Tag: history

Flat Earth: Where did the Ball Earth Idea Come From Anyway?

To consider that some of the most fundamental things you believe about the very earth you live on may be on a sandy foundation is a very difficult thing.

To even open your mind to this idea means that you are willing to consider that the world is even worse than you originally thought it was.

From my experience, it seems that most people are willing to entertain that 9/11 was an inside job fairly easily.

They are also willing to accept that the world’s financial system is built by masonic buddies with some clear and secret agenda involving governments and big companies.  They  know there is something up with this ‘illuminati thing’.

They are very easily able to accept that greedy corporations and corrupt governments make decisions that hurt the masses and benefit a small few.

There are also countless people who have very little difficulty believing that no one has been to the moon.

There are, however, very few people who are willing to entertain the idea that the earth is flat and that humans are the very focal point of everything that is.

For the latter group, it seems that they know that if they take that step and start considering the possibility that they will end up in a canyon of disappointment, despair, and sadness too large to bear.

And so instead they ridicule the idea and rule it out without reviewing the case in court.  They regurgitate the fallacy that the flat earth was dead hundreds of years ago and that only fools or tin hat folks would believe this.

News flash: The Flat Earth Is Not Dead!

For those who wish to start looking at this topic with logic, intelligence and an open mind, I recommend the following video which is a buffet of good information, specifically the history of how the ball earth dominated what was scientifically, at the time, as flat as a pancake.

 

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Is Christmas Good or Bad?

As part of my ongoing ‘battle against the spirit of christmas‘ which started years back now, I continue to dig in deeper each year.  This year the fire was truly kindled when our family decided that we may not go to our church’s ‘christmas service’ next week as a form of ‘personal separation’ (call it protest if you want but we aren’t feeling any hostility) from a practice that we believe has pagan roots.

As this is a big decision with possible implications for us and the church, I continue to study the topic.  Today I came across perhaps one of the best articles defending Christmas for Christians.  This article nailed down most of the items and did a fairly good job trying to defend them from a biblical perspective.  I will, below, take the point, summarize it, and then comment on it:

The word ‘Christ-mas’ means ‘Christ’s Mass’

The author uses this as kind of a ‘proof’ of its Christian origin, saying that ‘Christianity took this idea from its Jewish roots’ and even goes so far as to suggest that there is a possibility that ‘the pagans may have adopted an already existing Christian celebration’.   Unfortunately all other sources I’ve read up to this point suggest unanimously that Christmas didn’t exist anywhere near the first church until somewhere around 300AD.  Most sources agree that it was put in by the Roman Catholics.  And, just the fact that he pointed out the ‘mass’ is a good proof that this entire Christmas thing is rooted in ‘something outside of the Bible’.  Mass is very much associated with the catholic church. Even if mass is considered an ‘ok ritual’ the question is ‘why the focus on Dec 25th’ and the ‘magnification of the day’?  And the question remains for me “Is Christ the reason for the season or was a pagan celebration slapped with a Christian-looking label and finessed for the church to try to make it fit?”  But this final quote is a good quote, and a good one to support Christmas as being ‘ok’ for Christians to join: “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”

Christ’s Birthday

This section, honestly, is so weak that I didn’t read it twice.  Almost every source I read and most academia are in agreement that Jesus was likely *not* born anywhere near December 25th.  But this author worked very, very hard to build a big defence story for keeping it on Dec. 25th – which, is kind of interesting to me….

Christmas Trees

This section was also quite good.  I also know that throughout the Bible the tree has significance and often positive.  “Cedars of Lebanon” and such terms of strength.  His Hosea 14:8 scripture find was a great one.  However, it doesn’t wipe away the very most key point of the Christmas tree debate.  It’s not about the tree, it’s about the ritual.  No one would deny his tree support scriptures.  There are also other wonderful symbols in the Bible like Jesus being the Living Water and the Rock.  And the Holy Spirit being like a flame and such.  So a tree may represent strength and the evergreen more so.  No problem. However…. what happens at Christmas is the tree is (traditionally) chopped down, dragged inside, and decorated!  Come again?  First of all, I’ve always thought that God did a great job creating the fir tree by itself and made it look pretty great.  I’ve not felt the urge to decorate them.  Then there are songs like “O’ Christmas tree’ which, quite frankly, should creep out any born again believer.  Of course, it also doesn’t wipe away Jeremiah 10 which seems to be painting a pretty vivid picture of a ritual of idolatry related to a tree.  Read this and you will see that God is not a fan of this practice.  Try as hard as you want, but you really do have to fight hard to deny that this tree thing is steeped in something ungody that has crept into homes and even churches.  I remain firm against the tree, the more I study.

Chrismons

Interesting to read, interesting to learn about but I still see it as a ‘pagan tree concept brought into the church’.  It’s very interesting to me how hard we fight to keep this tree in our homes!  To me, this might be the biggest marvel.

Wreaths

Again, the author takes and focuses on the ‘christian history’ of the wreath but going back further shows that the wreath can be found in pagan rituals.  I don’t have a big issue with this one so far because it kind of reminds me of the crown of thorns Jesus wore – but what has that to do with his birthday?  Not much…. so… strike that one, too.

As a side note, I also tripped across this nice summary of mainly what I have come to believe about Christmas.

The current debate that we are having with some leaders at our church is whether or not it’s ok to ‘celebrate Jesus’ in this way and at this time or whether by doing so we are getting in bed with a ‘pagan thing’.  Here are some bullet point questions that we are grappling with moving forward:

  • Did the first century church ‘do Christmas’?
  • Does it matter if the first century church ‘did Christmas’ or are we allowed to tack on some new things as we move forward?
  • Is there any biblical basis for celebrating Christ’s birth?
  • Did Christ Himself ask us to focus on it as one of the most important days of the Christian calendar or is that something we have done?
  • If a ‘day’ was originally dark, pagan or otherwise (ie. satan’s birthday to be vivid) does that day hold any power over us?
  • Can a ‘day’ be dark, demonic, dedicated to satan or otherwise?
  • Is there a spiritual benefit to celebrating Christmas?
  • If it were decided that Christmas was even ‘partly pagan’ is it ok to keep ‘doing Christmas’ for the sake of the unity of the church (ie. not going so might send them fleeing to other churches)?
  • and more.

A few analogies that are in the middle of being debated are:

  • If one were to take AC/DC’s Highway to Hell song, keep the music, and change the words to “Highway to Heaven’ is the song now redeemed and ok for church/worship?  The analogy here is that the ‘Christians’ have taken a pagan holiday and then thrown a ‘Christian cover’ on it.

To counteract that example given, the following was given:

  • If a building used to be a whore-house, night club, casino, or concentration camp execution chamber, could it be now used as a place of worship for the children of God to gather and worship?  The analogy here is that yes it’s ok to ‘redeem a day’ if the motives are for Christ.

And so because of these two ‘truths’ I have yet been able to conclude my position.  Both seem to be true and applicable to christmas.

It will be most interesting to see where this week goes.

I will attempt a post-Christmas review.

Further Reading:

  1. Article by a 15 year ordained minister with his top ten reasons why he doesn’t do Christmas.  The comments at the bottom of this post are also very thought provoking.
  2. This is a good article, from a reliable source.  The article tries very hard to explain the history of the celebration of Christmas yet, even here it falls short of convincing me that Christmas deserves our focus.  In fact, oddly it further cemented to me that history backs the pagan perspective.
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Was Martin Luther King Junior a Christian?

This post has been toned down a level as it has been suggested that I was being  ‘judgemental’ and ‘not theologically trained enough’.  Fair enough.  I judged that MLK’s theology was totally off base and I have not been to seminary.  So that is probably true.  But, I’ll change the tone so that this post is in more of a ‘you decide’ style instead of me dumping my random thoughts and opinions:

There are many images and audio recordings of Martin Luther King Junior standing behind a pulpit and ‘preaching’ to crowds of believers.  For me, these images led me to believe that he was at least a “Bible believing Christian”.  Based on a heavy conversation I had with a friend, it is necessary also for me to define more clearly what exactly that means.  A ‘Bible believing Christian’ to me, means someone who believes the Bible. All of it.  But, for the sake of the ‘theologians’ out there, I’ll tame it down one level to ‘someone who adheres to the very basic tenets of the faith’.  And what are those tenets?  They are written in the front of most Bibles on a page called ‘the Apostles Creed’.  Instead of using space here for those who already know them, please feel free to click this link to see the full list of what a ‘Bible believing Christian’ would believe.

For my own list of reasons, and because of a few small events that occurred to me in my life, I went to www.duckduckgo.com and searched ‘Was Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian” and came immediately upon this old-school, html text-based article full of outdated links.  Please note that one of the key outdated links I have figured out and updated, which is the link to his Stanford University articles.  If you go to the link in the article it will give you a dead page.  Then if you try to search it seems to only take you to paid Amazon publications (no surprise) but the free, original, raw source articles seem to be at the following location:

Martin Luther King Junior’s Original Stanford University Documents

From his writing was this quote:

“Others doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominant in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is oppose to theological adaptation to social and cultural change. He sees a progressive scientific age as a retrogressive spiritual age. Amid change all around he was {is} willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.”

King also tries to explain away the garden of Eden, the virgin birth and other critical tenets of faith that leads to eternal salvation.

Based on these findings, I was forced to ask myself these questions:

  • was MLK a Christian?
  • can someone who does not believe in the virgin birth truly be a believer?
  • can someone who doesn’t firmly believe in the substitutionary plan of salvation through the blood of Jesus be a disciple of Christ?
  • Is it possible for a man to appear as a preacher, sound like a preacher, even act like a preacher, not be a servant of God and a brother?

Obviously, I too am very thankful that some great changes occurred as the result of his social work (I personally believe strongly that a believer must fight for justice, peace, a better environment and more), but nothing saddens me more than to think that MLK may not have know Jesus as his personal Saviour before he was shot.  And before he was shot, this was a quote from his last ‘sermon’, taken from our source article with appropriate emphasis added by the author:

Did King repent and change before he died? The following was spoken the night before he died. The speech is entitled, “I See The Promised Land” and was delivered April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He had not abandoned his heretical notions:

“As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, ‘Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?’– I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I WOULD MOVE ON BY GREECE, AND TAKE MY MIND TO MOUNT OLYMPUS. AND I WOULD SEE PLATO, ARISTOTLE, SOCRATES, EURIPIDES AND ARISTOPHANES ASSEMBLED AROUND THE PARTHENON AS THEY DISCUSSED THE GREAT AND ETERNAL ISSUES OF REALITY.”

Based on this excerpt the possibility of Martin Luther King being deceived by the love of the world seems very real.

This world and all of its fancy philosophies and deep philosophical ideas will never, ever, take away from the core tenets of our faith, upon which my life, and hopefully yours too, is built which include but are not limited to the apostles creed and:

  • Jesus replacing you and I on the cross and shedding His blood for us
  • salvation by faith alone, not by works
  • etc

Martin Luther King Jr., to my surprise, may have built his foundation on sand.

The take-away lesson from this discovery is that we cannot be sure of another man’s salvation, but we can absolute be sure of our own.  MLK’s sudden ending by the small pointed tip of a bullet is also a stark reminder that we must all be ready to die at any time.

My hope is that by reading this you would come to know Jesus and that all of us would be able to ‘die well’ when our time comes.

Oh! Right! One more thing..  If you have a comment…. that’s what the ‘comment box’ below is for.  Please!  I will publish all comments as long as it’s not spam. I’m also very open to adjusting my posts if you have suggestions.  🙂

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Global Technological and Industrial Revolutions

A fine student I know, Eric Cho, wrote this essay and I thought it was a pretty cool quick read that pretty much covers all areas of advancement that we have faced in recent history and some implications. Enjoy, and thanks, Eric!


 

There have been several historically significant revolutions throughout the last three centuries and some that are still occurring. If one were to observe the 18th and 19th century,one would find there is a major difference between them. During the 18th century people made all goods by hand. However, in the 19th century, the industrial revolution emerged which allowed people to manufacture goods by machine. Then, a century later, landed the second industrial revolution. During the second industrial revolution, there was a transformation that occurred where instead of smaller goods, heavy and chemical products were able to be produced. Nowadays, we are living in the third industrial revolution where importance shifted from the production industry towards complex information which can be converted into physical matter during a ‘printing’ process – much like how you print 2D items from your desktop printer. Finally, in the future, the production process will take place in the network and the heart of this revolution will be <big data>. With this giant global mesh of interconnected networks prefaced, one can now travel back in time to explore the details of its roots.

To begin with, the first industrial revolution started in England in the middle of the 19th century. Then it sporadically spread into Europe, America and Russia. At the end of the 20th century, it flared out to Latin America and South East Asia. The incubation of the first industrial revolution took place at the beginning of the 19th century when England suddenly transformed into a capitalist community. A primarily agricultural society was rapidly being converted into a production industry. The industry that led industrial revolution was the cotton industry. The cotton industry’s sudden development triggered quick development of every industry. Specifically, production producing, production of raw material which was usually made by machines, increased drastically. The main cities where the first industrial revolution occurred were Liverpool and Manchester. Therefore, after the railroad passing through Liverpool and Manchester was created, those two cities became the heart of the first industrial revolution. The most notable impact of this revolution on our lives is how it greatly influenced the products manufactured at that time.

After the introduction of simple automated machinery during the first industrial revolution, the Ford system -the center of the mass production- appeared in the early part ofthe 20th century. The Ford system was the start of mass production which initiated the second industrial revolution. The main fruit produced from the second industrial revolution was the development of heavy and chemical industry and mass production of light industry. The reason why the heavy and chemical industry could not be adopted before the ford system is that it took an extremely long time to make those items one-by-one. In addition, the application of the Ford system on factories greatly lowered the price of the products since the supply became much higher than the demand. However, the ability to mass produce around the world became one of the fundamental circumstances leading up to the Great Depression. It became the forerunner of the famous economic crash of October due to the fact that mass
production stopped for a while and this massive hiccup triggered the reduction of the production of the goods. Ultimately, the second industry revolution and Ford system was intended to be good but ended up producing notable setbacks for the worldwide economy.

Unlike any of the previous two revolutions, the information revolution stood apart from its earlier and later counterparts. Through the development of electronic devices such as computers and smartphones, the global network was born. One may mistakenly assume that the information revolution spawned from the global network, but in fact, the physical infrastructure is the foundation of the non-physical information revolution. The reason is that without this physical global web, information would not have a means of being disseminated on a large and effective scale. Therefore, it can be assumed that there is a direct correlation between the technology and information revolution. There are several consequences brought about by this unique revolution. The information revolution started with great ideas. To be specific, we have been subjected to a bombardment of second-by-second global news updates. On the other hand, the global network caused severe problems with privacy. With people handing over their personal information on the network, sometimes unknowingly, the network has become full of private information such as ID card numbers and cell phone numbers. Also, these reservoirs of personal data existing on the global network are a goldmine for advertisers and even criminals who would could abuse such access. Even with the disadvantages associated with the speedy growth of the network, we however have improved a lot from this big data source. Ultimately, the global network is the face of Janus, with giving people information on one side and having problems with protecting privacy or the other.

The fourth revolution is where information and mass production meet together. With those electronic devices born out of the previous revolution, came forth a new, unique development where the production process moved to the household. Thanks to the growth of the 3D printer, society has become able to manufacture some products in the comfort of their own home. Additionally, the method of making 3D printers, which is making it with machines that are based on complex information, is also a byproduct. The implementation of new technology that makes use of complex data during the production process is what brought us into this limitless society. However, this limitless community is creating a potentially massive risk. The problem is that people can even make some illegal items such as firearms. This can be extremely dangerous for the public. Therefore, to live harmoniously with 3D printer technology, there must be laws established which restrict people from making illegal products. Lastly, with legislation around 3D printers and their output, this fourth revolution is poised to be a monumental success, on par or greater than its predecessors.

To conclude, these global revolutions have greatly influenced our life style. Without these four industrial revolutions, there could not have been such improvements in our daily lives. From the cotton industry to the 3D printer, our civilization has undergone extreme development. It is impossible to deny that the growth throughout the last two centuries has been very positive overall and 50 years from now, people will find themselves in the midst of the real ubiquitous computing society in which they could accomplish almost anything lying in their own bed. Ultimately, these global revolutions created positive improvements especially by increasing the level of comfort and convenience on a daily basis in a variety of ways.


 

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Overcoming the ‘spirit of christmas’ with the Spirit of Christ: Part 1 in a Series: Roots

This series (I’m assuming it’s going to be a series because I really expect this to blow up into something interesting) did not come out of one moment of frustration, or a single event, but instead it has been developing inside of me for many years.  It also is not just about Christmas but this journey pertains to any other ‘holiday’ or celebration that is rooted in something – perhaps something you don’t even understand.

In fact, the content of this series, and exploring the path travelled to get here, should be of benefit to anyone who truly wants to question every little part of their life and why they are doing it.  I suspect it will be advantageous even as far as asking questions like ‘why am I using this pacemaker?” to “why am I paying taxes for this?” The true purpose of this is not to ‘kill Christmas’ like some Scrooge character, but to merely question why I’m doing something and whether I should be doing it this way or not.  And, perhaps, to answer this question: ‘Does it matter or not?”

It’s also worthy of noting that I have been trying for years to pull this topic together in some kind of tangible way to which the average disciple of Christ can relate.  Here is one such article I wrote as I made my first few attempts.  As you will sense throughout, one of the underpinning challenges with taking action is that it results in pressure (and sometimes severe) from the people closest to you.

On that note, we’ve all got busy schedules so thanks for joining and hope you enjoy joining the journey because I also suspect it’s going to be difficult to wrap this up.

The word ‘holiday’ can be read as ‘holy-day’.  Before I was a disciple of Jesus, it was no big deal. Just a word.  Didn’t think about it.  Then, one day I was reading my KJV Bible (I like my KJV so don’t mess) and I came across this scripture:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days. (Colossians 2:16)

Being a man of the fine English language, one of my favourite websites is www.etymonline.com.  A quick search of the word ‘holiday’ reveals this:

holiday (n.)
1500s, earlier haliday (c.1200), from Old English haligdæg “holy day; Sabbath,” from halig “holy” (see holy) + dæg “day” (see day); in 14c. meaning both “religious festival” and “day of recreation,” but pronunciation and sense diverged 16c. As a verb meaning “to pass the holidays” by 1869. Happy holidays is from mid-19c., in British English, with reference to summer vacation from school. As a Christmastime greeting, by 1937, American English, in Camel cigarette ads.

And so the word ‘holiday’ is definitely rooted in ‘religious festival’ whether or not we know what the roots it are, or think about it, or care about it.  A tradition of any kind at all started somewhere but most people don’t really think about its roots.  As soon as you start to investigate the roots you will hear something along the lines of this:

“I don’t believe or practice the roots of that.  It’s not about the roots but whatever power you give to it.”

I have heard this argument given by supposed Christians who think it’s OK to do yoga.  After I explained that it’s deeply rooted in Hinduism (no one denies that) they brush it off as ‘well I’m just stretching or exercising’.

So do roots matter?

God thinks they do.

Isaiah 11:1 describes Jesus as follows:

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots

The entire start of the very first book of the new testament in Matthew 1:1-17 shows that God is very much concerned about from which lineage the Messiah Jesus would emerge.  There are books of the old testament where huge chunks are dedicated to genealogies, or, if you will, the roots of those families.

But let’s bring it back to the earth for the heathen who may be reading this.

If roots didn’t matter then why do people make family trees?  Why is there a certain strange feeling of connection when you see a photo of a great grandparent in a photo in the trenches of a war?  Why do people take trips to Jerusalem to see where Jesus walked or go to obscure cafes where Elvis sat (did he sit in a cafe?)? Why do we feel a sense of unity when we sing our old national anthems?  We sense these things because there are roots that exist and there is power in those roots.  Grand pappy Harold sang that national anthem at his school, too when he was a boy just after walking ten kilometers uphill to school in the ice and snow!

Roots are also very important in every area of our earthly lives.  The first thing that comes to mind is a discussion I had with my friend who is, in my opinion, a great example of someone who understands business and money.  He explained to me how a process called ‘root cause analysis’ saved a large corporation he was working for in Asia countless amounts of money.  In medicine, the entire goal is to find out the *root* of a problem and find the cure.  In counselling, the entire goal is to find the root of the thing that’s causing the couple to want to rip each others’ eyeballs out.

And that’s why God was very harsh in the old testament about digging those roots out at any cost such as when Joshua took and killed Achan, his entire family, stoned them, and then burned them and everything they owned and capping it off with a giant mound of stones.

Why had God instructed this? Because Achan had, in his disobedience, taken an accursed item from the enemy and hidden it after God had clearly said ‘don’t touch the enemies stuff!”.

The root had to be cut out completely.

A root is the organic equivalent of the foundation for a building.  I learned a lot about this this year while I was weeding my garden.  Some weeds looked easy to get rid of but when you grab them, they rip off at the soil level only to reappear a few days later in the same spot.  Other weeds you could just rake out and the never come back.  The difference?  Depth of roots and strength.  I was deeply impressed with this one toxic product I bought.  I sprayed it on this cute little weed and came back the a few days later to see that Mr. Weed had taken his last drink – he was brown, withered and dead.  His roots couldn’t resist and he was slumped over in his green grassy bed.

All throughout the Bible we read about roots and foundations.  Jesus said somewhere in the Bible: “If you build your house on sand, it’s going to wash away in a storm but if you build it on a rock you’ll be good to go. (King Wayne Version).”  Preach it, Jesus!

Is it OK for a disciple of Jesus to have a statue of Buddha on their coffee table?

Most believers would say immediately ‘no’ because they know that the statue of Buddha represents another god – another spirit.  The Buddha statue represents an ‘accursed thing’ – and item destined for God’s ultimate destruction as well as anyone who would worship this other god or system.  The statue of Buddha *represents* the spirit behind the statue.

“Oh, Wayne.  You’re too serious.  The Buddha statue only has the power you give it.  If you were a strong Christian then it wouldn’t have power over you.”

It sounds very attractive.  It sounds like it’s almost spiritually accurate.  Until we think again about Achan.  If it were ‘just what power we give it’ then Achan and his family didn’t need to get barbequed and buried and God is therefore a ruthless tyrant ready slit our throats for a home-staging error.

Sorry. That ain’t the God that I know and serve.

Roots are very important to the God of the Bible and the God whom Christians claim to serve.

God is very gracious.  I’m sure that if Achan didn’t know full well that he should not have done what he did that none of that would have happened.  Achan knew full well what he was doing and the lives that could be lost if the power of God were to abandon the Israelites in the heat of battle over this.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Many lives were lost because of his choice.

Good news.  God is still gracious.  He allows us years and years learn in our season but there does eventually come a time when He expects action.  He does not tarry forever.  There was an appointed time for God to send Jesus to the world to save sinners.  There is also an appointed time for each of us to die, and that day may come before the scheduled time of the second coming of Jesus.

For me, I have reached the season where I have learned enough and I really, really want to start taking action steps towards purifying myself and my family from things that God might find to be offensive or downright sinful.

I want to axe out and radically amputate (term stolen from Setting Captives Free) any root in my life that could be hindering my spiritual walk in any way at all.

Now that it has been established that roots are important (at least to me) and carry meaning and power and influence, we can move on to dealing with ‘the christmas spirit’ (lowercase on purpose).

EDIT: 150106 – Found this amazing video on the topic.

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Origins of April Fools (All Fools Day) Day

April Fools day has thrown me off since I was a kid.  I thought it was quite irrational if not ‘wrong’ that there would be a day when you could trick (a.k.a. lying) your parents and do pranks and not get in trouble.  I noticed people also enjoyed tricking me.  For me it was the only day of the year I could put saran wrap over the toilet bowl or point the water hose out of the back of the toilet tank and not get in serious trouble.  All I had to do was make the ‘April Fools’ mercy cry.  I knew something was wrong with this day.

The real moment of curiousity and intrigue came while I was living in Korea.  I was completely thrown off that Koreans also ‘celebrate’ this wacko tradition of tom foolery.  I thought it was another inexplicable western mystery (like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny)(which incidentally I have blogged on and de-mystified slightly) but apparently the Asians like to have a day of acceptable folly as well.

Here I am thirty some-odd years later and I still don’t have any of the answers so this year I started doing a little casual research that I thought I would blog for myself and anyone else who would like to solve the mystery of its roots. Especially absent seems to be the participation of Korea in this wackiness.  For example, did the west, by chance, steal the tradition from the east and claim it as their own (like chess perhaps) or vice versa?  This truly was intriguing.

I did the usual large search engine search and came up with the usual suspects:

  • Wikipedia page which lead to my favourite explanation of the day – Sizdah Be-dar from Iran
  • An info page by some info article site
  • Huffington Post article which contains lots of faith-rooted suggestions for the history.  This was probably the most enjoyable and generally interesting article of the three so far if you have to choose for the sake of time 😉
  • More?  Now it’s your turn to add to the learning

Since this is still a wild card, I would love if someone could, in the comments below, throw in some useful links so that by this time next year I can publish a very awesome ‘guide to April Fools day’ kind of thing.  I’m especially looking for when and how April Fools day started in Korea. I’m guessing at this point maybe the foreign soldiers brought it in and played pranks on their unsuspecting Korean comrades to improve morale and help them laugh amongst nasty blood shed?

 

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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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