Cheapening Christianity

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Cheapening Christianity

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Sun Dec 20, 2009 12:41 am

Okay folks, typed this in once and then promptly lost it. So here is the cliffs' notes.

I want lots of Christian participation on this one, seeing as my questions are pointed at you. I have been thinking a lot about Christianity in this season, what with it being everywhere, and a thought occurred to me.

Throughout the New Testament, the writers have Jesus and Paul speaking against showy religion. When you pray, pray in secret. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. And so on.

I suspect it was partially to protect followers from persecution, and partially a rail against state religions, but that is neither here nor there.

Later, when Christianity became more dominant, Christians seemed to change their tune. Christian holy days became Christian holidays. Christians ruled and often other religions suffered for it, as Christians had suffered in the past.

And then came secular religions, and many Christians set up howling when they had to share. I have had to point out, even today, that:



But that is really not the point of my post, really.

My point is this, with Jesus saying all that Render unto Caesar stuff, does turning Christmas and other Christian holy days into state holidays cheapen them. Why or why not.

I ask because I met a group of people on Facebook who were all "It's called CHRISTMAS; not Yule!!!" people. (Literally, one of them said that to me, in a message.) And then they got all het up when people chose to use the holiday the way they best saw fit. I am not sure if this is a case of them wanting to have their cake and eat it too, but I wondered what Christians thought of this sort of thing.

Let me know what you think.

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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by DotNotInOz on Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:03 am

And then, there was the student I had once who explained to me that her family did not celebrate Christmas in any way whatsoever. They didn't do anything out of the ordinary other than her not having to go to school and her parents not working. The primary reason why is that there's no biblical support for celebrating Jesus's birthday, so her church didn't sanction it. Another reason was that Christmas has absorbed so many pagan symbols and customs and become more about buying and giving things that her church felt it has been corrupted beyond any possibility of redemption. So, they simply trashed it entirely.
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by gillyflower on Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:02 am

This is an interesting question to me from an anthropological point of view. If you look at cultures, you will see that generally speaking people like to party. They look for reasons to have a feast and games, spectacles, to celebrate and do something a little out of the ordinary. The "no fun" rule in Christianity? There is no way that would last very long, people being what they are. People are quick to rebel against that.

Which, as an aside, is one reason why I think the Evangelicals have become so popular. They offer bread and circuses, like the Romans so successfully did first, in their services.

Again, though, people being what they are, they are going to shrilly denounce anyone who has more fun than they have, especially people who have more fun and don't believe exactly the same thing, which is what I think is happening.

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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by TPaine on Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:22 pm

The Christian Taliban only uses the Bible when it doesn't conflict with their agenda. Last week they held a Prayer Cast on the web that had none of that sissy stuff like pray in secret, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's, or love thy neighbor as thyself. It was held to ask God to defeat health care, since the majority obviously too damn stupid to know what is best for them. Therefore, the Christian Taliban must do their thinking for them. Attending this Prayer Cast were the following:

Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council Action
Lou Engle, Founder and President, The Call to Conscience
Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family Action
Dr. James Dobson, Founder, Focus on the Family Action
Shirley Dobson, National Day of Prayer Task Force Chairman
Hon. Sam Brownback, United States Senator, Kansas
Hon. Jim DeMint, United States Senator, South Carolina
Hon. Randy Forbes, United States House of Representatives, Virginia
Hon. Michele Bachmann, United States House of Representatives, Minnesota
Bishop Harry Jackson, President, High Impact Leadership Coalition
Pastor Jim Garlow, Skyline Church, San Diego, Calif.
Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Leadership Conference

Obviously, that Communist concept of Separation of Church and State doesn't apply to the Senators and Representatives who took part. After all, we know that Karl Mark really wrote the letter to the Danbury Baptists, not Thomas Jefferson. Satan made it possible since Marx hadn't been born at the time. Link
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by Davelaw on Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:49 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:And then, there was the student I had once who explained to me that her family did not celebrate Christmas in any way whatsoever. They didn't do anything out of the ordinary other than her not having to go to school and her parents not working. The primary reason why is that there's no biblical support for celebrating Jesus's birthday, so her church didn't sanction it. Another reason was that Christmas has absorbed so many pagan symbols and customs and become more about buying and giving things that her church felt it has been corrupted beyond any possibility of redemption. So, they simply trashed it entirely.

I'm very sympathetic to your students POV. It's closer to the historical position of the churches of my ancestors then what occurs today.
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by Davelaw on Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:58 pm

sacrificialgoddess wrote:Okay folks, typed this in once and then promptly lost it. So here is the cliffs' notes.

I want lots of Christian participation on this one, seeing as my questions are pointed at you. I have been thinking a lot about Christianity in this season, what with it being everywhere, and a thought occurred to me.

Throughout the New Testament, the writers have Jesus and Paul speaking against showy religion. When you pray, pray in secret. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. And so on.

I suspect it was partially to protect followers from persecution, and partially a rail against state religions, but that is neither here nor there.

Later, when Christianity became more dominant, Christians seemed to change their tune. Christian holy days became Christian holidays. Christians ruled and often other religions suffered for it, as Christians had suffered in the past.

And then came secular religions, and many Christians set up howling when they had to share. I have had to point out, even today, that:



But that is really not the point of my post, really.

My point is this, with Jesus saying all that Render unto Caesar stuff, does turning Christmas and other Christian holy days into state holidays cheapen them. Why or why not.

I ask because I met a group of people on Facebook who were all "It's called CHRISTMAS; not Yule!!!" people. (Literally, one of them said that to me, in a message.) And then they got all het up when people chose to use the holiday the way they best saw fit. I am not sure if this is a case of them wanting to have their cake and eat it too, but I wondered what Christians thought of this sort of thing.

Let me know what you think.

yes and no

In reality,Christmas has always been a secular holiday with a religious justification whether its Mithras, Satunalia, Yule or Christmas. Historically, the State holiday has always existed. The Christians just took it over. Every Sunday should be Christmas/Easter but for my flavor of evangelical/fundy having a State holiday is a talking point for witnessing.
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by AutumnalTone on Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:14 am

For every religious path available, there are folks who walk it who will cheapen it at every turn. The decision to celebrate Christmas at the winter solstice to highjack the Pagan celebrations that take place then definitely cheapened Christianity. The sad thing is that those who cheapen their religions the most are those least likely to understand what they're doing.
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:41 pm

Davelaw wrote:
DotNotInOz wrote:And then, there was the student I had once who explained to me that her family did not celebrate Christmas in any way whatsoever. They didn't do anything out of the ordinary other than her not having to go to school and her parents not working. The primary reason why is that there's no biblical support for celebrating Jesus's birthday, so her church didn't sanction it. Another reason was that Christmas has absorbed so many pagan symbols and customs and become more about buying and giving things that her church felt it has been corrupted beyond any possibility of redemption. So, they simply trashed it entirely.

I'm very sympathetic to your students POV. It's closer to the historical position of the churches of my ancestors then what occurs today.

Exactly, Dave. Her family didn't do anything special for Easter either other than having a longer, more joyous church service that Sunday.

As you mention, every day is supposed to celebrate Christ's birth and resurrection.
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by Sakhaiva on Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:06 pm

AutumnalTone wrote:For every religious path available, there are folks who walk it who will cheapen it at every turn. The decision to celebrate Christmas at the winter solstice to highjack the Pagan celebrations that take place then definitely cheapened Christianity. The sad thing is that those who cheapen their religions the most are those least likely to understand what they're doing.

That is fantastic answer AutumnalTone; so true.

People are fallible beings.... just when something *makes sense* and we think 'oh lets try to write it down and form some sort of code of ethics'... we tip the scales and fall into the power-lusting trap of legalism.

Doing so will cheapen any path.

Specifically looking at Christianity, I'd like to draw upon the example of John Calvin; while not everything Calvin said was off-base (and he certainly was not an unschooled man; he was exceptionally intelligent), he, without a doubt, went so far to the extreme with his understanding of predestination that he totally missed the idea of God's unmeasurable free grace... which is, imho, the Good News.

Thankfully..... Christianity is not dependent upon human sagacity.

....

Of course SG, your post also brings to mind Bonhoeffer who said, shortly before his death by hanging: "Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves .... Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has."

How can a Christian keep "knocking on the door" if they are busy pointing their fingers at others?

How can anyone, for that matter?
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by Beautiful_Dreamer on Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:57 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:And then, there was the student I had once who explained to me that her family did not celebrate Christmas in any way whatsoever. They didn't do anything out of the ordinary other than her not having to go to school and her parents not working. The primary reason why is that there's no biblical support for celebrating Jesus's birthday, so her church didn't sanction it. Another reason was that Christmas has absorbed so many pagan symbols and customs and become more about buying and giving things that her church felt it has been corrupted beyond any possibility of redemption. So, they simply trashed it entirely.

Was she a Jehovah's Witness? They don't celebrate holidays for the precise reason you mentioned. I grew up in a town with a lot of Witnesses and they were often seen working on the holidays everyone else wanted to be off like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I'm not sure if this will answer your question, but a friend of mine said it best when she said that her Christian faith grew when she went to Japan for a year in college. She said that she appreciated her Christian faith a lot more because she had to 'look for it'. It wasn't all over the place the way it is here. It's really easy to take something for granted when it's everywhere you look.

I agree about the Christian Taliban and I also really like the pictures on the first post! The 'persecution' cries really piss me off because they take the attention off of people who are *really* persecuted. But then, some of them don't care as long as they're the center of attention. I also hate how some of the loud people give the rest of us Christians a bad name and others a bad taste in their mouths.
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:42 pm

No, it was a weird ultra-fundamentalist storefront church. There were two of them in the tiny town (pop. 1600) where I lived then.

I think this student belonged to the one started by a woman who had been a Southern Baptist, I think it was, but the SB's weren't strict enough for her. Anyway, I recall hearing that she was somewhat a nutjob that her former church wasn't sorry to see leave.

The Southern Baptists were plenty strict, it seemed to me, but even they celebrated Christmas, and the women wore jewelry and makeup. This girl's church forbade women any jewelry or makeup and insisted that their hair be worn very simply although it could be cut and styled. I think that married women were allowed to wear a plain wedding band, but that was all. St. Paul's injunctions about properly modest appearance for Christian women, of course, although I don't think he foresaw how popular pants would become. Oddly, the girls and women did wear slacks or jeans. I don't think they wore shorts but don't recall precisely.
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Re: Cheapening Christianity

Post by Sakhaiva on Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:09 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:This girl's church forbade women any jewelry or makeup and insisted that their hair be worn very simply although it could be cut and styled.

At least they could cut their hair; my grandma's church preached that cutting hair was a sin. I remember watching my grandma take down her bun each night and brush out her looooong black hair (she was half Indian)

Personally, I wish our culture wore veils. I get sick of doing my hair every day.
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