SHE NEVER DANCED TO ELVIS

She never danced to Elvis,
nor hummed a Beatle tune,
nor saw a James Dean movie,
nor men walk upon the moon.
She never dreamed a world
too different than her own,
of things unseen or thought of,
or of leaving me all alone.
She never saw a hoola hoop,
Nor a jet streak across the sky,
Never knew what I’d become,
And never wonder why.
Just beyond her time
The future dimmed from sight,
But yet life marched on
From that fateful winter night.
Though she never saw,
Though she never knew,
Though she never heard,
With me her future grew.
For through the eyes she gave me,
Through my pair of ears,
Through the life I’ve lived,
She’s reached across the years.
She never danced to Elvis,
But she danced just the same,
She died much too young,
But this way once she came.

My mother died in an accident when I was three and she was twenty one. I have no cognizant memory of her of which I am certain. This is dedicated to her anyway.

No Tears

My mother died at twenty,
I was not yet three.
Nearly sixty years have passed
And I rue what could not be.
I don’t recall her soothing voice
Nor her gentle touch.
I do not remember her face,
I don’t remember much.
I have lived three lifetimes
Of her twenty years,
And until just recently
I had shed no tears.
Not because I couldn’t,
Or because I didn’t try,
Not because of callousness
Did I refuse to cry.
I didn’t cry at five,
And at ten no tears did fall,
For a mother I didn’t know,
Not any tears at all.
At twenty and at forty,
The tears still didn’t flow,
But now as I near sixty
I’m free to cry, I know.
For no one is left to tell me
To be a brave young man,
To hold it in and not to show
The tracks of tears that ran.
There’s no one else to cry for her,
None is left but me, her son,
And so in my quiet times
The tears are free to run.

FLOATING LEAVES

Leaves floating upon the stream,
dead, detached, like an empty dream.
Their life is gone, colors faded,
eternity escaped them, though they waited.
Now they travel the water course,
cold and flowing, fleeing its source.
What was their role, I do wonder,
to live but once and then turn under?
Or is there a greater reason here,
one unseen, unthought, unclear?
They are but travelers to a watery grave,
no lament for the lives they gave.
Their purpose was to live one season
and then be gone as with no reason.
From green and living they have stumbled,
to dead and rotting, in a pallid jumble.
So too does my life flow away,
this brief sojourn is but a day,
a season like the leaf, soon gone,
and into the current I am drawn.
Floating, flowing, in the stream,
my life was but the briefest dream.

The Searches are Over

Ah, the miracle of the Internet. This modern marvel has expanded my contacts with people, information, and a myriad of other things. To those Luddites who eschew this technology, all I can is, “If you don’t like it, stay away from it, but leave it alone for me.”

Besides the obvious benefits of easy and instant research, conduct of business, a plethora of shopping and purchasing options, and so much more, it also has been able to indulge me in the pursuit of many of my hobbies and crucial areas of interest. None more so than my lifelong obsession with music.

Just this week I was able to put closure to two of my long term searches for the Holy Grail of Bob Dylan music. One of these searches dates back to 1962 and the other one to 1969.

In 1962 Dylan was invited by the BBC to participate in a live broadcast of an original play, “Madhouse on Castle Street.” In the play, Dylan acted as a sort of traveling troubadour, walking in and out of scenes, playing acoustic guitar and singing. The two songs that were performed in this one-time broadcast were his original composition, “Blowing in the Wind”, and a traditional English folk ballad which Dylan rewrote in large part, “The Ballad of the Gliding Swan.”

To those lucky enough to see the original play, it was instantly apparent that these performances were seminal in the oeuvre of the budding musical and culture icon, Bob Dylan. Dylanologists ever since have sought out the so far undiscovered complete performance of “The Ballad of the Gliding Swan,” never performed before or since by Dylan, and often thought of as his best officially unreleased performance.

The BBC, as was their normal practice at the time, recorded over the tape of the show. Recording tape was still, at that time, an expensive commodity, and there was little or no thought of archiving such broadcasts for any sort of permanency. Since 1962, the only recording of this song to surface was a 47 second snippet recorded by a viewer who placed a microphone near his television set speaker. This recording has been the sole stimulus for wishful thinking among Dylan fans ever since, hoping that a superior and complete version would one day come to light. I have even written an as yet unpublished novel based on the premise that such a version turns up, setting off a chain of deadly events over the ultimate ownership of these tapes.

Well, returning to the observation about the miracle of the internet, an improved version has turned up. Not a complete version, but a longer and much superior sound quality version. This one is fifty nine seconds long, has no noticeable or distressing surface noise, and much more dynamic range. I was able to download it from an archive site which has posted it, and while it took forty six years to track down, it was worth the wait. Now if only a complete version would surface. Not only would that satisfy my, and other Dylan fans’ interest, but would lend some credibility to my novel.

The other touchstone of Dylan’s career that came my way this week is an audience recording of his Isle of Wight concert in 1969. While Woodstock played out in upstate New York, near Dylan’s home in that hamlet on August 15, 16, and 17 of that year, Dylan traveled to the Isle of Wight off the English coast, to perform on August 31. This was his first appearance in public in over three years, having spent those years in recovery from a motorcycle accident, and re-prioritizing his life and career. While the performers at Woodstock rocked the world, Dylan played a set of quieter, more introspective tunes in a style far removed from that of his contemporaries at the more famous festival.

Like many others of my generation, I was fascinated by the stories emanating from Woodstock on that weekend. That singular event has even lent its name to my generation, the Woodstock Generation. Yet, two weeks later when I heard some vague mentions about Dylan performing at the Isle of Wight, I was quickly more interested in that event and the importance that it held. While never achieving the fame of the Woodstock Festival, the Isle of Wight Festival has fascinated me even more than its more famous counterpart. Largely due to the Dylan connection, but also due to the less commercialized, more laid back nature of the event when compared to Woodstock. Dylan was backed by his old pals and touring band, The Band for much of the seventeen song set, and they were as good as they had ever been.

Also among those performing at the festival, were The Who, The Moody Blues, Pentangle, and Tom Paxton. In attendance in the audience was Eric Clapton, some members of the Rolling Stones, and The Beatles.

Dylan’s performance met with mixed reviews. Some members of the audience were put off by his mellower vocals and overall performance, wanting the old fire from his 1966 concerts. Some, including Eric Clapton, were motivated in new musical directions from his laid back performance, seeing in it the opening salvo in a new era of music wherein introspection and mellowness would win the day.

Regardless of the disparities of opinion, Dylanophiles either moved heaven and earth to get copies of audience recordings over the years, or salivated at the thought of ever finding such recordings. I have, for 39 years, been in the latter group. This morning my search ended. From a website in Singapore I found, and was able to download, the complete concert. The sound quality is good for an audience recording, but not anywhere near studio or even mixer board quality.

I used a sound editing program and removed much surface noise, increased volume levels, and removed a lot of the ambient tape hiss. It’s not perfect, but it is of such great historical significance, to the music world, and to me, that I’m more than satisfied with the end product that I’ve now burned to CD.

Thank you to all of those who made these recordings possible, both from their inceptions, and from the archiving, and ultimate sharing with those to whom these performances are significant.


While we enjoyed Christmas, our ferrets, as always, enjoyed the wrapping paper, boxes, bubble wrap, bows, and other sundry garbage. This cartoon is pretty accurate in that regard.

CHILDHOOD WINTERS

Five buckle arctics
Over tiny shoes,
Old leather mittens,
Coat of faded hues.
Wool cap pulled low,
Cold, watery eyes
Looking at the world
In its wintry disguise.
A snowman was born
Upon the icy lawn,
Though the builder knew
That soon it would be gone.
Snowballs were thrown,
Laughter split the air,
Frozen to the core,
No one really cared.
Childhood winters,
They did come and go,
Icy blasts of wind,
Crystal, blowing snow.

Nazareth

In this season so closely, though erroneously, linked to the birth of Jesus, it would do us well to pause and reflect on a few facts that obscure the claims that he was the Messiah long awaited by the Jewish faith. There is no fact more troubling to me than the designation of Jesus as having been from a town in Galilee called Nazareth.

The author of the gospel account known as Luke tells us that Gabriel was sent from God to a city named Nazareth where he informed Mary that she would give birth to a son. Luke also tells us that Joseph went to Bethlehem from a city named Nazareth. Finally, the author of Luke tells us that the holy family returned to Nazareth where Jesus then grew up.

However when we look for historical confirmation of this hometown of a god, no other source confirms that the place even existed in the 1st century AD. Nazareth is not mentioned even once in the entire Old Testament. The Book of Joshua in what it claims is the process of settlement by the tribe of Zebulon in the area records twelve towns and six villages and yet omits any ‘Nazareth’ from its list.

The Talmud, although it names 63 Galilean towns, knows nothing of Nazareth, nor does early rabbinic literature. St Paul knows nothing of ‘Nazareth’. Rabbi Solly’s epistles mention Jesus 221 times, Nazareth not at all. No ancient historian or geographer mention Nazareth. Even Josephus, the first century Jewish historian who mentioned even the most obscure settlements in his writings has not one word about Nazareth. It is first noted at the beginning of the 4th century.

Christian apologists fall all over themselves to explain ‘But of course, no one had heard of Nazareth, we’re talking of a REALLY small place.’ By semantic downsizing, city becomes TOWN, town becomes VILLAGE, and village becomes ‘OBSCURE HAMLET’. Yet if we are speaking of such an obscure hamlet, the ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ story begins to fall apart.

For example, the whole ‘rejection in his homeland’ story requires at a minimum a synagogue in which the godman can ‘blaspheme.’ There wouldn’t have been a synagogue in a village, much less a tiny bucolic hamlet.

If Jesus had grown up and spent thirty years of his life in a village with as few as 25 families, an inbred clan of less than 300 people, the ‘multitude’ that were supposedly shocked by his blasphemy and which had nearly thrown him from a cliff, would not have been hostile strangers but, to a man, would have been relations and friends that he had grown up with, including his own brothers. Presumably, they would have heard his pious utterances for years.

Indeed, had no one mentioned what had happened in Bethlehem; star, wise men, shepherds, infant-massacre and all? Why would they have been outraged by anything the godman said or did? Had they forgotten a god was growing up in their midst? And what had happened to that gift of gold? Had it not made the ‘holy family’ rich?

The expression ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ is actually a bad translation of the original Greek ‘Jesous o Nazoraios’. More accurately, we should speak of ‘Jesus the Nazarene’, where Nazarene has a meaning quite unrelated to a place name. But just what is that meaning and how did it get applied to a small village? The highly ambiguous Hebrew root of the name is NZR.

The 2nd century gnostic Gospel of Philip offers this explanation: ‘The apostles that came before us called him Jesus Nazarene the Christ…”Nazara” is the “Truth”. Therefore ‘Nazarene’ is “The One of the Truth”…’

What we do know is that ‘Nazarene’ was originally the name of an early Jewish-Christian sect, a faction, or off-shoot, of the Essenes. They had no particular relation to a city of Nazareth. The root of their name may have been ‘Truth’ or it may have been the Hebrew noun ‘netser’ (‘netzor’), meaning ‘branch’ or ‘flower.’ The plural of ‘Netzor’ becomes ‘Netzoreem.’ There is no mention of the Nazarenes in any of Paul’s writings.

It was the later Gospel of Matthew which started the deceit that the title ‘Jesus the Nazorene’ should in some manner relate to Nazareth, by quoting ‘prophecy': ‘And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.’

With this, Matthew closes his fable of Jesus’s early years. Yet Matthew is mis-quoting . He would surely know that nowhere in Jewish prophetic literature is there any reference to a Nazarene. What is ‘foretold’ (or at least mentioned several times) in Old Testament scripture is the appearance of a Nazarite. For example: ‘For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.’ (Judges 13.5)

Matthew slyly substitutes one word for another. By replacing Nazarite (‘he who vows to grow long hair and serve god’) with a term which appears to imply ‘resident of’ he is able to fabricate a hometown link for his fictitious hero.

It seems that, along with the Nozerim, a related Jewish/Christian faction, the Evyonim , ‘the Poor’ (later to be called Ebionites), emerged about the same time. According to Epiphanius (Bishop of Salamis , Cyprus, c. 370 A.D.), they arose from within the Nazarenes. They differed doctrinally from the original group in rejecting Paul and were ‘Jews who pay honour to Christ as a just man…’ They, too, It seems had their own prototype version of Matthew, ‘The Gospel to the Hebrews’ . A name they chose for themselves was ‘Keepers of the Covenant’. In Hebrew, ‘Nozrei haBrit’, whence Nosrim or Nazarene!

In other words, when it came to the crunch, the original Nazarenes split into two: those who tried to re-position themselves within the general tenets of Judaism (Evyonim-Nosrim); and those who rejected Judaism (‘Christian’-Nosrim)

Now, we know that a group of ‘priestly’ families resettled an area in the Nazareth valley after their defeat in the Bar Kochbar War of 135 AD. It seems highly probable that they were Evyonim-Nosrim and named their village ‘Nazareth’ or the village of ‘The Poor’ either because of self-pity or because doctrinally they made a virtue out of their poverty.

The writer of Matthew may have heard of ‘priestly’ families moving to a place in Galilee which they had called ‘Nazareth’ , and decided to use the name of the new town for the hometown of his hero.

The original gospel writers refrained from inventing a childhood, youth or early manhood for JC because it was not necessary to their central drama of a dying/reborn sun-god. But as we know, the story grew with the telling, particularly as the decades passed and the promised redeemer and judge failed to reappear. The re-writer of the Gospel of Mark, revising his text sometime between 140 and 150, cites the name of the city just once, at the opening, with these words: “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee…” (Mk I, 9)

From then on the name is completely forgotten. We may reasonably suspect that this sole reference is an interpolation.

We can trace the subsequent elevation of Nazareth in the Gospel of Luke. Luke is the writer who emphasizes Jesus’s ties to ‘Nazareth.’ Luke is the writer who goes out of his way to demonstrate an anti-Capernaum stance. Scholars have concluded Luke was not a Jew himself because of his ‘glaring errors in things Jewish’. He also makes mistakes in his geography. He knows little about the place and in his mini-drama describes an impossible incident: ‘and brought him to the precipice of the mountain that their city was built upon.’ (Luke 4).

Nazareth, in fact, is located in a depression, set within gentle hills. The whole region is characterized by plains and mild rises with no sharp peaks or steep cliffs. The terrain is correctly understood as a high basin, for in one direction is the much lower Plain of Esdraelon. There is no disguising that Nazareth is built in a valley and not on a mountain.

In the 3rd century, Church Father Origen knew the gospel story of the city of Nazareth, yet had no clear idea where it was , even though he lived at Caesarea, barely thirty miles from the present town. Even in Origen’s day, as the Church became more institutionalised, intense rivalry was developing between the patriarchs of Caesarea and Jerusalem. This rivalry was only resolved (in Jerusalem’s favour) at Chalcedon in 451. Part of the rivalry centred on control of ‘Holy places’. Hence, ‘finding’ the lost city of Nazareth was a matter of major importance,

Perambulating to the rescue, in the early 4th century, came the 80-year-old dowager Empress Helena. Preparing the way for an imminent meeting with her maker with a program of ‘Works’, she made a conscience-salving pilgrimage to Palestine. In the area of Nazareth she could find nothing but an ancient well, in fact the only water source in the area (which in itself demolishes the idea there was ever a ‘city’ ). No doubt encouraged by canny locals, Helena promptly labelled the hole in the ground ‘Mary’s Well’ and had a small basilica built over the spot. Conveniently, the gospels had failed to make clear exactly where Mary had been when the archangel Gabriel had come calling. Thus the well site acquired local supporters for the divine visitation and Nazareth acquired its first church.

A generation after the dowager empress had gone touring, another geriatric grandee, the Lady Egeria, spent years in the ‘Land becoming more Holy by the day’.

Egeria, a Spaniard, like the then Emperor Theodosius and almost certainly part of the imperial entourage, reached the Nazareth area in 383. This time, canny monks showed her a ‘big and very splendid cave’ and gave the assurance that this was where Mary had lived. The Custodians of the Cave, not to be outbid by the Keepers of the Well, insisted that the cave, not the well, had been the site of the divine visitation. This so-called ‘grotto’ became another pilgrimage attraction, over which, by 570, rose the basilica of another church. Today, above and about the Venerable Grotto, stands the biggest Christian theme park in the Middle East.

In the late 4th century, by which time the Church had control of theological correctness, Nazareth was being correctly described by Jerome as ‘a very small village in Galilee’ . He should know: he had fled scandal in Italy to set up an ecclesiastical retreat in the area for well-heeled Romans. The village owed its very existence to the imperial itinerary half a century before.

So, if the Jesus of the gospels is real, we do not really know whether he was a Nazarene or a Nazorite, but we can be fairly certain that he was not from a location called Nazareth.

Some Truth About Christmas

Now that Christmas is over, maybe Bill O’Reilly and his fellow “war on Christmas” ilk will shut up about that topic for awhile. Until next year at least, when they need to increase their viewership and readership by pulling out this faux issue in order to bring the crazies out of the woodwork.

So what is the truth about Christmas, its origination, celebration, and the so-called “war” against it?

As to its origination as a holiday, we find in the Catholic Encyclopedia that Christmas was not even observed until the last part of the fourth century, when the Church began observing December 25 as Jesus’ birthday. By the fifth century, the Catholic Church mandated that this date be forever observed as the official birthdate. At the time of this decree, the Church knew full well that the pagan religious cults throughout the Roman and Greek worlds celebrated the pagan sun god, Mithra, on this self-same day. This winter festival was known as the Nativity of the Sun. It was also known in the Roman Empire as Saturnalia, another name for sun worship.

The observation of this date actually pre-dated Christianity by hundreds of years by various pagan and nature worshipping cults. It loosely marked the return to longer days following the Winter Solstice, and symbolized the rebirth of the sun.

The winter festival was very popular in ancient times, and marked a time of rejoicing and festivity. Many of our present day customs involved in the Christmas season are a direct inheritance of the Roman winter festival of Saturnalia. These days involved gift giving, colored lights to ward off evil spirits, festive meals, and of course, decorated trees.

The present day Christmas tree can be traced even further back to the worship of sacred trees in the ancient Babylonian system. The green evergreen symbolized the incarnate Baal coming to life through the incarnate baby Tammuz. The custom of decorating and worshipping trees spread throughout the known world, with the variety of tree used selected according to the natural growth of each area of the world. The Druids worshipped the oak tree, the Egyptians worshipped the palm tree, while in Rome it was the fir tree.

There are at least ten references in the Bible warning that these green trees were associated with idolatry and pagan worship. Jeremiah 10:1-4 details the Israelites following the very pagan customs practiced today:”Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O House of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”

It was noted by the pre-Christian Romans and other pagans, that daylight began to increase after December 22nd, when they assumed that the sun god died. These ancients believed that the sun god rose from the dead three days later as the new-born and venerable sun. Thus, they figured that to be the reason for increasing daylight. This was a cause for much wild excitement and celebration. Gift giving and merriment filled the temples of ancient Rome, as sacred priests of Saturn, called dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession. 

In Germany, the evergreen tree was used in worship and celebration in observance of the resurrected sun god. 
The evergreen tree was a symbol of the essence of life and was regarded as a phallic symbol in fertility worship. 

Witches and other pagans regarded the red holly as a symbol of the menstrual blood of the queen of heaven, also known as Diana. While the white berries of mistletoe were believed by pagans to represent droplets of the semen of the sun god.
 
Both holly and mistletoe were hung in doorways of temples and homes to invoke powers of fertility in those who stood beneath and kissed, causing the spirits of the god and goddess to enter them. These customs transcended the borders of Rome and Germany to the far reaches of the known world.

Yule is the Chaldean name for ‘infant’ or ‘little child.’ In ancient Babylon, centuries before the birth of Jesus, the 25th of December was known as Yule day or the birth of the promised child day. This was the day of the birth of the incarnate sun, who appeared as a baby child to redeem a world bound in darkness. It was an essential belief of the Babylonian religious system, that the sun god, also known as Baal, was the chief god in a polytheistic system. Tammuz was also worshipped as the god incarnate, or promised baby son of Baal, who was to be the Savior of the world.

In 46 BC, when the Roman “Julian Calendar” was adopted, December 24th was the shortest day of the year. Therefore, December 25th was the first annual day that daylight began to increase. Thus, the origin of the rebirth or Annual Birthday of the Invincible SUN.

In accordance with the Roman “Julian calendar,” the “Saturnalia” festival appears to have taken place on December 17th; it was preceded by the “Consualia” near December 15th, and followed by the “Opalia” on December 19th. These pagan celebrations typically lasted for a week, ending just before the late Roman Imperial Festival for “Sol Invictus” (Invincible Sun) on December 25th.

In 1582 AD Pope Gregory the XIII caused the current “Gregorian Calendar” to be adopted, in order to eliminate the solar time shift error introduced by the “Julian Calendar.” By December 1582 AD the shortest day of the year had shifted 12 days on the Roman “Julian Calendar” to Wednesday, December 12, 1582. However, the Original December 25th ‘Birth Date’ was retained for all pagan Sun gods by the Roman “Saturnalia” and “Sol Invictus” traditions; which were now called the “Twelve Days of Christ Mass.”

On the new Gregorian calendar the shortest annual day was numerically shifted back 10 days to the 22nd of December, where it remains to this day; while the original order of the days of the week remained unchanged. Therefore, Wednesday, December 12th, 1582 AD, became Wednesday, December 22nd, 1582 AD.

The very term, Christmas, comes from the sacred Christ-mass, where the Pope in a role that paralleled that of the High Priest of the mystery Babylon religion introduces the people to the concept of trans-substantiation. Using the wine and round wafers that reflect the life of Baal in the Babylonian religion, the name of Jesus replaces that pagan god. The wine and wafers are now said to be the transformation of the actual blood and body of the Messiah within the person who ingests them. People, thereby, relive again and again the death and resurrection of the incarnate god.

It would surprise most Christians to learn that the history of the church is filled with historic battles over these very doctrinal issues. Many of the reformation movements in the church made drastic attempts to get away from these pagan holidays.

Calvin, in 1550, instigated an edict concerning church holidays. A ban was passed against observing various church festivals, which included Christmas. 

David Calderwood, representing the Scottish ministries, asserted in reference to Christmas and Easter: “The Judaical days had once that honor, as to be appointed by Yahweh Himself; but the anniversary days appointed by men have not like honor. This opinion of Christ’s nativity on the 25th day of December was bred at Rome.” He argues that the Apostles never ordained it. He said the following: “Nay, let us utter the truth, December-Christmas is a just imitation of the December-Saturnalia of the ethnic [heathen] Romans, and so used as if Bacchus [another name for the sun god], and not Messiah, were the Yahweh of Christians.”

George Gillespie, a premier Scottish theologian, wrote in a book published in 1637 called A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies Obtruded Upon the Church of Scotland. “The holidays [reference to Christmas and Easter] take a severe beating on a number of accounts. Sacred significant ceremonies devised by man are to be reckoned among images forbidden in the second commandment in regards to worshipping idols.”

When the Puritans came to power in England, Parliament, in June,1647, passed legislation abolishing Christmas and other holidays. In this legislation, they wrote the following: “For as much as the feast of the nativity of Christ, Easter, and other festivals, commonly called holy days, have been here-to-fore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained that the said feasts, and all other festivals, commonly called holy days, be no longer observed as festivals.”

The American Puritan movement took an even stronger stand against these pagan holidays. Samuel Miller, a Puritan and professor of history and church government at Princeton Seminary, stated in 1896 in his book, Why Presbyterians Reject the Holy Days of Christmas and Easter:”the Scriptures were the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and that no rite or ceremony ought to have a place in the public worship of Yahweh, which is not warranted in Scripture. Not only does the celebration of non-biblical holidays lack a scriptural foundation, but the scriptures positively discount it.” 

Presbyterians were not the only ones who maintained a strong stand against Christmas, as there were many other Christians who held to similar convictions. As a matter of fact, the famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon, stated in a sermon given on Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1871, the following: “We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or English; and secondly, because we find no scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, it’s observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.” 

Opposition to these church holidays remained in American Presbyterianism through the latter half of the 19th century. Following the Civil War, historian Ernest Trice Thompson wrote the following:”There was no recognition of either Christmas or Easter in any of the Protestant churches, except the Episcopal and Lutheran. For a full generation after the Civil War, the religious journals of the South mentioned Christmas only to observe that there was no reason to believe that Jesus was actually born on December 25th; it was not recognized as a day of any religious significance in the Presbyterian Church”

The appearance of Easter and Christmas in the official calendar of the Southern Presbyterian church did not actually occur until the late 1940s and 1950s, as a work of growing apostasy in the church. Even so, as late as 1962, the Synod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland stated that they rejected the celebrations of Christmas and Easter.

The truth is that all of the customs of Christmas pre-date the birth of Jesus, and a study of this would reveal that 
Christmas in our day is a collection of traditions and practices taken from many cultures and nations. 

If there is indeed a war on Christmas in modern secular society as O’Reilly and others bloviate, then it has an ancient and widespread counterpart within the Christian church and in secular society that was much more overt and aggressive. Obviously the celebration of Christmas as we know it is a thing of modern invention, probably first really taking a foothold in our culture in the mid-19th century and expanding into the Victorian age.

LONELY PEOPLE

Lamps in houses blink on at night,
one person’s footsteps tread soft and light.
The plants need water, they can see,
their only company the color TV.
The quiet of the kitchen, tick of the clock,
the door is forgotten, for no one will knock.
The tidy beige carpet, the spotless steel sink,
always cleaning, too much time to think.
So many people in lonely clothes,
so many people nobody knows,
so many people with a silent phone,
so many people living alone.
Microwave dinners, they all taste the same.
The mail all comes to only one name.
The milk in the carton that’s way past it’s date,
the sad empty table with only one plate.
Where are the families that once were so close?
The uncles, the cousins, friends they chose?
The children, the neighbors, husbands and wives,
who all stayed together for all of their lives.
So many people with no one to hold,
so many people out in the cold,
so many people for so many years,
so many people, so many tears.