Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Short Thought on Christmas

It was a good Christmas.

I feel like my personal "War Against Christmas" has evaporated since losing belief in the "Reason for the Season." Before, my strong desire to follow Christ and to be more like him prevented me from feeling complete joy in the gifts I would give and receive while celebrating his birthday. It felt like going to someone's party and ignoring him, giving gifts to the other guests, eating cake, but not doing much for the birthday-boy.

Now I don't worry about what Jesus wants - I don't think he's alive to care about it. I've come to appreciate Christmas as a warm and familiar holiday in the middle of the bitter cold that draws on traditions from many faiths. Now my joy is complete in the giving and receiving of gifts, in the egg-nog with a wee bit of rum, in the singing of carols - both beautiful and silly, in the happiness of family and friends.

If there is any sadness in my heart this Christmas, it is in the memory of years lost in service to a myth and in the knowledge that most of the people I know still labor under the same heavy yoke of the Christian faith.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mr. Rogers and Tragedy

I don't know if this would comfort me, were I in the position of the loved ones of 27 people in Connecticut tonight. But for what it's worth:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
- Mr. Rogers

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is Mystery Overrated?

This is taken from Steve Shives, without his permission; hopefully he won't mind.

A little over a week ago, as my wife and I were on our way home from Hagerstown, I looked up and saw a group of strange lights in the night sky. There was a period of maybe thirty seconds where I had no idea what they were. They weren't stars, or aircraft, or anything immediately familiar. They just burned bright and hung there in mid-air, as if by magic, or perhaps some technology far advanced of humanity.
As we began to drive past them, I realized what they were: sky lanterns — candles inside inflated paper bags. The heat from the candle's flame heats the air inside the lantern, causing it to rise like a hot air balloon. The lantern flies as long as the candle burns, then falls back to the ground once the flame goes out. No magic, no alien technology. Something humans in China knew how to make hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago, a simple combination of science and craftsmanship.
My purpose in sharing this with you is to demonstrate (hopefully) the beauty of a true explanation for something, even when that explanation might appear mundane to some when compared to more fantastic theories. Mysteries should intrigue us because we want to know things, not because we cherish our own ignorance. To cling to a supernatural or extraterrestrial explanation of something without evidence undermines the very thing that got us interested in that something to start with: we wanted to know. And wanting to know is pointless unless we're willing to accept the answer we find, whatever it might be.
I find nothing beautiful about reports of UFO sightings or alien abductions or magical and supernatural happenings. There's no reason to believe that any of these things is real. They stand between us and the truth. They're the clouds obscuring the stars. (Metaphorically speaking, you know — clouds are actually very interesting.)
Those sky lanterns, though . . . they were beautiful, especially once I knew what I was looking at.
My favorite parts of this:‎
"...wanting to know is pointless unless we're willing to accept the answer we find, whatever it might be."
"...they were beautiful, especially once I knew what I was looking at."

There's something about "mystery" that is beautiful. Do you think there is something about the reveal that lessens the beauty?