X Mas, the Fat Man, and the Twitter Duck

Recently I posted this on Twitter:

#Atheists are attacking #christmas, but are they demanding the Jews take Yahweh out of Chanukah, or for secular versions of Muslim Holidays?

This is a response to the atheists in Chicago putting a giant A at an annual Christmas Market-Which Stands for “Atheist.” No, really. Read the sign they put up: READ ABOUT IT HERE. And of course the billboards and other print ads put up for a few years now by he American Atheists, which you can see and read about hereAnd more about it here.

The replies I got were remarkable at least, and add to a growing concern I have that I may not be speaking English at all, for people tend to reply to me as though they are having a completely different conversation from the one I think I am having with them. If you read my Tweet as I do, you will see that my point is the one sided anti-Christian stance which the atheists have not matched with equal time attacking Jewish, Muslim, or other holidays. Christmas and the Church are the target. Where is the giant A at the local Islamic festival? Where is the billboard proclaiming that the Koran is a lie and we should all be atheists? This is what I was asking.

But the replies I got were as follows: “nobody is attacking christmas. christmas is not even a christian holiday, originally.” Not my point at all, but it immediately became the focus of the conversation which followed. Another Tweeter added, “The time of year was originally the winter solstice, and a pagan holiday.”

I was astounded to learn this! Here I had always thought CHRISTmas has something to do with CHRIST, but it turns out that Christmas is something WE Christians stole from the Pagans! “christmas is the pre-christian feast of winter solstice that was assimilated by early christians” continued the Twitter Duck, and a like-minded tweeter added, “the most recent actual festival Christianity took was called Saturnalia, with its feasts on 25th.”

Naturally I went to Wikipedia to see what else I could learn. It said thus, “Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23.” Hmmm. So much for the 25th. But I suppose since it DID cover most of the end half of December, then ANY holiday which ALSO took place in late December must be merely a Saturnalia of its own under a different name. I kept reading to see if maybe the Romans were celebrating the birth of the Jewish Messiah whose death and resurrection were to be the atoning sacrifice to pay for man’s sins and make us right with God. Wikipedia said this: “In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of social egalitarianism.”  I am not a Sociopolitical Theologian, but I think that means, no. Not celebrating the birth of Jesus.

But I am assured by my fellow tweeters that EVERYTHING Christmas is of pagan origin, making us merely Saturnalia with a Christianese name. Said a Duck, “people gave gifts to each other and decorated their houses with fir & candles & nuts.” Surely if gifts and candles and nuts were involved, it cannot be anything BUT pagan, for what God fearing person would give gifts or have anything to do with decorations and food but pagans? Oh, except the Jews. They had all kinds of feasts. And they are the first Christians. Hmmm… Maybe gifts and Fruit doesn’t prove all that much. But surely if these people are SO dedicated to the idea that Christmas is pagan, we must know enough about the Saturnalia to show a close match? Back to Wikipedia I went. “Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects.” That’s not much. What DO we think we know? “Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.”  So, no Santa bringing presents? And where is the tree that, for some odd reason, we put in the living room and decorate? I’m sure THAT is pagan. No God fearing man or woman would EVER decorate a tree.

Thankfully, the Duck was not done educating me, “christmas is the pre-christian feast of winter solstice that was assimilated by early christians.” NOW I get it. Because maybe people decorated trees BEFORE the birth of Christ, then the holiday dedicated to celebrating the birth of Christ is NOT Christian. Wait, no. I still don’t get it. On the 4th of July we eat hotdogs and set off fireworks, neither of which had anything to do with the signing of the declaration of Independence. The Chinese invented fireworks. Does this mean the 4th of July is a Communist Holiday? I suppose it must.

The Duck had a challenge to me, “so jesus was born under a fir tree, delivered by a fat old man with a reindeer sleigh and mistletoe?…90% of your christmas traditions have 0 to do with jesus. didn’t that EVER occur to you?” Once again, if you read my original post, I find it amazing that THIS is the kind of reply I get. But since it’s here, let’s think about it. Did I say Jesus was delivered by a fat man under a fir tree? Or any of this? Nope. And I don’t know who may have. What does this have to do with Christmas being pagan? Did the Saturnalia involve a former Bishop delivering gifts on the birthday of Jesus Christ as a symbol of the Gift God gave to us when he gave us his son? Wikipedia was inconclusive. Veggie Tales was a bit more helpful Watch their answer HERE.

Of course I think I can guess his meaning. If we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas, and it involves a whole lot of things which have NOTHING to do with the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, doesn’t that mean most of Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus? Consider if you will any other celebration, holiday, or festival. What does a cake covered in lit candles have to do with being born? I get gifts on my birthday too, does that make it pagan? Also, my birthday tends to fall on the Superbowl weekend, which obviously came before me. Does that mean my birthday originated in the NFL? Maybe I was never actually born at all!!! Maybe my family just stole that national day of celebration to twist into our own day while still keeping the origins- food, parties, cheerleaders?!?! Wait- I never have cheerleaders at my birthday parties…

And what about my wedding??!?! I’ve only worn a tuxedo ONCE since then- what did that have to do with being married? We got gifts and ate food on our wedding day too, just like the Pagan Romans! Does that mean my marriage is pagan  and Roman? I DON’T EVEN SPEAK GREEK!!! OR LATIN! Am I even really married?

The discussion is a silly one at best. This may shock the TwitterDuck, but I already knew about the Roman Festivals of late December. The Romans were not entirely supportive of the Christian Church for the first 300 years (By which I mean they killed them for sport), so it would make sense that the Christians, wishing to celebrate their faith in Jesus but not draw a lot of attention by doing so and thus be murdered would move the celebration to a time which was already a national holiday. And who doesn’t give gifts or feast or decorate for holidays? I would argue that paganism does not have the market cornered on those details.

Christmas IS the celebration of the birth of Jesus. That is why it is called CHRISTmas- because he is Jesus, the CHRIST. The fact that we add all kinds of superfluous decorations and events to the celebration is no proof that Christmas is anything other, anymore than the use of fireworks proves that the 4th of July originated with the Chinese and is therefore NOT an American holiday. If you want a late December celebration which has nothing to do with Jesus, then bring back the Saturnalia. You can have it on a Saturday. You can drive to those parties in your Saturn while listening to Holst’s Saturn. And I can pretty much promise that no Christians will demand you pray the Rosary and sing some old hymns at all of your public celebrations or try and convince you on Twitter that the Saturnalia is a Christian holiday.

Arbor day, on the other hand, is ours. God made trees, so we’re taking that holiday back. The cross was made out of wood, so obviously ANY celebration of trees MUST be of Christian origin.


The Blind Men and the Elephant (and Zoo Keeper Adventure Steve)

Your Rent A Friend is listening to the score from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
His mood is pretty good, though his contacts are pretty dry .

Whenever people talk about the differing religions of the world, someone will come up with the following analogy, or some variation thereof. In fact, mine is a variation thereof. So there. Of.

There is a zoo where works zoo keeper Adventure Steve. He takes care of all of the animals, including an elephant named Zito. The elephant in turn takes care of his rubber duck. The rubber duck doesn’t take care of anyone. She just floats around in Zito’s water dish.

One day, a bus full of philosophers came to the zoo on a field trip. They were the Society of Smarty Pants Philosophers (the S.S.P.P.), and their field trip was also a contest (As everything is for the Society of Smarty Pants Philosophers). When they got off the bus, they were all blind folded and lead to the elephant to see who had the smartest pants (metaphorically speaking).
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The Duck is on the Floor

A friend and I were walking down the street in the heart of Chicago, headed to find some food. Finding food is one of a very few selected reasons to be on the street in Chicago after dark, especially in the winter when the temperature drops low enough to cause all life functions to cease and then to be blown away in the hurricane-like winds that roar through the ice-crusted buildings. The other reason is to find entertainment, like the plethora of small theaters where actual actors stand on an actual stage and recite memorized lines. Or they drink beer and make it up as they go. I’ve been to both kinds of theatre in Chicago and the lesson there is: you get what you pay for.

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Giftwrapped Appologetic Research

As your trusty Rent A Friend, I got you something for Christmas that I know you really can use. No, it’s not that ratchet set or the Slap-Chop (TM) but I think you’ll like it just the same. It’s RESEARCH!

You’re welcome.

Want to know the REAL history of the Bible? Do you want to know what Jesus REALLY taught? Do you want to know where science and faith intersect? Read on friends. The truth will set you free. Oh, and Jesus loves you!

These are Some of my Favorite Apologetic Web Sites with brief descriptions of what you’ll find there and what the site says about itself.

Tons of short videos on a wide range of topics from dozens of scholars. Like an educational YouTube of apologetic teaching. Topic include God and the Bible, Science, History, metaphysics, comparative world religions, and answers to critics and skeptics. A great web site- especially if you’re not in the mood to read.

Blog of the “Bible Answer Man,” who’s radio show can be found here:

The Christian Research Institute exists to provide Christians worldwide with carefully researched information and well-reasoned answers that encourage them in their faith. Lots of common questions answered in brief, search-able articles.

Josh McDowell Ministries- video, audio, and articles on the deity of Christ, the reliability of Scripture, and the historical fact of the resurrection in the context of the current culture to bring people into a vital, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. His podcast is called Josh McDowell Ministries Messages.

Responses to “101 Clear Contradictions in the Bible”, by (Muslim Author) Shabbir Ally
This article discusses the nature of the Bible as literature, its history, and the proper way to view it’s inerrancy. Then it takes the 101 supposed contradictions given by Mr. Ally and gives answers to them, showing the trustworthiness of the scriptures.

Resources to help you to understand, defend and communicate the Christian faith. Audio, articles, pictures, and a wide range of authors on a wide range of theological, scientific, and personal issues- including the reliability of the scriptures both as internally coherent and historically accurate:

Ravi Zacharias is the host of the radio/podcast Let My People Think and has authored many books. He travels and speaks on maters of apologetics and world view. This site has videos of him speaking at colleges and links to other material. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is a global ministry that seeks to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. At its essence, apologetics is the art and science of Christian persuasion: communicating the relevance, coherence, and reasonableness of the Christian Gospel to skeptics, cultural influencers, and critical thinkers across the globe.

Founded by “Young Earth” Creationist and Australian born teacher Ken Ham, this web site is full of video, audio, and many scholarly articles on a vast range of scientific topics supporting the Biblical account of creation, and showing the weaknesses in “Naturalistic” theories of science. Curators of the Creation Museum:

Video, audio, and many written articles on matters of theology, philosophy, metaphysics, and worldview. There is a long list of questions sent in by readers of the site which he answers, articles on a range of related topics, and audio and video of lectures and debates. Reasonable Faith features the work of philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig in order to carry out its three-fold mission: to provide an articulate, intelligent voice for biblical Christianity in the public arena, to challenge unbelievers with the truth of biblical Christianity, and to train Christians to state and defend Christian truth claims with greater effectiveness.

The Veritas Forum is a collection of lectures and debates from professionals and experts in their fields (Including Ravi Zacharias, J.P. Moreland, and William Lane Craig) offered on college campuses, focusing on a Christian world view through a wide range of topics, from science and history to drama and music. Media downloads are available for free.

The web site of “Old Earth*” creation scientist/cosmologist, Dr. Hugh Ross. Multi-media and scholarly articles. The personalities on this site are real scientists (aka: nerds)- so, lots of head knowledge, not so much song and dance personality- but a wealth of scientific information and analysis.

So, go get smarter this Christmas! This will make it easier. Pretty soon, you’ll be feeling pretty nerdular, in a festive yule-tide way.

Merry Christmas, from your Rent A Friend.


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