Everybody have a nice Christmas? Ever think about the tradition and where it comes from? I did, and decided to find out. I must say, what I found reinforced my misgivings about organized religion, after all, Christmas is a good time to point out Christian hypocrisy - "peace on Earth and goodwill to all 'men'" soon turns to "take all you can" and "hang 'em high!" and "it's God's will".
This could be the pink folks in Uganda's last Christmas before getting herded into camps and exterminated by folks calling themselves "Christians" - but hey, let's all enjoy the peace while it lasts.. 'Tis the season to be jolly, after all. Anyway, I hate to be a wet blanket - so, in the spirit of a religion that can't even invent its own festivals, I wish you all a very happy Saturnalia (and ask you to remember that Santa's red hat you're wearing is the symbol of a freed slave in ancient Roman times. Interesting symbolism... and don't forget the decorated trees and sprigs of holly and greenery about the house... AND the celebration of anyone's birth - were all considered PAGAN traditions by the early Christians - who apparently knew a lot more than we give them credit for in modern times. Now how about that? Seems to me this all indicates something modern evangelicals tend to fanatically deny - that like a living language, a living faith is subject to CHANGE...and things that are unable to adapt to change die. Sweet.
So, Saturnalia... a Roman holiday festival held over seven days annually from December 17 to 23, in which gifts (particularly candles) were exchanged, and shops closed and people partied and relaxed. Sounds quite modern, except they had dancing in the street, which sounds pretty good to me. Lovely. There was a tradition of "family" including the slaves and servants - and yes, people wore those silly woolen pointy hats remarkably similar to the one we see on the modern Santa Claus, a bearded figure strikingly similar to the effigy of the Roman God Saturn. Ho, ho, holy shit.
Doomsday scholars and theologians have long been warning of the day when ecumenism would become the order of the day, with all faiths working together - and they get twitchy when things such as the World Council of Churches does anything. I think, considering they are still waiting for this "merger" to happen, they are far too late - about two thousand years too late - because Constantine was the engineer of this very thing. As an amateur historian, I find it very interesting that a Roman emperor founded the Roman Catholic Church. The emperor Constantine was actually a sun-worshiper, who proceeded to blend early Christianity with the pagan religions of the day.
Religion is such a confusing dangerous subject - funny that most people think it is so simple and even boring. It has shaped the world we live in - even the modern world. We tend to think of the concept of "universalism" as a new thing, and yet "catholic" in effect means the very same thing. In Constantine's case, it meant the blending of pagan faiths with the early Christian church and bending both to his own will to strengthen his ailing political power base. Remarkably, this is a trend which continues to this very day.
Read especially the first paragraph of this article - (included below) especially the part about "pistis" and gnosticism - very interesting. It shows how and why the culture of obedience came into play to suppress the questioning of authority, in order to enforce state control, with "Christianity" of course being the "state" religion.
"In 325 A.D. the Roman Catholic Church was created by a pagan emperor named Constantine. It was only superficially a Christian Church. The First Nicean Council as assembled to work out the details. While it was supposed to have been made up of Christian elders from five major Christian centers (Rome, Athens, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch), it also included elders of all the major Pagan religions of Rome. Bishops from the cults of Mithras, Tammuz, Oannes (Dagon), Ceres, Janus, Bacchus, Apollo, Osiris, Jupiter, and Constantine's own religion: Sol Invictus, were invited. It was Constantine's wish that all of the Pagan religions, then at odds with each other, creating unnecessary conflicts, be unified into one "Catholic" church. "Catholic" means universal. The proceedings of that council were conducted by Constantine with an iron hand, and one of the positions which he insisted upon, and got, was to make Pistis a doctrine of the new church. Gnosticism could not be tolerated, because it encouraged its members to question authority. Pistis was thus politically expedient, because it forbade questioning."
"Pistis" is a Greek word, meaning "faith", in no way related to the word "piston" - although a good friend gave it to me on good faith that it is far better to be pist off, than to be pist on.
Furthermore, the days of the week in use in the western world are still named after pagan Roman, Greek and Germanic gods. To me, this is not really a problem because I suppose you have to call them something - or people will just keep missing appointments or get sozzled on a workday instead of over a weekend. Be that as it may, here they are:
"Monday - Dies lunae (from which comes the word lunar), means moon day, from which we get the shortened version, Monday.
Tuesday - Dies Martis, means mars day, after Mars, the Roman god of war. The day was known to the pagan Germans after their own god of war, Tiw (pronounced too) as Tiw’s (pronounced tooz) day, from which we get Tuesday.
Wednesday - Dies mercuri, means mercury day. Woden (pronounced woe-den) was the Germanic version of the pagan god mercury, and they named the day Woden’s day, from which we get Wednesday.
Thursday - Dies Jovis means Jove’s day, or Jupiter’s day. Thor was the Germanic version of the god Jupiter, so they called the day Thor’s Day, from which we got Thursday.
Friday - Dies Veneris means Venus Day. The Germanic version of this female god was Frigg, or Freyja (pronounced fry-yah), so they called the day Freyja day, from which we got Friday.
Saturday - Dies Saturni means Saturn day, from which came Saturday. The pagans also observed their Saturnalia festival in the last week of December, a time when work ceased, gifts were exchanged, and slaves feasted with their masters.
Sunday - Dies solis (Latin) which means “day of the sun” from which we get Sunday. Sun worship was marked by the use of the halo, or nimbus, which originated with the pagan Greeks and Romans to represent their sun god, Helios. It was later on that artists then adopted it for use in Christian images."
The Sabbath as few people - not even the bible-punchers set on "biblical worldviews" and supposed "biblical inerrancy" - are aware, is STILL Saturday, and NOT Sunday - which as the rather obvious name (duh) SHOULD give away - is actually the day set aside (by Constantine's edicts) for SUN worship. Scholars have shown how Christ supposedly rose from the dead at the end of the Sabbath day - which is actually SATURDAY, and not Sunday. Big deal, but anyway, some people make a big thing about which day they want to rest on, and which day they want to go to church on and the order of the business at hand. And the term "the Lord's Day" believe it or not, actually harks back to Roman times and refers to Baal, not Christ. Inneresting.
It really amuses me that whenever you allude to anything of pagan origin to a fanatical Christian (and I do mean fanatical, not the usual tree-hugging every day variety) they invariably get hot under the collar about it and start muttering something about "the end times" (to add insult to injury, you could always ask them if that would be on a Thor's Day or a Tiw's Day).
Then there's Easter, the Christian celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ - or so we are led to believe. Even the name is derived from the ancient festival of Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of fertility. We all know her symbol - the Easter bunny, accompanied by the "Eostre eggs" as symbols of fertility, painted in bright, festive colors. "Even today, when Easter has supposedly been "Christianized", the date of the holiday falls according to rather pagan reckonings, i.e. on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Even hot cross buns, associated with Lent, derived from the ancient Greeks and Romans, who baked “magic” wheat cakes with crosses scored in the top." And in keeping with pagan traditions of Greece, Rome and ancient Germanic peoples, the holiday is about renewal, rebirth - and a return from the dead.
How about Lent? Many mainstream churches - even my own Methodist one, observe Lent to this day, but this too comes directly from pagan origins. "Coming from the Anglo-Saxon Lencten, meaning “spring,” Lent originated in the ancient Babylonian mystery religion. “The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess…Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz”" (Remember the name Tammuz for later.)
How about Advent? Advent is yet another example of a pagan festival tradition adapted to "Christian tradition", also celebrated widely by mainstream churches today. Examples of Advent influence include, the Yule Log and the wreaths people hang on their doors come Saturnalia, - mean, Christmas - both incidentally symbols of the Sun. The Catholic tradition of candles too comes from this pagan festival.
To muddy the waters still further, you have the symbolism of the cult of Semiramis and Nimrod aka Isis and baby Horus (and a host of others) aka Mary and the baby Jesus in the form of statues and such at Catholic churches - straight from the ancient Babylonian religion of the "Queen of Heaven" herself - complete with the tradition of secret confessionals and all. Nice. To add to it, Semiramis had another son called - wait for it - Tammuz (remember him?) whom she claimed was immaculately conceived from the spirit of her dead husband/son Nimrod - and who was Nimrod reborn! And if you were under the impression that the fish was a "Christian" symbol, take a look at what adorns the statue of the virgin Isis and the immaculately conceived baby Horus above's head. But it doesn't end there - the legendary date of birth of Nimrod? December 25th. Mary Christmas, folks.
Things like this make me wonder if there is anything in Christianity at all which is actually true, unique or even "Christian" at all. I mean, they have plagiarised all their traditions from earlier pre-existing religions, from beliefs of ressurection, from symbols, to dates of festivals and even the meanings of the festivals themselves. Even the Protestants copied most of their traditions from the Catholics when they broke away, perpetuating many of the things which undermine the very foundations of their - um, protest. "Now wait a minute" you might say - "Christianity has Christ - who died and rose from the dead - now that has to be unique?" It certainly seems to be taken for granted - but is it? After all, it seems to me that there is about as much proof that Christ rose from the dead as any of the others did.
"The Phrygians celebrated a spring festival honoring Cybele, a fertility goddess. Cybele had a consort god named Attis, who was born of a virgin, and who died and was resurrected after three days, an occurrence commemorated sometime around the vernal equinox. Worshippers of Attis mourned the god’s death on Black Friday, then celebrated his rebirth on the following Sunday. Attis was simply the latest manifestation of earlier resurrection myths, like those of Osiris, Orpheus, Tammuz and Dionysus, who were likewise said to have been born of virgins and resurrected three days after their deaths." Incredible, isn't it? But wait, there's more.
Christianity - the last in a long line of previous religions to claim 1) immaculate conception, 2) messiah and 3) resurrection. Confused? I am. ...not to mention disappointed.
Let's look at the institution of marriage, which has been fought over so bitterly of late - claimed to be a "God-given" covenant "between one man and one woman for life" - and ostensibly a "Christian" invention to boot. Ummm... is it? And which god are they referring to?
As it turns out, the concept and ritual of marriage is not only far older than Christianity, or even the Hebrew faith - but not even the modern Christian traditional marriage ceremony in use today is unique to Christianity, or even heterosexuality. Not even the vows differ much - "with this ring I thee wed" and "in sickness and in health" - and others, can be traced to ancient Egypt - as can the tradition of even HAVING a wedding ring, a best man and bridesmaids! Even the tradition of having them dress the same as the bride, and throwing the flower boquet is the same! As a matter of personal interest, from the description given here, I think the Egyptian words are more beautiful, describing the wedding ring as a symbol of mutual love, as "without beginning, without end." Beautiful! And add to that, the symbolism of the equality of Egyptian society, where rings were exchanged equally - and not solely given to the woman by the man as a mark of his "ownership" of her. Amazing - and this began over 6000 years ago! And lastly, the minor detail that same gender marriage was quite commonplace in Egypt also, in fact it is even claimed that the first official marriage ceremony in ancient Egypt was specifically lesbian! Surprised? I certainly was. Especially when, in the fight for marriage equality everywhere, right wing "Christians" audaciously claim that gay marriage is a new invention!
In fact, I am rather disappointed that Hebrew and Christian religions, as it turned out, only cherry-picked things which suited them - doubtlessly the openness and equality of the sexes didn't fit that description. Ironically, open societies of the ancient world vanished over time, while more oppressive, controlling - and what we should today consider "backward" societies, prevailed. Quite worrying, actually - as the rise of Catholicism, masquerading as Christianity, coincided with the period known for very good reason, as the Dark Ages.
That's all very interesting... and not what they tell you in high school history. Yes, high school history is all about dates - Lord Such-n-such fought the Battle of Who Really Cares on the field of Who-Knows-Where on the 42nd of Octember 98 BP (Before Plumbing)... and who all signed the Treaty of Why Bother to end Some Forgotten Dispute about the taxation of trade routes between X and Y. It is more interesting and rewarding to scratch a bit and see the history they don't want you to know - because, history as they keep telling us, is WRITTEN (or re-written) BY THE VICTORS - and thinking for yourself just doesn't make for obedient little plebs.
All this and more written between the lines of the Hidden History of the great Christian faith's doctrine of "just believe what we tell you to, and do what you're told like a good little lemming".
Somehow, after all this, we are still somehow expected to "just accept" Church authority and the authenticity of the bible as is, even after it has languished under the control of these devious folks all this time - even after finding out all this and this. Well, not I. If I cannot trust it, then how can I consult it?
With all these sources confusing the issue, how are you supposed to know WHO this God is? The modern church is built on nothing but lies - and stolen lies at that. The "bible" is incomplete and corrupted, and clerics equally misled and opinionated. All of this leads me to believe that nobody really knows anything about this God - that they are guessing, or they are simply falling for the claims made by earlier people - whether their intent was to mislead or perpetuate these deceptions.
In fact, it seems Christ may not have been the very "perfect" and even "boring" two-dimensional character these people would have us believe he was today. Go figure. No wonder they called the Nag Hamadi texts "heretical" and tried very hard to destroy them - because they encouraged free thought, free will and essentially weakened their control. And so they formulated their own "orthodox" (meaning "right-thinking") version and cut it all down to something they could manage, manipulate and use to suit their own nefarious purposes, passing it off as the "Word of God" - whichever god that may be.
No wonder the RCC directly opposed and discouraged (through intimidation, torture and executions) the medieval efforts to translate its in-house version of the bible (the Latin Vulgate) from Latin to English or any other language - because in using original Greek and Hebrew texts, a host of inaccuracies and deliberate errors are found. Even today correcting such errors are misrepresented and opposed by conservative supposedly "right-thinking" scholars as somehow "editing the Word of God" rather than welcomed as correcting the mistakes and deliberate works of Man!
It is rather refreshing and comforting for me to know that I am an agnostic - which means "I don't know", but what I do know is this:
"Christian" holidays, such as Christmas, Easter and Lent are false misrepresentations, and just like everything else, based wholly on un-Christian foundations stemming from the doings of Constantine and the RCC. For all intents and purposes, the entire Christian Church, both Catholic, Protestant and even charismatic evangelical - is false too, based on and blended with the same Paganism and its traditions. In short, it pretends to be what it is not, and even tries to hide the fact that it has absolutely nothing to offer people in terms of actual faith and Christian salvation in the true sense of the word - but empty ritual, CONTROL and perpetuated lies and misplaced trust.
It amuses me no end these days, hearing Christians complain that the commercialization of Christmas is hijacking the "true spirit" of the holiday - and when they throw "family values" into the mix as they do with everything else (including depriving people of equality) - especially when the "true spirit" of Christmas is not even remotely Christian at all and never has been!
As for "Christians" complaining about pagan festivals or religious groups, or some kids traipsing around the neighborhood in Halloween costumes trick-or-treating, let's not even go there.
This whole organized religion structure is sick and twisted and full of lies and deceit - and so inflexible and judgmental - and so very full of things that have nothing to do with what it claims to - Christ. Current events in Uganda demonstrate that this is exactly what would happen if the conservative "right-thinking" element have their way everywhere else in the world - enforced ignorance, blind obedience to doctrine, organized hatred, encouraged paranoia and prized religious piety - based on falsehood and lies.
I have even wondered if it would not have been better for Christ to have been born into the Islamic world instead - his message might have survived untarnished and uncorrupted there. But then, we might have only had a different set of overly-religious folks flying planes into buildings and blowing themselves up in public places in order to get into Paradise, or is that Elysium?
They (the Christian Church) have poisoned the well we are supposed to drink from in good faith - and then they have the nerve to blame people for not wanting to drink from it! But then, as human rights activists we often face such hypocrisy, it is par for the course.
"In God We Trust", the American slogan goes - well then, trust in God - not so implicitly in the works of Humankind. It seems to me that if you want to learn about, believe in, worship or follow Christ, or stand for what he stood for - then you need to go directly to the source, to consult Christ in your own way, without some interfering middle-man trying to deliberately mislead you along the way or perpetuate things they themselves do not know or understand, with false doctrines - whose origins are well hidden and obscured in the mists of time.
At the end of this article, I am not not even sure what the term "Christian" really means anymore, and since it seems at least a third of the Earth is unwittingly and implicitly involved in some form of illicit Baal worship lightly veneered with Christianity - who it does or should apply to. In fact, though I still feel an abiding fondness for Christ and his message, whatever that was, I feel increasingly justified and even vindicated in calling myself an agnostic.
In the end, the "Christian" principles of "goodwill to all people" (not just 'men') and peace on Earth should apply to all days and not just Saturnalia - I mean, Christmas. Pistis and gnosticism they say - faith, obedience and to forbid questioning authority. Well, nobody is ever going to "forbid" me to question authority - I question their authority to do that also. I question the authority of anyone who claims they have authority over me without me having given them express permission to say so. In fact, I now question everything ever taught to me that I didn't learn for myself - and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Let that be the new Renaissance of our time.