TCS Daily


What Are We Celebrating When We Celebrate Christmas?

By Lee Harris - December 21, 2007 12:00 AM

As children most of us were taught that we celebrate Christmas because it is the birthday of Jesus. This is an easy idea for a child to grasp, since from a tender age we are made aware of the importance of our own birthday, by virtue of the celebration that attends it. We learn to blow out the candles on our cake, and we discover that the people in our lives will give us nice presents simply because we have survived yet another year. Because we eagerly acquire the concept of our own birthday, it is a simple step to grasp the notion that December 25 is Jesus' birthday, and to look upon Christmas as a kind of huge party celebrated in his honor, though with a very appealing difference: on his birthday we get gifts, just as we do on our own.

Later on in life, we may find ourselves asking the question, "How exactly do we know that December 25 was the birthday of Jesus?" If we go looking through the Bible to confirm this date, we quickly learn that there is no mention of it in the Gospels. We discover that the source of the December 25 date is something called tradition, though this hardly satisfies our intellectual curiosity. If a tradition is nothing more than what people have believed to be true for a long time, then what made them start to believe it? Did the people who really knew Jesus pass on to subsequent generations the information concerning his birthday, either orally or through documents not found in the Bible?

The first documented attempt to pinpoint Jesus' birthday came from St. Clement of Alexandria who lived in Egypt between 150 and 215 AD. Prodigiously learned, Clement came up with a date that we are apt to find a bit surprising: May 20. Why Clement selected May 20 is not clear, but it is fascinating to think of how differently we would have conceived of Christmas if we had been long accustomed to celebrating it in the darling lusty month of May. Instead of alluding to sleigh rides and icicles, our Christmas carols would have been full of buzzing bumble bees and the songs of larks. There would be no winter wonderland to wander through, but rather sunlit fields of vernal flowers.

Luckily for the future writers of Christmas carols, St. Clement's suggestion never took hold, and within a century and a half after his death the Catholic Church had forever fixed Jesus' birthday on the date that we now commemorate, the first recorded celebration of which occurred in the year 336 AD. But where did this date come from?

To the mortification of many latter-day Christians, December 25 turned out to be the birthday of another god, Mithras, who came originally from Persia, and was a favorite among the military class. Thus December 25 was already a Roman holiday. It was the day on which festivities were held to celebrate the birth of the "Sun of Righteous" — Natalis Solis Invicti, the birthday of the unconquerable sun. The decision to honor this day as the birth date of Jesus, therefore, had nothing to do with any genuine historical evidence about the actual date of Jesus' birth. There were not even pseudo-historical traditions to support this date. Thus the impression is unavoidably left that Christians fixed upon this date in order to co-opt the pagan holiday by re-christening it (pun unavoidable.)

Additional support for this conclusion comes from looking at the period during which this innovation took place. The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, had begun the process of converting the pagan Roman Empire to Christianity shortly after the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312. Eleven years later, in 321, he ordered that Sunday, the Christian day of worship, should become a public holiday. This was also Mithras' day, the day of the sun god -- another suspicious coincidence.

Yet even before the worship of the Sun god, the Romans had been celebrating the period that we now call the Christmas season. The Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival that ran from December 17 to December 24. During this week there was an abundance of merry-making and an exchange of presents, just as there is today. Nor was this week without astronomical significance: the winter solstice came in the midst of the Saturnalia, marking the shortest day and the longest night, the much dreaded dead of the winter.

The Romans, however, were not alone in holding mid-winter festivities. In the eighth century, when St. Boniface began his great work of converting the German barbarians, he had to reckon with their Celtic Yule rites, which included Yule logs and Yule cakes, along with the standard carousing and partying, accompanied, once again, by an exchange of gifts and greetings. In a stroke of genius, St. Boniface persuaded the Germanic barbarians to replace the sacred oak of Odin with the fir tree. The oak sheds its leaves in winter, but the fir tree is evergreen, making it a natural symbol of the triumph of life over death, of life over darkness. This is the ultimate origin of the German custom of putting up a fir tree, aka, Tannenbaum, to celebrate Christmas. Our Christmas tree came by way of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, who introduced his native German Christmas traditions to England, where the brilliant imagination of Charles Dickens was employed to elevate Christmas into the national holiday that we now take for granted.

Today, when we read Dickens' Christmas Carol, we are amused by Scrooge's "Bah! humbug!" attitude toward the holiday, and we are apt to conclude that the reason Scrooge hated Christmas was because he was too stingy to buy anyone a present. We overlook the fact that Ebenezer might simply have detested Christmas out of religious scruples, as his Puritan ancestor did—and that Scrooge had Puritan ancestors is clearly indicated by his outlandish Christian name, though Ebenezer is not quite as bad as another Puritan favorite: "Put-Your-Faith-in-Christ-and-Flee-Fornication."

During the English Civil War, the victorious Puritans under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell had suppressed traditional Christmas festivities on the grounds that they were merely pagan rituals that had been given a thin veneer of Christian respectability. The Puritans who came to America brought their righteous horror of Christmas with them, and it may even be reasonable to speculate that they hit upon the feast of Thanksgiving as an ersatz Christmas that could help them get through the bleak coming of winter without endangering their souls by adopting heathenish customs. Yet in the end, most Protestant congregations in North America found themselves irresistibly drawn to the old pagan rites, so that today the few hold outs, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, strike us as distinctly odd.

So what are we celebrating when we celebrate Christmas?

How about the creativity of the human spirit when faced with adversity? St. Clement of Alexandria might have been fine with a spring Christmas, but that was because Clement was a native of Alexandria, Egypt, and lived in a part of the world that is not known for its harsh and forbidding winters. No one in Egypt needed to devise joyous festivities to keep them from abandoning hope and turning to despair in the midst of a cold cruel December. But the same thing could not be said of those who lived on the northern side of the Mediterranean, especially the German and Celtic barbarians. They desperately needed a way to get through the hard times, and the customs they had devised were brilliant adaptations to their dismal circumstances.

The worst thing about northern winter is its monotony. Anything that could be done to break the appalling boredom would be a life-saver. Start a big fire—that's always exciting. Plus it gives off warmth and light, brightening up the dull winter world. Get drunk—that is a sure cure for boredom. Turn ordinary items into surprises—take something of your own and give it as a gift to someone else. What you have no need for can give delight to another. Even if you are merely re-arranging the property of your small community, the effect is like re-arranging the furniture in a room that has stayed the same way too long; it costs nothing but a little labor, but it can create a whole new atmosphere. Go around and make visits to other people, another sure way of fighting off monotony. Cut down a tree and decorate it with lights.

One can only admire the humanity and wisdom of those Christians, like St. Boniface, who chose to Christianize the pagan festival, instead of outlawing it, just as one can only deplore the fanaticism of those, like the Puritans, who refused to celebrate Christmas simply because it was once honored as the re-birthday of the Sun God. But what can be said about those fanatics who today wish to apologize and minimize Christmas out of a misplaced sense of multicultural sensitivity, considering that Christmas is itself a great multicultural festival, weaving together what is most precious and valuable from a host of different traditions—Hebrew, Greek, Persian, Roman, Celtic, Germanic?

This Christmas season in Great Britain a trio of religious leaders made a joint statement in which they begged the British to stop worrying about the alleged offense caused by their traditional celebration of Christmas. One of the religious leaders was a Sikh, one a Hindu, one a Muslim—all had come to England from the East, and each had come to accept Christmas as their holiday, too. And why shouldn't it be?

Once again three wise men from the East have shown us the importance of Christmas. They have reminded us that we are being arrogant to think that it is "our" holiday alone.

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395 Comments

Put Christ back into Christmas
...that's the message being put out by the Muslim Council of Britain.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1212/p06s01-woeu.html

Their view is that they prefer to mainstream with all the other British peoples, and emphasize that they are all one people in spirit. An old fashioned Christmas is a shared cultural experience, and it is necessary to enter into that spirit to be as one with one's neighbors. Publicly displayed Nativity scenes are a part of the shared ritual, and should be maintained.

One's private religious ceremonies, of course, are one's own concern.

I think they send us an important message to recall in this season of joy and sharing.

I thought there was a 'War on Christmass'?
Now that they're even trying to purge the word christmass from the carols kids sing in schools, I though it was un-PC to even mention it. In fact I would also join in on it, just as soon as they stop celebrating Ramadan in the muslim coutries! And when I see India tone down all those Hindu festivals, I'll be more convinced. Then when Asia renames Chinese New Year, to something like, 'we like the moon phases', I'll jump right in. Or is it true that only western Christian nations are supposed to be PC, and multicultural?

The theme here is assimilation
Assimilation and Diversity are mutually exclusive. The PC crowd have pushed multi-cultural diversity as some great goal and panacea. I just got a magazine from my Alumni organization and it was all about the meaning of diversity. It was pure liberal group-speak and it was nauseating.

What the CS article is advocating is don't worry about it, be yourself and forget the offending others flimflam. Bob Jones tried to tell me once that PC is about the individual but nothing is farther from the truth. PC is always having to say your sorry. PC diversity is about Balkanization and segregation. It is all about the group to the detriment of the individual.

Remember, E Pluribus Enum

Guarding their flocks by night
I don't know how the good Saint picked May 20. But Christs actual birth was in the spring. That is season during which shepard guard their flocks overnight. They do this to protect the newborn sheep from predators.

Assimilation and diversity
I'm afraid we have different views on this. Most Americans don't have much of a problem balancing the poles of total assimilation and total diversity. We understand they're just points on a continuum.

Every St Paddy's Day we are all Irish. And if you've never gone downtown to join in the Dragon's Parade festivities on Chinese New Year, you're missing something great. BTW this will be coming up in January. Does this mean we must all relinquish the right to be one hundred percent American?

The bad part of the message is that in order to join the club, we must relinquish everything else in our identities. For instance, by demanding that Muslims and Jews renounce their faith before they can join a "Christian nation". That's not America-- nor should it be the UK. We are a melting pot. And even when the ingredients don't entirely melt, we're the better for their being here.

But bottom line, both I and the Muslim Council of Britain join you in saying we should not be overly concerned with offending others. When others are offended by careless behavior, they only do an injury to themselves. We only cross a line when we purposely try to offend them.

This holiday season would be a good time to remind ourselves that diversity is not just about balkanization and segregation. It's about learning to live in peace and harmony with one's neighbor. Even if he's Mexican, or Jewish, or Arab.

Thrashing at the bars of the cage
The world is full of all kinds of people. If you choose, you can associate with those who want to destroy Christmas in the name of good manners. Or you could join those who want to keep the religious nature of the holiday. Or you could join those who want to shop til we drop.

Or, you could join with everyone who wishes good cheer to all people, and a prayer for a world without war... regardless of who they are or who they pray to.

I like that last sentiment best of all.

Festival days
I'm not sure it will be easy to say just when the historical person Jesus was born. They didn't keep birth records back then. But I'm guessing that St Clement had a better idea than we do, being closer to the event in time and proximity.

December 25 is suspiciously close to the Winter Solstice, which has been a significant date ever since people have been looking into the sky. So it's a convenient feast day for the new Christian religion to pre-empt.

Likewise Easter falls in the convenient vicinity of the Spring Equinox. Our Iranian ancestors, fellow Aryans, have always called this festival Nouruz, and held it on March 15.

Regardless of the origin of these holidays, they make a good excuse to remind ourselves of the message of peace on earth, good will to men. And women and children too.

Christmas is a celebration of Jesus...
Are you really serious? Christmas is the celebration of family, peace, and truth, of the coming of our Savior, as it was announced in the scriptures and also it is the culminating moment when the new covenant starts taking shape and the chosen people becomes the whole humanity and the divine plan for our salvation is presented to us as it is… if only we could accept it that way.
Each and every time someone finds their own agendas, their own weaknesses, their own vices; threatened by the truth, the immediate reaction is to doubt and then when doubt is found to be futile, all sort of fables are built to try to discredit the truth and mold it on our own perception and thereby this relative ideas of the truth, these many truths to a single fact, become illusions of the others.
God is not an illusion and God is not the product of someone’s imagination; He is real and is there for us and with us and denying Him is denying ourselves.
Since creation, yes, according to the Bible, because nothing proves the Bible wrong, in context this is, because people tend to get lost in the from as it tries to justify his/her own faults by dismissing a comic book instead of the truth in the scriptures. God made man and woman and how simple would have been to just made them to follow their instincts and to do as their anxieties required; but man and woman have dignity and are a superior species, because God has created us special, to take care of his creation rather than just be part of a whole mess. To understand God is very simple as all it takes is to look around and appreciate the greatness of creation.
As you try to build yet another comic book out of your own chosen idea of a perfect world, I think you should come to realize that there is not and cannot be any equivalence between religions or faiths, because they are an expression of the truth, not an opinionated one or something constructed as a consequence of upbringing, but because truth there is only one and thereby it is a critical part of faith to search for that truth because to stop and just assume that you have your truth and I have mine make us both liars to our own self, deniers of our dignity and nature. E
What was in history every December 25th? Many events I am sure and yes, many pagan events have been incorporated to the celebrations of faith. How could not that be, if we believe on one God, creator of heaven and earth, meaning that we are all part of the same history, so to try to make the truth dependant upon a particular event date and not the event per se; is to dismiss the event because the date does not match. Christ is real and He is a historic character, not a simple one as you might want to analyze further; because after all, what poor kid on any place in time, could be as critical to human history as Jesus is for the last two thousand years and still going with a message that cannot be denied because it is the truth imbedded in our own nature, the truth of love and the truth of God Himself in the person of His only Son opening our eyes for our salvation. You can join it or dismiss it, still will be the truth and all you need to do is to follow the goodness of the word of the gospels, the revelation of God to us all… It is really your choice, just grasp the evidence and be blessed, God has come two thousand years ago after Mary, a young virgin, promised in marriage to Joseph, descendent from David; immaculate since birth, had conceived by grace of the Holy Spirit, in a very poor stable in Bethlehem and the three wise guys that came from the orient to worship Him in an act of submission; surrendered their gifts to the King of Kings just born in recognition, which is not what was the case with the local king who was more interested on taking Him off the way than to accept the truth and greatness of the moment and therefore, perpetrated one of the most coward acts remembered in history by disposing the killing of the innocent children that could deny him of his moment in life… something we could see nowadays still going on but politicians, some doctors and certainly women that prefer to blame it on free choice; are doing.
Christmas is an opportunity for hope and for repentance to clean ourselves of what is unimportant and becomes so attached and makes us drift away from God.
I wish you a Christmas full of truth and reconciliation with reality and with God.
I wish you a Christmas full of truth and reconciliation with reality and with God.
Christmas is not about lights on the three or Santa Claus or of course not; some nameless holidays stores try to create so that their sales can improve; it is about the birth of Jesus. He is the central character in this celebration and it is celebrated by the light in the Christmas tree, the representation of the mystery the family reunions and so on. The celebration is to show children, our future, that there is hope and love and faith.

Re-Paganizing Christmas
Overall not a bad article...

Many recoil at the word Pagan even though it stems directly from natural religious expression, ways of coping with natural fears and concerns about the afterlife, bleak winters, fertility, life, death and rebirth. Many of these natural ways, fears, traditions and superstitions have fallen by the wayside as Mankind has learned more about himself, his world, and new religious traditions have risen up to replace old traditions. Despite all this however, some traditions have endured. Birth and Rebirth celebrations at the winter solstice and in the spring, harvest celebrations in late summer and fall are all still with us because we are still a part of nature and nature is a part of us.

"The oak sheds its leaves in winter, but the fir tree is evergreen, making it a natural symbol of the triumph of life over death, of life over darkness. This is the ultimate origin of the German custom of putting up a fir tree, aka, Tannenbaum, to celebrate Christmas."

The rebirth of the Sun is the natural symbol of the triumph of life over death, of life over darkness. Evergreen plants are a natural decoration during winter; why else would Mistletoe, Holly and Fir play such a prominent role in winter celebrations?

"One can only admire the humanity and wisdom of those Christians, like St. Boniface, who chose to Christianize the pagan festival, instead of outlawing it, just as one can only deplore the fanaticism of those, like the Puritans, who refused to celebrate Christmas simply because it was once honored as the re-birthday of the Sun God."

They sought to replace old traditions with new traditions, however even they recognized that there were truths even deeper than man made religion. Their religion would not have been able to take root and flourish, had it completely ignored these truths. A holiday that was once Pagan, then Christian is Pagan once again (at least in my house.)

May the Gods Bless you and yours this holiday season and always!

Mutual diversity
As long as that diveristy is mutual.

Christians don't get much respect out in the mainstream world today, but they are expected to tolerate attacks from all sides.

I like your sentiments here roy
I can surely agree with them.

As to the day Christ was born, I've always been under the impression it had to be somewhere between the end of February and the middle of April (for just the reason you cited; guarding of the flocks during delivery of baby sheep) The sheep are born in the spring, but, unfortunately, they don't all come on the same day. In reality, the date could be anywhere from the end of January to the late part of April as the sheperds usually start their vigil early, especially if they have first time females in the flock. So, actually, December 25th isn't too far off and may even be plausable, if there were a bunch of nervous sheperds in the area. May 20 is far less likely, unless this particular group had some really late mothers in the flock.

What I find most interesting is that the two dates cited, traditional Christmas and May 20, are both on the very limits of historical knowledge concerning the scriptures description of Jesus' birth. The most likely date is somewhere in the middle, and probably a touch closer to December 25 than May 20.

But, I believe, that the December 25th date was chosen out of convenience to incorporate pegan holidays, as this article suggests. Heck, it was a smart move, why not?

As for Easter, that is a different story entirely. Easter corresponds directly with Passover and nothing else. It has nothing to do with spring, it has to do with Jesus and his followers coming to Jerusalem for the Passover observance. This date is pretty well documented both by the history and the scriptures.

The article is well researched and correct.

This article on Christmas is well-researched and correct on most, if not all, points. I have known about the pagan origins and the modifications by the Roman Catholic church since I was a child, when an older brother, a preacher, ran into a Jehovah's Witness and discussed this matter.

Romans chapter 14 settled this argument for me. As long as the day is celebrated to the glory of God, and His Son, Jesus, I don't think that God has a problem with our celebrating the day. It is a cold and miserable time of the year for those in the upper Northern Hemisphere, and does serve to break the monotony of the dreary winter season.

It may have had pagan roots, but Christmas, as such, has never been a pagan holiday. I taught my children that it is not the birthday of Jesus, but was selected as the day to honor His birth. The tree is a decoration to us, not an idol god, as some suggest. I taught my children that Santa Claus is a fabrication--which alarms many of my peers--but I don't believe in lying.

We have had wonderful celebrations of Christmas with many good and fond memories of the holiday.

The spirit of the season
Are you feeling attacked on all sides?

The best cure would be to get out beyond your thoughts for a moment and attend a synagogue or a mosque this weekend. Explain to them that you're a visitor from another faith, and that you would like to help share some brotherhood and holiday cheer with them.

See how they receive you and your message.

I suspect it was around Passover (in the Spring)
I suspect that in a few years we will be able to ask Him when He returns, but I suspect that explaining that little bit of trivia won't be very high on His priority list.

You are right in not lying to your children.
If you lie to them about Santa Claus, how will they know you are telling the truth about Jesus? or anything else for that matter?

Lived in Saudi Arabia for 3 years.
Felt very 'welcome' as a Christian. They are very happy to try and convert you, but not so keen on allowing anyone else to practice their faith.

Islam is a religion that does not allow conversion from Islam. In their eyes, once a Muslim, always a Muslim. What tolerance! According to Islam, Obama IS a Muslim since his father was Muslim. And some Muslims believe it is their duty to kill an apostate.

It would be nice to hear good wishes from atheists and Mulims and liberals to Christians instead of attacks upon Christians trying to practice their faith.

A Christmas Message From Me
Well everyone, we often have really heated debates, exchange both theories and opinion and often get down right dirty but it is fun. Some of you are not religious, others are. It does not matter.

It truly is the season, regardless of dates, to celebrate the birth of Christ.

In that spirit may the blessings of our Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus be upon each of you. Enjoy your families and those things that really matter and transcend the world politic.

when Jesus returns
When Jesus returns he might now only tell us his birthday, but he might also finally resolve for us about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, surely that's been more of a topic of discussion over the years, right?

Grateful to be born in a country that celebrates Christ's birthday
"This is not to suggest that, even in my eyes, all religions are equally valid. You’d have to be one of those non-judgmental pinheads who sound the trumpets for cultural diversity, pretending to believe that all nations, all religions and all ideologies, are equally good and equally bad. So long as Islam is around, only an idiot could seriously promote such nonsense.

Muslims are people who believe that freedom is a naughty word, who believe that women are no better than cattle, and who refer to the ninth century as the good old days. It was bad enough when they used a newspaper cartoon as an excuse to go berserk. Now they’re outraged because of a Sudanese teddy bear. These Neanderthals actually wanted to torture and execute English school teacher Gilliam Gibbons because, at the behest of a seven-year-old in her class, she named the stuffed toy Muhammad.

These simpletons seem to spend half their lives on their knees praying and the other half up in arms, looking to kill somebody for some utterly stupid reason. They are a blot on humanity, and humanity, I think we’d all agree, isn’t that great to begin with.

Imagine if Catholics were as psychotic as Islamists. Just having a little Jesus on his dashboard or a crèche in his front yard would be like signing his own death warrant.

So, even though I haven’t a religious bone in my body, I have every reason to be grateful I was born in a country in which it’s Christ’s birthday, and not Muhammad’s first slaying of an infidel, that’s celebrated as a national holiday. "

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/BurtPrelutsky/2007/12/21/im_happy_to_live_in_a_christian_nation

Angels on pin(heads)
Only if you really care.
But why would you?

The whole point of religion is faith. Faith (in anything or anyone) is what you claim not to have.

Merry Christmas, Maligayang Pasko .....

Crazy ideas about Muslims
I wish people would learn about Muslims and not take the stereotypes to heart. My wife is Muslim, but happens to be from Bosnia. Not all Muslim cultures are gun toting religious fanatics. This mentality seems to be focused on the Arab Muslims for the most part.

All races/countries have fanatics. The problem is that the Arabs have access to a lot of money and very little to do at home. This is a very bad combination and leads to the problems of the Middle East and radical Islamist. The leaders have nothing better to do then fund their radical groups and train young gullible men to do their dirty work. It has nothing, or very little, to do with Islam per say, it’s a way to gain power and have something to do. If the leaders truly believed in the cause they would be out there in the fight and not hiding in their caves and mansions.

The Muslim religion is no more bloody thirsty or warlike then many others. The Old Testament is full of death and destruction. The Crusades where just as bad as the radical Islamist are now and was based on very similar actions; mainly the high jacking of a religion by a group for their own purposes.

Arabs are the true Muslims, according to them.
According to the Arabs, the Bible is not the true word of God because it has been translated. The only true word of God is the Koran in the original Arabic. From what I could gather from them, I would need to learn Arabic to be able to read the Koran. Any translation is not true.

Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women of the Book, but Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men. If you are not Muslim, be careful.

If the Islam you understand is different, then I suggest you need to let the Arabs, in particular, the Saudis know. After all, they ARE the keepers of the Two Holy Mosques, and Mohamed was from Arabia. They do have a claim to being the experts.

Maybe it was on December 25
There has been a little research recently about Jesus Christ and the concept of integral age. Integral age, essentially, was a Christian tradition that stated that saints died on the same calendar day as their birthday. So, if a great saint died on July 26, if his birthday wasn't known, it was often believed that his birthday was July 26 (you get the point).

So, there is some research that indicates that some people thought such things about Jesus. His crucifiction can be dated based (roughly) on the passover feasts in the early first century (those can be dated by the cycles of the moon). But even with such calculations, the assumption is that his death was in late March, March 25 say some.

And since much emphasis was placed not only on Jesus' birth, but on the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, some believed a date of March 25 to be the date of his conception. Add nine months to that, and what do you get? December 25.

It's an interesting little theory, and not much else. Frankly, I don't care when he was born, just that he was actually born.

Catholics also believe
that once baptized, you cannot be any other faith. So do Mormons. Mormons have an interesting twist in that one can be baptized Mormon even after they're dead... even if they were Catholic. Of course no body is fighting over my soul. LOL

Even stranger is that Hindus and Jews believe that to be part of the respective religions you need to be born into a holy race. You then must be in observance of covenant and support the holy race to be with God. These clubs are exclusive with genetic invitation only.

And as far as attacking others goes, I believe that Christians take the prize for bigotry, prejudice, and war.

This concept of individuality
This concept of individuality is a western thing. I don't think many believe in free will. And only in the USA is it acceptable for anyone to complain about everything. We have just come to expect liars to amp out on radio shows, like Rush Limbaugh. This concept (of blindly raging against stuff) is not even known in Europe.

We have individuality. But we have yet to learn responsibility.

Religious text and marraige
Don't the Jewish learn Hebrew in order to read the Torah and other sacred texts?

The Torah prohibits male Jews to marry gentile women.

I have not seen English versions of any sacred Jewish texts. But there are several Koran in your neighborhood Boarder's bookstore.

I am not favoring Islam over Judaism. I only point out that what you claim to be bad about Islam applies equally in Judaism.

So perhaps the US militia should simply invade Israel. The Middle East would be much safer without the theocratic states.

Muslims
Well I was married in Bosnia. They do not recognize religious wedding there, only state weddings. You can have a separate service preformed by an Imam if you wish. I’m not Muslim so we did not do this and we had no problems with any of her family or friends.

As far as Arabs being the true Muslims, the Imam’s in Bosnia would have something to say about that. Even in Christianity you have the same issue. The Pope only truly recognizes Roman Catholics as true Christians. The rest of us are just wayward children. And of course the Greek Orthodox think the Pope is not the true leader of the church.

There is something to be said about reading a text in the original language. The King James Version of the Bible has many translations “errors” from the original text. I have talked to a few people that can read the old versions (IE Greek, Hebrew and a few other languages) and they have shown me translation error. Mainly they come from the fact that some words do not translate directly and other words must be used. There is also the translation of meaning though time that must be looked at. Some words have changed meaning in the last 2000+ years.

One quick example of this is the phase “Eye of the needle”. Most people now take that as meaning the hole in the end of a needle. In fact it translates back to mean a small opening left in the walls of a fortification that was meant to allow people to enter the city after dark. Having seen these in person, you can get a camel though these openings with a little work.

concept of individuality
But as an individual you have the right to not listen to these people if you don’t want to.

People complain all day long about the violence and depravity on the radio and TV. None of the people making these shows are forcing you to listen or watch. All you have to do is change the station/channel. You can even stop your kids from watching it by using a little think called parental control; I know this is a long lost art in most of America.

As for Limbaugh, Why pick on him? How about Howard Stern? Or any number of other “Shock jock” radio “stars”?

As for blindly raging against stuff in Europe. You must be kidding, right? Raging about stuff in Europe is a national pastime for some. Ever been caught in the streets after a World Cup game goes wrong? I have and there were riot police everywhere. Even been in France during a strike? Better duck and cover. Berlin during a “Protest”? Again better duck and cover and watch out for the mobs. True they may not talk about it on the radio; they tend just to go straight to the streets.

Will the Pope kill you if you convert from Catholicism?
Muslims will.

As for any Christian bigotry, prejudice and war, please find any justification for such behavior in the teachings of Christ.

There are no radical Christians trying to kill me.
I suggest that Islam needs a reformation.

If your flavor of Islam disagrees with those who keep the two holy mosques, what are you willing to do to defend your version?

So far, regardless of what you say, Islam stands for jihad, suicide bombers and murder.

What are Muslims doing to change that?

Will Jews kill those who marry outside their faith?
Any English Korans are not 'sacred' according to Arab Muslims.

If a Jew marries a gentile, does their religion demand their death?

I disagree that Jewish marriage laws are equivalent to those of Islam.

Depends upon your definition of the west
"This course surveys the philosophical history of individualism over 2800 years, beginning in 800 BC. It considers how the economic expansion of the Greek Ionian city states, along with the acquisition of Phoenician writing, paved the way for hoplite revolutions that introduced democratic rule around 600 BC. Early Greek democracy gave rise to Pre-Socratic philosophy, which led through the Eleatic problem (posed by Parmenides and Zeno), to the atomism of Democritus, and a metaphysics completely removed from human experience. Protagoras responded by proclaiming that “Man is the measure of all things”, thereby ushering in a new spirit of skepticism, relativism, and humanism that placed individual experience at the foundation of knowledge and reality. Similar themes were echoed by Gorgias and Thrasymachus in their assertion that “Justice is the interest of the stronger."

http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:hDfq1lkGSVoJ:www.siue.edu/CAS/WAREproposal.doc+individualism+history&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=us&client=firefox-a


"I. From an historical perspective, the pattern of Japanese history is remarkably similar to that of the West. Furthermore, parallel historical periods in Japan and the West were characterized by similar levels of economic development and individualism. There are plausible reasons - involving causal interconnections among individualism, economic development and environmental complexity - for thinking that these similarities are not accidental."

http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=HnzM4kZzTpT1kbKNWnyYThDtsfDDRtTkfnDzJwbjbqVTYDKmmg3l!1879634083?docId=5001335541

I, and many others disagree.

Jesus promoted the individual. Is Jesus 'western'?

You are excommunicated if it is a relatively minor offense
Excommunication is a form a punishment, banishment, that harms people in a great many ways. In particular, it screws with thier livelihoods.

A few years ago, people were stoned, drowned, burned at stakes, or horribly mutilated and disfigured if they challenged the beliefs of the church.

... people can be stones, burned at the stake, tortured, etc.
Sorry, I didn't complete that thought.

The reason why these horrible acts no longer dominate our society is that people evolved away from Christianity because it caused so much harm to civilization.

Those still practicing can have it. Christianity is a bad thing. It produces torture, murder, property theft, war, prejudice, bigotry, blatta blatta blatta.

Socialism and secular humanism have solved the ills brought on by Christianity. In many ways, these socio-political philosophies are more in tuned to Christ's teachings than any of the so-called Christian religions.

Excommunication is not death
Kennedy and Kerry, prominent Catholics, who promote abortion and have less than stellar marital history, have yet to be excommunicated.

"In particular, it screws with thier livelihoods."

How?




Rites of passage
Don't most tribal societies have some rite of passage for children to become adults? Is this not a recognition of their status as individual contributors to the tribe?

Individuals need a society and society needs individuals. When societies devalue individual contributions, when they treat individuals as drones, cogs in the wheel, that is when such societies must be dismantled and opposed.

If you don't like Rush, don't listen.

Who lied, Rush or Reid?

"Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate and proceeded to spend five-to-seven minutes denouncing me, spreading the smear that started last week on this phony soldiers business. He has prepared a letter to be sent to the CEO of the company that syndicates this program, and that letter he asked as many senators as possible to sign, offering them the opportunity to demand of my syndicator that I be condemned for something that I did not say, which Harry Reid knows I did not say."

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_100107/content/01125112.guest.html


" "What's really funny is, they [Iraq war critics] never talk to real soldiers," the caller said. "They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media."

Limbaugh responded, "The phony soldiers."

Liberal media watchdog group MediaMatters.org and several Democrats quickly condemned the remark. In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Reid called the comment "so beyond the pale of decency that it cannot be left alone."

Responding to his critics on Friday's show, Limbaugh said he was "taken out of context," adding he was referring to one soldier specifically -- Jesse MacBeth, a war critic who falsely claimed to be an Iraq veteran."

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/limbaugh.soldiers/index.html

... and bible other than the King James is not not sacred to American Christians
At least this is what the southern American (USA) Christians say. If you do not believe verbatim in the King James version of the bible, then supposedly you aren't a true Christian.

It appears that American Christians and Saudi Muslims have much in common in that regard.

I didn't say Jewish laws were equivalent to Islam. I really don't know. I only pointed out that (according to you) both religions have sacred texts that regulate marriage outside of the religion. These religions are similar enough for one to sit back and wonder why Americans single out Islam over Judaism. After you look at the evidence, and think about it for a while, you will understand that the reason why Americans favor Judaism over Islam is bigotry. And this bigotry is promoted and fueled by propaganda.

Why are Americans directed to boycott France and French goods, and to discount the French political point of view? I will leave the details up to you as an exercise. But the answer is here...

http://www.boycottfrance.com/

When you go to Europe, and look back at the USA, what you see is a country run by banks and international corporations. You see a government run by Jews. (the neoconservative political movement is Zionist) And you see a manipulation of media and fear factors that pressure the public into supporting the Zionist philosophy of our government. You also see a bunch a ignorant fundamental Christians who are stupid enough to actually believe that this country is run by Christians. It is really hilarious from a distance.

"Islam stands for jihad, suicide bombers and murder."
"What are Muslims doing to change that?"

I cannot believe that you are so out of touch with modern culture that you have missed what the Muslims are trying to do to change their image.

Second, and this is only advice to be taken with ta grain of salt; don't insult a mans wife.

I wasn't picking on Limbaugh in particular
But my point is that Americans take the insults and lies that these people generate as "normal". I have listened to people quoting Limbaugh (or any other "news commentator") as fact.

I don't listen to radio (well, Internet radio) or watch commercial TV. I even stopped watching Discovery and National Geographic after they were clearly taken over as government propaganda outlets, shortly after Bush got into office.

There is a difference between the riots after a (European) football game and amping out over Starbucks calling their coffee size "vento". People in America think that it is their right to yell at the person working behind the counter because of sme name the corporation has chosen.

In Europe, people are more cognizant of the "human condition". They understand that a cup of coffee by any other name is still a cup of coffee and they don't waste everyone else's time over meaningless raving. In fact, you see people helping each other through the bureaucracy there.

Here in America, we simply yell about it, as if anyone present could change it.

"You see a government run by Jews"
How is that?

Even if true, they have done a pretty good job.

While there are many prominent people in the USA who are of Jewish descent, I would submit they achieved that success because of their centuries of persecution and by the individual liberties guaranteed by a Constitution created by men who were not Jewish.

This Constitution has created a society which values individual achievement regardless of origin.

Obama is running for President. His is not Jewish and not white. And he is doing pretty well in the polls.

The Dutch won't protect a Muslim woman who speaks out against radical Islam.

"In ancient towns like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, where once the refugees from Catholic France and inquisitional Spain had sought refuge, and where Baruch Spinoza had been excommunicated and anathematized for his opposition to Jewish fundamentalism, there were districts where Muslim women were subjected to genital mutilation and where the Dutch police were afraid to set foot."
"After being forced into hiding by fascist killers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali found that the Dutch government and people were slightly embarrassed to have such a prominent "Third World" spokeswoman in their midst. She was first kept as a virtual prisoner, which made it almost impossible for her to do her job as an elected representative. When she complained in the press, she was eventually found an apartment in a protected building. Then the other residents of the block filed suit and complained that her presence exposed them to risk. In spite of testimony from the Dutch police, who assured the court that the building was now one of the safest in all Holland, a court has upheld the demand from her neighbors and fellow citizens that she be evicted from her home."

http://www.slate.com/id/2141276/

Ali has found refuge and employment in your 'Zionist' USA.

What is the Zionist philosophy and why do you fear it?

What are they doing?
All I see is the CAIR spokesman defending the radicals.

I see people like Hirsi Ali being persecuted. Where are her Muslim defenders?

"helping each other through the bureaucracy "
Maybe if they yelled bit more they could eliminate the bureaucracy.

The Europeans you describe are sheep following their socialist leaders.

"Christianity is a bad thing."
Loving your neighbor as yourself is a bad thing?

"Socialism and secular humanism have solved (with murder) the ills brought on by Christianity."
Yes, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and the many other secular humanists have solved those ills by murdering those who don't support socialism.

"I and many others disagree."
With what do you disagree? Western society took a big leap backwards (from high Greek culture) with the advent of Christianity.

But there were many problems with the high Greek society as well. They waged war, had slaves, etc.

You must know that the Greeks were important mostly because they wrote. The ideas were not necessarily their own. But they were masters of recording philosophical thought and tradition.

On the other hand, their society was highly stratified and individuality was a luxury practiced only by the upper classes. The same is true for Rome. The same is true for Egypt. The same is true for all the early cultures.

It was only the advent of socialism and secular humanism that liberated the average everyday person. AKA, you and I.

I don't listen to Limbaugh
He characterizes himself as an entertainer. And the few times I went to his web site I found his information to be hilariously erroneous. He is an entertainer. But what he says is pnly entertaining if you realize he is wrong.

Several years ago, I asked environmental science students who were failing to grasp basic concepts what the source of their information was. They pointed me to Limbaugh's web site as a source of their information. You see, children (college students actually) do not know enough basic information (data) to question. They are also naive enough to questions authority. Anyone on a radio show must be an authority. They do not get that a person can outright lie on the public media.

Limbaugh is wrong about most things. He is selling a political viewpoint and in Machiavellian politics, the truth is of little consequence. And he doesn't care.

Rush Limbaugh hailed as a great success of the neoconservative (aka Zionist) propaganda movement that brought the country to believe that we should privatize government (incorporated government is fascism) and invade countries that serve as a threat to Zionist expansion in the Middle East.

This movement has done much to regress culture and economics in America.

So, no, I don't listen to Limbaugh.

No it's not like that.
I guess you have to go there to get it.

Europe has seen 2000+ years of war. They are tired. They want peace. They just want to live their life, and they help each other to do such.

We have lots of lessons to learn here in America, and these lessons are killing us right now.

That's socialist.
How is the murder of innocent men, women and children for the invasion of Iraq "loving they neighbor"?

They weren't secular humanists.
You're full of it.

Kerry lucked out.
Perhaps abortion is compassionate and you just don't get it.

If you live in a small community, one where everyone is of the same religion, then you are ostracized from society when you are excommunicated.

Don't be obtuse.

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