Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How Christmas Mystically Conquered The World

Why is Christmas the most-popular holiday in the world? I bet you didn't know that this is because of mystic visions by astrologers, warriors and cannibals. You don't believe me? Read on, noble seeker of global wisdom, read on!

Mystic Vision #1

Stargazing Astrologers End Their Quest
A biographer of Jesus named Matthew wrote: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, during King Herod's reign, wise astrologers from the East arrived in Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the Jewish baby born to be king? We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him." Why was Matthew starstruck enough by this heavenly vision to include it in his book? Probably because he was a missionary in Asia, where the reading of stars was and is a common spiritual practice.

Jesus' first worshippers were from the East. You may have heard that Portuguese and British colonizers brought word of the Lord to Asia. Not so. Thanks to Matthew and co-apostle Thomas (whose tomb you can visit in India), Jesus had thousands of followers in the East before there were any in most of the West. Though the colonizers sported virgins and crosses on their ships and sails, Gandhi used the actual teachings of Jesus to show them the way home. Last time I checked, the world's largest church was still in Asia.

Mystic Vision #2

Constantine's Victory Accompanies His Vision
Constantine was a blood-thirsty, power-hungry Roman warrior. He made offerings to a sun icon Sol Invictus, the soldier's deity rebirthed and celebrated yearly on December 25th. One day on the battlefield, Constantine claimed that he was blinded by the sun, saw a cross in the sky, and heard a voice predicting he would conquer under the sign of the cross, rather than the sun star. He did. On becoming Roman emperor, he legalized worship of Jesus and supported its spread across the West. We now celebrate Christmas on the sun's birthday.

Christianity became so widespread in Europe that it was mistakenly deemed a European faith and propagating it became "the white man's burden." (Pop tart Shakira once wrongly identified Italy as Jesus' birthplace.) For centuries, ethnocentric Gentiles overlooked or denied the Jewishness of Jesus. Some Jews likewise insisted that the most globally-inclusive branch of their faith no longer be considered Judaism. Thus, when Whitey Wilson on Doctor House asks Curvy Cuddy whether she'd like to hear comforting words from Paul, she responds, "No thanks, I'm Jewish." Apparently, rabbi Paul has had ethnic-reassignment surgery from proudly-Jewish author to blond Euro-crusader. Since Constantine, Jesus has been more-or-less voted into the European Union and stripped of rabbinical robes without his consent.

Mystic Vision #3

Star/serpent/king Quetzalcoatl returns
Moctezuma ruled the vast Aztec empire with millions of subjects from an impenetrable palace on an inaccessible island fortress, surrounded by labyrinths of waterways and whole nations of allies, buffered by uncrossable mountains and oceans. His sacrificial cult makes Hannibal Lecter look as nonviolent and vegetarian as Siddhartha. Yet, he was out-maneuvered, held hostage, and conquered by the officially-unauthorized, poorly-equipped, grossly-outnumbered, cocky and kooky Hernan Cortez. While all this happened, the most powerful leader in the world brooded about a disturbing vision. Moctezuma found the prophecy of a star in the East, representing a great king returning to establish his kingdom, more compelling than defending himself. The result: one cannot ride a donkey ten feet in the Americas without bumping a shrine to Mary and her star-status baby.

Now, I'm no fan of traditional religion. (If Mary remained a virgin for life, prancing around the house in her pajamas while poor carpenter Joseph had no place to drive his nail, how praiseworthy is that?) Still, this Jesus kid, born in a barn and lying in a hay feed trough, acting all sweet and innocent, was a serious bad ass - and the heavens seem to have conspired with him. Even today, not-so-wise men from the West are compelled by stars (celebrity product-endorsements) to buy as many expensive gifts as their credit cards will allow. So, why not continue the spread of authentic revolutionary spirituality by giving someone a copy of my book for Christmas? All profits are used to benefit impoverished families in Mesoamerica.

Admittedly, my father wasn't much of a carpenter and my mother wasn't much of a virgin. Plus, the closest thing to a miracle I've performed is opening a beer bottle with my eye socket. Yet, somewhat-miraculously, five stars appeared over my book courtesy of Midwest Book Review, then scores of other lofty reviewers chimed in like a heavenly chorus singing "Glory to that volume in the highest!" So, this season's wise men are bypassing gold, frankincense and myrrh for Sacred Ground & Holy Water. Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, oh come ye, oh come ye to A - a - ma - zon. Don we now our gay apparel (Ricky Martin, as you were) and let the fa-la-la-la-la-ing begin!


  1. Enjoyed the combo of history and humor. You have a way with words. Sometimes I think words "have their way" with me, leaving me feel used and abused. But I am finding that writing grows on you and with you. I was inspired by the craftiness of your craft. I especially like the image of Joseph looking for a place to put his nail after seeing Madonna (not the one that Church Lady spoke about on Saturday Night Live. The first Madonna) prance around the house in her pjs. Congrats on the 5 stars.

  2. Well, Darrell, I'm pretty sure my belief that God has a sense of humor won't go over with everyone, but thank you for hanging out with me. Technically, the One upstairs is my actual report-to anyway, and I'm reasonably certain there are gonna be more pressing issues to discuss in our upcoming meeting than my lame jokes.

  3. If God didn't have a sense of humor, he wouldn't have created man.

    And I'm a Christian.

  4. Welcome back, Norma! Let me get something straight. You wrote a book called "Chasing The Wind" - a literary reference meaning all human activity is futile, so your sordid tale has as much cosmic significance as any, like Hemingway's Sun Also Rises about horny, drunk people wandering around Spain.

    Yet, if you truly knew the Canadian classics (both of 'em), shouldn't you have asked, "Who Has Seen The Wind?" Therefore, the characters in your book aren't really chasing diddly squat. My next book will ask a much more significant question: Who Hath Broke the Wind? I mean let's boil all spiritual reflection down to its basic foundation: I stink therefore I am.

  5. Oops! I just took off my shoes, so I could count, and it seems I owe my Canadian readers an apology.

    Canadian classics include Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Farley Mowat, Michael Ondaatje, Roderick Haig-Brown, Lucy Montgomery (if you're pure), and Margaret Atwood (if you're bitter). At least, those are the ones I remember enjoying.

    Canadian ladies upset by my comment are urged to show up at my house with a bottle of maple syrup where I promise I'll make it up to you.

  6. Good post on Christmas, Lyn... and then you get a laugh out of me with those final sentences.

    And as to Atwood: emphasis on the bitter part of "if you're bitter."

  7. Wow... and here I thought we had Coca-Cola and consumerism to thank.

  8. No, Darryl, as much as we travel writers justly weep about the effects of globalization on cultures we love, globalization replaces tribalization, not just mom and pop stores. Before we offended and exploited each other, we usually enslaved and killed each other. This may actualy be a sick form of improvement.

    Like it or not, good people have to focus on improving globalization, because to stop it you must prevent folks from traveling, trading, innovating and kissing. For more on this topic, read "The Globalization Grinch Who Sponsored Christmas" chapter in my book. Also, any brown sugar out there wanting to globalize in a postive way is urged to call me.