Its not Christmas anymore but still in the Christmas spirit.
For my Protestant brothers in Christ, Neo-Pagan friends or anyone curious, a bit of fun trivia. The etymology of “Santa Claus” is from the Dutch “Sinterklass” which is Saint Nicholas. Western Christianity mixed the Ancient Christian celebration of Christ’s birth with the Germanic Pagan winter celebrations of Yule, Anglo-Saxon Mothers Night, Disir (women) and others. Santa Claus as we know him today has elements of Father winter, St. Nicholas, Oden and others depending on region and tradition.
It’s interesting to see (when studying Christian theology and its history) the comparisons with its self and outside influences over time. Comparative religions for me has not only eased my fear, paranoia and prejudice of other people’s beliefs but also has strengthen my own apologetic of faith. I know why I believe in Christ while at the same time hopefully more compassionate to what I don’t understand.
“The greatest and noblest pleasure which we have in this world is to discover new truths, and the next is to shake off old prejudices” – Fredric the Great
Breaking down my own preconceptions, false opinions and misunderstandings is obviously an arduous task. All I really know here is the benefit of love, kindness, gentleness and compassion which we share with one another. certainly their will always be those that know what they know and all else is wrong. Which is why I love reading the words of Jesus and of his deeds.
Christ went into the sinners home, was welcoming and was welcomed. For all religions, beliefs, and world views I think there is much to be learned from early evangels like the Seventy. Paul for example traveled far and wide into communities with very different paradigms on spirituality yet was able to reason with many.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela
I recall to my self of Paul’s example witnessing to the men discussing philosophy and the Gods. He didn’t come out and say you are wrong, you’re going to hades, your Gods are false or immediately begin quoting scripture. No, he pointed to the bust of one (the Unnamed God) and told them, that one was the God he worshiped. He simply learned their language and spoke it.
In returning to western Christmas and modern variations of Yule, one can look into history and choose to see Roman Catholic violence or one may choose to see Pagan violence or any other variation of opinion and judgment on the matter. I argue that however we choose or feel to judge them then, is how we are more likely to judge each other today.
As for me what I choose to see, is despite our nature to hold on tight to our beliefs and traditions regardless of origin and meaning we can still, while under the right motivation, learn to live harmoniously together.
Why then should religion or politics be “impolite” conversations? They are only words and people, Which is the master of which? For when reason and compassion are with two or more, dialogue has many possibilities of value and benefit to all parties.
“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” – see Hanlon’s razor
So let us be compassionate and understanding of one anther so that we may each expound upon our personal endeavors to become a better human being in seeking the truth.
Two posts on Paul’s ability to speak someone’s personal language while not diluting his own message from scripture.