Thursday, December 06, 2012

I Have Always Thought


this Christmas post by Jill over at the redoubtable "Brilliant at Breakfast" was very fine indeed.
I'm glad she breadcrumbed a fresh path back to it this year.  Here's a snip:
...
But no matter how many times I revisit this spiritual system, with its punitive, capricious alpha male deity who tests Abraham's faith by telling him to take his beloved son Isaac up to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him -- and at the last minute says "Kidding! Just wanted to see if you'd do it!"; its virgin birth and a man walking among us as the literal son of this anthropormophized deity, who died so that David Vitter could patronize prostitutes and Jim Bakker could have sex with Jessica Hahn and embezzle money from tens of thousands of people and so that Larry Craig could decry homosexuality while cruising in airport bathrooms, the answer always comes back "Naah."

But on Christmas Eve, I understand why people believe. I love Christmas Eve. I love it because it is the quiet after the storm of shopping; after the stores are closed and the horn honking and fighting over parking spaces and the orgy of consuming takes a break before becoming an orgy of acquisition the next morning. Most people are at home, with the lights on both inside and outside their homes. On my street, many people line the sidewalk with luminaria. I can step outside, and if it's a clear night, I can see stars in the sky and hear nary a sound, save the slight white noise from the highway three miles away.

And if I stand very still and listen to the quiet, I can visualize a young couple in a makeshift shelter, surrounded by well wishers from afar, with a newborn whose arrival they don't quite understand but that they know promises great things for mankind. They're a little bit frightened, but also awed at the huge responsibility they face in caring for this tiny child and nurturing him into the man whom some will believe is a god. As this couple looks up at the same sky I do, they also feel insignificant, and inadequate to the task they face -- not much different from what all new parents must feel...

8 comments:

mbarnato said...

Jill is wonderful. One of my must-reads every day. As is your blog, sir. And Mr Driftglass ~ Chas Pierce is quoting you again...
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_Punchline_Remains_Louie_Gohmert

LanceThruster said...

I've been looking at Christmas from a strictly secular viewpoint. The story is about the gift of a child to the world (as in this child could contribute in any number of unforseen ways to humankind), and what the world owes the child to develop and ensure it has the opportunity to reach its full potential. The "gift giving" is mutual, with mutual reward possibilities. There should be a welcome card available to each child to seek out letting them know they are loved and valued, and despite what circumstances they were born into, they are invited to join the world community and discover their own way in it (particularly with regards to freedom of/from religion).

tata said...

Thank you, Drifty. Jill is a ferocious thinker and a great friend.

Anonymous said...

When Abraham raises the knife to kill Isaac, he's stopped by an angel. Abraham, who fought to save Sodom and Gomorrah, doesn't fight to save his son, and for that refusal, God never speaks to him again, nor does his wife, Sarah, nor does Isaac. The family is broken apart by Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son.

Bukko Canukko said...

I noticed the shout-out you got from Pierce too. Congrats!

Neo Tuxedo said...

LanceThruster (is that name a Jurgen reference?) skrev:

The story is about the gift of a child to the world (as in this child could contribute in any number of unforseen ways to humankind), and what the world owes the child to develop and ensure it has the opportunity to reach its full potential.

Which is to say: "Each night a child is born is a holy night."

skunqesh said...

Well linked Drifty!
might I add,
as a pagan parent it's apparent to me, the true gift of da season is "let's wait, let's see"

for the potential, to be (or not)

but when that fails to impress a 5yr old, remind them there are consequences

LanceThruster said...

Neo Tuxedo - What a wonderful concept. Thanks for sharing it. Don't know the Jurgen reference. I made up the name in the 80's playing "Megawars" on Compuserv to sound like "Buck Rogers" or "Flash Gordon" (with a little bit of "Dirk Diggler" for good measure xD )

Regards,

LT