Friday, December 20, 2013

"Season's Greetings from the University of Oxford"

This is the Christmas Season's greeting to the world from the staff of the world renowned University of Oxford. As entertaining and creative as it may be, there is not one mention of Jesus, or even of the word 'Christmas'. But it does include a Byzantine painting of St Peter and St Paul embracing, with St Paul saying, "I love you, man."

This is Oxford University - where degrees are still bestowed upon graduands Ad honorem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et ad profectum Sarosanctae Matris Ecclesiae. As they kneel before the Vice-Chancellor, he touches each one upon the head with the New Testament, admitting them in nomine Domini, Patris, Filii et Spirutus Sancti.

This is Oxford University, which has produced around 12 saints of the Church and some 20 Archbishops of Canterbury. Amongst its stellar theological alumni rank the names of John Wycliffe, John Locke, William Tyndale, John Colet and John and Charles Wesley.

This is Oxford University, which was inspired by and founded upon the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. Eradicate that heritage, and you cease to understand the academic culture and spiritual values which spawned one of the greatest seats of learning in the world. At various points throughout history, when that faith has been imperiled, men arose to establish theological halls and houses to address disbelief. When the college chapels were faced with closure, these became a bulwark of orthodoxy and sound doctrine.

And now their staff can't even bring themselves to mention 'Christmas', or to make reference to the birth of Christ.

Instead we get 'Season's Greetings', and a purposeful allusion to homosexuality in the Early Church.  


Blogger orangegoblin said...

At 31 seconds the lady says "I love Christmas". So they clearly can bring themselves to mention Christmas

Hysterical over reaction because you would personally prefer a religious message rather than this rather tame ditty?

20 December 2013 at 09:45  
Blogger Nick said...

Are we seeing Christmas reverting to a pagan festival, at least for non-believers?

I guess this video is a multi-culti offering, intended to avoid offendind the professional offence-takers such as atheists, feminists, gays, etc. The muslims don't care because we infidels are already on yheir death list anyway

20 December 2013 at 09:51  
Blogger Martin said...

Perhaps they think themselves too wise to think upon such things.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where [is] the wise? Where [is] the scribe? Where [is] the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-29 NKJV)

BTW, the Countess of Huntingdon used to say she was glad that passage said 'not many' rather than 'none'.

20 December 2013 at 09:53  
Blogger John Wrake said...

We live in a country where wit o'ertops goodness, equality trumps faith, greed outranks honesty.

Where those in power ignore their duty to God and Monarch, it is not long before others follow and ordinary folk are robbed of their assets and their freedoms.

There was a time when the Church heeded its Masters injunction to act as salt and yeast in society. No longer. Now it engages itself with more weighty matters like women bishops and the marriage of homosexuals.

John Wrake

20 December 2013 at 09:59  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

They do mention Christmas. There is a Christmas carol rather than a banal Xmas song. Heck, it even contains some Latin! (Ding dong merrily on high,In heav'n the bells are ringing: Ding dong! verily the sky Is riv'n with angel singing. Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!)

There is the ridiculous "seasons greetings" but it's pretty ubiquitous now. [I always respond by asking, "What season?"]

I say let them get on with their transient, secular, materialistic, hedonistic Xmas with their Coca-Cola vans and inflatable Santas. Let them discover how hollow, empty & unsatisfying it is. Let the those of us who know Christ celebrate advent and the Christ Mass.

20 December 2013 at 10:00  
Blogger graham wood said...

Wonderfully irreverent Cranmer. Excellent surveys and comments over 2013. Take a well earned rest this joyful time as we remember the Word made flesh.
Graham Wood

20 December 2013 at 10:18  
Blogger Gareth said...

Remember the words to 'Cradled in a Manger, Meanly' and have a Happy Christmas.

20 December 2013 at 10:24  
Blogger JohnH said...

Don't let's get too po-faced about this. If it isn't overtly Christian, it certainly isn't anti.

Perhaps it would do us all a bit of good to lighten up from time to time.

God's peace to ++Cranmer and all his followers for Christmas and the New Year

20 December 2013 at 10:56  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I thought tone of His Grace's offering sounded a bit familiar... but then surely not?

“Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer.

An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.”

- Ayatollah Khomeini

20 December 2013 at 11:55  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention-but I did immensely enjoy it and thought the Saints Paul and Peter thing was also quite innocent. Oxford does have one or two rather huggy churches and neither are known as centres of promiscuity!! Can people not hug out of friendliness rather than sexual intent? Loads of people have been hugging me over this season so why not the paintings?

Gloria in excelsis. Great for Oxford, and all power and love to the OICS and the OCCANS and all the splendid and orthodox powerhouses of Chriatianity still there!

20 December 2013 at 12:14  
Blogger Simon said...

"This is Oxford University - where degrees are still bestowed upon graduands Ad honorem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et ad profectum Sarosanctae Matris Ecclesiae. As they kneel before the Vice-Chancellor, he touches each one upon the head with the New Testament, admitting them in nomine Domini, Patris, Filii et Spirutus Sancti."

I think this is for higher degrees only (no such thing happened when I received my undergraduate masters degree) but anyway, graduands may now opt out of this. I'm not sure why. The university is conferring the degree in the name of the Trinity; the student doesn't receive it in the name of the Trinity. It is still perfectly meaningful for the university to do this for a non-believer. Just another bit of our Christian heritage chipped away I suppose...

Anyway, the video. The lack of Christianity annoyed me, but it was just the sheer tackiness of it that offended me.

20 December 2013 at 12:24  
Blogger Guy Jones said...

The celebration of Christ's birth must be moved to another time of year. Preferably, the date of Christ's birth. Christians must reclaim this celebration utterly and in the reclaiming remember why the advent was so important. The pivot point of history.

Luke 2:32
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

20 December 2013 at 12:36  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Simon
I thought the "bashing on the head with a bible" was for an M.A. but not a B.A.

I didn't actually see a lack of Christianity as
"Verily the sky/ Is riven with Angels singing/ Gloria in excelsis" is clearly Christian as was the Madonna and child.

In fact all the people in the museum came alive and sang of the Messiah's birth; how is that a lack of Christianity?

For those of us who enjoy the imagination, it was just a fun "What if?" but a what if clebrating the birth of Christ.

I found the delineation carefully and gently done, and enjoyed the idea that Tantalus might finally get his grapes!! Which could be taken as a metaphor for Resurrection via the incarnation and eventual atonement of Christ.

20 December 2013 at 12:50  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

It's disgusting, life seems to be taking on a very homosexual slant!

Of course in the homosexual world Jesus and Christmas doesn't exist. It would be Season's Greetings and gluttonous orgies of excesses too.

20 December 2013 at 13:24  
Blogger Preacher said...

There is a word that sums it up, trivia! No wonder we are in this mess if this is all the cream of our intellectuals can come up with to remember the incarnation of Deity.

Prayer: Please dear Lord, send a Revival. Amen.

20 December 2013 at 13:35  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

I don't think it is trivial at all.

Try Ezekiel 36.26 for a start.

Think of C.S. Lewis' legacy- classical mythology combined with Christian eschatology. Think of the breath of Aslan turning the statues to life.

Think of the famous Hardy poem. Ponder on what it means for Christ to break into History, and how the crucifixion stands at the centre of time. Think of how the graves were opened at the time of Christ's death.

Think of the word "satisfaction" that is used to describe Christ's atonement and then think back to Tantalus and the grapes.

And finally think about the nature of incongruity; how it is at the essence of both the paradoxes of the Gospel and of humour.

For example Jesus spoke himself, humorously, of those who strain gnats out of their drinks and yet swallow camels. Now imagine an animation of that, and you have Monty Pythonesque humour 2 millenia before Monty Python. But the truth is not trivial, any more than the truth of "The Emperor's New Clothes" is trivial because it was originally a children's story. Some things are exquisite and timeless observations, and animation is not solely for children but an art form in its own right.

Why should they not reflect upon the term "living stones" which we find in Scripture itself?

I don't get trivial at all. Not entirely "in your face" but there is a wealth of allusion and subtlety; I don't pretend I won't have missed some allusions!!

20 December 2013 at 14:21  
Blogger Gareth said...

My favourite part was: "King Alfred and the House of Wessex ORDER you to have fun!"

20 December 2013 at 14:25  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack didn't like this at all.

Jack says its just smart arsed and clever, not about Jesus. Besides, it just steals the idea from that film about a night in a museum so its not even original.

And Jack says that bit where one saint says to another (who are they?) "I love your mouth" is a disgrace.

20 December 2013 at 14:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Why do we expect the Unbeliever to behave other than as an Unbeliever? Do we honestly think he will genuflect in the direction of a religion be neither follows nor respects? They have long since emptied Christmas of its religious content. It is now nothing more than the sum total of its secular symbols laced with traditional music. The 'meaning of Christmas' - if it exists at all - now consists of a small collection of moral bromides. Once a year, we take them out of the closet and hang like ornaments on a tree that we might admire ourselves in the reflection of the glass. They we put them away again. It's tradition. It's familiarity. It's rhythm and cycle. It's the promise and hope that things will stay the same even as they change around at horrifying speed. But it's no longer about Truth. In a word, it's about us. The Tower of Babel is constantly being rebuilt.

I understand the impulse. The unbelieving world has seized that which belongs to us and transformed it into something vulgar and base. They sing songs to honor the birth of Christ and use them to honor the life of men. They speak words of invocation for the sake of tradition while despising the truth undergirds those self-same words. And we say in response "Quit demeaning that which is sacred." We leave out two important words - "to me." But of course they hear those words even if we don't speak them, and say "Who gave you ownership? This is my tradition. I will do as I please, and if that offends you - tough."

We must begin with fundamentals. Is Christianity true? Then it does not matter what men do in the vanity of their hearts. They cannot seize ownership of Christmas. They are like children playing with toys in a store. Their fantasies of possession do not convey actual ownership. They have no power to cheapen that which is profound. They have no power to transform the which God has established.

As with Samuel, so with us. He was offended when the Israelites asked for a king. But it was God the Israelites rejected and not Samuel. Yet the Israelites could not displace God from His throne. And neither will this secular world eject Christ from the manger no matter how hard it tries.


20 December 2013 at 15:04  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

It was Sts. Peter and Paul, Happy Jack. One says " I love you, man" to the other and not, ahem, ahem " I love your mouth"!!

Does Happy Jack see much harm in the Saints hugging? I have in the past been in churches where the culture was to hug all and sundry (except possibly those who had obviously not washed in a month for we all have our limitations!!) They tend to be the least promiscuous churches around, and the love is overwhelmingly that one called Agape!!

Sometimes we see what we expect to see, and our culture is unfortunately quite a smutty one. I think if more people were strictly monagamous more people would feel free to pass around Christmas hugs and the whole world would be quite a bit happier, even including Happy Jack!!

So a virtual Christmas hug from me to anyone of either gender who would like one!!

20 December 2013 at 15:10  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

I think also that we need to remember the context, for they created something out of their own specific area and their museum, so that picture is there because they have it. They were not free to raid the copyright of other art galleries and museums who might have had more nativity scenes and so on...

As for originality isn't virtually everything a reworking or recombination of old ideas? That film could be said to borrow from another, which maybe borrowed from Narnia which borrowed from... I don't know. Who first thought of statues and pictures coming alive? It's almost archetypal and universal. I was fearful of statues as a small child as I feared they might come alive; no one had suggested it. I suspect that some small children in Roman times, and before, certainly felt the same. THere is (almost) "nothing new under the sun!!"

20 December 2013 at 15:28  
Blogger Len said...

As a seat of learning these guys seem to have lost the plot about what Christmas is all about.
Some pagan idols,Greeks( who relegated Christianity into a philosophy) ,a few dodgy saints.
What does this add up to?.
The Christian Gospel has become lost and confused by those who should know better.
Bring back the Gospel as Jesus , Paul and the early Church preached it and lets get rid of this 'seasonal greetings' rubbish!.

20 December 2013 at 15:34  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Ahhh What is exactly "dodgy" about St peter and Paul. They were, as well as John and Paul, traditionally pictured together as those who were highly influential in spreading the gospel.

It is a misreading of these pictures, which are almost ubiquitous, to suggest the physical closeness had any iconographic intimation of homosexuality, akin to suggesting that any man who has moved closer to another so the photographer could fit them into the frame was thereby a predatory gay. It is just a misreading, and I don't think the museum intended anyone to misread. In fact being so familiar with the real iconographic traditions in which the pictures were made, as museum folk are, it very possibly never even occurred to them that it would be so misread.

20 December 2013 at 15:50  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

And I have traced back one of the earliest stories of a statue coming to life to Ovid's Pygmalion. Ovid lived into the 17th or 18th year A.D.
But I suspect there are earlier ones still!

20 December 2013 at 15:53  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thank you Your Grace --- for showing us Oxford's collage of cultural effects! Overall, I agree with Lucy Mullen that it contains "a wealth of allusion and subtlety" (@14:21).

Gareth @ 14:25 responds to the strongly stressed Alfred's Jewel, which works almost as mystically as the original! On one hand, it could insult and trivialise King Alfred, who enabled the survival of this country and its Christian culture against pagan hordes. But ... Alfred also enabled the freedom we have developed and championed since - which allows individual perceptions of "fun"

But yet .. "fun" did not exactly exist in his day! Perhaps the Old English word that most approximates "fun" is fon --- which has to do with seizing and battling (J. R. Clark Hall. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary). So maybe ........

At the end of the video, the horizontal triptych also centralises Judaeo-Christian imagery and song. Quite what is happening to it, the viewer must decide. Does that Arab boat support the layers above it? Or is it a 'Ship of Fools'? Do the sailors need to look up and accept the Christian and classical influences? Is the pagan classical layer perhaps weighing rather heavily? Certainly, it is set in lifeless stone--

But I agree with Rebel Saint about the Christmas carol; methinks its effect pervades the whole, thus reinforcing the enlivening centralities of Jewel and Triptych.

Finally, though, the h-s allusion is unpleasant. And I do support your objection to the "Season's Greetings" nonsense. That is appeasement - as is our acceptance of the huggy stuff Lucy mentions. At other times and places they call that sexual harrassment: and victims ought to make a bigger fuss about it than they do.

20 December 2013 at 16:37  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

They cannot seize ownership of Christmas.

Like Christianity did when it seized ownership of Yule more like.

20 December 2013 at 16:39  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! When graduands receive their degree from the Chancellor of the University of Barchester (who is none other than my Lord the Bishop) they are hit over the head with Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Not that my Lord does it. I do. I have a marvellous back-hand...

20 December 2013 at 17:14  
Blogger Len said...

'Dodgy' as depicted in the sketch Lucy Mullen not in reality.

What a magnificent suggestion Mrs Proudie. Might work well with some on this Blog.

20 December 2013 at 17:24  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Lucy,Happy Jack must have his hearing checked out! That or get a computer with better sound. Jack agrees there no harm in men hugging and sharing the love of Christ. Even so, "I love you man" isn't very good and doesn't say this.

Jack doesn't get all this complicated allusion business. Are you sure your not seeing things that are not there?

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack says it's always good to knock a bit of sense into folk.

20 December 2013 at 17:52  
Blogger Louise Kavanagh said...

Hello Mrs Proudie,

I had to re-read what you'd written. I thought you said we'd end up getting bashed with a tin of Fox's biscuits!

20 December 2013 at 18:32  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Nick: "I guess this video is a multi-culti offering, intended to avoid offendind the professional offence-takers such as atheists, feminists, gays, etc."

Ironic, really, on a thread which is taking offence at the lack of religosity in a Christmas message. Especially as I, a gay atheist, have been adding "Merry Christmas!" to the end of my work emails today.

20 December 2013 at 18:45  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Louise, that comment made Happy Jack chuckle. A bag of Foxes Glacier Mints could also be used.

Danjo, Happy Jack says introductions are getting very long these days.

Jack, a male (sex), heterosexual (sexual orientation), Christian (religion), man (gender) *pause for breath* wishes you a Happy Christmas.

Mrs Proudie, may Happy Jack ask you a question?

20 December 2013 at 19:10  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Dreadnaught @ 16:39

Happy Winterval.

20 December 2013 at 20:59  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Your Grace, I se your point, but the two fellows hugging and the "I love you man," doesn't relate to Gay stuff, at least in the California-speak the expression came from. The line is said in a silly whine when two guys do a friendly hug and are embarrassed about it and make a joke out of it to look manly and "straight." I have the misfortune to be around 20-somethings quite often. Feel free to consult me on the latest youth culture stupidities.

Enjoy safe, politically correct, and happy Winter holidays, Your Grace and oh, alright; a very meaningful and happy Christmas to you and yours.


This is the time of year I remind all my fine feathered friends here to drive very, very carefully. Think situational awareness. Check your mirrors every 10 seconds, keep your eyes peeled at intersections and crossings with stop signs and stay away from booze if planning to get behind the wheel. You all know I like my scotch very much and I go on about it here, but I don't even have a glass of beer 24 hours before I get behind the wheel of my rig. Driving is a serious business and a truck lugging tons of stuff is a weapon of mass destruction. I don't need to give graphic descriptions this year of accident scenes I see on the roads do I? I'll just say that the worst is the children and young couples. Enough...on a happier note, enjoy your Christmas or just time off and partying and stay safe!

20 December 2013 at 21:15  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

O yeah, and a Shabbat shalom to all you Yid'n out there.

20 December 2013 at 21:18  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Reciprocated Mr Explorer reciprocated, if that means any more to you than it does to me.

20 December 2013 at 21:46  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Revival of the pagan festival that preceded Christmas.

The sort of levity the Ayatollah would have disapproved of.

20 December 2013 at 21:54  
Blogger Peter Melia said...

it is entirely trivial.
Perhaps it would have been better for the attribution to be from the group which constructed it, surely a small group, rather than the University as a whole?

20 December 2013 at 21:57  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

You think I am advocating revival of a Pagan festival for simply pointing out a truism?

20 December 2013 at 22:09  
Blogger The Explorer said...

No. I'm pointing out a difference between Islam and Christianity. Christians can laugh.

On a serious note, I don't think it was an accident Christianity chose the Festival of Saturnalia.

With Saturnalia, the order of things was turned upside down. That was what Christianity thought had happened with the birth of Christ.

PS: I thought you made an entirely valid point @ 16:49. Christianity hijacked a pagan festival. It also hijacked the festival of Oestre, with her egss and rabbits.

20 December 2013 at 22:21  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Happy Christmas Mr Explorer.

20 December 2013 at 22:26  
Blogger Naomi King said...

You are right Your Grace this video is openly promoting homosexuality. And this is where defilement takes us as a society.

A married, heterosexual gym teacher at a US Upper West Side private school was fired because his lesbian supervisor disapproved of his “traditional family status.”

Merry Christmas All

21 December 2013 at 07:11  
Blogger Naomi King said...

And also this

and this

21 December 2013 at 07:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Avi:"Your Grace, I se your point, but the two fellows hugging and the "I love you man," doesn't relate to Gay stuff, at least in the California-speak the expression came from."


21 December 2013 at 09:46  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Good heavens, dear Happy Jack...of course you may ask a question. Dear Louise, you made me chuckle too! I am very partial to Fox's Glacier Mints... who would have thought the fellow went into confectionary after scribbling away on his martyrology... a man of many talents. Mr. Slope has many talents, some of which frighten the horses...

21 December 2013 at 10:23  
Blogger Oliver Nicholson said...

"Christianity hijacked a pagan festival. It also hijacked the festival of Oestre, with her egss and rabbits. "
This line of argument really will not do. The Saturnalia is the week BEFORE a.d. viii Kal. Jan (25th December). Slightly more informed folk try to link the date of Christmas to a festival of the Sun, but (depending on your reading of a difficult passage of Hippolytus of Rome) there is a hot chance that the Roman pagan festival of the Sun on 25th December actually post-dated Christmas and was started by the Emperor Aurelian (270-75). The date would seem to derive from it being 9 months from the 25th March, which was often considered by the Early Church to be the date of the Crucifixion or Resurrection and so, because perfect people live mathematically perfect lives, of what later came to be celebrated as the Annunciation:

21 December 2013 at 11:41  
Blogger Oliver Nicholson said...

As for Easter, the date was reckoned (still is) by reference to the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan and was a matter of considerable discussion from the earliest centuries of Christianity onwards - long before it reached northern European peoples and their very obscure goddess Eostre (known only from a few lines of Bede, I think - we are not talking Woden or Thor - so scarcely worth 'hijacking'). The fact is that the uniqueness of the Christian revelation came to be marked by the keeping of fresh festivals: Jesus is the reason for the Season. Season's Greetings.

21 December 2013 at 11:46  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack says he just has asked you a question and you answered it!


That was Jack's little Christmas joke.

Danjo and Avi, Happy Jack says he "loves you man" - but no cuddles, thank you very much.

Saints Peter and Paul were not Californian hippies, man!

21 December 2013 at 11:54  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

From the Wikipedia entry for Christmas:

Reformation into the 19th century

Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the "trappings of popery" or the "rags of the Beast".[49] [. . .] Following the Parliamentarian victory over Charles I during the English Civil War, England's Puritan rulers banned Christmas in 1647.[49] Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans.[49]

The point, I suppose, is this: unlike Easter, which occurred on a known date, namely Passover, the Gospels give no date for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

21 December 2013 at 12:46  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Oliver @ 11:41 & 11:46

What was meant as a throwaway remark on my part in response to another throwaway remark has generated far more than I intended.

The sequence:

1. Carl @ 15:04 The unbelieving world has seized Christmas.

2. Dreadnaught @ 16:39 Christianity seized ownership of Yule. (The yule log in defiance of the Winter. Hardy brings out the pagan associations in 'The Return of the Native'.)

3. 20:59 My greeting to Dreadnaught.

I have secular friends who assert, beyond what Dreadnaught does, that they need make no apology for secular celebrations at Christmas: they are simply returning to the original pre-Christian festival.

I concede my choice of the word 'hijacked' was a bad one. I was also talking in generalities: the Church looking for thematic -rather than exact date - equivalents. Saturnalia was still reflected in the medieval 'Lord of Misrule': not necessarily anarchic if one thinks of the Prince of This World as Satan, and Christ's coming to undo the work of the Devil.

I didn't refer to Mithras, who is also a factor in the date of Christmas.

Oestre arose for me when I wondered why we had 'Easter' when the French had 'Paque' and its link with 'Paschal'. Also the origin of Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny. And Oestre, after all, did give her name to Oestrogen.

My own view is that Christianity was the fulfilment of Judaism; but also of what was true in Paganism. The essay on my Blog, 'Mythology as Revelation' makes that point.

21 December 2013 at 13:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Explorer: "I have secular friends who assert, beyond what Dreadnaught does, that they need make no apology for secular celebrations at Christmas: they are simply returning to the original pre-Christian festival."

We need make no apology anyway. We're a free people and we celebrate what we like at this time of year. Christians are free to celebrate Christmas as they like, as they enjoy the same freedom as the rest of us.

21 December 2013 at 13:42  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Hello DanJ0:

Quite. I'm not suggesting otherwise. My comment should be understood in the context of Carl's.

C S Lewis' distinction between Xmas and Christmas is a good one; and the one I myself follow.

I personally support the idea of Winterval for the secular world. It would avoid a lot of confusion.

21 December 2013 at 14:27  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Explorer: "I personally support the idea of Winterval for the secular world. It would avoid a lot of confusion."

Ah, Winterval was a retail promotion in Birmingham covering Diwali, Christmas, and New Year as I'm sure you know really. It didn't replace or subvert Christmas, it included it with all the usual Carol singing, Christmas tree, Frankfurt Christmas market etc. I'm happy to carry on with Christmas as the mashup of a Green Man mid-winter festival and early Victorian/Germanic Christmas, with religious aspects for those who want it.

21 December 2013 at 14:41  
Blogger The Explorer said...


In 'Brave New World' there is still an Archbishop Of Canterbury; although they are complete heathens, and their communion service is an orgy. That's the sort of thing I'm getting at.

It doesn't have to be Winterval. Call it Yearendval, or whatever you like. Secularists can get on with their celebrations, and we'll get on with ours (while they allow us to.)

21 December 2013 at 15:00  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Thread merge alert. Don't fall into paranoia too, Explorer. It's not becoming.

21 December 2013 at 15:22  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm not giving up Christmas just to make some Christians happy. Merry Christmas, one and all. ;)

21 December 2013 at 15:23  
Blogger The Explorer said...

I have no wish to seem uncharitable towards Secularism's tolerance, but I can think of one unfortunate precedent.

Soviet workers who hankered after Saints' Days were given an uncompromising answer to such revisionist, counter-revolutionary nonsense.

They were shot.

21 December 2013 at 15:23  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Merry Christmas DanJ0: in your sense and in mine.

I have felt intellectually enriched by our discussions over the year.

21 December 2013 at 15:27  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Precedent? We live in the UK under a liberal-democratic political philosophy arising from the Enlightenment, our internecine religious wars, and nation-state history. If that's the best you can do then you might as well pack up.

21 December 2013 at 15:29  
Blogger The Explorer said...


I was talking about Secularism. Who said Secularism was confined to the UK?

I concede I could have made myself clearer, but I was thinking of Christmas in relation to Secularism: across time and world wide.

UK specific, I hear, of course, what you say. But what is true now need not remain so. Who in Germany 1900 would have predicted Hitler? Who in medieval England would have predicted Cromwell?

Since I seem to have riled up lots on this particular thread, quite unintentionally, I'm bowing out.

Merry Christmas all.

21 December 2013 at 15:48  
Blogger Edwin said...

My old Oxford College, Pembroke, is quite as politically correct as the University in its "Season's Greetings". Shame on them all.

21 December 2013 at 16:54  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Ah dear Happy Jack, I enjoyed your little joke. One needs these chuckles when the nights draw in, the cloisters are cold and the endless guilt-provoking 'Please just give £3 a month to save the wombats in Outer Mongolia from drinking contaminated water and suffering at the hands of abusive parents' on the infernal Magic Lantern. This evening I have tuned into 'strictly Come Dancing' which has changed a lot since my day - no quadrilles or minuets...quite shocking. Having said that, I am in somewhat of a swoon over Artem...wonder if Santa would pop him into my stockings...

21 December 2013 at 19:39  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


"Soviet workers who hankered after Saints' Days were given an uncompromising answer to such revisionist, counter-revolutionary nonsense.They were shot"

Whereas gays in Uganda are going to be put in chains.

Touche there [?].

21 December 2013 at 19:50  
Blogger Oliver Nicholson said...

"I didn't refer to Mithras, who is also a factor in the date of Christmas.": it is astonishing how the late 19th century scholarship of Franz Cumont (impressive in its day) persists in the popular mind. Scholarship has moved on (that is why Roman historians are paid the big bucks) and, put briefly, we do not think this any more.

21 December 2013 at 20:38  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack is glad you enjoyed his little joke.

Jack hopes you do not permit Your Lord the Bishop to watch 'Strictly Come Dancing'. He might have a heart attack watching all those semi-naked ladies strutting their stuff. And Slope should be kept away too in case he has a stroke or two.

Now, now Mrs Proudie, my dear lady, you must resist temptation and avert your eyes from Artem's chest. Focus on higher things or his feet and do scan past what lies between.

21 December 2013 at 20:42  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Happy Jack, My Lord the Bishop spends most evenings translating Thomas a Kempis into Swahili, a strange hobby but his own. This enables me to watch Strictly in peace...I am thinking of ways to replace Mr Slope with Artem as my Lord's Chaplain, but I think Artem is Russian Orthodox... Ah well....sigh

21 December 2013 at 20:53  
Blogger The Explorer said...

David K @ 19:50

I thought I'd signed off this thread, but since I've been addressed twice (I was coming back to see what Mrs Proudie had to say) I guess I'd better get back into the fray.

I don't acknowledge the hit. Secularism argues its tolerance - when it has power - towards religious belief. I gave an instance when it wasn't. End of. The claim was no broader than that.

21 December 2013 at 21:06  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Our thesis is the truth of the Bible: homosexuality is condemned by God as an abomination.

Their anti-thesis is that homosexuality is good and normal.

Any “synthesis” of these two contradictory premises is abandonment of the thesis and an outright rejection of the truth of God. "What fellowship hath Christ with Belial?" asked Paul rhetorically in 2 Corinthians 6:15.

Let's have compassion for homosexuals but never align ourselves with them politically or give them a platform to legitimize their lifestyle. Anyone who self-identifies as a unrepentant homosexual is an enemy of the truth, no matter how “conservative” they may sound. Love them as lost sheep, but hate the false premise they live their lives by.

Remember, the Marxist dialectic was taught as a dance to Soviet children: two steps forward, one step back equals a net gain of one step. The “progressive” homosexual agenda represents the two steps forward. The “conservative” homosexual “counter-faction” is one step back. When we endorse “conservative gays” we are helping the entire “gay” movement to advance at the expense of the Bible. Lets not dance with the devil!

21 December 2013 at 21:26  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Oliver Nicolson @ 20:38

The popular mind, in my experience, has never heard of Mithras, and couldn't care less. If it thought you were getting big bucks for knowing about him it would consider it a misuse of funds.

M J Vermaseren holds to 25th December for Mithras, but whether he's right or not, I couldn't care less either.

You are arguing the minutiae of origins, and I - though being of the popular mind - commend your expertise.

My argument is different. My argument is that some modern pagans say that what we now celebrate as Christmas was once a pagan festival. That paganism, whatever it was - who cares, as long as it's not Christian - is what they want to celebrate.

I am not making that claim about all modern pagans: merely about some I know who take that line. They would argue against Carl - if they knew him - that they didn't steal Christmas from Christians. Christians stole it from them. (Or, more strictly, from their spiritual ancestors.)

21 December 2013 at 21:28  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Sweet Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack says you must mortify your body against this temptation of the flesh! Or have a warm glass of whisky, a hobnob and a garibaldi to calm yourself.


21 December 2013 at 21:56  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


When I said that Christmas had been seized, I meant that the form had been maintained while the substance had been removed. People still sing "Silent Night" but only for the ambiance and tradition. It has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. It still looks like Christmas. It still sounds
like Christmas. But it is no longer Christmas. Something like "Invasion of the Holiday Snatchers."

There isn't much we can do about this. We don't 'own' the holiday. My point was that Christmas has objective content. It's not about whether the original Christmas was an absorption of a pagan holiday. It is about celebrating the Incarnation. Secular desires to maintain the familiar form while discarding the metaphysical content cannot ultimately succeed. We are remembering a fact of divine Providence that will be celebrated for eternity. The fact that secularists wish to make of it something comfortable for themselves for a time is really of no consequence.

We really shouldn't care if unbelievers say Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays or whatever. It does not change the objective reality of the holy day. What God establishes man cannot overthrow.


21 December 2013 at 23:16  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

In other words, the modern secular conception of Christmas is not a re-emergence of a pagan holiday. It is a celebration of tradition and permanence. It is a celebration of us. People who claim they are 'taking back Christmas' are really just gloating over the declining presence of Christianity in the West. Christmas is not becoming the Winter Solstice Festival.

Not yet anyways.


21 December 2013 at 23:30  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

If anyone 'hijacked' or reshaped Christmas it was Charles Dickens and later the Coca-cola Santa. I think they both made a lot of money out of it without reference to the Christian religion.

22 December 2013 at 07:57  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Carl @ 21:30

Yes. My comment about 'Brave New World' makes that sort of point.

When I speak to liberal clergy who deny divine inspiration of the Bible and the divinity of Christ, I urge them to take the final step and deny God as well. I find a strange reluctance.

My pagan friends are happy to empty the Christian religious element out of Christmas, but want to retain the shell.

It seems to take a Nietzsche to stare unblinkingly into the void.

22 December 2013 at 08:18  
Blogger The Explorer said...

BNW @ 15:00

22 December 2013 at 08:18  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Deadnaught @ 7:57

Great points both. I'd really like to take them up, but I've done enough damage to the spirit of Christmas already on this thread.

I hope someone else addresses them, though; they're both worth exploring.

22 December 2013 at 08:22  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I have to say that I'd happy do without Easter. Too much chocolate for my liking and I like to be out and about in the bright, crisp mornings. Unlike in December when the days are short and the weather is miserable. I'd probably do without Christmas too if I lived in the southern hemisphere.

22 December 2013 at 08:36  
Blogger The Explorer said...


"You will, Oscar, you will."

22 December 2013 at 08:47  
Blogger The Explorer said...

The point about Easter is a good one. Secularists are happy with Christmas because it's a fixed date, and a good opportunity for a piss up.

Easter moves, and so impinges on the lives of those who don't believe in it.

That's why secularists are itching to get their mitts on it and push society in a rational direction. They'll have their work cut out, given the state of modern education: to introduce the Scrooge note for my next post.

22 December 2013 at 10:02  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Mr Explorer - damage to the spirit of Christmas? Hmmm, come immediately to The Palace for a reviving sherry, a mince pie (made by Mr Slope to an old recipe by Graham Kerr) and a carol concert given by the Old Men of Hiram's Hospital (it is a bit like Haydn's Surprise Symphony, except instead of loud chords, every so often one of them falls of his perch). Oh how we laugh...

22 December 2013 at 10:10  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear DanJ0, I fear you are a lost soul...never mind, I am sure Mr. Slope will find you...

22 December 2013 at 10:12  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Dreadnaught @ 07:57

If no one else is going to, I'll address the 'Christmas Carol' issue.

The key to it lies with the two children Ignorance and Want, and what to do about them. (I say this because the two are then combined in Jo the crossing sweeper from 'Bleak House', written a around the same time.)

I imagine a eugenics movement of the future might well ban the book outright because of Tiny Tim.

1. He isn't aborted. 2. He isn't put down at birth. c. He doesn't die. A Margaret Sanger of the future might not approve.

I'm sure others will agree with me that I've had far too much to say on this thread. So I really AM signing off with finality.

Not even Mrs Proudie could tempt me back; although I am happy for her to tempt me in other ways.

22 December 2013 at 10:16  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


My thought process was something like this -

I was thinking that government in the USSR was brutal towards Christianity, but when the shoe is on the other foot, then a Christian government can be equally as brutal to a minority, in this case Uganda. The abuse of power as it were, doesn't stop at secularists., but seems to be a very human trait.

22 December 2013 at 11:10  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness Mr Explorer...I assume that was a reference to my hobnobs...if they can tempt you back I will bake another dozen or so... I did have a Bourbon once, but one must be discreet...

22 December 2013 at 14:31  

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