Friday, December 09, 2005

Cockle-warming Evangelical Christmas Story

The Evangelical Christian community has what it calls mega-churches. These are churches like the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL that attract upwards of 20,000 worshippers on any given Sunday morning. Guess what some of these mega-churches have decided to do this Christmas? Since Christmas day falls on Sunday, many of these huge evangelical churches have decided to have no Christmas day services. The New York Times reported this morning that The Willow Creek outfit is handing out a DVD that features “a heartwarming contemporary Christmas tale” which can be watched in the comfort of one’s home on Christmas day instead of having to go to the trouble of getting dressed and going to church. This may be the ne plus ultra as far as commercializing Christmas: Get rid of that annoying tradition of gong to church and free up the entire day for opening gifts, eating and watching the tube. But there is a nice symmetry to it. The evangelical mega-churches have returned December 25th to the pagan celebration from whence it came. Jesus was not born in the winter, else the shepherds would not have been “abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night”. He was probably born in the fall or spring. And historians have also pointed out that Caesar Augustus would not have forced everyone in the Roman Empire to return to their home cities during the cold season for purposes of taking a census. Emperor Constantine started the practice of celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25th. Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 AD and forced his followers who had worshipped the pagan sun god Mithra (among other gods and goddesses) to convert to Christianity. Constantine’s followers were not at all happy about his edict and he needed to calm their protests. Mithra’s festival was December 25th with traditions of eating, drinking and gift giving. Since Constantine believed Jesus Christ was also a sun god, Jesus’ festival day became December 25th. The commemoration of Christ’s birth has been edging back toward total paganism since the first Christmas trees were sold commercially in the US in 1850. Now that the evangelical Christian mega-churches have completely knocked Christ out of the box on December 25th and no one even thinks about New Year’s Day as the day to celebrate Christ’s circumcision, can we look forward to the canonization of the Easter Bunny? That would get rid of that depressing Good Friday stuff and we could just concentrate on new clothes, Easter eggs and feasting.

1 comment:

Kari said...

yep. there they go again. the damned religous pricks and their ideas they come up with. I hope it doesn't hurt their poor wrinkled heads to think so hard about such stupid alternatives to just going to church. Oh well, maybe this world is another world's hell.