Saturday, December 25, 2010
Fundamentalists and traditionalists are always whining about how Christmas has lost its "true meaning" in our culture. Even more galling, from their perspective, is the trend of secularization that allows for public display of colored lights and the general Santa theme, but not nativity scenes. The popular use of the abbreviation "Xmas", beginning in the '60s, prompted their cry to "put Christ back in Christmas".
Of course, anyone who has studied the roots of Christmas tradition realizes that the Christ never had anything to do with it. Decorating evergreen boughs and burning Yule logs hearken back to ancient traditions that preceded the purported Advent of Christ. Because the early Catholic church, as part of their fabrication of the religion known as Christianity, co-opted certain pagan rituals, it is claimed that this holiday and its trappings is primarily about the birth of Christ.
So sorry to have to disappoint my readers, but the charming story about the baby born in the manger is pure myth. The swaddling clothes, the wise men bearing gifts, guided by a strange star - sorry, never happened! If your sense of faith is offended by this revelation, then all I can offer is what part of "metaphorical liturgy" don't you understand?
An objective overview of the Gospel accounts of Jesus suggests that they are meant to be read as liturgy, not history. That much is obvious when one considers the context - authored decades after the purported events, by those who no longer lived in Palestine or even spoke the common language of Palestine. Another clue is found in the tendency to mirror Old Testament prophecy foretelling the coming of a Messiah who was to reclaim the title of King. The Gospel authors make it clear that the details of their story are drawn from the Old Testament prophecies, not from historical record - thus the Christian Advent story is based on romanticized projection, not fact.
Liturgy is nice if you enjoy it. Perhaps it gives you a warm feeling to go to church and light candles and see the nativity scene reenacted, and that's ok. Religion is purely a human creation, and presumably designed to meet certain needs of the adherents. As long as we all understand this, then we'll get along just fine. Problems only arise when religious faithful try to impose their worldview upon everyone else.
Much of Christmas tradition is rooted in Sol Invictus and Saturnalia, with Mithras featured as the God-Man whose birthday was celebrated on December 25. This coincided with even more ancient celebrations of the "rebirth" of the sun following the solstice. From the Druids and Germanic tribes came the tradition of the Yule fire, decorating evergreen trees, and mistletoe.
The Roman observances of Saturnalia became debauched and violent during the declining years of the Empire, but the original premise of celebrating the solstice is rooted in an authentic appreciation of nature.
For me, the only authentic aspect of this holiday season is to observe the solstice as a day when the darkness of winter halts its progression and begins to recede. The sun begins to climb higher and heralds the promise of spring eventually returning.
As for the custom of cutting down live trees, so that they may be dragged into homes and observed as they die, I have this story to tell:
While on business in Billings, Montana several years ago, I read an article in the local newspaper that featured an interview with an elderly Native American. He recalled life as a young boy, living on the reservation. Then came the time when his parents sent him and his siblings to the "white man's" boarding school so they could learn to function in American society. They had to deal with culture shock on many occasions, but most memorable was their first exposure to the rituals of Christmas. An evergreen tree had been cut down, brought into the school and decorated for the holidays. He and his siblings were quite mystified as to the purpose of this ritual. They had been raised to be very sensitive to the nature of all living things, and could see auras around plants and animals. They could see whether something was healthy or ailing based on the aura surrounding it. Here they saw a tree that had been vitally alive, but then cut down and placed in front of them so they could literally see the life force slipping away from it. This made them very sad, but they tried to make sense of the beautiful decorations that had been placed on it. They finally concluded that the decorations were intended to make the tree feel less sad about dying, so they tried using this rationalization to join in the festive mood of the white children.
For me, I'd rather enjoy trees in their natural and living state. I can see no reason to cut them down and watch them die. Like the Native Americans, this only makes me sad.
Thus, my only Christmas celebration will be to look into the southern sky at noon and offer thanks that the sun is beginning to climb again. My New Years celebration is simply to say "I'm so glad December is over!" and then begin looking forward to the progression of seasons into spring and summer.
So, my holiday wishes to all are best summed up with Scrooge's immortal words, "Bah, Humbug!"
If you feel the need for a ritual, then go dance around a tree!
Friday, December 24, 2010
The predictive linguistics work at HalfPastHuman.com has been foretelling for many months that "secrets revealed" would start to become a dominant theme by this time. It began appearing as an unconscious meme in people's verbal output, as if to signal that the collective unconscious knew this was an emerging concept. The recent series of breaking stories caused by Wikileaks confirms that this was a predictive hit.
This is not to over-rate the impact of Julian Assange in particular; he may be the current poster boy for disclosure, but also may simply represent a breaking wave of what is to come. It's not even clear whether his motives are altruistic or whether he has been played by the PTB into taking on his current role.
In a recent interview with David Frost, Assange convincingly projected the image of a journalist fighting for the public right to know about secret policies adopted by governments, which would be strongly opposed if the public knew about them. He described the "tendrils" of the PTB reaching out to cause Swedish authorities to develop trumped-up charges of sexual misconduct, and reaching out to certain journalists to cause publication of details of the allegations from Sweden just prior to his bail hearings in the UK, details which hadn't been officially released and which journalists shouldn't have had access to. On the surface, this appears to be another case of character assassination carried out by certain journalists under secret directive, which is a common tactic of the PTB.
The reaction of certain American politicians has been reprehensible and hypocritical; The likes of Joe Lieberman and John Boehner have suggested that Assange is guilty of espionage and/or treason (treason against whom? He's not an American citizen). AG Eric Holder is reportedly reviewing possible charges to file for extradition once the Swedes are done with him. Question: If leaked documents implicate individuals in high places of criminal activity, should the Justice department just focus on nailing the messenger? Their supposed mission is to investigate wrongdoing, not cover up and protect it.
On the other hand, we must look at the fact that the Wikileaks releases thus far have been merely mildly embarrassing to certain diplomats and foreign heads of state. No major bombshells have been released, and apparently none of the documents were classified as secret. It is rumored and suggested that some bombshells are contained in the multi-GB encrypted file that Assange distributed. Could that be what worries Lieberman, Boehner, and fellow PTB minions? Is this why the Swedes and Brits have been directed to trump up reasons to arrest Assange? If so, why play games with this? If his main motivation is disclosure, why not release it all as soon as possible?
Another chilling possibility is that the PTB manipulated Assange to create the appearance of a "treasonous" and "dangerous" leak operation, in order to orchestrate a crackdown on Internet press freedom. Consider the fact that no real secrets have yet to be disclosed, but some politicians are already calling for a lynching and outright Internet censorship. Remember that one tool of disinformation used by the PTB is to release intentionally some true information, surrounded by a sea of half-truths and falsehoods. As we have seen in the field of Ufology, erstwhile "whistleblowers" disgorging "inside" information, have sometimes been planted by the PTB.
Julian Assange told David Frost that he used his own money to launch Wilileaks and had no profit motive. One interesting question to ask is where his money came from. Did he somehow come into money by some mysterious good fortune, just prior to launching Wikileaks?
The home page at Wilileaks.com recently displayed an illustration of an opening door, streaming light into a darkened room, containing books with such compelling titles as "Bildeberg Meetings" and "Bank of America". This obvious hint at things to come would be most fascinating to see, but the questions immediately raised are "When" and "Why not now"?
Regardless of what is forthcoming from Wikileaks, the genie is out of the bottle regarding the "Secrets Revealed" meme. This is a building force that the PTB will ultimately be unable to contain. The light will flood into darkened rooms everywhere, and public wrath will be increasingly difficult to contain.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Former budget director David Stockman has been at it again, irritating Dems and Repubs alike with his embarassingly factual numbers. This time around, he referred to as "silly", soon-to-be House speaker John Boehner's passionate defense of tax cuts for the wealthy .
Republicans think they have been given a new mandate for implementing their ideology in congress, but I'm not so sure that the typical voter was motivated over concern for the well-being of the rich. Rebublican rhetoric on cutting taxes has always been devoid of logic, and they have combined it with blaming soaring deficits on the Democrats. What stirs my ire is that they have never been compelled to explain just how borrowing money to pay for government programs is somehow preferable to raising the needed revenue through taxation. The massive national debt got a huge jump-start from the Reagan tax cuts, then the Bush Jr. tax cuts coupled with an Iraq war charged on credit. Attacking the Democrats for the national debt is really ringing hollow.
There is so much other news to comment on, it's difficult to keep up. The ongoing Wikileaks dump of secrets is rumored to seriously impact a number of large banks. This would be a good thing, even if the markets are thrown into panic mode along the way. The public anger erupting in Ireland offers a glimpse of what could happen here - in this case, the Irish government bailed out insolvent banks that were playing casino and then caught short when the bubble burst. The cost of the bailout is being passed on to working stiffs through cuts in services, tax increases, and - get this - the minimum hourly wage is being cut by an entire Euro. In effect, the bailout of the uber-rich is being paid for by the hardest working and lowest paid folks. It's a wonder that an armed revolt hasn't already begun. The French revolution executed their royalty for lesser cause than that.
I expect that it's just a matter of time before a wave of disclosure hits the financial powers-that-be in this country. Just where did the massive trillions of bailout funds go, which the Fed is now admitted to have doled out from the off-budget "balance sheet"? Word is that European banks got a chunk. And what were the reasons for swiftly infusing trillions into the likes of Goldman Sachs, AIG, and Bank of America? What type of toxic financial instruments, casino-like gambling and outright fraud did the bailouts cover? When the American citizens discover their part in paying for rescue of the rich, things could become a bit tense over here.
If Republicans think their mandate is to simply attack the other party, let them think again. If they truly want to be agents of reform, let them divorce themselves from servitude to large corporations and bankster interests, and begin credible and impartial investigation into the misdeeds that contributed to the financial crash of 2008 and subsequent great depression. If they don't do this, they run the risk of facing the same recriminations as Democrats and anyone else who had their hands in the corrupt money pie. Disclosure will happen, and someone will begin to shout "off with their heads" before long.