sometimes you just gotta' row

Jesus, do you believe this…?

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Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don’t read the lines. – Margaret Millar, novelist (1915-1994)

Christmas season is upon us again. Ostensibly heralded in Western tradition as a period of peace and a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In reality this “holiday season” creates more stress, coveting and shame than any other time of year. It’s become a time of commerce.

I once worked at a metropolitan crisis centre. Christmas is the toughest time for many people and for the wrong reasons. I recall a three-hour, Christmas Eve conversation with a gentleman who’d called from a subway platform, for his last conversation. He’d previously lost his job, was unable to break the news to his family and had been pretending to go to work each day for over a month. Without the means to buy the expected trunk-load of presents that he believed everyone was expecting, he was now unable to face his wife and children empty-handed. The “glitter” of Christmas had mercilessly devoured and overpowered the person’s sense of his place in life. Literally. Don’t know whether he made it home.

We’ve gotten far away from celebrating anything of virtue and it’s not surprising, given that there’s so little that’s actually true about the reason for the holiday. For Christ’s sake, he wasn’t even born in December. His name was Jesus, the Christ part means messiah (Greek). Christmas?

One unfortunate consequence of the hype is that it pollutes profound insights and genuine wisdom. Given his Middle-Eastern heritage it’s more likely that he was dark-skinned than the fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked infant per the Anglo-Saxon depiction. Looks more like the son of Santa Claus than the Son of God. Yes, so if his skin colour really doesn’t matter, why are all the icons “uncoloured”? Accept one mis-truth and you’ve been primed to swallow the whole nine yards.

What it is, isn’t what it has turned out to be. None of this stuff matches up with the profile. Okay, so most of the rhetoric about the material world is moot if it’s truly the spirit of the message we’re actually celebrating. What happened? Along the way the deal was scooped up in the name of self-serving righteousness to be exploited by two persuasive elements of the human condition; fear and greed.

In the beginning there was Adam and Eve, the original couple, who had a choice about how they lived. The key tenet of the parable, I believe, is about that choice. It is the ability to conceptually understand and deliberately effect choice that separates us from other entities of the planet and, elevates our evolutionary status.

By applying a little spin, add “p” to sin, we’ve created a whole movement demanding a humble acknowledgment that the soul of we, wee humans, is flawed from the beginning. The idea goes that we’re blackened from birth with no available recourse to escape those foul halls of Satan, save to beg (and pay) for penance as dispensed by the local holy man. If we really work at it, we may be granted the gift of restraint. The notion of a Satan is another creation of the same movement.


It’s like a surreal nightmare. What if our souls aren’t soiled? What if the message isn’t about bad apples and seductive dames but to simply and profoundly illustrate our gift of choice. The Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, Kill a Commie for Christ, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Whoops. Jesus Christ, it’s not the newborn who need salvation.

The ability to make deliberate choices. Whew. That puts us in the alpha chair on this planet. Lot’s of power there. Power to change. No kidding. Power to choose to take responsibility for the parts of our world unable to choose. A purpose no more noble, one worthy of celebration. I doubt that Jesus would be offended.


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