"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Monday, 1 December 2014

A Kind, Forgiving, Charitable, Pleasant Time

This time of year has always been a special time I love. Perhaps strangely, since the nativity narrative is not an important part for me; likewise the presents under the tree. There are in fact many events that occurred around Christmas that could make this time of year one I dislike.  

Last week, Joey asked readers "so will you be attending church at Christmas, or will you be staying as far away as possible?"

I told Joey in a comment that I would not be attending a church, yet a full answer would be too long for a comment. Here is the text I originally included but removed:

Joey, I hope my answer is taken for what it is; my belief and my answer. I don't want to sell anyone else my own particular spirituality, but you asked.
I won't be attending a church at Christmas or any other time that I know of. I studied Christianity extensively, and was convinced that I should attend and learn as much as I could for a long time. In the end, staying and going through the motions made me a hypocrite.
While my belief in God and the spirit is strong, I have not found religions useful; actually quite the opposite. I feel there are already too many things that divide humanity into "we" and "they". 
By the way, the Christmas Story is an ancient myth, predating the birth of Jesus, that the "church fathers" decided to adopt centuries after the crucifixion. It is a lovely tale, but then so is Dickens' A Christmas Carol. 
We need better, kinder people in the world. If going to church does that for you, or others, I encourage it wholeheartedly.

Perhaps for me, nobody ever said it better than Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol,
“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

Sure On This Shining Night

Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far
Of shadows on the stars.

James Agee (1909-1955)


  1. Thank you for the shout out and writing a post about the question I asked. I think this is something we will just have accept that we won't agree on. Sadly we will never have better, kinder people in this world whether we are Christian or not, because we are all sinners, it's just that most committed Christians realise that, and pray to God for forgiveness. This is where people get confused about what Christians are, thinking we feel we are better than non Christians etc. we don't we realise how worthless we are and believe Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. All of us.

    1. It saddens me so to think that followers of Jesus hold no hope that his words of love can help to make the world better in some real way. Being the optimist I am, I will accept that we must disagree.

  2. I feel a need to respond to this post, but am experiencing a difficulty over the question of, "Am I a christian?" My instinct is to say "No!" And I certainly will not be going into a spiritless French church this Christmas. Yet, although my response to the earlier question was emphatic, yet still I wonder, and that process of wondering is an ongoing experience. I can say that there will be 'Carols from King's' on TV, cd's of carols, and the Messiah being played as usual. They are important to us as is, for example, the 'Advent Service' referred to in Lucy's "Box Elder." .......Yes, the process of wondering will continue.

    1. I too wonder, and then I remember why I cannot call myself Christian and will not call myself anything else. To do so would be to create another religion and another we/they dichotomy.
      We have already listened to Handel's Messiah right through and will listen to various other Christmas carols and musical compositions. Might even see The Nutcracker! :)

  3. I have got to ask this question Halle. Where do you get the information that the nativity was an ancient myth or based upon such?
    I firmly believe in the whole Bible as being the inspired word of God and that all of it is true, not just selected parts. In fact the Old Testament prophecies foretell the events. Check this out http://creation.com/the-nativity-fact-or-fiction but of course you have to let The Holy Spirit show you in your heart if what you read is truth or not.
    As a point of interest I too do not go to church at Christmas or any other time these days for reasons too long to write about here but as far as Christmas is concerned I opted out of the false worldly celebrations a few years ago. Even though Christmas is a man-made festival (Catholic Church) originally designed to turn people away from paganism and other religions, possibly with good intentions, it has become far removed from even that. It is riddled with paganism, and even idolatry. I celebrate my Saviour's birth in an entirely different way.

    Shirley Anne x

    1. It might be interesting to compare notes. While I believe the spirit of God can write words in the heart of anyone whose love is strong, I also am convinced that the words of God are not transmitted faithfully when the creation and maintenance of a religion is at stake. You mentioned the creation of the man-made Christmas festival as an example.
      Religions have been borrowing from one another freely it seems.


      Knowing this does not remove my faith in the love and the words of Jesus. It does make me very cautious about the writings and interpretations of those words by some who pretended to be followers after the fact.

      xx Halle

    2. How many of them rose from the dead and was seen in the flesh later or performed miracles in front of people? How many prophesied of his coming hundreds and even thousands of years before the event? Each Bible may present the Word of God in slightly different ways but the essence, the canon of Scripture is essentially the same. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that birthdays are to be celebrated yet we have Christmas. Did you know that Christ's Mass is in fact celebrating His death? That's what the Mass is all about......and what about those who were with him and thereafter wrote about him?

      Shirley Anne x

    3. I'm wondering if you think we are in some disagreement about the truly wondrous nature of Jesus then and now. The thing is Shirley, in the time when Jesus did and said what was recorded, the miracles were expected. Fulfillment of prophecy was expected. What the people of that time couldn't know is that Jesus' message was for all time.
      Please consider reading the Joshua books by Joseph F. Girzone.
      And please know that you and I are not at all far apart. We share our love of Jesus.
      Halle xxx

    4. The short answer to that question is that no we are not in disagreement Halle

      Shirley Anne x

  4. Hi Halle
    On Jesus I like the ending to Schweitzer’s Quest for the Historical Jesus =
    He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake-side, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: "Follow thou me!" and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfil for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.
    Lovely music and I thought you might also like the rendition from dramatic soprano Cheryl Studer=.also on U Tube
    Best wishes

    1. Oh Lindsay, a two-for-one comment!

      First, thank you for pointing me to the Samuel Barber treatment. Stunning.

      Second and more important, for the Schweitzer quote, reinforcing my belief in a living Jesus who has the power to be relevant in the present, always. Not some hanging on a cross and embedded in amber relic only useful to accompany a crozier and censer in a procession.

      Thank you again, and Best Wishes as always.

    2. Indeed Halle, indeed

      Shirley Anne x