Month: December 2012

Smack Me Again, Baby – I Like it

People who use proprietary operating systems (OS) are like those people who like physically abusive relationships.

I was having a business conversation with a non-profit organization on another topic. During the conversation I noticed that they had older computers. When I noticed the somewhat dated machines, she explained that they don’t want to waste the donor’s hard-earned money on new computers and these could ‘get the job done’. Watching her use it was quite painful.

During the conversation, she also mentioned to me that she didn’t reply to my email because she had received a virus which crippled her machine and that she was paying someone to fix it.

I left the meeting and went about my life for a while when all of a sudden it dawned on me – THEY SHOULD COMPLETELY SWITCH THEIR ORGANIZATION OVER TO UBUNTU!

It would solve everything:

  1. It would be free (no wasting any of their donor’s money)
  2. It would run faster (Ubuntu runs very lean on any machine)
  3. She would not have been affected by that virus that was designed for her proprietary OS
  4. It’s brain-dead simple and these people were clearly not interested in something complicated
  5. It’s more secure (no viruses, less risks of outsiders gaining access to the organization’s data)

I was so excited that I stopped what I was doing, contacted to inform her that I would – for free – come and explain Ubuntu and even help them install it and get started. To my complete surprise, she replied “We just set these computers up so no thanks.

I had to read it again.

Was she really rejecting a free solution and labour that would solve her entire organization’s issues? I couldn’t believe it so I made it even more convincing by reassuring her that some major governments and some of the largest technology and information companies are using Ubuntu.

She again rejected my offer.

That’s when it dawned on me that she actually liked the pain. There’s no other explanation. She’s comfortable in her abuse. Every time her proprietary operating system beats her and her colleagues down, they just accept it like it’s okay. They shut their eyes to the truth that there actually is a better way – a way that doesn’t hurt so much.

I then had the creepy revelation that it’s like the physically abusive boyfriend who beats the girl and after each beating apologises, tries to apply a band-aid solution and whispers kind words and promises of improvement.

But abuse is abuse.

We need to start a 1-800 helpline for these poor people. As for my family, we will use Ubuntu.

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Jesus is Not the Reason for the Season

MODERN DAY DISCIPLE OF JESUS DECLARES JESUS NOT THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

Before I was a disciple of Jesus, I thought that Christianity and Jesus and all that virgin birth stuff was the root of the Christmas holiday. Even the word ‘Christmas’ seemed like ‘the mass of Christ’ – some kind of ‘Christiany-Catholicky-religiousy’ thing. It didn’t help that everyone around me – including those who attended Christian churches – boldly claimed ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’.

It wasn’t until I actually decided to wholeheartedly follow Jesus Himself that some of these claims about Christmas started to show some cracks. A little bit of study on these topics allowed some water to leak out and after digging in to the next level, the ship had sprung a leak and was on its way down.

One of the first thoughts that made me question this Christmas thing was the fact that many unbelievers around me had absolutely no problem ‘celebrating Christmas’. For many of them it was a chance to get more drunk for a longer period of time without work getting in the way. To take it one notch further, when I announced to people around me that I wanted to drop the gift-giving thing from Christmas (at that time it was just because I was broke and realized the nastiness of the commercial aspect of the season on broke people) it was the unbelievers who seemed to be most upset. They said ‘It’s fine if you don’t buy anything but don’t prevent us from buying gifts for you.” It was from these same folk from whom I received emails ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ or “Let’s put Christ back into Christmas’ or ‘I will say “Merry Christmas!” not “Happy Holidays!”’ as if they were standing up for something very dear to them. The notable thing was that I never heard the name of Jesus exit their lips at any other time of the year yet, for them, Christmas was about Jesus? They were ‘celebrating the birth of Jesus’ they sometimes said.

I have to admit – there was something about that ‘Christmas magic’ that compelled me. It had me addicted. Something about those gifts. Something about Santa. Something about that decorated tree. All these things are very deep, cultural, and most definitely unavoidable.

One of the second Christmas experiences that happened occurred while I was living in Korea. My wife is Korean and a believer, so I did Christmas Gangnam Style a few times. It was interesting for me to note that this entire country goes to work and school and don’t think twice about it. The Christians in Korea gather for a service focused on the birth of Jesus and that’s about it. I suppose even this is rooted in the long term connection between the North American and Korean churches. The Santa thing was considered an ‘American cute thing’ and no one treated him much more seriously than you would treat a fast-food mascot walking down the street promoting cheap burgers as you drive by. I don’t recall meeting anyone who would actually lie to their children telling them that this fat old man was real and had God-like moral authority over their lives. It made me question what this time of the year was all about and why I was even a participant as a Christian.

These events prompted me to search the history of all these Christmas symbols. I found that all of them were pagan or secular at best. There was even substantial evidence saying that mixing the birth of Jesus into this holiday was a way for the ‘church’ to be able to participate in the dominant pagan festivities of the time (related to sun gods and other winter solstice events). The ‘Christians’ may have felt left out and wanted a piece of the pagan pie. Or, another view was that they celebrated Jesus’ birth because there was already this event going on so you might as well ‘Christianize’ it. Regardless of the reason, there is no proof at all to substantiate that Jesus was behind this December event whatsoever.

There are, however, many reasons to believe Jesus is NOT the reason for the Christmas season. Here is just a snapshot:

  1. Christmas trees are a pagan ritual condemned in Jeremiah chapter 10
  2. Jesus wasn’t born anywhere near December 25th. All scholars agree on this one.
  3. Santa has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible but instead is a significant distraction from the God of the Bible painting an inaccurate view of our Heaveny Father and the reality of faith.
  4. It wasn’t really until around the mid 1850’s that Christmas was even regarded as a special day in the United States. Before that the celebration of it was even condemned and the existence of a Christmas tree in a church was nothing short of heretical.
  5. {More to be inserted here one day, maybe winter 2013}

After having researched these things and inside of myself decided that as for myself and my family we will not participate in these aspects of Christmas, I started to realize the immense social pressure to do it so as to not ruin the fun for others. In fact, the very day after I decided this, our family ended up at a Christmas event where I was the only white guy (again). Within just a few moments I was handed a big box full of Santa gear and asked to be Santa for these kids, one of whom was my daughter. Instead of ruining the event I decided that I would give them one year’s warning of my non-participation and make sure that as for my daughter, she knew that it was daddy under the suit. The pressure to do all these things is akin to high school social pressure.

The argument against Santa for Christians, with which I concur is this: If you lie to your kids about Santa, what makes you think they will trust you when you are teaching about the God of the Bible? In fact, it is this exact ‘argument’ that many atheists use when trying to refute the stories of the Bible. They say ‘The creation story, virgin birth and resurrection are nothing more than fairy tales like Santa and the Tooth Fairy.” Is this the kind of foundation we want to leave with our children? I cannot stop you from lying to your kids but if mine ask me if Santa is real, they are going to hear the truth in the same way I will tell them the truth that God is real. Our words and actions must line up.

So, then, what is the solution?

I do not have a complete answer yet and it will likely be a work in progress over the next few years. The best one I have heard so far and I will attempt to implement it is the idea of following the feasts and celebrations of the Bible (mainly Old Testament ones like the Passover). This will create a better understanding of the Bible while allowing us to celebrate something with eternal importance. Further, I believe that preparing a solid answer as to why we’re not celebrating the Christmas that the world celebrates will open many doors of discussion.

One of my concerns, admittedly, was that someone might consider me a cult member like a Jehovah’s Witness. So, I think it’s important to create a ‘new thing’.

Something that’s fun: family, friends, social.

Something that’s different completely from the ‘Christmas’ that the world celebrates.

Something that honours God.

 

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