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Discussion Forum : News and Current Events : Secular Media Might Have Gotten Something Right!

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Joined: 2005/11/17
Posts: 370
Bloomington, IN

 Secular Media Might Have Gotten Something Right!

In the midst of all the political commotion about Washington and the White House fooling with changing things to "holidays" to remain inclusive and unoffensive, this article hit it right on the head (at least from understanding the issues from a secular point of view).

[b]Maybe the Grinch Was Right:[/b] Yes, it's ridiculous the National Christmas Tree at the Capitol is officially the National Holiday Tree: that government often cannot bring itself to state the obvious is one of the flaws of government. How long till someone claims "holiday" is offensive and the name is changed to the National Seasonal Ornamental Fir? It's a fracking Christmas tree, call it what it is! Hiding behind a euphemism for a Christmas tree is especially absurd because such trees have nothing to do with Christianity; they are a secular symbol of gift-giving. Christmas holds dual status as a religious observation and a secular festival of presents and parties -- many who are not Christians or don't even like Christianity nonetheless put up Christmas trees and hand out presents on the 25th. Santa, Rudolph, stockings by the fireplace, mistletoe: good luck finding any references to these in scripture. Government officials who feel squeamish about speaking the words "Christmas tree" or allowing schoolteachers to say "Merry Christmas" are not only going overboard, they don't even understand that much of the trappings of Christmas are unrelated to religion.

These things said, it is equally ridiculous some commentators are proclaiming a "war on Christmas." Christmas is the most over-celebrated holiday in the history of the world! An entire month of the American year is given to Christmas celebration; far too much attention is paid to Christmas. This is true even for the religious aspect of the day -- theologically, Easter means 100 times more than Christmas. Check this Laurie Goodstein article on the fact that with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, many churches won't hold services so as not to compete with the orgy of materialism. But then, the overwhelming majority of Western Christians studiously avoid Christ's many teachings against material possessions -- and most churches, for marketing reasons, steer clear of this topic too. Yours truly would like the United States to switch to the Boxing Day custom of England and Canada: On Dec. 25, Christians go to church and on Dec. 26, they open gifts. Except in recent practice in Canada and England, Boxing Day has become just an excuse for an extra day off from work, as the presents get ripped open on the 25th anyway. "War on Christmas?" Bah humbug!

Denver McDaniel

 2005/12/14 11:39Profile

Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 671
Los Angeles, California

 Re: Secular Media Might Have Gotten Something Right!

This guy hits the nail on the head.

Easter means 100 times more than Christmas. Check this Laurie Goodstein article on the fact that with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, many churches won't hold services so as not to compete with the orgy of materialism. But then, the overwhelming majority of Western Christians studiously avoid Christ's many teachings against material possessions -- and most churches, for marketing reasons, steer clear of this topic too.

Christmas is a major indicator as to the economic situation in America. The more materialism and greed during Christmas the better hopes for a good economy. If America was to experience the least greedy and least materialistic Christmas in past hundred year it would be an economic disaster. How many actually hope for the least greedy and materialist celebration of the birth of Jesus in the past 100 years, even if it means another recession or even another great depression? The whole modern celebration of Christ birthday has become an abomination and slap in His face. It is truly sickening and sad at the same time.

Don't be surprised if we see a major expression of the wrath and judgment of God shortly after the 25th again this year.

Patrick Ersig

 2005/12/14 12:03Profile

 Re: Secular Media May Have Gotten Something Right

If you take away the name "Christmas," all that's left is a tree, ornaments, gifts and a bunch of pagan musicians singing songs about God.None of those things have to do with Christ.The mixture of the world with this holiday and Christ's name on it is really nausiating to me.I just got back from Sears having to listen to Mariah Carey singing Christmas Carrols.If we were to see it through the eyes of a holy God I wonder what we would see.Its that mixture of trying to marry the world to Christ that I can never accept.Im not interested in marrying the world to Christ.I feel like telling the world listen the only thing you are required to do is drink the blood and eat the flesh and you can't do that unless your born again.

 2005/12/14 12:56

Joined: 2005/4/26
Posts: 376
Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania


I heard the commentator who wrote the book {War on Christmas} being interviewed the other day. While I haven't read the book, in the interview he was making some very valid points.

There are some very powerful groups of people who want to take the name of Jesus out of everything in America. The commentator is pointing out that by rooting out the word Christ or Jesus from words their goal is to minimize Christianity so they can eventually brainwash the future generation into accepting anything but Christianity.

The commentator mentions the symbol of a manger in a government park by itself as being illegal without there being other symbols that are considered cross cultural. The cross itself is another symbol that is very offensive to these groups. Written scripture, not just the Ten Commandments, is very offensive to these groups. Again, their goal is to minimize Christ so they don't have to deal with radical Christians and they can eventually brainwash the coming generation.

The book {War on Christmas} may be very informative.

In Christ,

Gary Eckenroth

 2005/12/14 13:15Profile

Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 671
Los Angeles, California


So do you think that we should take the name of Christ out of Christmas altogether, or should we allow His name to be associated with the abomination we now call Christmas? It is kind of a tricky question. Haven't christians ruined this celebration to the Birth of Christ? Isn't having the name of Jesus associated with this holiday a much bigger offense to Jesus than taking it out? Do you disagree that the celebration of Christmas is an abomination to Jesus and puts Him to open shame in front of the whole world.

"I saw a sign the other day that said in reference to this season, "Love, joy and peace are in the air." Bzzzt. Wrong answer. Materialism, gluttony, selfishness, suicide, greed, pride, self-righteousness, family idolatry, hypocrisy with strangers and family members and all the like are in the air, in abundance. The demonic power of "Christ" mas includes a seduction of the flesh which is warm, fuzzy and intoxicating. It strokes every sense of the flesh with smells, sights, sounds, and a "spirit" in the air - literally. Or it totally depresses them. Suicide is higher this time of year than any other time. "No one even cares for me at "Christ" mas time," is a common thought. During this time of year, "Christian" people are supposed to be glad that at least once a year people's attention is on Jesus. The facts are, people are probably more concentrated on themselves during this time than any other time. References to Jesus, the nativity, the virgin birth and singing all these beautiful songs about Him, seems to only allow people to feel more justified in their sin and more callused to those truths and words later. It blinds and hypnotizes them.

Many people feel justified or appease their conscience by putting a manger scene in front of their tree or donating food or money to the Salvation Army; going caroling or going to a "Christ" mas Eve service. Some people are sincere about wanting to celebrate Jesus' birthday and believe that others can be reached with the gospel during this time of year. But for the one person who might come to know Jesus as a result of something he heard during this season, there will be thousands of others who will be further and further away from knowing who Jesus really is and what that means for their lives.

The fruit shows itself to be very related to roots. Hypocrisy and shallowness of heart produces hypocrisy and shallowness of heart. Take exchanging gifts for example. Is it really gift giving or is it possession exchanging? If someone gives something, how often would there be a person who honestly doesn't want something back. Very rarely. Greed and self-centeredness are bred into children. This holiday does not draw people to an exalted Christ. It mocks Him and pulls people away from Him. Just as the soldiers mocked Jesus when they crucified Him. They put a robe on Him, a crown of thorns on His head and said, "Behold the King of the Jews." Today, scripture says, that rebellious sin crucifies Him again. And in the middle of rebellious sin, people sing, "Silent night, HOLY night." In reality, it's children of Satan singing songs about Jesus. God sees it as blasphemy because their hearts are far from Him. The Father is not pleased; He is angry. And we will be too if we see His Son and the name of His Son the way He does. One of the things most important to Him to say to His People when He first revealed Himself on Mt. Sinai was, "DO NOT use my name in vain!!!" Wouldn't you say that a choir or a group of intoxicated "carolers" singing joyously about "baby Jesus" and the "HOLY night" to a group of folks that also have little or no intention of obeying Jesus in their personal lives - wouldn't THAT qualify as using His name in vain, the most grotesque form of hypocrisy?"

Wouldn't it better if the name of Christ was completely disassociated with Christmas? If the birth of Christ was celebrated by people around the world with orgies would you want Jesus' name to be associated with it or anything to do with it? Just because materialism and greed is so culturally ingrained into the mind of so many doesn't mean that celebrating the birth of Jesus this way is any less of an abomination then celebrating His birth with orgies. Again - wouldn't it better if the name of Christ was completely disassociated with Christmas? Just some food for thought.

Patrick Ersig

 2005/12/14 14:01Profile

 Re: Secular Media Might Have Gotten Something Right!

SIers, Here's some history about the Christmas tree that I found. I too am offended by the materialness of Christmas, but found this interesting. Bub

The Christmas tree is one of the most popular and cherished Christmas customs. Each year, 35-40 million live trees are purchased and decorated in the United States alone. But when, where, and how did this custom begin? What is the origin of the Christmas tree? What does it mean?

Many answers to these questions have been offered on the Internet. Some are completely erroneous. Some make no distinction between history and legend. Unfortunately, none of them give sources for their assertions about the Christmas tree (a problem with most web articles!). Given that dependable scholarly sources about the history of the Christmas tree are hard to come by, citation-less Christmas tree web pages are understandable.

In doing the research for this article, I found three works especially helpful. The first is Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles.1

Though now a bit dated, Miles's work made use of the best scholarship of the time, much of which has not been improved upon2, and therefore is still a valuable resource. Of equal value is Francis X. Weiser's Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs.3 Weiser's work only devotes several chapters to the customs of Christmas, but these are well researched and articulated. I also found The Solstice Evergreen by Sheryl Ann Karas to be helpful. Karas has done an admirable job researching the various ways that the evergreen has been used in various cultures over the centuries and this is the book's strength.4

What was the origin of the Christmas tree? As much as I would like to embrace as fact the oft- quoted story that Martin Luther was the first to set up a Christmas tree (or at least a lighted one), I cannot -- for the story is pure legend.5 Many years of intensive Luther scholarship has turned up nothing to support it.6 There is scholarly consensus, however, that the Christmas tree originated in Germany. Indeed, the earliest record of an evergreen tree being used and decorated (but without lights) for Christmas is 1521 in the German region of Alsace.7 Another useful description has been found among the notes of an unknown resident of Strasbourg in 1605, who writes that "At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlors at Strasburg and hang thereon roses cut of many- coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil, sweets . . ."8 Some fifty years later (about 1650) the great Lutheran theologian Johann Dannhauer wrote in his The Milk of the Catechism that "the Christmas or fir tree, which people set up in their houses, hang with dolls and sweets, and afterwards shake and deflower. . . Whence comes this custom I know not; it is child's play . . . Far better were it to point the children to the spiritual cedar-tree, Jesus Christ."9

Several conclusions can be gleaned from these quotations. First, we are told some of the items with which the first Christmas trees were decorated: paper roses, apples, Communion wafers, gold, foil, sweets, and dolls. Second, even in 1650 a noted scholar like Dannhauer did not know the origin of Christmas trees. Third, not all Christians approved of these trees, even in the beginning. Fourth, the first Christmas trees, as far as we know, did not have lights. According to Weiser, the first mention of lights (candles) on a Christmas tree is in the seventeenth century.10

From the mid-seventeenth century on the Christmas tree slowly grew in popularity and use. However, it was not until the beginning of the 19th century that the use of the Christmas tree grew into the general German custom that it is today. Also at this time it spread to the Slavic people of eastern Europe. The Christmas tree was probably first used in America about 1700 when the first wave of German immigration settled in western Pennsylvania. During the War of Independence, Hessian soldiers supposedly set up Christmas trees.11 It is widely held that the Christmas tree was first introduced into France in 1837 when Princess Helen of Mecklenburg brought it to Paris after her marriage to the Duke of Orléans. The Christmas tree made its royal debut in England when Prince Albert of Saxony, the husband of Queen Victoria, set up a tree in Windsor Castle in 1841.12 After this it grew in popularity, though in 1850 Charles Dickens was still referring to it as a "new German toy."13

But from where did Christians get the idea of the Christmas tree? Was it a new idea or was there a historical custom upon which they were building?

Karas has amply demonstrated that evergreens have been a symbol of rebirth from ancient times. Bringing greenery into one's home, often at the time of the winter solstice, symbolized life in the midst of death in many cultures.14 The Romans decked their homes with evergreens and other greenery during the Kalends of January.15 Living trees were also brought into homes during the old German feast of Yule, which originally was a two-month feast beginning in November. The Yule tree was planted in a tub and brought into the home.16 However, the evidence just does not exist which shows that Christians first used trees at Christmas as a symbol of rebirth, nor that the Christmas tree was a direct descendent of the Yule tree. On the contrary, the evidence that we have points in another direction. The Christmas tree appears to be a descendent of the Paradise tree and the Christmas light of the late Middle Ages.17

From the eleventh century, religious plays called "mystery plays" became quite popular throughout Europe. These plays were performed outdoors and in churches. One of the most prevalent of these plays was the "Paradise play." The play depicted the story of the creation of Adam and Eve, their sin, and their banishment from Paradise. The play would end with the promise of the coming Savior and His Incarnation (cf. Gen. 3:15). The Paradise play was simple by today's standards. The only prop on stage was the "Paradise tree," a fir tree adorned with apples. From this tree, at the appropriate time in the play, Eve would take the fruit, eat it, and give it to Adam.

Because of abuses that crept into the mystery plays (i.e., immoral behavior), the Church forbade these plays during the fifteenth century. The people had grown so accustomed to the Paradise tree, however, that they began putting their own Paradise tree up in their homes on Dec. 24. They did so on Dec. 24 because this was the feast day of Adam and Eve (at least in the Eastern Church). The Paradise tree, as it had in the Paradise plays, symbolized both a tree of sin and a tree of life. For this reason, the people would decorate these trees with apples (representing the fruit of sin) and homemade wafers (like communion wafers which represented the fruit of life). Later, candy and sweets were added.

Another custom was to be found in the homes of Christians on Dec. 24 since the late Middle Ages. A large candle called the "Christmas light," symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world, was lit on Christmas Eve. In western Germany, many smaller candles were set upon a wooden pyramid and lit. Besides the candles, other objects such as glass balls, tinsel, and the "star of Bethlehem" were placed on its top.18

Though we cannot be certain, it seems highly likely that the first Christmas trees that appeared in Germany in the early sixteenth century were descendants of both of these customs: the Paradise tree and the Christmas pyramids and lights. The Paradise tree became our Christmas tree. Decorations that had been placed on the pyramids were transferred to the Christmas tree.

For many Christians the Christmas tree still retains the symbolism of the Paradise tree. The tree reminds us of the tree in Eden by which Adam and Eve were overcome and which thrust them into sin. But more importantly, the tree reminds us of the tree by which our sin was overcome, namely the tree upon which Christ Jesus was crucified. Is it a stretch to refer to the cross as a tree? Hardly, for this is the language of the New Testament itself! For example, Paul writes in Galatians 3:13, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree" (quoting Deut. 21:23). And Peter writes, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." Therefore, the Christmas tree is a wonderful symbol and reminder of our salvation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ!

Some other interesting facts about the Christmas tree, some of which I haven't yet substantiated from the sources (so use at your own risk!) are:

The first retail Christmas stand was set up by Mark Carr in New York City in 1851;

Franklin Pierce was the first president to introduce the Christmas tree to the White House in 1856 for a group of Washington Sunday School children;

The first lighted Christmas tree in public was in Boston in 1912;

The first national Christmas Tree was lighted in the year 1923 on the White House lawn by President Calvin Coolidge.

 2005/12/14 17:01

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