In Antarctica, there is a place along the frigid coast called Mawson Station. It is named for Sir Douglas Mawson, an Engligh-born Australian explorer who was one of the early Heroic Explorers of Antarctica. His story is quite interesting, especially his survival during one grim trip where things went south, so to speak. There is a bit of info on that in the Wikipedia article, and the story is the subject of the book Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Story in the History of Exploration. Continue reading
It’s Christmas time! A holiday, and holy day for many
Others faiths have different days, but atheists haven’t any
But certainly that doesn’t mean we cannot share the spirit
Someone calls “Merry Christmas!” I, for one, am glad to hear it.
For people, when they say this, aren’t “forcing their belief”
Or proselytizing, traumatizing, causing pain or grief
It’s just a greeting, woven in with larger, warmer feeling
Accept it! Smile! Return it! All the different faiths need healing.
The same with “Happy Hanukkah” or other well-meant greeting
I bounce them back as best I can, take pleasure at the meeting
I’d even answer back if I should hear “Happy Agnostica!”
(But I’ll decline and pass on celebrations with a swastika.)
The most important thing is: Let your soul be thus uplifted
By friends, and by your loved ones, for it’s by those we are gifted
To every island, every continent and every isthmus
I wish you all the best, and to you each a Merry Christmas!
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle
While the world has turned its thoughts to Christmas, other matters intrude: In the US, many are preoccupied by the much-hyped “fiscal cliff” and the planned increase in taxes as well as the aftermath of the the horrific shooting at the elementary school — the one in which no one had a weapon to defend themselves with. The US government’s plans to exact more taxes, and to reduce Constitutional freedoms, are much discussed.
I have obligations to Citizen Tom, voluntarily undertaken, remaining from the “Food for Thought Award” — and they include this seventh in a series on Sunday verses that have inspired my thought. In this instance, Luke 2 comes to mind, as it is both an account of the birth of of Jesus, and it begins with an announcement of government taxation:
2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2 goes on to describe the circumstances of Jesus’ birth and early life, continuing in Luke 3 with an account of Jesus being both the Son of God and the (great^76) grandson of God with each step in the 77-part intermediate lineage identified. Matthew goes into more background, but only a partial ancestry list.
But neither Luke nor the other synoptic gospels say exactly when the birth of Jesus occurred. The date seems not to have been celebrated in the first couple of centuries, though the common supposition, “everybody knows the date came from a later pagan ritual,” appears to be wrong. The Western world’s churches have celebrated this occasion on December 25 for more than a thousand years, even though the actual date this falls on would have been adjusted with calendar tinkerings. (Compare this to Easter, which gets a lunar-based calculation that is rather mathematically involved and independent of the calendar conventions of any given time.)
While the Romans instituted (at least by 275AD or so) the use of December 25th for the holiday of “Sol Invictus” (“the Invincible Sun [god]“), Augustine of Hippo wrote around that time about December 25th as a tradition among the Donatists that dates from even earlier. And at that time, before Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the early 300s and made it safe (or safer) to practice, Christians seemed disinclined to adopt anything pagan in their practices.
I would say, based upon my reading, that the Romans may have tried to usurp the Christian holiday, rather than the other way around. Though, obviously, many later practices were incorporated — but this seems to have begun much later, centuries in some cases.
But why December 25th at all? It appears that in the Western tradition, Jesus was conceived on March 25th, and December 25th is nine months later. Eastern churches use April 6 for the conception date, so their birth of Jesus is celebrated on January 6th. The days in between are now called “the Twelve Days of Christmas.” Did you know where that came from?
[Edit] As Mary Catelli points out in the comments below, Jesus is assumed to have died on the same day of the year as the crucifixion — something common to both Eastern and Western church traditions.
While the rest of the subject matter is not entirely on point, 1 Corinthians 5 has a good advocation for us regarding Christmas — with even a flavor of New Year’s resolutions tucked in:
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
In any event, a Merry Christmas to you all full of sincerity and truth, and Happy Hanukkah any other holiday or special occasion that brings you happiness. Since I am something of a technical geek, I hope that this Christmas image and a bit of my own humble poetry may serve as a virtual card.
Merry Christmas to all who observe
Even any or no faith will serve
For enjoying Yuletide
Is just what you decide
May you get everything you deserve
And of other faiths and celebrations
May they please those in rapt contemplations
Of the times of the past
May your bright future last
And be ready with fast demonstrations
There were challenges during the year
But so far, we have made it to here
May I say in this letter
Let next year be better!
May it bring peace and joy without fear
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle
I hope all of you in the States have a meaningful American Independence Day, and that those from other lands have a safe and warm day even if it’s just a Wednesday where you are.
For those who can stand poetry, I’ve put a piece I wrote called “Independence Journey” at the end here. In the meantime, I can’t help being somewhat amused at Google. Let me explain. Continue reading
Memorial Day we gather and pay homage to our fallen
Who gave themselves completely in response to duty’s callin’
Some joined to see the world, some merely thought of education
And some were drawn by kinship with the proud that guard our nation
But trials and training molded them into a joined precision
That holds our cause in high esteem, and suffers no division
Our military crew stands tall, and ready for the battle
And ready, too, to give their all, impervious to rattle
They serve in combat, serve in peace, and make of one the other
Rebuilding schools to grant a lease of freedom to a brother
The tasks they sometimes face are grim, and few of us would choose them
And each one stands his place, and we are poorer when we lose them
But richer still are we, for still we keep Liberty’s fire
Not just for those at home — those far away know we won’t tire
And countries ‘cross the globe recall when we came to release
Oppressed ones from their bondage, and we brought a well-earned peace
Unlike the conquerors of times before, we keep no soil
Just what we need for plots to lay our soldiers freed from toil
Instead we show by doing that the freedom’s worth the cost
We mourn our dead, then lift our heads, go on without our lost
The brothers and the sisters of our noble fighting forces
Are not just guardians of Liberty, they are its sources
Indeed, we owe our troops far more than we can ever pay
But thanks to all who served, and fell—on this Memorial Day
May the Christmas cheer at this time of year
Lift you high and ease your loads
Of all faiths and creeds, each of us still needs
To find joy along our roads
For the folks alone, and of somber tone
May a mate you find, and be
As I’m here to say on this Christmas Day
This has meant so much to me
For the family groups and the far-off troops
May the season keep you sound
And may each return bring the love you earn
Love to cushion and surround
Perhaps our book writing is less exciting
Than other sorts of distraction
But may the coming year make your vision clear
And provide you creative traction
From right here the view of the lot of you
Is a view of worthy friends
May the holiday find its happy way
Bearing love our family sends
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle
We in the United States are here, and we are able to continue to live in the lifestyle that we enjoy, thanks to veterans. Of course, there are others involved as well, but only a small percentage of the population places themselves in harms’ way in support of ideals and principles that we worked so hard to establish more than two centuries ago. From time to time, these are threatened.
It was late in life when I made her my wife
But the wonderful Lady Anne
Has been all I could need, and I’m happy indeed
And a blessed and lucky man
There’s a tale to tell that we know quite well
Twenty-seven years ago
When a customer that I stole from her
Fixed us up to start the show
They were not discrete, and said we should meet
And were suited very well
Now I must concur with how right they were
And that’s what I’m here to tell
Tomorrow I travel
Across this great land
And try to unravel
How all this began