Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas, whatever it is

Not that it matters much, to anyone other than curmudgeonly writers and historians, the day celebrated today, and throughout the Christian world, if there is such a thing, is at best misunderstood.

Most everyone knows that Jesus was not born on December 25th. We overlook this slight calendaric inaccuracy in the spirit of Christmas, the recipients of 1700 years of pagan and Christian history, from Saturnalia to mangers on courthouse lawns. No one really knows when the historic Jesus was born, or where, or if at all.

In fact, if the general populace were to become aware of the real history of Saturnalia and the activities that took place thereupon, Christmas would be a much different occasion than is celebrated now in shopping malls across the world.

It's not that Christians took over a pagan festivity to attract more adherents, although there is an element of that in all Christian holidays. It is more a blending of cultures in our society's distant past, an amalgam that is obscured through the excess of totalitarian culture at this time of year.

One not need dwell overmuch on the self-evident consumerist nature of 21st Century Christmas. This is part and parcel with the consumerist society we inhabit and create from moment to moment. It's entirely appropriate that we celebrate this most special occasion of the year in an insane frenzy of meaningless consumption, rather than the sexual and ethnic frenzy of our distant Roman ancestors.

The most meaningful part of this Christmas season is the world around us that doesn't recognize religious and social norms. That is, the non-humans on the planet, the birds that grace the air with their wings and song, the trees that provide haven and exemplary sunset views for the birds, the grasses that decorate the feet of the trees, the living soil that pushes up the grasses into the sun and the ever changing and always present bedrock of the whirling planet that supports us all.

If there is meaning to this season to be derived, contemplated and written about, it is in this, the natural world, from which we featherless bipeds emerged and to which we inevitably and permanently return.

To that prospect, I raise a glass of juniper tea and say to all,

Happy Christmas, one and All!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Of Strings and Christmas and Things Universal

The String-theorists are right: we do live in a Multiverse.

At least, I don't live in the same Universe as those people who fight in stores over $180 running shoes, at Christmas, even if there is some real connection with a baby born in suspicious circumstance 2,000 years ago... which there is not.

Christmas is a Dickensian fantasy, dredged up from the depths of our cultural consciousness, feeding our desires for a world that doesn't exist, at least in this Universe. Maybe in some other Universe love that passeth understanding is greater than greed, acquisitiveness, competition, authority, ignorance, outright stupidity and intolerance. But not in this world. In this world, the very basis of our society is inequality between those who have little and those who have most of everything else.

While the majority quietly sing Christmas carols with their families, the rich minority make a profit from the sale of Christmas products at a high mark-up and artificially limited availability.

Humbug, in deed.

If we celebrate anything, let's celebrate the seasons that make this such a beautiful Universe in which to live. The incredible diversity of all life on this whirling ball of stone and gas, the slow turning of our planet, the year-long journey around our sun, the millennial precession of our planetary system and the incomperable drift of our galaxy through the only Universe we can know. These are the realities of our world that deserve celebration.

Merry Universe!