Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Importance of Christmas

The Gracious Time

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes

Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,

The bird of dawning singeth all night long:

And then, they say, no spirit date stir abroad;

The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,

No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

by William Shakespeare

In this day and age we have hundreds of critics scoffing our Christmas celebrations and debasing our traditions because we are supposedly neglecting the people who are really the neediest.  We are said to be a materialist and consumerist society.  But the gifts of Christmas does not take away from our ability to give to the indigent…it increases it.  

Christmas is a prime time for buying gifts, and, in the long run, this is one of the best things that can happen for the world.  We sell and buy, and thus feed the food chain.  Without the boost that Christmas retail gives our capitalist economy, we wouldn't be able to send the three hundred billion dollars overseas that we do each year.  Without this economical protein, we wouldn't be able to provide for the soldiers who are overseas protecting the poor in third-world countries.  With one Christmas in which we didn't buy presents for one another, many of the upper class businesses would be on the downslide, trickle-down economics would influence the middle class, and the lower class would end up losing jobs and homes, and everyone would be in such financial straits that the charitable contributions we make each year would be dismissed in order to earn our bread-and-butter.

Not only would this drastic change take place, the spiritual state of our country, as degraded as it is, would become even more dark.  Christmas provides an opportunity where everyone looks outside their selves and focuses on others.  We are forced to think about what those closest to us need, to open our eyes to the potential happiness of others, to open our cheque books and spend our well-earned dollars in order to bless another.  We decorate our houses as prettily as we can, we listen to comparably good, wholesome music for the first time in the year, so that our eyes and ears may be blessed with the lovely aesthetic of beauty and tradition.  We watch movies like It's A Wonderful Life and White Christmas, we read books like A Christmas Carol, and smile as we are reminded once more what true loving-kindness means.

We invite one another over to our houses, we give our best hospitality, we prepare food that other people like and that has historical significance, we partake together in unity around a common table of fellowship.  We experience a communion with people we may not like very much, but whose faults the spirit of Christmas has glazed over.

We embrace the traditions.  We remember our ancestors.  We dwell on many old spiritual relics, from the memory of the Christmas tree and the conversion of Ireland, to the stockings and the candles, the holly and the old stories of Saint Nicholas, Good King Wenceslas, and so many other patrons that are renowned for their generosity and kindness.  

We resolve to be better people.  We look forward to the future, and try our best to change the things that need to be changed in order to make that future brighter.  Our discipline doesn't always hold through, but the thought counts.  

And most of all, we celebrate the magnificent, terrifying, humble, beautiful, and righteous Baby, the second Adam who came into the world to free us from the chains of Satan, and split the darkness of the world with His first cry of life.  We remember the Christmas Child, the Holy One.  May God bless us, every one.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Notes on 'The Everlasting Man'

'The great Asiatic symbol of a serpent with its tail in its mouth is really a very perfect image of a certain idea of unity and recurrence that does indeed belong to he Eastern philosophies and religions.  It really is a curve that in one sense includes everything, and in another sense comes to nothing.  In that sense it does confess, or rather boast, that all argument is an argument in  a circle.  And though the figure is but a symbol, we can see how sound is the symbolic sense that produces it, the parallel symbol of the Wheel of Buddha generally called the Swastika.  The cross is a thing at right angles pointing boldly in opposite directions; but the Swastika is the same thing in the very act of returning to the recurrent curve.  That crooked cross is in fact a cross turning into a wheel.  Before we dismiss even these symbols as if they were arbitrary symbols, we must remember how intense was the imaginative instinct that produced them or selected them both in the east and the west.  The cross has something more than a historical memory; it does convey, almost as by a mathematical diagram, the truth about the real point at issue; the idea of a conflict stretching outwards into eternity.  It is true, and even tautological, to say that the cross is the crux of the whole matter.' - G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

The greatest of the evidence against evolution is the fact that animals are not creative.  We have never seen a monkey draw a Mona Lisa, or ants build statues of their gods, or birds write operas to sing, or horses worship a god, or bears bury their mothers and write poetry in remembrance of their cuddliness.  In fact, the reason why they call evolution prehistoric is because it is not in history, and therefore no where in reality except the warped minds of their dreamy and materialistic creators.  What we do see is intelligence from the very beginning, creativity, worship, perseverance, and morale.  There were two great religions in the beginning.  There was the Fall, there was the slow turning away from god, until man had given themselves up to the senses and created mythology and diabolism and sophism, and then there was Abraham's story––Abraham, the only man who turned away from the popular trends to follow the one and only true God.

Mythology was never really taken seriously by the Greeks.  They felt the need for worship, the presence of the spiritual realm, and opened up their imaginations and welcomed every god that they heard about, even offering up altars to any god they had missed.  That is why the philosophers and priests were always at odds––the philosophers embracing reason and rejecting 'romance'.  That's why the Israelites kept embracing all the gods they heard about, and Yahweh was extremely different from the world culture, since He insisted on being the Holy One.  It was not till Christianity came that the world learned that reason and spirituality are fused.

Yet even while the world reveled in a wild and lofty worship of the mythological gods, for practical purposes they turned to the lower gods, the demons of the spirit realm.  Their shallow minds, grasping the immensity of the heavenly beings, felt that only the underworld could answer their personal needs, and so they embraced the demons.  They became obsessed with superstitions.  And so we see the dark and diabolical side of the world before Christ––the worship so eerily described in The Lord of the Flies, the sacrificing of children to Moloch and Baal, the mad prostitution with idols and their priests, the cannibalism of different tribes and nations.  But these people were not the savage barbarians as thought today.  They were some of the most progressive and mature societies, and, being tired of the morality of mythology, they turned to the wild orgies of diabolism to experience a new high.

The only bright spot in this world was Rome.  They started as a small nation, who worshiped the gods of the hearth more than the gods of the country, and were very family centric.  Virgil began the chivalry praised today, with his praise of the behavior of piety, patriotism, and the honor of the countryside.  Rome loved the natural.  They started the legends of the Merry Peasant and the china shepherdess, the peace of simplicity and satisfaction in the beauty of the creation of the Creator.  And they grew strong in comparable holiness even as Greece plummeted to the ground, and, being disillusioned with their poetries and philosophies, they turned to worship of each other.  Thus the rise of sodomy and the mad bloodthirstiness that pervaded their society.

But also growing stronger and stronger beside Rome was Carthage, and it was as the forces of Darkness alongside the forces of Light, even in the false light of paganism.  Carthage was a society very much like ours, with their intense materialism and their obsession with Moloch and sacrificing babies to their gods.  It was the capital of the demonic war against children.  Hannibal, with a host of satanic forces leading him on, conquered city after city, and finally conquered Rome.  But Rome, though vanquished physically, were not vanquished spiritually, and they rose up and defeated Hannibal and burned Carthage to the ground, thus destroying Satan's pivotal center of power.  They, likewise beat out upon Corinth, mad with sodomy and orgies, and defeated the evil there.

And so for a while the better in paganism drowned out the dark, until Rome, too, became disillusioned with philosophy, grew too tired and dull for the creativity of imagination in mythology, and were degraded to a state of atheism where joy and gladness were forgotten and the gods were forgotten and the only thing left to produce an emotional high was the worship of sexuality and blood.    Atheism and the lower pleasures were the last shock––the last shot of adrenaline for their wearied minds.

And then Jesus was born.

'The temptation of the philosophers is simplicity rather than subtlety.  They are always attracted by insane simplifications, as men poised above abysses are fascinated by death and nothingness and the empty air.  It needed another kind of philosopher to stand poised upon the pinnacle of the Temple and keep his balance without casting himself down.' - G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fruits of Memory

Isaiah 35

Let the desert and the dry lands be glad; let the wasteland rejoice and bloom; like the asphodel, let it burst into flower; let it rejoice and sing for joy.  The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it; the splendour of Carmel and Sharon.  Then they will see the glory of Yahweh, the splendour of our God.  

Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees, and say to the faint-hearted, 'Be strong! Do not be afraid.  Here is your God; vengeance is coming; divine retribution; he is coming to save you.'  Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed.  Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.  For water will gush in the desert, and streams in the dry lands.  The parched ground will become a marsh and the thirsty land springs of water.  The lair where the jackals used to live will become plots of reed and papyrus.  

And through it will run a road for them, and a highway, which will be called the Sacred Way.  The unclean will not be allowed to use it.  He will be the one to use this road.  The fool will not stray along it.  No lion will be there, no ferocious beast set foot on it; nothing of the sort be found.  It will be used by the redeemed.  

For those whom Yahweh has ransomed will return.  They will come to Zion shouting for joy, their heads crowned with joy unending.  Rejoicing and gladness will escort them, and sorrow and sighing will take flight.