Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Xmas 2014

At this tender time of year, when loved ones gather and say to each other “Whadja get me?”, it seems fitting to consider the traditions that underly this holiday. Christmas is, of course, a Christian holiday, but it follows the pattern of the Roman Saturnalia, and other early celebrations coinciding with the winter solstice. So almost everyone, regardless of beliefs, can find some excuse to celebrate.

In fact, even if you have no beliefs in any deities, religions or transcendent powers, you can marvel at the fact that humans were able to dream this stuff up. Seriously, the grandeur of many world religions, the magnificent music, the inspirational art and architecture … all of which were based on beliefs … is truly awesome.

The creation of the entire universe, and everyone and everything in it, was no more than a week’s work for an all-powerful supreme being, at least by some popular accounts. On the other hand, the slow development and refinement of human belief systems, over hundreds of generations and millenia, and the works inspired by these beliefs, are really exalted.

Of course, we don’t always act in accordance with those beliefs. We don't come close to our own or our creator's ideals of peace, mutual love or charity. But we’re capable of conceiving those ideals. Therein lies the hope.


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