Happy Christmas To All

HappyChristmasby Deana Chadwell    12/23/13
I’ll have to admit to wanting, like everyone else to chime in on the Phil Robertson flap, and heaven knows I have plenty to say, but it’s almost Christmas and perhaps it’s time to broaden our scope a little and at least glance at the bigger picture — 2,015 years ago the most unique of all babies was born. That is not just some fairy tale, not a myth to be dismissed easily; it is history.

Not only is it history, it is astronomy as well, and it is built on unbroken traditions going back 3,440 years to the days of Moses and the Exodus. Let me set the stage…..

Place – Bethlehem, a village about five miles south of Jerusalem, capital of the tiny but troublesome province of Judea. Bethlehem is a real place that still exists today.

Time – 3/2 B.C. – I know it’s a little uncomfortable to juggle the thought of Christ being born a couple of years before He was born, but bear with me. The birth took place, according to Luke, in the reign of Caesar Augustus. Augustus died in 14 A.D. and his step-son Tiberius came to the throne. It wasn’t until the 15th year of his reign that John the Baptist and Jesus began their public ministries, in roughly their 30th years. That would put the birth two or three years B.C.

We can also date the birth of Christ from astronomical data. The historian Josephus wrote of a total lunar eclipse the year that Herod the Great died. It was Herod who ordered the killing of all Jewish baby boys when he heard that “the King of the Jews” had been born. Recent astronomical calculations show that to be 1 B.C., which places Christ’s birth year to 3/2 B.C., which would have made him 30 years old in 28 A.D. just after Tiberius came to the throne. It is also interesting to note that during that time period some truly amazing conjunctions of the giant star Regulus and the planet Jupiter would have provided more than ample guidance for sojourners from the East. It would have been in retrograde (appearing to stop as it completes its orbit and “turns back”) over Bethlehem. That would have happened on December 25th of 2 B.C. .

We can also look at biblical chronology. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was informed of his wife’s pregnancy by an angel while he was tending to the Altar of Incense on or around Yom Kippur in the fall. Mary went to visit Elizabeth, John’s mother at Passover when Elizabeth was six months along. Mary’s pregnancy was just beginning. John was born in June around the spring solstice; Jesus would have been born six months later, just after the winter solstice.

Culture – Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to be counted in the “first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.” (Note the specificity here.) Because of the census all the inns (mostly just family homes with an extra room) were full and they sheltered in a cave used as a barn. There were shepherds out watching over the flocks – quite likely the official sacrificial flocks used by the Temple in Jerusalem.

OK – so why the history lesson? Merely to point out that we are dealing with an actual historical event, a documentable event, an event located in a specific place at a very specific time, under very unusual conditions, heralded by both prophecy and by rare astronomical happenings. This is not some vague legend, some make-believe, unicorn-inhabited, fairy tale. This happened. Miraculous? Maybe – a virgin, angels and all that. But if God is God then none of that is surprising.

But there’s the rub. If God is God. If the Great I Am actually IS. I am amazed at the fuss and bother over Christmas these last few years and it’s being fueled by a poisonous vitriol that’s frankly astounding, and sadly enough for the hysterical atheist front, merely proves the Bible, once again, is right on. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…” (Matthew 10:12).

I have some questions for those who want to eradicate the essence of Christmas.

What in the world are you so bent out of shape about? It’s not like we’ve failed to invite you all to the party. You are more than welcome to festoon a fake tree with fairy lights, slog through the crowded stores and spend too much money on gifts for folks you don’t necessarily care about, and feast yourselves well into the next size – we don’t require a pedigree to join us. No quizzes on Christian doctrine will be given. You may, here and there, hear music bearing lyrics you think are silly; I find Jingle Bells a little obnoxious. So what? Christians have excluded no one from this holiday. All the crankiness reminds me of Grendel in Beowulf. He was angry because the Scyldings were having too much fun in the meadhall – so he snuck in at night and killed them. Gees. Lighten up and enjoy.

What in your life will be better if you take Christmas away from us? It won’t make the job of denying God’s existence any easier; Nature, and the study of it, is making that nearly impossible these days. The more we learn of the intricacies of life – the inner workings of everything from the hummingbird to the immune cascade makes the likelihood of chance mutation a distant and mathematically ridiculous dream. Cancelling Christmas isn’t going to fix that. I understand why you want God out of the picture – you think that without Him around you can do anything and not be held accountable. News flash: God can get rid of you, but you can’t get rid of God, Christmas or no Christmas. Taking down a nativity scene doesn’t erase the Almighty and the fact that you are just one of His creatures. One of my favorite T-shirts sports the famous line, “God is dead,” and attributes that to Nietzche. Under that it says,“ Nietzche is dead,” and attributes that statement to God. That’s about it. Deny, fight, shout, snark all you want. He isn’t going anywhere.

Why do you want so badly for the truth not to be true? Why are you swimming upstream? No reputable historian denies the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. He did no harm in the mere 33 years of his life. In fact he healed hundreds of people, fought hypocrisy, and taught people to love each other. You are against that? That puts you in a pretty weird place.

You do know, don’t you that you sound like petulant children? We see you stomping your collective foot and screaming, “I hate you, Mommy!” I realize that the actions of human beings, ostensibly Christian human beings, have sometimes been way out of line. We can’t control what other people have done in the past; we can’t control who comes into our churches now. We do know that ALL of us have fallen short of God’s perfection and need to align ourselves with His offer of free entrance into heaven – provided, incidentally, by the work Jesus did on the cross that the Romans and the Pharisees eventually nailed him to. The imperfection of Christians merely proves our point about needing a savior.

We’re truly sorry that denial seems like a desirable alternative. We’re sorry that you feel you must tear us down to build yourself up. Don’t give me that “separation of church and state” nonsense. No one is telling you what you have to believe and merely hearing a verse or two of Silent Night, or catching a glimpse of a crèche is unlikely to morph you into an SNL church lady. It won’t happen. Your unbelief doesn’t need to be bolstered by the distortion of national and world history. Relax.

We Christians need to relax, too. Christ will win this. All we need do is saturate our minds with His truth and speak it whenever we can. Our lives will pass and nothing the atheist contingent can do will change what we believe, so all the ranting is ultimately pointless. Let’s all just enjoy this wonderful celebration, look forward to a new year and the hope of even more love and laughter.

In that vein let me wish everyone a truly happy, merry, unforgettable Christmas.
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Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. • (1389 views)

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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I’m blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing — and more keeps popping up — needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation.
I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.

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15 Responses to Happy Christmas To All

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was told by someone that this place has class. Well, it isn’t because of me.

    Deana, thanks for being such a central part of this site. I don’t know where all this is going. But as long as you are around, this will be a classy place.

    Merry Christmas.

  2. Pokey Possum says:

    Thanks Deana. Merry Christmas everyone!

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    Neat. You discussed the Robertson controversy without directly discussing it. The reason the Fag-boys from GLAAD (a cultural pun there for anyone as old as I am, or close enough) are enraged by Robertson’s comments is the same reason that militant atheists are so christophobic about Christmas: they’re intolerant of anything that openly contradicts their worldview.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    By the way, it’s only fair to say that Deana has likely bolted into the lead in our first annual unofficial Christmas Essay Contest. There’s still time to enter. First prize will be whatever I can extort from one of the members to redistribute as such.

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    A beautiful essay. There is so much here that has been said—that still needs to be said over and over.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I understand why you want God out of the picture – you think that without Him around you can do anything and not be held accountable.

    I can’t improve on what Deana said. But I can speak in a different language. I think these grand themes can be articulated in other ways.

    I speak liberal, Leftist, conservative, and even a little German. One has to be able to do so if only to understand what people are thinking. And I’d like to think that I can speak Christian as well.

    I finished reading H. Rider Haggard’s “She” this weekend. I highlighted a number of interesting passages. The following is an exchange between the immortal (and at least slightly evil) “She” and the main character of the story, a most educated and traditional Englishman known as “Holly.” This includes Holly’s responst to the materialist philosophy of “She” — one that could have came from the Left or a libertarian for that matter. Holly is trying to talk “She” out of murdering his friend’s native wife out of mere convenience:

    She: “Man doeth this, and doeth that from the good or evil of his heart; but he knoweth not to what end his moral sense doth prompt him; for when he striketh he is blind to where the blow shall fall, nor can he count the airy threads that weave the web of circumstance. Good and evil, love and hate, night and day, sweet and bitter, man and woman, heaven above and the earth beneath—all these things are necessary, one to the other, and who knows the end of each? I tell thee that there is a hand of fate that twines them up to bear the burden of its purpose, and all things are gathered in that great rope to which all things are needful. Therefore doth it not become us to say this thing is evil and this good, or the dark is hateful and the light lovely; for to other eyes than ours the evil may be the good and the darkness more beautiful than the day, or all alike be fair. Hearest thou, my Holly?”

    Holly:I felt it was hopeless to argue against casuistry of this nature, which, if it were carried to its logical conclusion, would absolutely destroy all morality, as we understand it. But her talk gave me a fresh thrill of fear; for what may not be possible to a being who, unconstrained by human law, is also absolutely unshackled by a moral sense of right and wrong, which, however partial and conventional it may be, is yet based, as our conscience tells us, upon the great wall of individual responsibility that marks off mankind from beasts?

    What a lovely passage by Haggard which includes a pretty good display of moral relativism, even if they did not call it that back in 1886. And surely “She” was a least partially a stand-in for those modern-day mortal human beings who wish to be unconstrained by human law and who think they are somehow intrinsically better than others.

    Thanks to science and medicine — and just the raw conceits of the “Progressive” set — materialism has been given a lease on life. It fuels the human belief that anything not grounded in science is not good, is not useful, and is not relevant. Politicians (socialists, Marxists, and Communists…as well as Republican statists) have made great strides in enslaving us by playing to this idea that a completely from-the-top-down “ordered” society is the way to go. And they don’t call it “scientific socialism” for nothing. That is the belief that undergirds modern statism of all types. It’s the belief that by using “scientific” means, a society can be completely ordered for the better. The core conceit and belief of the secular/atheistic crowd is that there is nothing more to life than “reason” and science and that to bring up the moral dimension is to bring up raw superstition.

    I take it as axiomatic — whatever one’s specific religious beliefs — that our job here on earth is first and foremost to rise above the animal. The history of the world is filled with suffering and blood. Only a people torn from their past could blot that huge fact out. Anyone (libertarians, Leftists, socialists, etc.) who forget what lurks inside human nature is feeding the animal. And that is what you could say that 99% of our Western culture is doing. To look at Miley Cyrus is to see someone feeding the animal.

    I also speak Movie as one of my languages, as does director George Seaton. It is one of my favorite languages. People such as C.S. Lewis were very adept at translating from one language (Christianity, in his case) to another (Movietone, if you will). I had posted the following from “Miracle on 34th Street” on another thread, but it works here as well in terms of articulating the difference between the radical materialist view of life and the spiritual/moral view:

    Fred: If you believe in me and have faith in me, everything will . . . You don’t have any faith in me, do you?

    Doris: It’s not about faith. It’s just common sense.

    Fred: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. It’s not just Kris that’s on trial. It’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness, joy, love, and all the other intangibles.

    Doris: Fred, you’re talking like a child. You’re living in a realistic world! Those lovely intangibles aren’t worth much. You don’t get ahead that way.

    Fred: That all depends on what you call getting ahead. Evidently, we have different definitions.

    Doris: We’ve talked about wonderful plans. Then you go on an idealistic binge. You give up your job, throw away your security, and then you expect me to be happy about it!

    Fred: Yes, I guess I expected too much. Someday, you’re going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover they’re the only things that are worthwhile.

    • It was Ravi Zacharias who said, in his book “Jesus Among other Gods,” “In this country we are free to believe anything we want to, as long as we don’t think it’s actually true.” We’re free to indulge in our fairy tales, but we are expected to understand that they are fantasy. I’d disagree with Fred here. Faith is the realization that reality lies both underneath and way, way beyond what is easily visible. Now days science is beginning to turn on the relativist, finding tangible evidence of the intangible all around us. That is also part of why the atheists amongst are getting restless; it’s painful to lose a worldview.

      I love the languages bit. Funny and on the mark. Merry Christmas!

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’d disagree with Fred here. Faith is the realization that reality lies both underneath and way, way beyond what is easily visible.

        There is a foundation to this world. Our limited human capacities can grasp some of it. Much of what we speak about is not myth as much as it is metaphor, at least in my opinion.

        Also, simply having the will to try to be more than we are — to try to move beyond the animal — is to have one’s head out of the sand. I’m not really a wishy-washy ecumenical sort of guy. Not everything is equal. I have no problem with a Christian reciting such passages as “I am the the light of the world.”

        But on some level, simply moving beyond the self-conceit of one’s ego is a major step, whether one’s exact liturgy might vary a bit. There is a light in this world, and it does not emanate from my clever juicy chess-club brain. It does not emanate from man’s “reason.” It is beyond “reason,” per se.

        That light exists prior to, and independent of, our human ability to delude ourselves about our own supposed self-sufficiency. And many (and they tend to be statists or anarchists) are infused with a sense of their own omniscience.

        So I would say, in general, the movement from animal to something more is a movement away from our self-delusions and puffed-up opinions of ourselves.

        It is an interesting thought that the atheists amongst us are getting restless. If I could pay you guys to write articles, Deana, I would assign you that as a subject. 😀

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Glad you liked the book. There are several such passages in the Haggard books I have read. These illustrate, among other things, that the Leftist passion to destroy traditional morals has been with us for a long time and it appears to be part of the DNA in certain types within the human family.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Ditto, Mr. Kung. I’ll probably do a short review as just a placeholder for a discussion because I know you’ve read it too. I’ll also eventually type in a couple of the short passages that I had highlighted.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      “Thanks to science and medicine — and just the raw conceits of the “Progressive” set — materialism has been given a lease on life. It fuels the human belief that anything not grounded in science is not good, is not useful, and is not relevant.”

      I just read a great line from the third book in “The Balkan Trilogy” by Olivia Manning.

      It goes, “He was a materialist without being a realist and that…gave him the worst of both worlds.”

      All too many materialists are like the fellow described above. In fact, most of the political program as articulated by the materialist Left seems to me to be completely unrealistic.

  7. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    They wish everyone to worship at the altar of BAAL. I pass.

    (Bolshie Atheistic Adolescent Leftism)

    Merry Christmas!!!

  8. Timothy Lane says:

    Town Hall today has articles by Erick Erickson and Chuck Norris that are relevant to this. Erickson (“Why December 25”) discusses the argument for December 25 (much of it the same as Deana’s regarding the birth of John the Baptist), and also pointing out that this date was chosen before Christianity became dominant, and before it was looking to lure pagans in by reusing their holidays. Norris discusses The Case for Christmas by Lee Strobel, a former skeptic who has been studying the historical case for the Bible (I reviewed a previous one, The Case for Christ, in FOSFAX 209 back in 2004).

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