Christmas History

This meme makes the rounds this time of the year by both conservative Christians (especially JW’s and Fundamentalist Mormons) and Pagans as “proof” of why Christians should not have a Christmas tree (and then they still INSIST that Christmas is totally Christian.)

Both are wrong.

Jeremiah 10 is not saying that Christians shouldn’t have a Christmas tree; therefore, it’s really a Yule tree. It says that a tree should not be carved into an idol, covered with gold, and worshiped.

“For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
~ Jeremiah 10:2-5

Yet, there are Christians who choose to interpret this as a commandment to not have a Christmas tree as further proof that Christmas is Pagan and evil and not Christian.

“Jeremiah is not condemning Christmas trees. He is condemning idolatry.”

So, unless you worship your Christmas tree, there is nothing wrong with having it. You can be a good Christian and still decorate a beautiful tree.

And for Pagans who use this as a dig at Christians. C’mon, we are better than this. We don’t need to do that.

Christmas in general and Christmas trees specifically have a rich history from many different cultures and religions. There should be nothing wrong with honoring them all.

There are a lot of inaccurate misinterpretations of the Bible going on out there. Everyone seems to want to interpret it as saying what THEY want it to say. I guess it starts with people assuming it was God who said these things, not faulty humans.

That’s just it… which makes it look like they are making God in their own image. Which they are. I object to them insisting that their interpretation is the only right one. And the ones that get me the most are those who tell you what the Bible says and means when they’ve never read the dang thing. I’ve spent years reading it, studying the history behind and I barely understand it. You can’t take the Bible at face value, and way too many people do. It was never meant to be a history book or a book of science, or even a guidebook. It was meant to be a temporary book of inspiration that was supposed to help the people of the time understand the world around them based on what they knew at the time. It wasn’t supposed to be a book that tells people how to live, think, believe, and act until the end of time. Times change and the Bible was supposed to change with it. In many ways it did, but not enough.

It was a catholic priest who taught me how to study theology. He was always getting into trouble with the archdiocese and the Vatican for teaching things that were not church-sanctioned, but he felt people should know the truth about things, including that no one had all of the answers. And he didn’t want to insult people’s intelligences by insisting his interpretation was the one and only one. He taught me Biblical history and encouraged me to keep studying and to question everything, and I have.

I also studied with a Buddhist master doing his doctorate in Christian-Buddhism, and I learned a lot from him. I told him I was hardly a scholar, but he told me I had a better grasp of the Bible than most ministers. But made me feel like all of that studying was worthwhile. What’s most frustrating for me are the Christians who demand that everyone else needs to be a Christian, their brand of Christian, yet they don’t have the motivation or take the time to read the Bible and learn the history behind it.

They make demands based on what they hear in church (and most people only absorb about 30% of what they hear), and suddenly they are experts.

Because they are Christians and they go to church.

Once a week.

And because I’m an Atheist Pagan, I couldn’t possibly know anything about Christianity. Again, they don’t know my personal history; they make assumptions. And narrow-minded ones at that.

Oh, and by the way, not only do Pagans have “Christmas” trees, but Atheists do as well. And even some Jews and Muslims. For Christians, Christmas may be a religious holiday, but it’s lovely secular family time and meant for sharing and caring for the rest of us.

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