Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Australia is up to 18 hours ahead of the USA in time zones so for American readers this greeting will probably seem a day early

The image above is by talented Australian conservative cartoonist Zeg

A friendly Koala above


Magi Mythbusting

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

The Washington Post has an interesting little article about the myths that have grown up about three kings visiting the Christ child. Not only is there no mention of kings in the scriptures, there isn't even a head count. The scene ingrained in the public imagination - a stately procession of three kings in turbans, crowns, elaborate capes and fancy slippers, with an entourage of servants and camels trailing behind - is a common image in books and films, but it isn't from Scripture.

In fact, there's no evidence in the Gospels that the Magi were kings, or even that there were three, much less that they sidled up to a manger on dromedaries exactly 12 days after Jesus's birth.

"Legends pop up when people begin to look closely at historical events," said Christopher Bellitto, assistant professor of history at New Jersey's Kean University. "They want to fill in the blanks."

Only the Gospel of Matthew mentions "wise men from the East" who follow a star to Bethlehem. In the original Greek, they were called magoi (in Latin, magi), from the same root that gives us the word magic. It's been posited that they were astrologers or members of a Persian priestly caste.

The myths sprang up and were fleshed out many years after the events actually mentioned in Matthew. The third century Christian writer Tertullian called them 'almost kings'. In the sixth century, they acquired names, Gaspar (or Caspar), Melchior and Balthazar and they - whoever or however many of them there were - became important figures. (By the way, none of this is new information, I actually found a sermon plan online discussing these points and others.) It is interesting tracing the way these kinds of embellishments develop over time, though.

None of which changes the fact that We Three Kings is still one of best known and best-loved Christmas carols. It's one of my favorites.



G.M. Roper has a great Christmas story.

As al-Qaeda's grip eases, Christians flock home: "IRAQI Christians who fled a district of Baghdad that declared itself an al-Qaeda caliphate have returned home to celebrate their first Christmas in two years. Known as the "Vatican of Iraq", the small but long-established Christian enclave in the mainly Sunni district of Doura suffered constant terror at the hands of al-Qaeda gunmen who tried to impose a Taliban-style rule. Churches were car-bombed, women were threatened for not wearing Islamic headscarves, and families had to pay off local mosques to keep them safe from kidnap gangs. But now al-Qaeda has been rooted out of Doura and the hundreds of Christian families who left the area are returning. On Christmas Day they will congregate in the battle-scarred St Mary's Church, where part of the crucifix on its tower is still missing after being shot at. "We closed the church two years ago because of all the trouble," said the priest, Father Younadim Shamoon, 45, who has decorated its bullet-cratered walls with modest fairy lights. "But many people are coming back after word got around that the local Muslim people were welcoming us again. We thank God and hope that we can live together again as brothers." Overlooking the River Tigris on Baghdad's southern outskirts, Doura was home to 4000 followers of the Chaldean Catholic and Assyrian Orthodox churches. The neighbourhood has churches, monasteries and convents, and the Christian residents' homes stand out because of their neat gardens."

How absurd: "A growing number of young people now identify themselves as non-believers, and some colleges have responded by adding so-called "atheist chaplains" to their staff. Harvard now has an atheist chaplain, who helps students celebrate the holidays without violating their core (non)-beliefs."

Rejection of Christmas can be Christian: "During the English Civil War, the victorious Puritans under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell had suppressed traditional Christmas festivities on the grounds that they were merely pagan rituals that had been given a thin veneer of Christian respectability. The Puritans who came to America brought their righteous horror of Christmas with them, and it may even be reasonable to speculate that they hit upon the feast of Thanksgiving as an ersatz Christmas that could help them get through the bleak coming of winter without endangering their souls by adopting heathenish customs. Yet in the end, most Protestant congregations in North America found themselves irresistibly drawn to the old pagan rites, so that today the few hold outs, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, strike us as distinctly odd."

Australia to stay in Afghanistan: "The Prime Minister has given an open-ended commitment for Australian troops to remain in Afghanistan as he revealed he fears more fatalities. Kevin Rudd met Australian troops at Tarin Kowt in Oruzgan province before flying to Kabul, where he held a press conference with the President, Hamid Karzai. It was the latest stop in Mr Rudd's tour of the Middle East with his Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, and the Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, to thank military personnel and meet political and military leaders. Mr Rudd said it had been a difficult end to the year and worse could be to come. "I fear what the new year might bring," he told soldiers in central headquarters at Kabul air base on Saturday. "But our advice and our conviction is that this is a job worth doing."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John, thanks for the link and have a most wonderful Christmas.