not seem to care to ponder such things since 'they' weren't there and the 'now' is so alluring and relevant for them.. they just keep on getting jobs and shopping and think 'that' is living.

People today, however, fill in the shoes of the oppressed of the past and continue to uphold the very machinations which bound those people ( bondage ) to a system based on the majority of folks trading their labor for things, dependent on masters... a step above a basic slave laboring away in order to not be beat and to receive their daily bread from their master.

At least you get to choose your slave master and where you get your bread from today, right? so that's good, eh? ( yeah right! )  

And what has been the problem??

Well, after reading about Mr. Rhodes, you may find out how, just like in the Amerikas, a particular tribal and cultural mindset pursued the idea of 'wealth' and 'success' at the expense of a people already inhabiting a land.... a land which this particular invading mindset considered theirs for the taking.  ( think of your backyard not being used for anything, being bare, and your neighbor taking over since, to them, you were not putting it to any use... and them killing you or pushing you out when you object... you being considered 'backwards' and them being 'forwards' and pursuing the modern goal of empire, buying and selling and all the rest of it )

Religious dogma, the lure of greed and conditioning from a hierarchy built on conquest and consumption rather than love and service to their fellow man was and sadly still is the protocol.

And where is God?  Where is the conscience of 'right' and 'wrong?'  Where is the message of love?

You will find out reading about Rhodes that the story of South Africa is much clearer and concise than the story of Amerika, in that instead of slaves being brought to the Amerikan shores, the inhabitants on the southern tip of the African continent would become slaves, be removed, or be exterminated... but modern slaves, mind you, with the opportunity for 'jobs' and the 'benefit' of living in either a slum or a subdivision, all dependent on how hungry you are for empire and to play the expected role prescribed to you.

The crimes of nation building, empire expansion and people killing / displacement always being justified by religious dogma and other such suppositions of 'right,' like that ridiculous justification most of us in Amerika were 'learned' in school called 'manifest destiny,' is the prescription pill the world has been choked into taking.

Did you know that the creation of the western African kountry of Liberia was to pacify the slaves of the Amerikas and bring a solution to the slave trade for Amerikan slaves, ex-slaves and those still in fiscal bondage to their empire building masters?... out of fear of reprisal and mass dissension, as was erupting in Haiti where those slaves began to revolt against their French imperial masters?

In Mandela's time, the climate of racism, injustice and inequality deemed 'okay' by the 'master' tribal mind and those pledging allegiance to it in South Africa had become so outlandish and obvious ( at least to those subdued by that infringing tribal mind ) that, unfortunately, violence began to seem like a viable solution to outright genocide.

I hope the point I just made is made clear when reading about Rhodes and his venture ( perhaps after your appetite for financial success falls away and gives way to your reasoning capacity and your conscience thought of right and wrong ) and reading about Mandela and his memoirs.


Do you not see the pattern of conquest and the justifications written for us in media and schooling to somehow accept it as being for the good of mankind, for the good of ourselves and to 'help' those who are outside the empire's system as if they were missing something?  Don't they want a Walmart to shop in and a fake plastic Christmas tree to light up??  Don't they want a reverse mortgage so they can pay their mountain of debt?  Don't they want to be radiated with chemo therapy instead of taking cannabis oil or water with baking soda for their cancers?  What's wrong with them, right?  Empire has all the solutions!!  They can leave their fields and growing organic foods and join us in eating genetically modified organisms and help us splice the human genome as our most learned minds attempt to be God over us.

It is written in history books, it is fantasized in movies and it is propagated even today in the 'news;' when people look back at the 'wonderful' and not so wonderful things man does as he struggles with empire and somehow tries to exist among the throngs of greed and idol worship....  but do you see the hypocrisy in what is propagated?  

Mandela is being vilified by some because he was associated with a group that wanted to fight back, to respond with violence to violence and to injure those who would injure them.  

Was the man a saint or touted as one?

So why the outrage that he spoke as one backed up against a wall with weapons to his face?

Gandhi pursued a peaceful and non-violent resistance against the tribal mind that infiltrated where he grew up, but notice that the mechanism is still there, only the offices are now occupied by those looking like Gandhi, but the heart and mindset hasn't changed... the tribal colony's stamp hasn't been stamped out... and his heirs are still participating in the game of politics but do not see past the imprint left by empire.

Same thing happened with Mandela being brought to the highest public office of South Africa: no real change, only small crumbs for blood spilled.

You see, the thought of sending the invading tribe and their imperial mindset back to where they came from was never an option... but the option of sending back the commodity / slave tribes and creating a nation for them ( called Liberia ), already fixed with imperial notions, was an option that was acted upon and exists today.  Isn't that nice?  A place where you can exercise empire.  Like giving a child a gun.

And I wonder, if the removal of the invading tribe and their mind was in fact done in South Africa, it would by sequence and conscience have to be done also in India and in Amerika and anywhere else the empire of idol worship has spread.  Would the people subdued by this mindset fight so hard so not to lose their idols, their material means, their identity??  Many, after all, fawn after the thought of being princes and princesses and having their own retinue

The empire would have been sooner unraveled, would be my guess.

Perhaps Nelson Mandela also considered removing all the objects of worship of the invading tribe; their cities, their machinations, their shops, their entertainment, their very culture and ideas.

This is what was done through a prior tribe centuries ago to establish the worship of the one true God... where the secular lifestyle was distant from the spiritual lifestyle, and many still misunderstand and fight against that pursuit... so why not give them their trappings and the winds they desire to chase?

Have you noticed the duality in today's world where man continues to perpetuate the old way of thought ( living by the law and by force over their fellow man ) and in putting things before each other ( business, empire, money, etc. )?

Do you also notice the confusion of people from this duality who consider and believe that we live in a new age, the age of 'love thy neighbor' and 'love thy enemy,' and not the old of 'hate thy enemy?' 

Yet, empire pushes forward with the old age and old age action.... and those who enjoy the heights of a good seat in viewing all of this, wonder why the people desire to react in the old way against their imperial efforts ( eye for an eye ) instead of the new way ( turn the other cheek ).

Could it be that the world is being marketed the old age with its old customs and old law?

Could it be that still the revealing of God's love in Yeshua and the notion of loving they neighbor as yourself has yet to pierce many hearts in the circles of imperial leadership ( even those who profess themselves to be 'Christians' )?

Would you be a Rhodes, a Mandela, a Gandhi or a Yeshua?

Or would you just stay 'you' and look forward to this weekend's sale at Macy's?

Look what Zimbabwe did in removing the corporate motive of having land ownership in the hands of a few and placing it in the hands of those in need of it... creating an empowered people and an independent people.