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11-30-2012, 02:29 PM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxian_tmb Quote
Well, actually, actually, this was the modus operandi of the church dating all the way back to Constantine....It is much easier to simply co-opt existing rituals and symbols/iconography and re-name them, than take away people's existing practices. ( Look at what the Nazi's did to x-mas trees in WWII--turned it into a ritualistic worship of the state).

Religion was not different than any other aspect of the roman empire....the imperator took what he wanted/was useful, and incorporated it into Roman culture. Never mind the fact that much of church "doctrine" itself was an amalgamation of neoplatonism, mithrasism, paganism, and various other eastern cults, the Romans co-opted symbols all over the place.
Well, this a very big topic, but I think much of it has its roots in the Christians' own 'persecution narrative' and projected assumptions about the theocracy they kind of *want* (and the one that American liberties and separation of church and state were explicitly designed for Deists and Christians to protect *themselves* and all Americans from *themselves* about.

Actually much of that 'persecution narrative' of the early Christians greatly exaggerates their own importance and thus makes Rome and 'Pagans' into some kind of intolerant theocratic persecutors running around like some anti-Christian Gestapo or some justifying mirror of the *actual* Christian Parabolani and all those 'St' Cyril/ Theodosius-like persecutors of *Pagans.* (In the Dark Ages the Christians basically did that 'flip the narrative' thing to justify conquering/converting/torturing/executing *others.* And somewhere along the line stopped being so 'proud' of the 'saints' whose tales are all about killing or percecuting other peoples and all. Cause there was more that virtuous victimhood thing that enabled them to 'defensively' persecute and colonize others, blame Jews for killing Jesus and oppress them, etc, etc. And of course, co-opt or appropriate or destroy as best they could local folk beliefs and faiths and spritiual connections. )

When speaking of Rome, it's important to remember that until it was made a Christian-religious state, it wasn't a 'theocracy' as Christian states or Israel have been, trying to make everyone believe the same thing or else... Before it was made Christian, though, it had already become *The Empire.* (in many ways, Julius Caesar was in a sense the start of this, but he wasn't actually the first emperor, but 'Dictator for Life of the Republic' is kind of close enough for government work, so to speak.

But 'Pagan Rome' well into the empire, wasn't monolithic or even terribly concerned with individual or minority beliefs as 'threats:' as I pointed out, it might not have been much fun to be the province of Judea in the same way some Gauls found Roman governors less than optimal, but Jews in the empire were also religiously averse to making offerings to other Gods or for Emperors, ...but all they had to do was ask to do something else and that was *fine.* (Some Christians trying to basically destabilize things for their revolution were going well out of their way to provoke a martyrdom, and that was in fact seen as subversive and possibly 'terroristic' cause in some ways it *was.* It's kind of like how if someone threatens the President or stockpiles a military arsenal or whatever and says it's for religious reasons, it's *not* about their *religion* if they get busted for it. )

In actuality, while there was certainly some interplay between government and religion, it wasn't a 'top-down' theocracy concerned with *controlling* religion or belief: There were religious ceremonies regarding the business of government and of course the well-being of the state and all, but in polytheism, there's 'religion' in *everything.* (It's not a bunch of competing/warring 'monotheisms' for instance, (or even polytheistic 'pantheons' a point often missed by the monotheistically-minded: also much of the point of the fables of the Gods taught in the Christianized world simply wasn't so analagous to the Bible as some want to assume: it was less about a hierarchy of squabbling Divine commands as *allegory* about what the Gods may teach: not "Holy writ that commands you to emulate," ...rather these are wisdom-tales about what to be in mind of if you should happen to find yourself in similar positions: for instance, Zeus's foibles as a king, husband, and father are all *about* the dynamics and pitfalls *of* those facets of life, (And they aren't really about Zeus's more naturalistic or cosmological nature.) Notably, it's a lesson about how 'kings' may have trouble 'keeping it in their pants' and all the trouble that causes to this day, regardless of what 'King-God' you're identifying with: note what happens when Religious Right people get to 'the top,' ...these things are *lessons.*

(I'm digressing here, but I hope it's interesting. It does relate to how different worldviews may skew things, though. )

There's lessons in some of these things that the whole *notion* of book-authority-as-divine-authority-as-state-authority-as-authority-over-individual-people-and-souls kind of just can't grasp, so that worldview tends to (And even sometimes in ancient times *did* before Christianity was even on the radar: you know, the parts of certain philosophers the Christian theocracy *liked* to use. ) project onto 'Pagan religion' and 'Pagan people.'

Very much about relationships and respect and stuff like that. To go again to the familiar Greek fables, people might peg me as a sort favored by Athena. (Hail.) But.. if so, I do well to bear in mind not just Her gifts, but Her own troubles. She sees a *lot* but some things in Her stories are a little different. There's that story where in youthful strivings to excel at everything, she accidentally kills her best friend/lover Pallas and regrets it evermore: now, I never actually killed my best friend or anything, but yeah, close enough, a few times. As a young teen I damn near broke someone once. Particularly with my 'warrior' stuff, and my own damn notions after what I'd been through that someone was going to crush the brilliance out of my generally-timid rich friend if we didn't *train hard* in more ways than one, (Some of the wrong things I learned from 'Christian' society, I guess: I didn't mis-cast a literal spear, but one day I sure did kill something in my friend. Saw it happen. ) Same lesson, other circumstances: when things started going bad in my own life, I was too damn proud to go be with my best friends as I was: didn't kill them either, but hardly ever did see them again, especially the worse things got on my, err, personal Odyssey. (I remember joking with my sweetie when we were trying to find a place to settle down: I was like, "Yeah, back up to Ithaca works." ) One simply didn't have that much time in this life, and another, well, his life took him further afield, too.

Gods. Kind of doing the same thing right now: I salute a statue of Athena every week on my way to meet friends in a pub and I'm hiding out in Georgia, hoping a plan comes together. (In my defense, I'm not actually that Hellenic a Pagan, and I've been aware of a lot of this, but I should be quicker on the uptake by now about what currents I'm on, you'd think. Interestingly, it goes to my personal custom of saluting statues of the Grey-Eyed One, since back in Boston, which was originally intended to be called 'New Athens' but some Puritanical dudes were so scandalized about they decided instead to go for something derived from an apparently-particularly mirthless 'St. Botolph.' The interesting thing is that someone went to all the trouble of actually having a statue of Athena cast for the top of the State House, and again the Christians complained, so the fellow who commissioned it put it on top of a mill building across the river, looking right *at* the State House. I started the saluting thing as a bike courier every time I had to jam it up Memorial Drive. )


Anyway, there's some digressions. Hopefully a little something about civic and religious or 'religious' symbols and what they can mean.

Also kind of the point about church and state, Republic and empire, freedom and theocracy, ...what's in a name, what's in a symbol, ...what exactly do the Christians fear to *lose?* Etc.

It's another one of those holidays where the Christians are *terrified* that things aren't made to be about Evangelical or Catholic conservative Christianity even when they were *decrying* the very same things as 'Pagan' a decade ago. Now they're scared of 'oppression' if anyone else is recognized or not-explicitly excluded from a single tree in Rhode Island. And they stoke it up into some 'war' they invent, promote, and claim to be 'defending' against. If someone doesnt' stop saying 'Happy Holidays.'


For what.


Fact is, those 'Values Voters' scream about all this, then elect people who demand people be more consumerist for the corporations, then blame 'paganism' for their own behavior at 'doorbuster sales.' At stores where they think it's Communism to pay their workers enough to sell things made ever-more cheaply in China.

Which they need to 'Keep the Christ in' or else.


What's become of Christmas?


I think the Christian Right and evangelicals and conservative Catholics and Mormons ought to be asking what's become of their Christianity, that they think living in a pluralistic nation is the problem.

And we get back to their 'persecution narrative' that's become so bitter they're screaming 'reverse persecution' if they can't impose their will on *everyone and every single winter holiday decoration.*

And they tell these stories of how 'they' were 'persecuted by benighted theocratic Pagans.' Wonder about the 'Meaning of Christmas' or 'Spirit of the Holidays.' Or 'Reason For The Season.' Or 'It's Taking Christ Out Of Government' for people to *not* say 'Christ* every single time. Act 'persecuted' and dumbfounded by their own 'free market' behavior, ...and blame Pagans, quite often.

The true irony of it is how much we Pagans actually *live* the kind of religious life that the 'Early Christians' claim to have been so proud of.

We generally have our little, very-non-commercialized Yules in houses or wherever we can get, while Christians demand a 'religious test' for any participation in public life by non-Christians... Do just about everything to *us* that they claim was so wrong to have been done to them in their stories of 'Pagan Rome.' (I mean, seriously, they act 'persecuted' if anyone uses an inclusive term, put their 'Jesus fishes' on everything to be sure to get Evangelical privilege, and my little answer to that is a teeny little Goddess symbol in the same place on my car they *probably won't recognize.* )

You think I got lessons to learn from Athena? Check out what of the Christians' own myths some of *them* are resembling.


Again, not so much the 'good guys.' Even in their own myths.

Kind of the tragedy, really.

12-04-2012, 06:57 PM   #47
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Here is something we can agree upon.



It's a Festivus for the rest of us! Bring on the Festivus pole, airing of grievances, and feats of strength!
12-04-2012, 07:34 PM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by Workingdog Quote
Here is something we can agree upon.



It's a Festivus for the rest of us! Bring on the Festivus pole, airing of grievances, and feats of strength!
Not really. Just cause Christians say so doesn't mean all the branches need be stripped off of something they could never stand being as not-theirs as ever in the first place.

Storming around like they think they own a tree for their corporate shopping season while screaming how horrible 'tree worshippers' are the rest of the year.


Eedjits.

Meanwhile, in American consensus reality:


A clip:


Jon Stewart Rips Fox News' Annual 'War On Christmas' Coverage Once Again (VIDEO)


It's quite possible that neither Christians nor not-believing-in-Christians'-thing have been arguing way too long about shit, but, honestly. The 'Rest of us* actually know what the tree with the lights is. Gods know some Christians have been trying to abolish it for centuries. You and atheists both simply lost the context for that easiest read Dickens ever wrote.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 12-04-2012 at 07:43 PM.
12-05-2012, 09:41 AM   #49
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Ahh I love this time of year.... traditions ... traditions



Last edited by seacapt; 12-05-2012 at 03:36 PM.
12-05-2012, 09:55 AM   #50
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The forest is my church. Taking that tree out of the forest desecrates my religion... that tree was like a prisoner of war paraded before the infidels.... a symbol of their so called "dominance" over nature and their right to take whatever living thing they want, whenever they want....deal with it.
12-05-2012, 12:09 PM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The forest is my church. Taking that tree out of the forest desecrates my religion... that tree was like a prisoner of war paraded before the infidels.... a symbol of their so called "dominance" over nature and their right to take whatever living thing they want, whenever they want....deal with it.
You mean to tell me that you actually think that man is not the center of the universe and that other life has moral standing and worth apart from meeting man's needs?
If true it could mean the end of civilization as we know it.
Come to think about it maybe that's not all that bad.

Last edited by wildman; 12-05-2012 at 12:57 PM.
12-06-2012, 09:59 AM   #52
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The Finnish Joulupukki is literally "Yule Goat"
12-06-2012, 10:09 AM   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Gene, you've forgotten about us in the Southern Hemisphere, let alone all those who live in the tropics and don't experience 'winter'. Our Aussie summers are just great for us to have holidays: beach, BBQs, long walks... Just like this:

Sunny Cowgirls - Summer - YouTube
Then I guess it becomes a summer solstice for you.

12-06-2012, 02:01 PM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Then I guess it becomes a summer solstice for you.
Right on. Hot and humid time of year. A time to flock towards the coast and enjoy the outdoors.
12-06-2012, 02:40 PM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Right on. Hot and humid time of year. A time to flock towards the coast and enjoy the outdoors.
Bugger that.

Stay inside and put the aircon up full power
12-07-2012, 07:15 AM - 1 Like   #56
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Last edited by Jodokast96; 12-07-2012 at 08:23 AM.
12-07-2012, 10:27 AM   #57
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God, Goddess, Christmas, Mōdraniht, Yule, Chanukah,Kwanzaa, whatever. Celebrate what you want and be happy. Life is too short for this crap, and who the winter holidays properly belong to is just plain irrelevant. We live in a crazy, violent world. Me, I don't care what brings people together anymore only that once a year something does. If it still does. I don't know. I've personally got more reason to be a real Grinch this time of year than not. I've lost several people I loved near this time, but you know I try not to let it get me down and to enjoy it anyway because really it's not about me. It's more about the kids. That's the reason for the season for me, the kids, otherwise I'd admittedly probably not give a tinker's d-!
12-08-2012, 01:55 AM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The forest is my church. Taking that tree out of the forest desecrates my religion... that tree was like a prisoner of war paraded before the infidels.... a symbol of their so called "dominance" over nature and their right to take whatever living thing they want, whenever they want....deal with it.
My Christmas tree is made mainly from PVC, thereby celebrating our profligate wastage of the Earth's mineral resources. Merry Christmas!
12-08-2012, 06:56 PM   #59
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QuoteOriginally posted by hks_kansei Quote
Bugger that.

Stay inside and put the aircon up full power
16 days until Christmas and it's darn near 80 here.
12-08-2012, 09:12 PM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by ihasa Quote
My Christmas tree is made mainly from PVC, thereby celebrating our profligate wastage of the Earth's mineral resources. Merry Christmas!
Me too, fake tree person here. (I hate cleaning up dry pine needles.) They have all natural pine spray that makes them smell real now but just an FYI to Norm, most Christmas trees are now grown for that purpose. They have Christmas tree farms. Very few people actually chop down trees in a forest now. Unless it's a tree on your own land it's mostly illegal to just go out into the nearest woods and chop a tree. You have to have a permit for that kind of thing, and besides which I'm with Norm on this one. I love trees. Cutting a new one every year isn't something I can get behind even if they do farm them. I'd far rather they farmed them to plant more for the sake of the planet. We need our trees and too many of them are sick or gone now.
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