Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'Tis the Season

This last Sunday I said "ass" in church. Hehehehehe!

Well, I suppose I should say that I sang "ass" in church. Yes, it's that time of year when we all get to sing "What Child is this?" including the line "Why lies He in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?" I remember as a kid being consumed with fits of laughter when we sang this song. Yeah, that's right, I haven't always been this mature (please note the sarcasm).

Don't you love this "stained glass ass" (come on, it rhymes, I had to say it) that has been immortalized even though he isn't even in the bible?

When you take a good look at Christmas Carols you just might notice that many of them are a great source of inaccurate information, bad theology and simply ridiculous statements. They definitely help reinforce some of the traditions that I have attempted to debunk in the last few posts.

Anyway, I do enjoy some carols. My personal favourite is "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel". It's theologically sound and it's in a minor key... what's not to like?

The "carols" that I really can't handle are the secular ones. Any songs that have Reindeer, Santa, elves, or the like just make me want to scream!

What is your favourite carol and why?
Which carol just drives you nuts and you're going to scream if you have to sing it one more time?
What silly statements, inaccuracies, or theological errors do you see in carols?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Making Christ in our Image

OK. Take a look at each of these pictures (Click on them for larger, clearer images).

What do you think?

Is one of them any more acurate or innacurate than the others?

What similarities are there?

Is it OK that Africans or Asians would think of Jesus as being African or Asian?

... or Caucasians as Caucasian?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Check out the first "Prince Caspian" trailer!

Make sure to check out this trailer...
...but please continue the discussion from Tuesday's post below.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What Have We Done to Christmas?

Every Christmas I hear a lot of talk (and do my share of talking) about how Christmas isn't what it should be; the business and bustle, the craziness of commercialism, the madness and mayhem of materialism, the glorification of gifts, etc...

That is all true, we really have messed up what celebrating Christmas should be and the "spirit" of Christmas. But we've also messed up the Biblical story. Here's what I mean... and I know that most of this is small picky stuff, but it all adds up to give us an inaccurate picture of Christ's birth:

There was no donkey. We always see pictures or paintings, or movies, or plays with Mary riding a donkey. I've even seen a play where the donkey was the main character. There was no donkey.

Well, I suppose there may have been a donkey but it is just as likely that it could have been a horse or a camel. Or maybe Mary walked or rode on the back of a cart. The fact is that we just don't know. The bible says absolutely nothing about how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem.

There was no inn. There was no inn and no inn-keeper. I've also seen a number of plays where the inn-keeper was a very main character. Guess what... He didn't exist.

This one needs a little explaining. First of all, there are no historical records indicating that Bethlehem had any sort of inn at this time period. Secondly, Bethlehem wasn't a big enough centre to have an inn, especially due to the fact that it was so close to Jerusalem.

But the the big reason is that there has been a gross translation error in many English Bibles every since the KJV translated the Greek word κατάλυμα (kataluma) as "inn". Kατάλυμα really means "guest room" (the TNIV, NLT, and other newer translations have corrected this error). This makes way more sense due to the fact that this was Joseph's home town. Joseph would have had family to stay with in Bethlehem. The guest room was full, so when Jesus was born they lay him in the manger that was in the entrance of every first century Jewish home. That's why the bible states this all so nonchalantly.

If you care, the real word for "inn" is πανδοχεῖον (pandocheion) as seen in Luke 10:34.

And while we're at it, let's debunk the notion that the magi showed up at the birth scene. They didn't. They came quite a bit later (possibly as much as 2 years later) and they found Mary and Jesus in a "house" (Matt. 2:11) not a barn or a cave or an inn. A house (gr. - οἰκία eng. - "oikia"... yes, this is where "Ikea" gets its name from).

And to shatter any last vestiges of what we may think the original Christmas may have been like... it probably happened in Spring. According to historical records the only time that shepherds spent the full night with their flocks (Luke 2:8) was in Spring during the lambing season. And, to back up this little theory, there was a comet reported during the spring of the year of Jesus birth.

So, somehow over the years of retelling the Christmas story we've changed a lot of things. Time-frames have been changed, characters have come in at the wrong time, some characters that weren't even there have been added, locations are wrong...

Wow, we've really messed things up! Whenever we read the actual accounts in our Bibles we need to make sure that we are seeing only what is actually there and not all of these extra traditions and tales that get added into it.

What do you think?
How different is all of this when compared to your imaginings of Christmas?
Do you know of other mistakes, misinterpretations, or misconceptions?

Here's a little task for you all: below is a Christmas card that I've scanned in. How many things are wrong with this picture?