Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Pagan Roots of Christmas

Most of the characteristics of modern Christmas celebrations had their roots in pagan religions that preceded Christianity.
  1. The Date: In the 4th century AD, the winter solstice fell on December 25. That was the birth date of the Persian Sun God, Mithra. By the 4th century the Mithraic Cult was popular throughout the Roman Empire and was in direct competition with Christianity. The assignment of Christ's Mass Day to December 25 was part of the effort to ease the transition when paganism was outlawed and Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire (AD391).
  2. Mistletoe, Holly, and Gift Giving: Mistletoe is a parasite that appears in the tops of otherwise bare trees in the winter and fruits around the time of the winter solstice. This miracle made it a sacred plant to the Druids and an important part of their solstice festivals. Holly was a tradition of the Saturnalia, the Roman celebration of the solstice. Gift giving is also a Saturnalia tradition.
  3. Christmas Tree: Many cultures developed similar winter solstice traditions of cutting branches or whole trees and bringing them into the home. Whether the origin of the Christmas Tree is Germanic or Roman is in dispute. That it is a pagan symbol of seasonal rebirth is undisputed.
  4. Yule and Santa: Even this synonym for Christmas is a pagan celebration. The word is Old Nordic meaning "wheel" and was the name of a Norse winter solstice festival. Santa's reindeer and elves are also of pagan Nordic origin.
The Puritans despised the pagan and popish Christmas celebrations as do some fundamentalist Christian sects even today.

As for me, I like the friendship, family, and celebrations of the season. And, I really love the call for Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards All Men message. Take that, Bill O'Reilly.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mitt & Mike's Religious War

Mormons and Southern Baptists have been at war since both were founded. Neil Young in Slate has and interesting article about their conflict.
  • Mormonism is the older, more established religion, founded in 1830. Southern Baptistism didn't exist until 1845.
  • They are both about the same size - Southern Baptists, 16 million; Mormons, 13 million.
  • They share the same racism market. Southern Baptistism was born to defend slavery in America. A central tenet of the Mormon faith is that black skin is a curse from God, the Mark of Cain.
  • They share the same sexism market. Southern Baptists insist that wives submit to their husbands. Mormons believe a woman can only go to heaven with her husband. If he couldn't cut it she is still stuck in hellfire with him throughout eternity. (Mormans and Women)
Since Southern Baptists and Mormons are competing in the same market niche (white men who want passive women) they are each aggressively selling their religionsin the other's territory. Southern Baptists have gone farther to publicize the more intriguing (curious, bizarre) aspects of the Mormon faith. Did you know, for example, that if you are really, really good (not "good" in an absolute sense, just a good Mormon) when you die you are made the god of your very own planet. All of the women you have married are compelled to go to that planet and serve you?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Heliocentricism Be Damned

Creationists are irreligious pikers compared to these guys. proved with exhaustingly simpleminded repetition that:
  • The Earth is the Center of the Universe (just like the Bible says);
  • The Sun, planets, and stars all revolve around the Earth;
  • The Mars Rover and all the planetary missions are NASA computerized frauds;
  • The stars are not huge objects in the vastness of space but little, tiny specks stuck into a Firmament like sprinkles on a birthday cake;
  • The entirety of the Universe is about eight billion miles across (one light day);
  • Including Heaven!
Accordingly, the story of a vast, infinite Universe with galaxies fifteen billion light-years distant is just a Jewish conspiracy to undermine the Christian faith. Makes the "cavemen playing with dinosaurs" theory look kind of quaint.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Christian Taliban - Part 1 - Religious Tolerance

The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship. ~ Gary North, Institute for Christian Economics
The rapid growth in Mike Huckabee's presidential aspirations is viewed as God's Miracle by a class of Americans who want to transform the United States into a theocracy. Called Reconstructionism or Dominionism, the movement has taken as its goal replacing the Constitution with Mosaic Law. It would be wrong to dismiss them as lunatics. Because, while them may be insane, they are quite dedicated to the notion that secular democracy is Satanic and that they have been instructed by God Himself to impose a government where freedom is defined as the right to be Christian. There are many aspects to the theocracy they wish to impose. Some are shocking, others frightening. This is just a taste.

Religious Tolerance
When someone tries to undermine the commitment to Jehovah which is fundamental to the civil order of a godly state--then that person needs to be restrained by the magistrate....You would, therefore, be open, I believe, to hold Muslim views or Hindu views in the privacy of your own home, provided it was not a Christian home....You would be able to hold these views as a private conviction. But you would not be allowed to proselytize and undermine the order of the state." ~ Greg Bahnsen, Calvinism Today, Jan. 1994

Break it down. In a Christian America, you will be allowed to hold heretical beliefs only as long as you keep them secret. Tell a Christian and you face arrest. Place a little statue of Buddha on your desk at work and you face arrest. Publicly display in any way a lack of commitment to the Christian Jehovah and you face arrest.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Romney's Religion

Since Mitt Romney is going to give a speech on his religion, a brief Mormon Primer is in order.

Mormons have much in common with other American cults. Created in 1830 by Joseph Smith, there are about 5.5 million Mormons in the United States and about 10 million worldwide. About 70% of the State of Utah practices the Mormon faith.
  • As with many American-born religions, Mormons believe that the United States is the New Jerusalem and God has a special covenant with Americans.
  • They believe Americans are God's chosen people (sorry about that you Jewish folk). But, not just any Americans, only white Americans. This is similar to the much more obscene beliefs of the Christian Identity movement. It was not until 1978, when Mitt Romney was 31 years-old, that the Mormon Church officially revoked their belief that black skin was the "Mark of Cain" and showed God has cursed all people of color. Interracial marriage is still considered a sin.
  • Similar to the Oneida Community, Mormons had strange sexual practices. The exact theological underpinnings for polygamy escape me. As near as I can tell, the Mormon God instructed only one wife per man unless he really, really liked you. Then you could have a harem. Polygamy was officially outlawed by the church in 1890. There are today some 60,000 practicing Mormon polygamists, mostly in Utah, Arizona, and Mexico. That is a larger number than practiced polygamy in 1890.
  • As with other cults, there are organizations to help "deprogram" people from the Mormon faith.
  • One of the more unusual features of the religion is its underwear fetish.
I can't answer the question whether a practicing Mormon should be elected President. I just don't know. However, we have had a practicing imbecile in the office for seven years now and the nation has survived.