Get ready to celebrate Hanukkah starting December 22

Get ready to celebrate Hanukkah starting December 22

Everything that I have written about so far has been about Christmas even before Thanksgiving happened, so I figured I should write something for some of people who do not celebrate Christmas. The most prominent of these is our Jewish brothers and sisters who celebrate Hanukkah at just about the same time as Christmas.

While, Adam Sandler has drawn some attention over the years to the holiday with his different versions of “The Hanukkah Song” many people might not be totally aware of what exactly Hanukkah is. I, honestly, was also left in the dark as to the exact details of the holiday, but hopefully more light has been shed on it. Read the rest of this entry »

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I never was a fan of Christians’ tendencies to attribute all that is bad to Satan, to the Devil, while maintaining that all that is good on Earth is an act of God. The world is not easily defined into such black-and-white terms. Morality is relative, truth is subjective. So, maybe Satan and God are one and the same?…like a divine Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

I am led to believe by the teachings of the Bible (and more credibly by many a philosopher) that we as humans have Free Will. The whole notion, the very validity of the concept of Sin (and our responsibility for our actions) is 100% based on the idea that we as free-acting agents can make choices as we see fit, be them good or evil.

Yet, if I were to walk into a church, for example, and start throwing eggs at the congregants, I am sure that they would regard the incident as an act of Satan. Keep in mind, that while Satan is very very evil, no all acts influenced by him are particularly evil. This is because all things aren’t either extremely good, or extremely evil. The gray area is wider than the universe. If I tell a child to ‘Shut the hell up,” or if I go around telling children that there is no Santa, is that evil? No. Is it wrong? Maybe (I guess it depends on when ‘telling the truth’ is regarded as wrong). Is it a sin? I dunno.

Here in lies the dilemma. If we start attributing all good to God and all bad to Satan, then many problems arise.

Can I really be held responsible for being influenced by an unseen force?…a force God created?..a force God refuses to extinguish? If my whole life is a tug-of-war between the will of God and of Satan, how am I supposed to be held responsible? How can I say that any choice I made was my own choice?

From a Christian perspective, God and Satan are essentially in a gigantic domestic dispute, and we, the children, are caught in the middle. In a broken family, you don’t blame the children for their actions when one parent coaxed them into smiting the other parent.

In my view, if there is a God, he created bird, and trees, and fruit and love, and cancer, and death, and pain and torture. This is why I blame God for any bad that happens in my life. And you should to. Because when it all comes down to it, good or evil, he started it all and that makes him responsible.

With finals just around the corner, and after staying up all night studying, it occurs to me that college students probably pray the most this time of year. It’s kind of the Hail Mary pass of academia. You know you haven’t prepared enough for whatever reason and you just sit for the test and hope for the best.

So, here is a little prayer I found that anyone can use for finals. You never know, it could help you out.

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Every year, you can count on one thing at Christmas season, Hess will come out with a new truck to sell to all the kids. This cultural phenomenon is fascinating to me just because  Hess doesn’t seem to sell anything else besides this one truck that is new every Christmas season. While, it might not be at all related to the religious side of the holiday, I just find this to be totally fascinating to me.

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One of my friends called me yesterday distraught at the situation that one of out mutual friends had found herself in. Because times are rough, her mother made the decision to cancel Christmas. This year their house will have no decorations, no presents and, believe it or not, no tree.

Of course, being a Christian family they will probably still go to services and spend the day together as a family, but to me it doesn’t seem to be the same.

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Christmas is an evolving thing.

Many things we consider Christian tradition began before Christ. Pagans of northern Europe celebrated winter solstice, called Yule. It happened on the shortest day of the year, the Winter solstice which occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 every year.

Yule logs were burned. The custom of kissing underneath a Mistletoe was a ritual. Live trees were often brought into homes during winter as a reminder that soon crops would grow again. The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in Germany.

Then somehow, the traditions were usurped by Christian . And for hundreds of years, the tree was no long a symbol to worship Saturn, the God of Agriculture, as they did in Rome, or as the Pagans did later in Northern Europe, worshiping the  Sun God, Mithras. The tree was now used to worship Jesus. And the whole thing became a major pillar of Christianity.

Now, we have seen the gradual removal of religious themes from Christmas in all sects of modern life. ‘Holiday Tree,’ for example. And why? So not to offend Jews, and Muslims and Atheists who have to use our malls and schools and other public places. But most importantly, Christmas is thusly more appealing to a wider audience. More people can feel good about getting into the giving-mood without having to worry about all the Jesus stuff.As a result, there is more spending. The holiday isn’t as niche as it once was.

Christmas is now a celebration of capitalism. From Sun Gods, to Pagans, to Christ, to Capitalism.

What’s next?

Will your gifts bring anticipation under the tree?

Will your gifts bring anticipation under the tree?

Every year at least for me, I always encounter the dilemna about who I should buy a Christmas gift for and who I shouldn’t. Do I want to put the pressure on someone else to buy me a gift, and what would it say to someone if I did not get them one? A Christmas gifts can same many different things depending on the context they are given in. I know that my roommate is trying to make sure that the Christmas gift he buys for his girlfriend this year is the best that he could possibly find because it is their first Christmas as a couple. I, for example, will not be doing the same when I look to buy a gift for my mom. While I love her very much, I am almost certain that the gift I get for her will not negatively or positively effect our relationship.

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As soon as the turkey goes into the fridge after Thanksgiving dinner is done, it seems that Christmas time is officially here. While many stores consider the day after Halloween (or some even earlier) as a reasonable beginning to the season, most sane people consider the day after Thanksgiving as the beginning of Christmas.

Sadly, that day isn’t exactly devoted to holiday cheer. Instead we call that day Black Friday and it is devoted to all things commercial. Instead of focusing on family or getting an early start on decorating, people spend their time waiting on lines outside of closed stores at 5 in the morning.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have  a lot of time today to do a half-decent blog, so I opted to post some of my favorite video’s about the lighter-side of religion.

Here are 2 of my favorite stand-up comedians’ bits on religion.

Enjoy

Each Christmas season it seems like one of the young and new artists come out with their own Christmas album that is just a remake of some of the old classics that have been sung by people looking for yule tide joy for years now. The same can almost be said for anytime one enters church during Advent or on Christmas morning.

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