4 Theories on the Date of Christmas

December 2, 2008

nativityscene

Contrary to the popular belief that Christmas was set on Dec. 25 simply to rival a pagan feast, there are at least 4 theories explaining the date from a Christian perspective.  All of them may be true.

Theory 1: Day of Creation and the Conception of Jesus.

David Bennett at Per Christum has an excellent article beginning with this explanation:

The main reason early Christians chose December 25th for the date of Christmas relates to the date of the creation of the world. Jewish thought had placed the date of creation on March 25th, and it was early Christian writer Sextus Julius Africanus who suggested that Christ became incarnate on that date (it makes great symbolic sense!).

According to Sextus Julius, since Christ became incarnate from the moment of his conception, this means that, after 9 months in the Virgin Mary’s womb, Jesus was born on December 25. While the scope of Julius’ influence is unknown, nonetheless, we encounter a Jewish reason why the date of December 25th was chosen for the birth date of Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »


Celebrate Advent, Question Christmas

November 29, 2008

santa-jesus

This year may be the best one in a long time for all Christians to re-examine Christmas and take Advent to heart.  A bad economy and a Walmart stampede which gave new meaning to “Black Friday,” offer us good occassion to reflect on the inanity of the American “Christmas” Season.

For years I have been deeply disturbed by the grand materialistic orgy that is the gringo Xmas.  The Lord who came to us in humble human vesture, in utter simplicity and taught us to find our serenity in the goods of heaven rather than the goods of this world has become hopelessly lost in a sea of Santa’s hocking gadgets which rob us of time and mental energy to reflect upon and deepen our spiritual lives. Read the rest of this entry »


Ben Lomond: When Antiochian Orthodoxy Drove Away its Converts

August 22, 2008

A terrible tragedy happened 10 years ago this month known as the Ben Lomond Crisis. According to these re-published accounts, it was an event characterized by rigidity, intrigue and ethnocentricism on the one hand, and a defiance of legitimate episcopal authority on the other, which ruined Antiochian Orthodoxy’s best hope for a major influx of Evangelical converts. The “Orthodox Moment” among Evangelicals began and ended at Ben Lomond, California.

While there are undoubtedly conflicting versions of this event, here are two accounts of what took place in this historic turn for Orthodoxy in America.

From Ben Lomond Tragedy:

An account from 1998, November 26, 1998 (broken into paragraphs for easier reading)

The parish in Ben Lomond, CA was then the largest parish of the Antiochian Evangelical Mission. In 1997, it was a parish of about 1500. Saturday Vespers had about 200 attendees. The entire congregation sang as the choir. It has a K-12 school, a world class choir, a hospitality house (for visitors), programs for teens, and a publishing house, Conciliar Press, which the evangelicals brought with them. The parish allowed a highly respected spiritual father from Mount Athos to visit them and to hear confessions and give guidance. People began to fast and pray more.

The hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese then forbade any Antiochian clergy or faithful to go for a confession to a non-Antiochian priest. Their practice of having a complete round of daily services, with Matins, Liturgy, Vespers, and everything else, all well attended, was considered bizarre and no longer normal. Moreover, they had some unusual liturgical customs and Russian customs in their services. Certain Arab ladies in the parish got the ear of the local Bishop and started demanding that the thing was getting out of control; a new leadership had to be installed at Ben Lomond. Read the rest of this entry »


What is Wrong with Post Modern Religion in 2 minutes 39 seconds

August 15, 2008

“I think it is up for each one of us to interpret what God wants.”

Post modernism is the direct fruit of Sola Scriptura, by which everyone can just come up with their own interpretation of revelation.


Inca Processional Hymn from 1631

August 11, 2008

“Hanacpachap cussicuinin” is processional hymn in the Quechua language of Peru (Inca), this piece was most likely written by a native composer and later published by the Franciscan scholar Juan Pérez Bocanegra in 1631, thus becoming the first example of polyphony printed in the Americas.

Read the rest of this entry »


The World as You Have Never Seen it Before …

August 1, 2008

Guess what this distortion of the globe represents before you look below the break.

What do you think this is? Read the rest of this entry »


Evangelicals: Change of Heart toward Catholics

July 28, 2008

Evangelicals have been going through a major change of heart in their view of Catholicism over the past 15 years or so. In the 80’s when I was in college I lived in the Biblebelt and had plenty of experience with Evangelicals–much of it bad experience. The 80’s was the height of the “Are you saved?” question. In Virginia, the question often popped up in the first 10 minutes of getting to know someone. As I look back, Isurmise that this was coached from the pulpit or Sunday school as it was so well coordinated and almost universally applied. It was a good tactic for putting Catholics on the defensive even before it was known that they were Catholic—“ummmm, uhhh, well no, I’m not sure, I’m Catholic.” Then a conversation about works righteousness or saint statues would ensue. Yeah, nice to meet you, too.
Thankfully, those days are pretty much over. We now have formerly rabid anti-Catholics apologizing and even praising the pope. Catholics and Evangelicals have both learned that we have much in common and need each other to face the secular culture with a solid front. But, where did this detente come from? I think there is a real history to be told here and a book should be written. Let me give my perceptions of 7 major developments since 1993, which I regard as the the watershed year for the renewal of the Catholic Church in the United States.

1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1993. When this document came out, it was uncertain that even Catholics would read it. We should have known that something was up when the French version hit the top of the bestsellers charts in France and stayed there for months. The English version did the same in the US. Catholics were reading the Catechism, forming study groups and challenging errant professors in the classroom. Read the rest of this entry »


Witness the Devotion of a New Generation

July 20, 2008

I know the music is contemporary and many traditionalists will not like it. Still, it captures the Spirit of modern youth and fits with the Holy Father’s them of the Holy Spirit for WYD 2008. When I saw these images I was truly moved.


WYD: Benedict Bedazzles at Sydney Harbor

July 20, 2008

Having been to two WYD’s (Toronto and Cologne) I can attest that they are supremely powerful experiences. To have the gospel sifted for its specific message for today’s youth by the greatest spiritual authorities on earth is just impossible to express. It is overwhelming.

But, it can be hard to convey that experience to those who were not there.

However, Benedict’s words in themselves, even without all the experiencial props to heighten the experience, have a power to clear ones thinking and set ones heart aright. He seamlessly weaves together concerns for the environment, sexual exploitation, materialism and secularism all in light of the universal spiritual hunger for the Gospel. Powerful!

Here are some of his words at Sydney Harbor on Thursday:

“…Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf. Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth. Read the rest of this entry »


John 6 in Our Day

May 16, 2008

I have been carrying around this thought for over a decade:

As a result of this hard teaching [just pick one], many of the Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans and Evangelicals returned to their former pagan way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Read the rest of this entry »


Must Read: Prager on “Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality”

May 15, 2008

Dennis Prager has written the best explanation of the essential theological-sociological nature of Catholic-Jewish teachings on human sexuality. Starting with a description of male sexuality and implicitly the necessity of social mores/boundaries on the male, he demonstrates the connections between the dignity of the human person, particularly women and children, and the sublimation of male sexuality into exclusively heterosexual outlets. In Catholic terms there is a continuum between the consistent ethic of life and heterosexual family building. It’s an absolute must read!

To a world which divided human sexuality between penetrator and penetrated, Judaism said, “You are wrong — sexuality is to be divided between male and female.” To a world which saw women as baby producers unworthy of romantic and sexual attention, Judaism said “You are wrong — women must be the sole focus of men’s erotic love.” To a world which said that sensual feelings and physical beauty were life’s supreme goods, Judaism said, “You are wrong — ethics and holiness are the supreme goods.” A thousand years before Roman emperors kept naked boys, Jewish kings were commanded to write and keep a sefer torah, a book of the Torah.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why Do Evangelicals Celebrate Easter When They Do?

March 25, 2008

Ok, I grant that a number of non-Catholics go out of the way to call the holiday “Resurrection Sunday” a few seem to have gravitated towards calling it “Pascha” like Eastern Christians do… Some of them dislike the term “Easter” wrongly thinking it connotes paganism. (Taylor Marshall has the 411 on that with today’s entry Why is the festival of Christ’s Resurrection called Easter? – it is about as “pagan” to use the term “Easter” as it is “Thursday” or “January” or “Sunday“[!] for that matter!)

Read the rest of this entry »