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Author Topic: Merry Christmas 2007
Charles
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Hope it's a good one for you. Peace on Earth, goodwill to mankind.

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Olve
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Olve's Blog

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Joris
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I already placed it in the gallery as I couldn't find AN's Annual Christmas Greetings Topic... but here it is!

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Charles
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A nice animated Christmas card sent in by a friend.

http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=GU30902622

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Floyd Bishop
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Bishop Animation

[cheers]

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Gagne Michel
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Merry Christmas everyone!

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Mr. Fun
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It's been another great year.

Merry Christmas to all my friends at AnimationNation!

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Charles
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Puneet Makhija
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Merry Christmas to all ANers!!!
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Noogy
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Merry Christmas everyone [Smile] Spend the day with your loved ones!

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toonedbob
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A wonderful Christmas day when my kids decided of all the new DVDs they got, to watch Disney's Peter Pan over all the Barbie and Doras - there is a Santa!!!! Feliz Navidad everybody!
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Sketchpad
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Merry Christmas everybody and have a happy New Years.
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devourax
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Merry Christmas to all!

and a happy prosperous 2008!


-dev

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OFFBEAT
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Merry Saturnalia, everyone!

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110011034

A Brief History of Christmas
The Elizabethans partied hard. The Puritans banned it. Now comes the ACLU.

BY JOHN STEELE GORDON
Tuesday, December 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Christmas famously "comes but once a year." In fact, however, it comes twice. The Christmas of the Nativity, the manger and Christ child, the wise men and the star of Bethlehem, "Silent Night" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is one holiday. The Christmas of parties, Santa Claus, evergreens, presents, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Jingle Bells" is quite another.

But because both celebrations fall on Dec. 25, the two are constantly confused. Religious Christians condemn taking "the Christ out of Christmas," while First Amendment absolutists see a threat to the separation of church and state in every poinsettia on public property and school dramatization of "A Christmas Carol."

A little history can clear things up.

The Christmas of parties and presents is far older than the Nativity. Most ancient cultures celebrated the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its lowest point and begins to climb once more in the sky. In ancient Rome, this festival was called the Saturnalia and ran from Dec. 17 to Dec. 24. During that week, no work was done, and the time was spent in parties, games, gift giving and decorating the houses with evergreens. (Sound familiar?) It was, needless to say, a very popular holiday.

In its earliest days, Christianity did not celebrate the Nativity at all. Only two of the four Gospels even mention it. Instead, the Church calendar was centered on Easter, still by far the most important day in the Christian year. The Last Supper was a Seder, celebrating Passover, which falls on the day of the full moon in the first month of spring in the Hebrew calendar. So in A.D. 325, the Council of Nicea decided that Easter should fall on the Sunday following the first full moon of spring. That's why Easter and its associated days, such as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, are "moveable feasts," moving about the calendar at the whim of the moon.

It is a mark of how late Christmas came to the Christian calendar that it is not a moveable feast, but a fixed one, determined by the solar calendar established by Julius Caesar and still in use today (although slightly tweaked in the 16th century).

By the time of the Council of Nicea, the Christian Church was making converts by the thousands and, in hopes of still more converts, in 354 Pope Liberius decided to add the Nativity to the church calendar. He also decided to celebrate it on Dec. 25. It was, frankly, a marketing ploy with a little political savvy thrown in.

History does not tell us exactly when in the year Christ was born, but according to the Gospel of St. Luke, "shepherds were abiding in the field and keeping watch over their flocks by night." This would imply a date in the spring or summer when the flocks were up in the hills and needed to be guarded. In winter they were kept safely in corrals.

So Dec. 25 must have been chosen for other reasons. It is hard to escape the idea that by making Christmas fall immediately after the Saturnalia, the Pope invited converts to still enjoy the fun and games of the ancient holiday and just call it Christmas. Also, Dec. 25 was the day of the sun god, Sol Invictus, associated with the emperor. By using that date, the church tied itself to the imperial system.

By the high Middle Ages, Christmas was a rowdy, bawdy time, often inside the church as well as outside it. In France, many parishes celebrated the Feast of the Ass, supposedly honoring the donkey that had brought Mary to Bethlehem. Donkeys were brought into the church and the mass ended with priests and parishioners alike making donkey noises. In the so-called Feast of Fools, the lower clergy would elect a "bishop of fools" to temporarily run the diocese and make fun of church ceremonial and discipline. With this sort of thing going on inside the church to celebrate the Nativity, one can easily imagine the drunken and sexual revelries going on outside it to celebrate what was in all but name the Saturnalia.

With the Reformation, Protestants tried to rid the church of practices unknown in its earliest days and get back to Christian roots. Most Protestant sects abolished priestly celibacy (and often the priesthood itself), the cult of the Virgin Mary, relics, confession and . . . Christmas.

In the English-speaking world, Christmas was abolished in Scotland in 1563 and in England after the Puritans took power in the 1640s. It returned with the Restoration in 1660, but the celebrations never regained their medieval and Elizabethan abandon.

There was still no Christmas in Puritan New England, where Dec. 25 was just another working day. In the South, where the Church of England predominated, Christmas was celebrated as in England. In the middle colonies, matters were mixed. In polyglot New York, the Dutch Reformed Church did not celebrate Christmas. The Anglicans and Catholics did.

It was New York and its early 19th century literary establishment that created the modern American form of the old Saturnalia. It was a much more family--and especially child--centered holiday than the community-wide celebrations of earlier times.

St. Nicolas is the patron saint of New York (the first church built in the city was named for him), and Washington Irving wrote in his "Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York" how Sinterklaes, soon anglicized to Santa Claus, rode through the sky in a horse and wagon and went down chimneys to deliver presents to children.

The writer George Pintard added the idea that only good children got presents, and a book dating to 1821 changed the horse and wagon to reindeer and sleigh. Clement Clarke Moore in 1823 made the number of reindeer eight and gave them their names. Moore's famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," is entirely secular. It is about "visions of sugar plums" with nary a wise man or a Christ child in sight. In 1828, the American Ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsett, brought the poinsettia back from Mexico. It became associated with Christmas because that's the time of year when it blooms.

In the 1840s, Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol," which does not even mention the religious holiday (the word church appears in the story just twice, in passing, the word Nativity never). Prince Albert introduced the German custom of the Christmas tree to the English-speaking world.

In the 1860s, the great American cartoonist Thomas Nast set the modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly, bearded fat man in a fur-trimmed cap. (The color red became standard only in the 20th century, thanks to Coca-Cola ads showing Santa Claus that way.)

Merchants began to emphasize Christmas, decorating stores and pushing the idea of Christmas presents for reasons having nothing whatever to do with religion, except, perhaps, the worship of mammon.

With the increased mobility provided by railroads and increasing immigration from Europe, people who celebrated Christmas began settling near those who did not. It was not long before the children of the latter began putting pressure on their parents to celebrate Christmas as well. "The O'Reilly kids down the street are getting presents, why aren't we?!" is not an argument parents have much defense against.

By the middle of the 19th century, most Protestant churches were, once again, celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday. The reason, again, had more to do with marketing than theology: They were afraid of losing congregants to other Christmas-celebrating denominations.

In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a bill making the secular Christmas a civil holiday because its celebration had become universal in this country. It is now celebrated in countries all over the world, including many where Christians are few, such as Japan.

So for those worried about the First Amendment, there's a very easy way to distinguish between the two Christmases. If it isn't mentioned in the Gospels of Luke and Mark, then it is not part of the Christian holiday. Or we could just change the name of the secular holiday back to what it was 2000 years ago.

Merry Saturnalia, everyone!

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Charles
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Thanks for the lesson. If you watch History Channel this season and before, it covers just about everything you posted. Learned alot of this in Sunday school as a kid. To add to the history of the modern Christmas holiday...

St. Nicholas was a Roman convert to Christianity in the early years of the Church prior to the Council of Nicea. He may have been a martyr, I'm not sure, but what's known in tradition is that he was wealthy and helped the poor by leaving anonymous gifts at their door, in a window, etc. Probably to protect his identity and from persecution by Rome during one of the many purges. His name by the way means "the people's champion."

The religious celebration of Christmas literally means "Christ's Mass". The day of the year which the church services would be dedicated to Jesus Christ himself, honoring and in rememberance of his life. For example, the observance of the mass of St. Mary is August 15 and is a high holy day. So is January 6 (or maybe 7) as the mass of St. John the Baptist, another very high holy day. All the saints and martyrs have days honoring their name throughout the entire church calendar, with December 25 falling as the Feast Day of Jesus, when Christ's Mass would be conducted, the story of his life being told, and naturally beginning with what was written concerning the occasion of his birth.

Holy days were feast days that would follow a period of fasting in preparation for communion. After church, everyone would celebrate with food and drink to break the fast.

That the Christmas holiday probably came from the switch of a Roman holiday such as Saturnalia is not denied nor does it makes a difference. To the credit of the Council of Nicea, which is rightly credited with establishing a core of the most reliable accounts of the life of Christ out of the thousands of writings that came into being in the first 300 years of the church, they weren't fundamentalists which is why they approved the conversion of some Roman holidays to Christian ones.

What interests me even more than the history of Christmas, is how uptight some people get in today's society about wishing someone a Merry Christmas even on Christmas Day. The show on the History Channel claimed that 98% of Americans observe Christmas in one way or another, especially on December 25. Based upon that statistic, I figure the Saturnalia die hards and the bah humbug club is indeed a very small minority and can use some Christmas cheer as much as any of us, so Merry Christmas to all.

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EustaceScrubb
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Responding to Offbeat's posting of the Wall Street Journal guy's article:

quote:
"By the time of the Council of Nicea, the Christian Church was making converts by the thousands and, in hopes of still more converts, in 354 Pope Liberius decided to add the Nativity to the church calendar. He also decided to celebrate it on Dec. 25. It was, frankly, a marketing ploy with a little political savvy thrown in.

So Dec. 25 must have been chosen for other reasons. It is hard to escape the idea that by making Christmas fall immediately after the Saturnalia, the Pope invited converts to still enjoy the fun and games of the ancient holiday and just call it Christmas. Also, Dec. 25 was the day of the sun god, Sol Invictus, associated with the emperor"

Well, I don't know ... I don't think that is entirely certain .

I think the history of the matter is actually much more complex and interesting than that. What we can learn about the beliefs of the early Christians reveals some fascinating glimpses of an older tradition that does hang the date Dec. 25 on a historical basis. (you may not agree with their reasoning or their faith , but at least they were attempting to grapple with it on a historical and theological basis, having nothing to do with later pagan Roman festivals) . The date for the establishment of the Feast of the Nativity is tied closely to the date of the Annunciation. Annunciation = when the angel of the Lord announced to Miriam (Mary) that she would miraculously conceive a son, who would be the Messiah, the Son of God. Annunciation (one of the earliest , most well-attested Christian holy days) is on March 25. What day comes 9 months after March 25 ? Huh... how about that: December 25 . Baby's are usually born 9 months after they are conceived. There's more to it than that , but that's a clue to what was going on in the minds of the early Christians. Nothing at all to do with what the Romans were doing at winter solstice.

The good ol' Saturnalia-as-the-origin-of-Christmas theory has undeniably held sway over the popular imagination for many years , but there are alternative views which suggest that the allegation of the Church concocting Christ's Mass (Feast of the Nativity of Christ) to copycat the pagan Roman holiday as merely a convenient excuse to keep a popular feast going so that the masses (pun intended) would be kept fat and happy does not necessarily follow from what is known about the early Church.

A few years ago I read a contrarian article "Calculating Christmas" by Dr. William J. Tighe, a professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania , and my "faith" in the standard pat answers that John Steele Gordon repeats in his Wall Street Journal opinion piece was shaken.

Dr.Tighe starts off his article writing:

quote:
"it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance."

The rest of the article lays out his case.

If anyone is interested in digging a little deeper to read an alternative viewpoint on the history behind this then you might want to start by taking a look at the rest of Dr. Tighe's article on "Calculating Christmas" . I think he makes a good case. It has nothing to do with whether one believes Christianity is true or not (as theology) , but the historic basis for what the early Christians actually did believe and practice can be discerned by sifting through the history.

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Paburrows
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Merry Christmas Everyone! Sorry this is late I was out of town with family and couldn't remember my pasward.

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Paburrows
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Wikipedia has a lot of what Offbeat said. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
Regardless of how it came to be I love this time of the year. I love going out and trying to bring happyness to peoples lives. I love the spirit of giving and of spending time with family. I love the fact that a lot of people think about Christ and try to act acordingly. I know theres still a lot of bad still in the World, but there still good people doing good things during this time.

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Paburrows
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I think that anyone or idea that brings such joy and happyness to children is a good thing.

Wikipedia: Santa Claus

Santa Claus and other bringers of gifts

Santa Claus hands out gifts during the US Civil War in Thomas Nast's first Santa Claus cartoon, Harper's Weekly, 1863.Main article: Santa Claus
Originating from Western culture, where the holiday is characterized by the exchange of gifts among friends and family members, some of the gifts are attributed to a character called Santa Claus (also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or St. Nikolaus, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Joulupukki, Weihnachtsmann, Saint Basil and Father Frost).

The popular image of Santa Claus was created by the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902), who drew a new image annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast's Santa had evolved into the form we now recognize. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.[33]

Father Christmas, who predates the Santa Claus character, was first recorded in the 15th century, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness.[34] In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Père Noël evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions, elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.

The current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children's homes. This story is meant to be a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and modern day globalization, most notably the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.


Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present, by John Leech. Made for Charles Dickens's novel A Christmas Carol (1843).In Alto Adige/Südtirol (Italy), Austria, Czechia, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Switzerland, the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsman (who is the German version of Santa Claus). St. Nikolaus wears a bishop's dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.

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jeffnevins
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Merry Christmas. Nice bit of followup to the interesting points brought up by OB in the Chuck Norris post.

Some intel on Horus:

There's no evidence that his mother's name was anything other than Isis.

He was born on the last day of the Egyptian month of Khoiak, which corresponds on our calendars to November 15th. Isis (his mother) was married to Osiris and there's no indication that she was abstinent after marriage (no evidence of virgin birth.)

The bible never says there were "three" wise men. It only refers to them as Magi. Etc...

But one can get conflicting info from all sorts of sources, I suppose. So it's- [Cool]

Workin' away til the New Year.

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Charles
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Thanks for the enlightening info guys.

Reading through the contributing comments here brings to mind a commentary I read some time ago explaining how early Christianity influenced pagan religious beliefs and practices in the first couple of centuries after Jesus. In particular the cult of Mithras and also Heracles.

Through the teachings of Jesus the relationship he establishes with God, not just with himself but for humanity, is one of a father and child. There are two words for father in the Greek. The formal is "patera" or "pater" in the Latin, and "baba" which has the same root as "abba" in Aramaic, meaning "daddy". Jesus frequently used "abba" in addressing or referring to God, which implied an intimacy between God and man.

What's interesting is that there is a marked difference in the veneration of Zeus and Heracles in the worship of the two compared to pre-Christian times in Rome. Temples to Zeus were almost always dedicated to the worship of Zeus exclusively prior to the time of Christ. What happens in the first and into the second century AD is that temples to Zeus now feature Heracles as the god-man, son of father Zeus. In fact, that's what the Roman name for Jupiter means. It's derived from "zeus pater".

The cult of Mithras which also involved some similar theology, was not native to Rome. It came from Persia and peaked in the 2nd century.

Also worth mentioning, are the writings of Isaiah who was active 750 years before Christ and seems to have correctly predicted where he would be born, where he would grow up, the nature of his ministry, how his life would be lived, the manner of his death, ext. He also predicted the fall of Babylon, that it would be an utterly desolate city. He did this 200 years before it reached its zenith, and at a time when Assyria was the powerhouse occupying the land of the Hebrew tribes in the north. King David also made predictions in his book of Psalms that are similar to those made by Isaiah, and that was about 200 years earlier than Isaiah.

The Emmanuel (translated God is with us) prophesy in Isaiah has been particularly scrutinized in modern times as some people insist that the passage about a virgin giving birth is a mistranslation. That the Hebrew word used actually means young maiden and not virgin. The arguement against this is that Hebrew scribes in Alexandria Egypt around 250 BC when they were translating the 70 books of the Bible (which make up today's Old Testament) into Greek, clearly understood the word to mean virgin because they used the Greek word "parthena". The word for young maiden in Greek, even in ancient times, is "kori". Parthena is specifically used and understood to mean virgin, like the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena.

The roots of the Christmas holiday are very much Jewish and come from the Judaic tradition much more than they do from pre-Christian Rome or pagan sources. For me, it's fun to discuss this and speculate as it adds special meaning and magic to Christmas. A time of peace, love and consideration for each other.

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OFFBEAT
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quote:
I think that anyone or idea that brings such joy and happyness to children is a good thing.
Making kids happy, and "bringing joy into the world" to kids is important, but it's a tap-out from the issue of it being a recruiting tool into a religion.

The interesting note to me from the article I posted was:
quote:
It was not long before the children of the latter began putting pressure on their parents to celebrate Christmas as well. "The O'Reilly kids down the street are getting presents, why aren't we?!" is not an argument parents have much defense against.
Would anyone be hip to Al Qeada having a holiday on 9/11, having a festive holiday where a suicide bomb martyr who gave presents to those children who swear their allegiance to Allah and promised to become martyrs themselves someday??
"Aahh.. Little Numsy has gotten the ticking present! Time for your mission!" Even though it would bring joy to children, Somehow I don't think anyone would... be hip to that.

Christmas is kinda a metaphor for religion too.. cause you lie, and build up this magical world for kids.. where magic can happen, and an immortal fat man has 8 magical reindeer, and can alter time/space by travel the world, delivering presents in one night.. then when they grow up.. you have to confess to them.. "Ahh.. yeah.. it was bullsh*t ...apparently your mother and I don't know what we were talking about. Jokes on you! Gull-a-bull!!"

Yes, while there's historical evidence of reindeer, the north pole, presents, sleighs, and fat guys.. but them all interacting with one another.. requires faith.

Welcome to reality kid.. don't kill yourself.

Most religions I've read into has a lot of evil crap in them. MAJOR skeletons in the closet that followers hush up.. and say..
"OH!! that's the OLD version.. religion 4.0... that version was complete nonsense! We've upgraded to the NEW version... Religion CS3."

Religion CS3.. now with improved Morality!

Where, and when does geek squad come from heaven to update this??

..We're going to ignore the parts of Leviticus that say kill disobedient children, and working on the sabbath, but we're going to keep the part about men not sleeping next to one another.. cause fags still give us the heebie jeebies!

If your religion is one way at one point in time, and you change it to 'go with the times.' ..Doesn't that diminish the legitimacy of it??

The Christian Religions aligned itself with or take over so many things that are good, to the point where most people equate religion to the source of mortality. They are kinda like the Costco of religions.. rubbing out the mom and pop traditions and religions, taking away their customers.

Or more like Ghengis Khan, conquering all, using what you want, disregarding the rest.

But the P.R. of Christianity is so much that if you didn't have religion in your life, you'd go around killing people, raping, pillaging, doing as you wish. That it's impossible to be a good person without being religious.

I'm a very good guy.. but i'm also a truth seeker.. but cannot find any in religion.

Sorry if this offends anyone. I'm not preaching, or meaning to poop in your cereal.. i'm more asking how and why my thinking is wrong?
[cheers] Happy Festivus! ..for the rest of us.

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Paburrows
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Your welcome to believe what you want Offbeat, just like anyone else. I happen to disagree with most of what say, but just like I have a right my beliefs, you have a right to your beliefs, (which is just as much a religion as my group of beliefs). You look at Christianity and compare it to the truths that you know combined with the knowledge that you have and it seems nonsensical to you. You have you right to that opinion. I look at some of the things that you have said and compare them to the truths and knowledge that I have and think that they are nonsensical. But I respect you for your beliefs and I hope that you can respect mine.

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Charles
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To begin with, the problem with the presentation of your perspective on things is full of sarcasm, inuendo, belittlement, ridicule and a general lack of respect for people who may have a different opinion on things. You come off as being somewhat adolescent in attitude and close minded, which means that entering into a thoughtful exchange of ideas would have a high degree of futility for anyone engaging in a conversation about theology, philosophy, spirituality, or the history of the aformentioned. Also, many of your suppositions are in error.

For example, you mention that in Leviticus it says to kill disobedient children, and then you attach this to Christian dogma when it wasn't Christians who wrote it or came up with it. If Moses didn't write this, since he is traditionally attributed as the author of the Pentateuch, it was a Hebrew scribe writing many years after Moses and he probably wasn't Jewish per se. He was likely from the tribe of Levi since they were the tribe of the high priests and attended to matters of the Law and religious ceremonies.

When Jesus was confronting the high priests, scribes and religious lawyers of his day, and was being accused of breaking the observance of the Sabbath Day by allowing his followers do small chores, he answered who wouldn't try to save his donkey if it fell down a pit on the Sabbath, or something like that. He taught that man was not made for the Sabbath, that the Sabbath was made for man.

At the core of all the great religions of the world is this basic fundamental. What are we doing for the widows, the orphans, the handicapped, the sick, the very least among us? Religion is a social contract. A religious ceremony is a social occasion in which a community comes together to worship. But the Bible makes very clear, even in the Old Testament, that religious ceremonies are meaningless without the social contract. Jesus emphasized this repeatedly when he publicly accussed the religious hierarchy of being "hypocrites", which translated means "actors", for following the letter of the Law but not the heart of the Law.

I've noticed that people who have the biggest gripe against religion in modern times, especially when they attack Christianity without sensitivity to the overwhelming majority of really good people who follow the Christian religion, are those who are upset because religion in general says that you should straighten up and fly right. That it's wrong to behave in certain ways because it's harmful to the individual and to the social contract.

Religion didn't make up Santa, flying reindeer, a toy workshop on the North Pole. That's a secular creation and it's fun. I'd rather have grown up believing in the reality of Santa Claus as a kid than not, and it didn't bother me when I learned that it was my folks who put the presents under the tree. It was a right of passage. Maybe some people feel differently in their adulthood, but for me I don't have a problem with kids having fun with the idea of Santa Claus.

For me, the life and teachings of Jesus far far outweigh whatever problems there may be with religion because I choose to focus on what he said and did.

In the movie "Walking the Line" about the life of Johnny Cash, there's a scene where he's talking to record execs about cutting a live album from a free concert in a maximum security prison. The execs tell him that his audience is Christians, they're not interested in his playing for convicts. Johnny Cash responded with "Well, they're not Christians then". And it's not just Christians, it's people from all faiths and beliefs who think that the idea of Peace On Earth and doing good to others is worth taking the time out at least once a year to contemplate and celebrate.

So that's my view on it all, thanks for taking the time to read this.

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Paburrows
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I second what Charles said.

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LeftyMcKay
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Thank you for that post, Charles.

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bronnie
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I thought this amusingly emblematic.. Priests doing some mopping and cleaning up after Christmas services at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity start wailing each other with brooms because some were working in the other's "territory"...
So much for the spirit of the Holiday.
I must say-- so many of us humans get it wrong, now don't we?
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/12/27/clashing.clergy.ap/index.html

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OFFBEAT
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I dunno why religion is the only human topic that has an expected demand for respect or an immunity for skepticism. If anything deserves skepticism it should be something so important that lacks evidence.

If my next door neighbor's religious beliefs are that he is the Queen Of Mars.. and never left his apartment.. i'd say "right on."

If he gets some homeless followers to roll out a green carpet wherever he goes.. I might goof on him to friends.

If it inconveniences me in any way.. like if they re-enacted the coming to earth from mars parade outside my door in the hallway while I was trying to get to work.. my respect would go from little to none in 0 seconds.

Respect is a subjective word.. I'd goof on a Scientologist, (and have in the past) to their face.. but i'd fight for their rights to believe in it.
(OK.. that's a lie.. i'd stay home for the scientologists.. but everyone else.. i'm marching in the streets for!)

Everything should be up for debate.. even religion. Demanding respect for your religion is getting on the side of the fence as death penalties for making cartoons of Muhamed.

If The Queen of Mars came knocking on my door 7am on a Saturday, trying to recruit me into his Martian religion, I can guarantee much sarcasm, inuendo, belittlement, ridicule and a general lack of respect towards he and his religion, because he/she entered the 'debate zone.'

So.. sincerely, without trying to be any of those things.. sarcasm, belittlement..etc.. I'm being 100% serious.. I honestly and humbley want to know..


HOW do you believe in what you do??

HOW do you believe in something that lacks evidence so strongly and requires so much faith?

How is we're neighbors.. but you live in a magical world where Gods, Angels, Deities and Devils with supernatural powers interact with people? So much so.. that it becomes a belief?

The popular answer (that isn't an answer) is "faith." or you "Just have to have faith."

How can you possibly believe in something you cannot know is true??

(With all seriousness, That's my question to the faithful. Not meant as a challenge... I ask with great humility.

Because It doesn't make sense to me, and (I'm being very sincere) I want to know what i'm missing??.. What is it that makes it easy for you to you believe, and I don't???

Is it an honest belief?? or is it a wink, nudge kinda thing, like santa claus.. like you don't really believe, but want to perpetuate the tradition because that's how you were raised?

I get nothing but non-answers and hostility whenever I ask this.

I mean.. I can prove people lie in a heartbeat.
I can prove people invent religions.
Crazy ones! Look at Scientology! 8 million followers in 30 years!!! That says a lot about where 'faith' can get you... so no one say "faith"
please!
I can prove people crave power, and money.
I can prove people will lie to invent religions to obtain power and money.

But.. Angels.. turning water to wine.. walking on water.. magical world.. super powers.. God speaking to people... I have to throw my hands up and shrug.

I get called 'Atheist' because I don't subscribe to religions, and I don't know what happens after you croak. Doesn't mean I don't believe in the possibility of a God. God is just as a legitimate possibility as Zeus. You could be in the same boat with me.. how do you know your religion is the right religion?

Truth is.. to a devout Greek mythologist.. or Ancient Egyptian.. Christians would be considered Athiests. In a way.. you're all kinda Athiests to everyone else's beliefs but your own. Hope your parents chose correctly! Quakers and Shakers.. i'm talking to you!

Please share your thoughts.
Again, the question I ask is..
HOW do you believe in what you do??

Is it a feeling? Was it something you read? Was it family members telling you what to believe in?
[Confused]

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OFFBEAT
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quote:
For example, you mention that in Leviticus it says to kill disobedient children, and then you attach this to Christian dogma when it wasn't Christians who wrote it or came up with it....

...When Jesus was confronting the high priests, scribes and religious lawyers of his day, ..... He taught that man was not made for the Sabbath, that the Sabbath was made for man.

Oh.. I only read the Bible.. I didn't get the cliff notes, or see the director's cut. I just got the crummy King James version.

It's also says to kill disobedient children in Deuteronomy and Exodus.. It's not just Leviticus.
Disobedient children have got to go!

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 - "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not harken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, and will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And the men of the city shall stone him with stones, that he die…."

Exodus 21:17 - "And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death."

..and sacrifice them in Judges:
Judges 11:30-40 - Jephthah promised that if God would "deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands," he would make a burnt offering of "whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me." Alas, his daughter, his only child, came dancing out to greet him, and he sadly was required to burn her.

..sucks to be a fatherless child..
Deuteronomy 23:2 - "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord."

Kill relatives that don't believe in Yahweh...
Exodus 32:26-28 - "Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men."

Deuteronomy 6-10 - "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods… Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor harken unto him, neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him. But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die: because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God."

...Kill neighbors who marry into other religions

Numbers 25:1-8 - "And Israel abode in ****tim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods…. And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one of his men that were joined unto Baal-peor. And behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the full sight of Moses…. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So that the plague was stayed from the children of Israel."

[Eek!] Yikes! (I hope nobody here believes in that)

Kill Animal lovers:
Exodus 22:19 - "Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death."

Leviticus 20:15-16 - "And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast."

...Touching a man's wiener (or his secrets):
Deuteronomy 25:11-12 - "When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets. Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her."

...I can go on and on. Mel Gibson should make a series of horror movies based on those called "The Passon of the Bible"

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Paburrows
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How do I believe what I do?

I realize that by sharing this it probably won’t change anybody’s mind, I might even receive criticism, but in answer to your question Offbeat this is how I came to my personal beliefs.

I grew up in a Christian church, when I hit my teen years I wondered if what I was doing was even worth my time. (Going to church, etc.) So I knew that I had to find out for myself. My church leaders had always told us to not just take their word on things, but to find out for ourseleves. One of the things that they along with the scriptures spoke about was that God will reveal the truth to you, but you have to give an effort to find it. So I studied the scriptures, I spoke with many people who were experts in this sort of thing. During this whole time I did a lot of thinking and pondering, trying to figure things out and how they fit together.

And then after I had come to a basic conclusion in my mind I got down on my knees on many occasions and asked God in prayer if what I was doing was correct, if the path in life that I was taking was true. In the scriptures it says that the Holy Spirit speaks to our minds and to our hearts. The Apostle Paul said (and I’m paraphrasing) that the fruits of the spirit are peace, love, & joy. When I prayed I felt a feeling of peace and calmness come over me. Not in a weird way, but just in a way that I knew in my heart and my mind that God loved me and that what I was doing was right.

After that I made changes to align myself more to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the closer I got the happier that I became and the more that I felt those feelings of peace. I know that I’m not perfect, there’s probably even things that I have said here that I shouldn’t have. But I’m trying. I look back at my past and know that besides the feeling of peace I also know that my belief has lead me to become a better person which is yet another reason that I know that what I’m doing is right.

Sure there are religious people who do bad things, even church leaders go astray. But I know that the teachings are correct because I feel it in my heart and I see what living them has done for me. This is how I believe what I do.

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OFFBEAT
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You're right, it's a non-answer.

I used to pray.. and I know the comforting feeling you get from it that you speak of.. but then I prayed to Charlie Manson, The Brady Bunch, and Oprah Winfrey.. and got a lesser version of the same comforted feeling.

I call it the "Calgon, take me away" affect.

I think it's releasing a little bit of responsibilty for your troubles. While simultaneously giving you false hope.

Try praying to Don Knotts next time...(seriously!)

... HOW do you get past the believing in something without having proof part?

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Jasen
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Gary Prayed to Oprah Winfrey...
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OFFBEAT
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The bible talks about the power of prayer..

Matthew 21:21-22 NAS: "And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

Matthew 7:7-8 NAB: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 18:19-20 NAS: Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

Mark 11:24-25 NAB: Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

Luke 11:9-13 NAB: And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

John 14:13-14 NAB: And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

John 15:7 NAB: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.

John 15:16 NAB: It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

John 16:23-24 NAB: On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

... Maybe i'm not rubbing on the lamp 3 times.. but none of my wishes have been granted. Either Jesus was a liar, God's a liar, Mark, John, and Luke are liars.. or whoever put the bible together is lying. But those entries are B-S. But like your priest say.. don't take my word for it.. try it for yourself.

I even prayed for a penny saver junk mail ad in the mail today.. which, normally, I would get 4 out of 6 times a week. I thought it a simple and fair request to ask for... I mean, after all... the bible says you can ask for mountains to be thrown into the sea. I was giving him an 80% success rate...
And today, the only thing I got was a postcard from jiffy lube addressed to the guy that used to live here. I don't know what that means, but you know what they say.. the lord works in mysterious ways.

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Charles
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Gary, I know what you're going through and how tough 2007 has been for ya, moreseo than just about anyone else here. Here's some advice coming from a friend who genuinely cares about you.

1. If you're interested in Old Testament Law, and really want to learn, find a rabbi who can teach you what those harsh laws are about. I learned through taking university courses, through archeology, ancient history, through reading the entire Bible, reading the Koran, studying the life of Mohamed, the Book of Mormon, studying the life of Joseph Smith, part of the Bagavad Ghita, some Buddhism and the life of Sidhartha Gautama, some Zen philosophy, Greek philosophy, and from a teacher who had a PhD from Oxford University in Theological studies. I'm not saying this to brag, I'm saying that I went looking for it and it was fun. I didn't wait for the Penny Saver or anything else to come in the mail. That's not how it works. You have to seek in order to find.

2. If you really want answers to the questions you're posing, and your purpose is not to ridicule, but to learn, I'll be happy to educate you with whatever I know. Get an education first bro before you start posting things as historical facts when you ain't done the homework.

3. This topic is entitled Merry Christmas 2007. Its purpose is give members an opourtunity to wish each other a Merry Christmas on Christmas Day. It's not about challenging religion or making fun of people's personal beliefs. That's something that would happen in an entirely different thread in the Side Topics Forum and wouldn't get very far with the tone you've been using till now.

4. This is the second time in a few days in which you've hijacked a thread over something that has to do with religion that you make a bigger deal out of than it has to be. This is a pain in the ass for me as a moderator to have to deal with so I'm asking you as a friend to cut it out.

5. Believe in whatever you want. If you don't want to pray than don't pray. If you do pray and all you want out of life is junk mail then I hope you get it bro. I really and truly do because there ain't nobody else around here as cool and as good a person as you are, and that goes from years of personal experience with you my man. Nobody deserves to get the most out of life than you do, Gary and I mean that. You've been a great friend. You've helped me out many times. Knowing you has made me a better person. Having you for a friend is like having Christmas every day of the year.

6. If you're in a funk, and you feel like the world is coming down on you all at once, that God doesn't hear you, that a postcard from jiffy lube is all you got, think about people who ain't even got that. I saw a guy on a talk show last night who blew his face off in a suicide attempt he survived at 16 years old. It took a shotgun blast to his own face to make him realize how beautiful life is and to find God.

7. The glass is always half full brother, unless you insist that it's half empty and if that's the case you win. I'm not going to argue with you or anyone else about it. Just please, respect the forums from now on.

I'm closing this topic.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope it was a good one for ya. Wishing you the very best in life.

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