Sunday, December 24, 2006
Christmas: The Uncomfortable Alliance with Ancient Pagan Gods
Fundamentalist Christians from Pentecostal and non-Charismatic backgrounds look to the history of this holiday, and consider its Pagan origins. They consider the ongoing practices of Christmas and wonder which ones have their source in Pagan worship.
Meanwhile they often continue to purchase gifts, decorate their Christmas Trees, and tell their children stories of an old white bearded gentleman magically flying around the globe, and sneaking down chimneys each December 24th to give gifts.
Many of these same people believe that the origins of the celebration of the birth of the Son of God stem from the attempt to reinvent the Roman Pagan festival Saturnalia during the time the Emperors and Popes were Christianizing Western culture. Saturnalia commemorated the birth of the sun.
Further evidences of the pagan influence are feared in evergreen trees, wreaths, and caroling in their connection to frightening away evil spirits, commemorating the Pagan wheel of the year, and a celebration in fertility rites respectively.
None of these Pagan connections are solidly proven in history. The origins are shrouded in the same dark cloak of unknowing as the uncomfortable fears which they generate. So it seems to me that for a religion which prides itself in bringing new birth to individuals, and redeeming culture, that even a celebration once possibly having Pagan origins now bearing a Christian message is a statement of its adaptive, and redemptive power. The joy of Christmas giving illustrates God's giving of salvation in the birth of the Messiah, and is evidence that whatever Pagan beginnings Christmas had, they are long lost to most of our culture in the message of this Christian Gospel.
Not all the followers of the Bethlehem born Son of God feel this way, and instead uncomfortably wonder if they might be overly compromising their faith with alliances to ancient Pagan gods.
Of course, as capitalism continues to run a greedy course in the human heart, we all uncomfortably wonder if every redemptive message is getting lost in a bustle of commercialism, but that readjustment challenges Pagan and Christian alike.
I was asked to write this short piece by my goodliest buddy Mike (aka Cern) for the soon coming website --> Tapestry of Faiths