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“The Two Christmases and the Two Easters,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

There has occurred and developed in the United States and many Western countries a parallel understanding and view of Christmas and Easter. Christmas has been co-opted by the commercial business sector with the object of making money. Christmas in its secular interpretation is concerned with children, laughing, and joyful exchange of gifts and a general atmosphere of love and happiness. This Christmas has been widely adopted by many faiths and many of the carols we hear have no connection with Christ. This general Christmas of good-will also involves Christmas trees and decorations and it is possible that these have pagan origins.

But there is a second Christmas, which is the real Christmas – this is celebrated by a thinner and thinner minority in our society. This minority concerns itself with the birth of Christ and God revealing himself in human form. It is a joy and wonder that God took on humanity and entered human history. The true meaning of Christmas is not the glitter and noise but the act of God in taking human form to bring about salvation and eternal life. The real purpose of Christmas and Christ is the repair of our broken natures, and, if you will, our sinful natures. The secular Christmas, we must recognize, has no truth and serves to mislead people from the true Christmas. The true Christmas is Christ offering to humanity new life and the conquest of death. The Christmas which is based on commerce and money certainly has little truth. Perhaps the reason the world does not recognize the Christian Christmas is because it does not recognize the problem and its solution in Christ. Christmas is God’s way of providing a way out from sin and death. It is certainly not the Christmas that has taken over our world.

I would also like to talk about the two Easters. The secular or commercial Easter has come to dominate the entire celebration and holiday. It involves sometimes the Easter bunny and sometimes an Easter egg-hunt. Once again, the festival has been co-opted by the business and commercial sector and that takeover is misleading to the real meaning of Easter and its significance. Easter completely and solely is concerned with the risen Christ and his conquest of death. It certainly has nothing to do with the things I just mentioned. Easter is the resurrection and the offer by Christ to share in his eternal life and love. In fact, it has come to the point when both in the commercial Christmas and commercial Easter, Jesus is left out of the picture. I have to say that I am in somewhat disagreement with these business takeovers of what are essentially religious festivals and events. A child which comes to think of Christmas as trees, decorations, and gifts is being misled and misinformed. The Easter bunny has little connection with the offer of eternal life and love in the risen Christ. I have no objection to these secular interpretations of these events, but I for one do not choose to agree with them or be convinced by them. I do not think the government or secular society is obligated to observe these religious festivals but it is my position that the true nature of these events should be made clear. In short, the commercial interpretation of these religious festivals is a lie. 

Educational and Business Consultant, Writer, Speaker, and Teacher. He is the author of five book chapter in the areas of Evidence, Criminal Law, and Family Law.

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Moral relativism, so called, has gained in the United States and many Western nations and societies, currency, if not widespread acceptance. The idea behind moral relativism is that there are no set or absolute moral or ethical rules and, as a result, it follows there is no absolute truth or truths. Moral choice is apprehended not as an absolute, but, as an individual choice, from person to person, and from age to age.

Thus, for example, adultery, once codified as a crime, has subsequently come to carry nothing more than a severe societal stigma. Adultery has now gained a degree of tolerance, if not outright acceptance. Casual sexual liaisons, also, conducted outside of the marriage bond, once stigmatized, have gained widespread societal acceptance. Consensual homosexual relations, once known as consensual sodomy, also in the past regarded and codified as illegal have, as well, gained toleration.

At this point in time in most Western societies, we do not tolerate, and have

stopped short of tolerating and accepting, incest or adult/child sex, but appear to be moving toward total acceptance of same-sex or homosexual marriage.

Moral relativism as an idea, implies if not states that ''you can do what you want" and gain toleration, if not approval, as long as you harm no one outright, and break no laws.

Absolute truth posits there are fixed ethical and moral norms, the deviation from which constitutes some sort of wrongdoing or moral error, which should not be tolerated or accepted and which deserve to be stigmatized, if not made illegal and punished.

Moral relativism has its roots in a number of misleading and erroneous thought sources. The moral relativist says that as long as what you do in some sense makes you feel good and does not constitute a bother or irritation to anyone in your vicinity, it is seen as ok. This idea has its source in the media, where television, computers, and, of course, the Internet present deviate and illicit sexual behavior as fine and implicitly, if not explicitly, encourage it. A glance at Internet chat rooms and personal advertisements shows this to be true, as well as the widespread dissemination of pornographic material at all newsstands and places we can buy things.

The media, as a source of moral and ethical truth is, charitably put, faintly if not actually, ridiculous, since the promotion of these purported lifestyles and images has its source in the desire of its purveyors to obtain for themselves wealth and financial gain. This desire to make money, as a source of these ideas, constitutes a kind of corruption with the result that what the media presents as the image and desideratum of what we as men and women should do and be, is nothing more than an outright bald-faced lie, emanating from the desire for personal enrichment on the part of its creators and purveyors.

The second source of error in the concept and principle of oral relativism is a misinterpretation, or rather misapprehension, of what is meant by democracy. In a democracy, there is a belief that all men's and women's opinions have equal value and validity in the free and open market place of ideas that constitutes a free society. In sum, we are led to believe that since everyone has an equal vote that therefore what they may happen to say constitutes some sort of truth. This is a misconstruction and misinterpretation, I think, of democracy. What everyone happens to say does not have equal intellectual validity or truth, and should not, therefore, be given equal credence. The idea that this should be so stems from the mistaken idea that all men and women are actually equal in their talents, intelligence, and ability.

A democracy is nothing more than a system of political equality, giving all its citizens an equal voice in the electoral process and voting franchise. Rich and poor, intellectual and worker, disabled and healthy, are all given an equal role in the governing process, insofar as they all have the same vote.

Let me add that democracy is the best of all systems, since it distributes power among all its citizens, with the result that any tendency on the part of one or more individuals to obtaining absolute power is checked and limited. Democracy, however, does not mean that all of us are equal. I may be a good lawyer, but I will never be a professional tennis player, a concert pianist, or even a rock star.

It follows from this that not all opinions and ideas should be given the same

toleration and given the same sort of respect. Thus, this misinterpretation of democracy, which is nothing more than a political system, leads to the mistaken view that morality is solely an individual matter and has no reference to any form of absolute truth.

The third source of the error of moral relativism is what has come to be called "political correctness." We, all of us, want to fit in and not publicly oppose what I hesitate, but must call, the current propaganda and jargon that is constantly and continuously inflicted on us all. We fall in with whatever, as it were, is in the air. All of us know that greed and the worship of material goods and money as a final end is not only wrong, but absurd.

Political correctness forces us publicly to say otherwise. What then can we say? Is it better to apprehend truth on the basis of what each person regards as personally appropriate for their particular situation or put it another way, what the particular age or Zeitgeist recommends at any particular time.

I admit that so-called fixed moral rules can and do lead to great human suffering if they are not carefully examined from age to age and from generation to generation.

Since human beings and human nature are in some sense corrupt, that corruption will operate in the name of a fixed morality to bring about and create wrong and moral errors, such as slavery, the oppression of women, or any other form of injustice. Corrupt human beings and their leaders will use morality and moral rules for whatever corrupt political purpose they may have, whether to gain power for themselves over less powerful and unfavored groups, or simply to get more money.

The sources of moral relativism—the media, greed, and misleading political thinking—mean that, as an idea, it has little or no value. Political correctness, the forces of greed, and corrupt political leadership say to us that adultery and casual sexual liaisons are perfectly fine. We all know within our hearts and spirits that they are not. The media says through bombarding us with pornographic images that that is ok. We all know within our hearts it is not. We all know that the single­ minded desire for material goods and wealth as a value system is totally bereft of any intellectual validity. We are told by our corporate and political leaders that this should be our lodestar.

In short, we, within our deepest levels of consciousness as human beings, do believe that there are absolute moral norms and absolute truth. We call this natural law, for want of a better word. We all agree that we should be nice to the people around us. Christianity tells us to love our neighbor. In some sense, there is a universal thought system of moral law that informs and permeates our entire society. I am not convinced that what is purveyed by the media, what is in the air, or what is mistaken as tolerance constitutes any sort of truth. Some things are true, and others are not. I am not prepared to have the source of my thinking and life principles, molded by whatever happens to be faddish or fashionable, imposed on me and all of us for reasons of personal financial gain on the part of its makers, who inflict these corrupt ideas on us, solely for the purpose of attaining power. 

First, let me state that as a system Marxism has not been particularly successful. Two countries come to mind where the Marxist system has brought about great human suffering and economic distress: Cuba and North Korea. As a Christian, I cannot endorse or agree with Marxism, which takes materialism as its philosophical basis and also supports atheism as part of its system. In Marxism, men and women are seen as pure economic commodities and nothing more. Hence the system in communist Russia and of mass killings with no regard for the individual life.

Communism and fascism, in excluding the spiritual dimension, can and will result in these actions. I now say here and suggest that Marx in his thinking was correct or certainly had a point to make. For some time now, many countries and societies have adopted the capitalist model of system. Communism has collapsed in most societies and countries with the exceptions I have just mentioned. Unfortunately, the capitalist system has evolved to a somewhat deficient end.

Capitalism is based on greed and competition and a free market system. The idea behind it is that if people are given some sort of equal starting point, the society will benefit by job creation and wealth creation and all will benefit ultimately.

Capitalism, however, has developed in a somewhat negative direction than originally envisioned. There are many reasons for this development; for example: Jobs have been outsourced to South America and Asia; unions in the United States have largely been eliminated; there has been an influx of cheap labor from South America and Asia to the United States; and, in the name of supply side economics, there has been a vast transfer of wealth to an extremely small segment of the population. Manufacturing has largely left the United States for places where the labor pool is inexpensive such as South American and Asia.

The result of these developments has been threefold. It has been very difficult for the American worker to get employment. The jobs that do exist are without benefits such as pensions or health benefits. Older workers are easily and constantly dispensed with for younger workers. The end outcome of all these developments is to make it extremely difficult for any American worker to get some sort of quality employment to support his family for as long as needed. The end result in another way is to create a plutocratic and oligarchic society where the economic and political structures are controlled by a few wealthy individuals and corporations. In short, the capitalist system has become extremely unfair and functions now to exclude people from opportunities to advance themselves or even to enter the economic and political system. It would appear that the capitalist system is in crisis and has become dysfunctional.

This essay proposes that Marx in some sense may have been right. Marx and Engels in their writings and activities responded to the abuses of the working class in industrial European countries at that time. These abuses included child labor and the use of sweatshop labor. Marxism proposes a number of ideas and concepts which I think are fairly good:

1. Marxism seeks to eliminate class divisions which capitalism encourages. These class divisions are falsely based on some persons having greater wealth than others. It is faintly ridiculous to refer to a person who has greater wealth than others as upper class since the having and possession of wealth has no significance in itself.

2. Marxism seeks to provide some of employment for all and provides free healthcare and free education for the entire population. Eliminating income inequality allows people of talent and merit the possibility of obtaining positions that the capitalist system might bar them from based on their lack of wealth. The ultimate aim of Marx in his writings was to bring about a society not controlled by the wealthy or aristocracy but by the workers. Unfortunately, in various countries such as Russia, China, Cuba and North Korea, attempts to bring about these potentially good things resulted in the use of force and a police state dictatorship.

3. Marx sought to have a government run directly by the people. This may not have actually happened in the aforementioned countries; however, it is still an admirable goal.

In sum, Marx had some ideas and concepts that still have value and should be considered by thinking people: the elimination of classes; elimination of income inequality and the redistribution of wealth; and a society governed by the people. I cannot say where Marx or Marxism went wrong, but, at the present time, the capitalist system as it has developed and evolved is problematic and wanting. The capitalist system has evolved in a sort of dictatorial state in which the wealthy rule and in which he vast majority of the population toil to survive. I cannot give a solution to the present difficulties in our system but I can say this much that this system should be reexamined in the light of the ideas behind Marxism and Socialism. This is not to say that I wish to impose a dictatorship which Marxism developed into, but I do suggest that the present state of the capitalist system be reexamined in light of other concepts, thoughts, and ideas, wherever they may be found.

Many people in our present society make the claim that the Church is anti-woman. This statement is largely based on the position of the Roman Catholic Church and several other churches such as the Orthodox Church and certain more conservative Protestant denominations that do not ordain women for the priesthood or ministry.

More to the point, many people have lighted upon certain statements or comments about women that Saint Paul makes in his letters. For example, in his first letter to the Corinthian Church in chapter 7:39, Saint Paul states a wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies she is free to marry whomever she wishes. In that same letter, in Chapter 11:3-15, Saint Paul states that the head of a woman is her husband. He further states that any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled is dishonoring her head and that if a women will not veil herself then she should cut off her hair. Saint Paul further states that the woman is the glory of man and that women were created for man. He then concludes that that is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, and in the Lord’s eyes, a women is not independent of man. Saint Paul further states in the Letter to the Ephesians 5:22 that wives should be subject to their husbands because the husband is the head of the wife and wives should be subject in everything to their husbands. He further states that husbands should love their wives. In the first letter to the Corinthians 14:34, Saint Paul states that women should keep silence in the churches, and it is shameful for a women to speak in the church. In the letter to the Colossian church, Chapter 3:18, Saint Paul again states that wives should be subject to their husbands.

These statements of Saint Paul must be weighed against the entire revelation of the bible about women and their completely equal status. In Genesis 2, we are told that a woman is created as a helper for man and that both bear the stamp of the divine image. This statement does not mean inequality. It simply means that women in the world have a slightly different role than men. Women create homes and raise families. This does mean that this activity is inferior or less important than other activities. The teaching in Genesis is that God created both man and woman in his image and that both bear that same divine stamp and image. The Book of Judges 4:5 tells the story of the Judge Deborah who, as a wife, was judging Israel. It is quite clear that this particular story should not be read not as lowering a woman to a lesser status since in fact Deborah had a high societal role in Israel.

Let me now look at Jesus’ relationships with women in the Gospels. In Matthew 2, we are told about the birth of Jesus to Mary. The fact that God himself chose to be born of a woman is a statement of the real status women in the eyes of God. The very God of God was born of a woman and had a mother. In Matthew 5:27, Jesus again raises the status of woman in saying that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her. Again, in verse 31, Jesus states that anyone who divorces his wife except on the ground of lack of chastity makes her an adulterer and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Once again, Jesus Christ is significantly raising the status of women in the world. In Matthew 15:21, Jesus heals the daughter of a society outcast a Canaanite woman. In Matthew 27:55, Matthew says that many women followed Jesus from Galilee, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary went to see the sepulcher after the crucifixion.

In Mark 15:40, we are told that many women looked on Jesus from afar, including Mary Magdalene and Mary. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him and many other women came up with him to Jerusalem. Again, in Mark 16, we are told that Mary Magdalene and Mary were at the tomb of Christ after his crucifixion. In Luke 1 and 2, we are told of the birth of Christ. In Luke 7:37, we are given the story that a woman of the city who is a sinner brought a flask of ointment and standing at Jesus’ feet wet his feet with his tears, wipe them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

The Pharisees asked, “What sort of person are you? Associating with this sinner?” And Jesus pointed out for Simon that when he entered his house he gave him no water for his feet but this woman has we t my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Jesus says, “You gave me no kiss but from the time I came, she has not ceased to kiss my feet. And you did not anoint my head with oil but she has anointed my feet with ointment.”

In Luke 10-38-42, we are told that Martha received Jesus into her house and that she had a sister called Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching. In Luke 23:36, we are told that the woman who followed Jesus from Galilee stood before him from a distance at the crucifixion. In John 8, we are told a story of a woman caught in adultery. Jesus prevents her execution. In John 12, again we are told the story of Martha and Mary. Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany and Martha served Jesus and that Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with oil and wiped his feet with her hair.

This essay reveals that although it is basic and superficial in its examination of the status of women in the church, it is quite clear that both in the Hebrew Bible and the gospels that women have an equal status in society for Jesus. Apparently, Jesus had many women friends and women who followed him and he had friendships with them. The passages I have taken from the gospels clearly reveal that, to put it bluntly, Jesus had no problem with women. Thus, what I just have taken from the gospels and the Hebrew Bible should be weighed against the statements and comments of Saint Paul. Saint Paul was possibly addressing particular situations in the churches he had established. Perhaps his comments about the role of women may have emanated from his background and culture which had a slightly different view of the role of women in society.

My conclusion is that the Son of God was born of a woman; had many women followers who were present at the cross event; and were first present at the empty tomb and in the course of his ministry were actively present and involved with him in his work. And so, by his actions, he not only significantly raised the status of women in society, but he insisted on their total equality and equal value. 

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