Right. Now that things are all set up, I’m ready to go. And this being the 18th of December and all, it seems that a great way to kick things off would be to spend the first few (real) posts talking about Christmas. Talking, both in the sense that we are meditating on the substantial theological meaning of Christmas; but then also reflecting; viz., doing our best to engage with its cultural counterpart.
In fact, few things serve to illustrate this need (for both meditation and reflection) in the way that the Christmas-season does. In many ways, it is nothing less than a case-study for the argument that ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ should be thought of in two distinct realms. The one, a sacred meditation; the other, a secular reflection. That said, as tolerated sojourners, we are also dual citizens. And just as surely as we live in the ‘great overlap of the ages’, there will always be a degree of overlap in these otherwise distinct realms. Thus entereth the complexity.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the waters have been muddied along the way. From issues of pagan origin and the age of Christendom, all the way through to matters of contemporary western cultural practice, Christmas has become a complex issue (to say the least). In fact, if we’re not careful, it can leave us feeling like we’ve got a giant cultural hangover to deal with.
Christians have, of course, engaged (or reacted!) to the festive-season very differently. Some reject the practice altogether. No Christmas trees or anything! (What can I say, those brothers are friggin’ cold man). On the other end of the spectrum, there are Christians that are so enthusiastic in their embrace of this season that they allow themselves to pretend that the whole world has decided to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Even the shopping malls are doing it! Glorious!
But then, thank goodness, there are the sane ones; those who seek balance in all things. Kind of like a Christian-zen thing. For every bit of yin, there must be a sufficient amount of opposing yang. So, in order to counterbalance every bit of drooling-consumerist-shopping-spree or grossly-pagan-Santa-movie; there must be at least one part: Christmas-Hillsong-playlist, and another part: extra-stern-family-bible-study (yup, you know the one. . . “now kids, the Bible teaches that it is better to give than to receive”). Gulp.
Others still, like you or me perhaps, find the whole process somewhat vexing. We know that there is something truly good in all of this. Right!? It’s the birth of our Saviour that we’re talking about, for crying out loud?! But, we also know that there is more to think about. At very least, we know this because of what we see. In the very same cultural mixing pot, there are some things that are very good, some things. . .ok, some things weirdly ominous, and other things just plainly diabolical. There they all are, swirling around and around, turning to the colour of tinsel green. And watching it all makes our head do the same thing.
But never fear, I’m going to show you how a tolerated sojourner deals with this, baby. Booyah. Stay tuned.