Flavin's Corner
12-25-98

Dear Jesus-Dude,

     Well, it's that time of the year again, when Christians are
supposed to be celebrating your birth, and non-believers are
expected to overlook the mirth, merriment, and marketing
mayhem.  Some historians suggest you may have been born in
either 6 or 4 B.C., and some mythologists believe your birthday
should coincide with the Spring Equinox, but these speculations
don't usually effect most Christians, as December 25th is a
good enough guess, is near the Winter Solstice, and has some
fairly ancient tradition going for it.  So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY,
Jesus-Dude!  Whether you're 2002, 2004, or still 33 1/3 years
old, I hope the afterlife is treating you well...

     Things haven't really changed that much since you ...
departed.  There's still good people, bad people, and billions
which fit at some point in between.  While some lands enjoy
peace, too many are at war with themselves and others.  We've
picked up dozens and dozens of new religions, but like the old
ones, they promise one thing and deliver another.  The sky is still
blue, water is still wet, and humans remain their own worst
enemy.  Did I mention pollution and global warming?  Our fouling
of the nest is causing irreparable harm.  But, many are planning
on leaving the planet before things get too bad.  It's rather a
shame they can't leave sooner as, I suspect, the rest of us may
be better off without them.

     Humans are pretty much the same fashion-oriented animals
as you remember them.  Togas and sandals have been replaced
(for the most part) with suits and dress-shoes, but as in the
past, humans spend a considerable amount of time naked.  It
appears the descriptions by the Roman historian, Suetonius, and
the modern documentary film Caligula (1979, Bob Guccione and
Penthouse Films International), have their contemporary
parallels in the behaviors of Mrrs. Clinton, Gingrich, Hyde,
Livingston, and Murphy.  Though, in fairness to Eddie, his
interest in feet is only alleged and not supported with any
evidence.  Humans still lust and engage in sex and undoubtedly
will for all eternity.  Yes, I know..., some call that Heaven!

     So, Jesus-Dude, ...got any thoughts about Christmas?  Any
holiday?  Many scholars believe the Markan Passover and "Last
Supper" incident is entirely fictional, though they also believe
you held some form of an "open table," where all were welcome.
Unfortunately, we don't know if you held to the Jewish beliefs
of your day and recognized 'holidays', as your association with
Baptist John and apparent opposition to Temple practice would
seem to indicate you ...didn't support such observances.  So
much is unknown about you and your birth, however the
Christmas holiday survives...  See, Jesus-Dude, it's my guess
that Christmas isn't about you anymore...

     The nativity accounts by Matthew and Luke were probably
composed years after the initial writing of the gospels, as there
is compelling evidence which suggests both works originally
began with their respective Chapters 3.  Those nativity
accounts, though fictive in all likelihood, have come to represent
a powerful dream (some might claim the most powerful
dream)--that one day a child will be born who would bring peace
to a troubled world.  Ah, it sings to the very heart of hope!

     A homeless couple, unemployed and unmarried, surviving in a
land of violence and war, spiritually exhausted from dogmatic
exercises of an oppressive faith, brought forth a child of love,
tolerance, and ...hope!  Now, was that how it was with you,
Jesus-Dude?  We don't know, ...and it doesn't matter anymore.
Today's celebration of Christmas is about the joy of birth and
the solemn pledge that we seek a time when all children are
brought forth in love, tolerance, and hope.  ...It's about the
children.

     Toward a better understanding of today's Christmas, it
should be recognized that many non-practicing Christians still
celebrate Christmas.  Oh, they've left their various churches
for any number of reasons, but can't seem to let go of the
festive sounds of Christmas carols (arguably the best music ever
created), the shared meal with family and close friends, and the
overwhelming desire for ...Peace On Earth!  Okay, so the Winter
Solstice is the longest night of the year and the days grow
longer afterwards.  Most of the pagans I know celebrate
Christmas, too!  It's beyond a brain wash-and-rinse--the hope of
Christmas has a life of its own and lives in the smile of every
child.  Many marketing campaigns have already taken the
"Christ" out of Christmas, but still the hope survives...

        And a good thing it is, too...  Much like a flower wilts and
dies without water and sunlight, people can't survive without
hope.  One has only to review the rise in suicide rates at this
time of year to comprehend the emptiness of existence without
hope.  Sadly, hope must be generated from within, as no one has
yet learned how to package and sell it.  Well, maybe the authors
of the Matthew and Luke gospels did, but that's a whole 'nother
bowl of eggnog!

     I suspect you'd be critical of our department store Santas,
trivial toys and returnable gifts, though with your approach to
the concept of an "open table," maybe you'd enjoy the
traditional Christmas ham, especially those spiral, pre-sliced
ones.  Who knows?

     As each of us celebrate the 'holidays' in our own way, in all
fairness, I trust you'll mark your birthday however you wish.
Again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jesus-Dude!  Be careful blowing out
those candles!

Click  here  for 1998 Christmas Card!
Peace,
Rick

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