IN A TOWN CALLED GROOM, TEXAS
(There is always someone stopped here to visit, pray, or meditate.
Trucks, buses, or single vehicles.
Groom is a tiny town on I-40, but gets lots of visitors because of this.)
What an incredible display.This could be one of the last surviving Christian symbols in the country !
This is about 70 miles from Amarillo outside of town
Called Groom, TX.
Read message at the end of pictures! These are the
Pictures of the crucifixion of Christ, Sculptured from
Metal by a man near Amarillo, TX. The crosses are made of metal also. The man did this out of the kindness of his heart. Someone donated the land on which to erect them.
IN BIOLOGY, HE WAS BORN WITHOUT THE NORMAL
IN PHYSICS, HE DISPROVED THE LAW OF GRAVITY
WHEN HE WALKED ON WATER AND THEN LATER,
ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN.
IN ECONOMICS, HE DISPROVED THE LAW OF DIMINISHING
RETURNS BY FEEDING 5000 MEN WITH 2 FISHES &
5 LOAVES OF BREAD.
IN MEDICINE, HE CURED THE SICK AND THE BLIND
WITHOUT ADMINISTERING A SINGLE DOSE OF DRUGS.
IN HISTORY, HE IS THE BEGINNING AND THE END.
HE SAID THAT HE SHALL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELOR,
PRINCE OF PEACE.
IN RELIGION, HE SAID NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH HIM;
HE IS JESUS!
JOIN ME AND LET’S CELEBRATE HIM; HE IS WORTHY.
THE EYES BEHOLDING THIS MESSAGE SHALL NOT
THE HAND THAT WILL SEND THIS MESSAGE TO
EVERYBODY SHALL NOT LABOR IN VAIN.
AND THE MOUTH SAYING AMEN TO THIS PRAYER
SHALL SMILE FOREVER.
REMAIN IN GOD AND SEEK HIS FACE ALWAYS. AMEN.
IN GOD, I’VE FOUND EVERYTHING!
The Greatest Man in History Jesus had no servants,
Yet they called Him Master.
Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.
All you then have to do is keep out of his mind the question, “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?” – C.S. Lewis
Moses murdered an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. David had a loyal soldier killed in battle to cover up his infidelity with the man’s wife. Peter denied Christ three times before the cock crowed even though he knew He was the Messiah.
These were great men, champions of Christianity, heroes for the ages – and yet they were flawed and weak. Do you really think the Christians we look up to today are any better? Maybe they are, but I suspect if we knew the secret sins of people like Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and Mother Teresa, then we wouldn’t have as high an opinion of their character. However, that says more about us than it does about them because there was only one perfect man who walked the earth and the rest of us have feet of clay. Sinning comes with the territory and all of us do it. That’s why we’ve been told to, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
Of course, it’s not always so simple. It’s easy to think of a person who does something bad as someone bad – and that’s often not the case. As John Watson said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” People get depressed, exhausted, hurt, confused and lost. In their pain, sometimes they sin to try to fill that hole in themselves even though they know what they’re doing is wrong.
Ever listened to someone telling you about cheating on her spouse, heard about how bad her home life is and think, “I don’t condone cheating, but I’m not sure I blame her?” Have you been told about something a person did that was undeniably wrong, but you’ve thought, “That’s a tough situation and I’m not sure I would have done anything differently?” So often, I’ve heard someone tell me about something awful he’s done and thought, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
What do you do in the face of that kind of ambiguity? How do you handle it when you’re talking to a good and decent person who has done something bad?
Too often, the modern response has been to steer clear of the whole dilemma by waving off any and all standards of moral behavior. After all, if you have no standards, then how can you be accused of not living up to them when you fall short? If everything is permissible, then how can you be condemned for being a hypocrite?
The problem with that sort of thinking is that it’s trying to live to God’s standards that carves us into better human beings. If we have no standards, then it’s easy to be content to roll around in the sewer. If we make our own standards, then being what we are, we’ll make them very lax in the areas where we’re weak. Only by trying to live up to tough standards set by a Higher Power can we really achieve our greatest potential as human beings and become everything we ought to be.
That doesn’t mean it’s simple. Going down that road means that we sometimes are unable to excuse the behavior of people we care about or people who are hurting. It can also cause turmoil when good people we admire don’t live up to their moral code and there are consequences for their behavior. You can’t follow the pastor who’s having an affair, agree with the friend who’s stealing from his job to pay his bills, or cheer on the politician who’s lying to achieve his goals.
The whole process is messy, ugly, uneven and, yes, sometimes even hypocritical, but it’s what it takes for us to grow. If it requires a bit of hypocrisy now and again for flawed, broken creatures like us to try to serve our fellow man the way God intended, then that’s a small price to pay.
Being on the other side of the Exodus sucks, don’t it?
I see the panic on your face, Church.
I know the internal terror as you see the statistics and hear the stories and scan the exit polls.
I see you desperately scrambling to do damage control for the fence-sitters and manufacture passion from the shrinking faithful, and I want to help you.
You may think you know why people are leaving you, but I’m not sure you do.
You think it’s because “the culture” is so lost, so perverse, so beyond help that they are all walking away.
You believe that they’ve turned a deaf ear to the voice of God; chasing money, and sex, and material things.
You think that the gays and the Muslims and the Atheists and the pop stars have so screwed up the morality of the world that everyone is abandoning faith in droves.
But those aren’t the reasons people are leaving you.
They aren’t the problem, Church.
You are the problem.
Let me elaborate in five ways …
1. Your Sunday productions have worn thin.
The stage, and the lights, and the bands, and the video screens, have all just become white noise to those really seeking to encounter God. They’re ear and eye candy for an hour, but they have so little relevance in people’s daily lives that more and more of them are taking a pass.
Yeah the songs are cool and the show is great, but ultimately Sunday morning isn’t really making a difference on Tuesday afternoon or Thursday evening, when people are wrestling with the awkward, messy, painful stuff in the trenches of life; the places where rock shows don’t help.
We can be entertained anywhere. Until you can give us something more than a Christian-themed performance piece; something that allows us space and breath and conversation and relationship, many of us are going to sleep in and stay away.
2. You speak in a foreign tongue.
Church, you talk and talk and talk, but you do so using a dead language. You’re holding on to dusty words that have no resonance in people’s ears, not realizing that just saying those words louder isn’t the answer. All the religious buzzwords that used to work 20 years ago no longer do.
This spiritualized insider-language may give you some comfort in an outside world that is changing, but that stuff’s just lazy religious shorthand, and it keeps regular people at a distance. They need you to speak in a language that they can understand. There’s a message there worth sharing, but it’s hard to hear above your verbal pyrotechnics.
People don’t need to be dazzled with big, churchy words and about eschatological frameworks and theological systems. Talk to them plainly about love, and joy, and forgiveness, and death, and peace, and God, and they’ll be all ears. Keep up the church-speak, and you’ll be talking to an empty room soon.
3. Your vision can’t see past your building.
The coffee bar, the cushy couches, the high tech lights, the funky Children’s wing and the uber-cool Teen Center are all top-notch … and costly. In fact, most of your time, money and energy seems to be about luring people to where you are, instead of reaching people where they already are.
Rather than simply stepping out into the neighborhoods around you and partnering with the amazing things already happening, and the beautiful stuff God is already doing, you seem content to franchise out your particular brand of Jesus-stuff and wait for the sinful world to beat down your door.
Your greatest mission field is just a few miles (or a few feet) off your campus and you don’t even realize it. You wanna reach the people you’re missing?
Leave the building.
4. You choose lousy battles.
We know you like to fight, Church. That’s obvious.
When you want to, you can go to war with the best of them. The problem is, your battles are too darn small. Fast food protests, hobby store outrage and duck-calling Reality TV show campaigns may manufacture some urgency and Twitter activity on the inside for the already-convinced, but they’re paper tigers to people out here with bloody boots on the ground.
Every day we see a world suffocated by poverty, and racism, and violence, and bigotry, and hunger; and in the face of that stuff, you get awfully, frighteningly quiet. We wish you were as courageous in those fights, because then we’d feel like coming alongside you; then we’d feel like going to war with you.
Church, we need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial and pacifists in the face of the terrible.
5. Your love doesn’t look like love.
Love seems to be a pretty big deal to you, but we’re not getting that when the rubber meets the road. In fact, more and more, your brand of love seems incredibly selective and decidedly narrow; filtering out all the spiritual riff-raff, which sadly includes far too many of us.
It feels like a big bait-and-switch sucker-deal; advertising a “Come as You Are” party, but letting us know once we’re in the door that we can’t really come as we are. We see a Jesus in the Bible who hung out with low-lifes and prostitutes and outcasts, and loved them right there, but that doesn’t seem to be your cup of tea.
Church, can you love us if we don’t check all the doctrinal boxes and don’t have our theology all figured out? It doesn’t seem so.
Can you love us if we cuss and drink and get tattoos and, God forbid, vote Democrat? We’re doubtful.
Can you love us if we’re not sure how we define love, and marriage, and Heaven, and Hell? It sure doesn’t feel that way.
From what we know about Jesus, we think he looks like love. The unfortunate thing is, you don’t look much like him.
That’s part of the reason people are leaving you, Church.
These words may get you really, really angry, and you may want to jump in a knee-jerk move to defend yourself or attack these positions line-by-line, but we hope that you won’t.
We hope that you’ll just sit in stillness with these words for a while, because whether you believe they’re right or wrong, they’re real to us, and that’s the whole point.
We’re the ones walking away.
We want to matter to you.
We want you to hear us before you debate us.
Show us that your love and your God are real.
Church, give us a reason to stay.
It’s not you, it’s me.
That’s what you seem to be saying, Church.
I tried to share my heart
with you; the heart of me and thousands and thousands of people like me who are walking away, to let you know of the damage you’re doing and the painful legacy you’re leaving, and apparently, you’re not the problem.(Which, of course, is still a problem.)
I’ve relayed my frustration with your insider, religious rhetoric, and you responded by cut-and-pasting random Scripture soundbytes about the “Bride of Christ” and the “blood of the Lamb,” insisting that the real issue is simply my “biblical ignorance,” and suggesting that I just need to repent and get a good Concordance (whatever that is).
I let you know how judged and ridiculed I feel when I’m with you, how much like a hopeless, failing outsider I feel on the periphery of your often inward, judgmental communities, and you proceeded to tell me how “lost” I am, how hopelessly “in love with my sin” I must be to leave you, reminding me that I never really belonged with you anyway.
In the face of every complaint and every grievance, you’ve made it clear that the real issue is that I’m either sinful, heretical, immoral, foolish, unenlightened, selfish, consumerist or ignorant.
Heck, many days I’m not even sure I disagree with you.
Maybe you’re right, Church.
Maybe I am the problem.
Maybe it is me, but me is all I’m capable of being right now, and that’s where I was really hoping you would meet me.
It’s here, in my flawed, screwed-up, wounded, shell-shocked, doubting, disillusioned me-ness that I’ve been waiting for you to step in with this whole supposedly relentless, audacious “love of Jesus” thing I hear so much about, and make it real.
Church, I know how much you despise the word Tolerance, but right now, I really need you to tolerate me; to tolerate those of us, who for all sorts of reasons you may feel aren’t justified, are struggling to stay.
We’re so weary of feeling like nothing more than a religious agenda; an argument to win, a point to make, a cause to defend, a soul to save.
We want to be more than a notch on your Salvation belt; another number to pad your Twitter posts and end-of-year stat sheets.
We need to be more than altar call props, who are applauded and high-fived down the aisle, and then forgotten once the song ends.
We’ve been praying for you to stop evangelizing us, and preaching at us, and fighting us, and judging us, and sin-diagnosing us, long enough to simply hear us …
… even if we are the problem.
Even if we are the woman in adultery, or the doubting follower, or the rebellious prodigal, or the demon-riddled young man, we can’t be anything else right now in this moment; and in this moment, we need a Church big enough, and tough enough, and loving enough; not just for us as we might one day be then, but for us as we are, now.
We still believe that God is big enough, and tough enough, and loving enough, even if you won’t be, and that’s why even if we do walk away, it doesn’t mean we’re walking away from faith; it’s just that faith right now seems more reachable elsewhere.
I know you’ll argue that you’re doing all these things and saying all these things because you love and care for us, but from the shoes we’re standing in, you need to know that it feels less like love and care, and more like space and silence:
If someone is frustrated, telling them that they’re wrong to be frustrated is, well, pretty freakin’ frustrating.
It only breeds distance.
If someone shares that their heart is hurting, they don’t want to hear that they’re not right to be hurt.
It’s a conversation-stopper.
If someone tells you they are starving for compassion, and relationship, and authenticity, the last thing they need is to be corrected for that hunger.
It’s a kick in the rear on the way out the door.
So yes, Church, even if you’re right, even if we’re totally wrong; even if we’re all petty, and self-centered, and hypocritical, and critical, and (I’ll say it) “sinful,” we’re still the ones searching for a place where we can be known and belong; a place where it feels like God lives, and you’re the ones who can show it to us.
Even if the problem is me, it’s me who you’re supposed to be reaching, Church.
So, for the love of God; reach already.
Dear Church, Here’s Why People Are REALLY Leaving You
Every once in awhile you run into some one who pulls the strings of empathy and understanding, who opens your eyes to fields of thought you would never have experienced on your own. Such a person is Dee Chadwell. She says about herself and her website A SINGLE WINDOW –
“I have spent more than 40 years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I’m writing about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, and one poetry chapbook, from which several poems have won state and national prizes. All that writing – and more keeps popping up — needs a home with a big plate glass window, it needs air, it needs a conversation.”
Now its your turn to have your world expanded.
Who’s in Charge Here, Anyway?
I recently shocked a friend of mine by declaring I wasn’t a Calvinist. Nothing against Calvin personally, but those who tried to step into his shoes did quite a job distorting some of the most basic Christian doctrines – election, atonement, grace, original sin, just to name a few. Calvinism disfigures the essence of God and with that, since we were created in His image, contorts the nature of man.
Needless to say, whole books could result from such a discussion so I’ll take this one tiny piece at a time. Lately, I’ve been asked by several different people to address issues relating to the sovereignty of God, so I’ll start there.
But first, a caveat – the Bible is the source of specific information regarding the nature of God and man, and the Bible is not just a list of disconnected quotes; it is an infinitely complex, multilayered arrangement of divine concepts and history (both past and future) and must always be understood in the light of its entirety. No doctrine can contradict another. God is rational; He made us to be a shadow of Himself, knew we would fall, and still left us the Bible with the intent that we learn from it and think about it rationally. So let us go as far as we can:
1. Sovereignty refers to God’s supreme majesty, His divine right to control what He has made. I don’t know anyone who doubts that the buck stops with God. Even atheists seem to agree with this idea; that’s why they’re so angry – it’s all His fault, therefore He can’t exist. (!?)
2. Godness involves more than just sovereignty. Deity (I’m including all 3 members of the Trinity) is also perfect righteousness, absolute justice, love, veracity, immutability, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and eternal life. Add to that the epitome of creativity and an amazing sense of humor.
3. If God made us “in His image,” we are fallen, lesser versions of those attributes. Are we not concerned with goodness? Do we not strive for fairness? Do we not love? Do we not value truth, stability, and strength? Do we not have intelligence? Life? Presence? We create, not ex nihilo, true, but is not creativity one of our most driving forces? Do we not laugh? And do we not have some limited sovereignty over our lives? Do we not have free will? (Aye, there’s the rub – more about that later.)
4. God is also the archetype of balance. All of His attributes are in perfect equilibrium. His omnipotence, for instance, is limited by his righteousness – He can’t do evil. His immutability controls His justice – He can’t just up and change the rules. His omniscience informs His veracity – He can tell the truth because He knows the truth. All of His perfections are inter-related and interdependent.
5. God’s free will, His sovereignty, is limited by His perfection. We aren’t so constrained; we have very little problem choosing to do something that goes against our morals or our intelligence. We eat too much, drink too much, worry too much, lie often, steal occasionally. We suffer a midge of guilt, but otherwise we dive right in, law and common sense be damned. But God can’t do that; God is perfect. His omniscience, His righteousness, His justice, His love, His veracity, His immutability areperfect. Therefore, His sovereignty is both limited and perfected by His other attributes; He cannot choose to do something wicked. He can’t choose to do something unjust. He can’t lie. He can’t just up and change His nature.
6. If God can just choose, willy-nilly whom He will elect, whom He will save, and whom He will not, then:
a. The issue of salvation (John 3:16) is false because then our salvation would be not a matter of faith, but a matter of God’s capricious choice.
b. The Great Commission is a joke – see #1.
c. Satan would be correct in his accusation of God’s unfairness.
7. If God is sovereign, can He not decide to share that sovereignty just as He has chosen to share His omniscience?
8. Isn’t He omniscient enough, omnipotent enough (strange phrases) to control things even though He has shared that free will? Are we not imposing limitations on God by claiming He couldn’t pull it off?
9. Calvinism goes off the cliff with its emphasis on sovereignty as if it outranked God’s other perfections. Such an arrangement would make it possible for God to be a petty tyrant, would it not? If He is more sovereign than He is good, or fair, truthful, are we safe? Can we trust Him? I think not.
God has not presented Himself as a vacillating, unpredictable player of eenie-meenie-miney-moe. He has demonstrated His fairness, above and beyond, by climbing onto the cross as the Last Adam to make right what went wrong in the Garden. He has said clearly that our salvation depends on faith in Jesus Christ, not on the vagaries of His untrammeled will.
The church today suffers mightily from this error. How can a dying world take Christ seriously if His people proclaim a gospel we don’t believe in? If we really buy the idea that God chooses, irrationally and capriciously, who gets to trust in Christ’s work, then what is the point of evangelism? If grace is irresistible then those who are chosen to believe will and those who won’t, won’t, so why bother?
But most importantly, where is the grace in such an arrangement? Where is the grace in providing salvation only for some? If God can make us believe, then why doesn’t He make everyone believe? (2nd Peter 3:9) Why create a person just to condemn him?
Calvinism’s fixation on sovereignty at the expense of God’s other perfections is forcing the church to attempt to stand, like a broken chair, to stand on only one leg. Liberal Christianity tried that, recognizing only the attribute of love, crippling the power of the gospel, painting a picture of a god who would love his creatures unconditionally, but would kill his own son. Evangelical Christianity is in the same precarious pickle – wobbling around on a one-legged chair.
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the discovery was made following a dig that started 15 years ago beneath an abandoned building close to the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem.
The building had in past centuries been used as a prison by the Ottoman Empire, but according to Amit Re’em, the Jerusalem district archaeologist who led the excavation, it could also very well be the site where Christ was trialed by Herod the Great, as found in the New Testament.
Re’em said that the site “is a great part of the ancient puzzle of Jerusalem and shows the history of this city in a very unique and clear way.”
He added, “For others, however, those who come for the general mental exercise of being in Jerusalem, they don’t care as long as [their journey] ends in Golgotha — the site of the Crucifixion.”
The building has also produced a number of other significant archaeological discoveries, including symbols carved in walls by Jewish resistance fighters in 1940s, and basins believed to be from the era of the Crusades to the Middle East. An ancient underground sewage system also discovered there is thought to have underpinned the palace build by Herod, who ruled Judea under the Roman empire during Jesus’ time.
Christian leaders and historians have debated the exact site of Jesus’ trial, as some readings of the Bible suggest that Jesus was brought before Pilate in a “praetorium,” a Latin term for a general’s tent. Academics say this word could have described military barracks, or indeed the palace built by Herod.
The WP noted that most historians agree that Herod’s palace was built in the western side of Jerusalem, close to the Tower Museum.
Shimon Gibson, an archaeology professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, noted that the Gospel of John describes the trial as taking place near a gate and on a bumpy stone pavement, which is compatible with archaeological finds at the site.
“There is, of course, no inscription stating it happened here, but everything — archaeological, historical and Gospel accounts — all falls into place and makes sense,” Gibson said.
Catholic group the Legions of Christ claimed another notable discovery in late December, when it said that an uncovered first-century synagogue in the ancient town of Magdala could have been one of the places where Christ preached to the people.
“This is the first synagogue ever excavated where Jesus walked and preached,” Father Eamon Kelly said.
The town of Madgala is also believed to be the home of Mary Magdalene, known as one of Jesus’ female disciples. The ancient synagogue was unearthed after the Catholic group began excavations of plots of land planned to be used to build a pilgrims’ hotel, inter-faith chapel, a restaurant and a women’s shelter.
Archaeologists Claim Discovery of Site of Jesus Christ’s Trial by King Herod in Jerusalem
Well Linus does and he will tell Charlie Brown and you too!
Luke2: 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field , keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo , the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid . 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold , I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes , lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying , 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Keep Christ in Christmas,” either on a church sign, or a Facebook wall. You might have even heard it this month. The idea is always the same: let’s not rub out the religious roots of this holiday by saying “Xmas,” instead of Christmas.
This might seem like a strange battle to wage, but there are people who really, earnestly believe this is deeply important. For instance, Franklin Graham, son of Billy, put it like this:
For us as Christians, [Christmas] is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas. They’re happy to say merry Xmas. Let’s just take Jesus out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ.
This is of a piece with those who fret that saying “happy holidays” is somehow scrubbing the season’s religious ties away. But those who make this argument are barking up the wrong tree, because, you see, the X in “Xmas” literally means Jesus. Allow us to explain.
How can the letter “X” stand for “Christ”?
In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word Christos (Christ) begins with the letter “X,” or chi. Here’s what it looks like:
So how did that word get abbreviated?
In the early fourth century, Constantine the Great, Roman Emperor from 306-337, popularized this shorthand for Christ. According to legend, on the eve of his great battle against Maxentius, Constantine had a vision that led him to create a military banner emblazoned with the first two letters of Christ on it: chi and rho.
These two letters, then, became a sort of shorthand for Jesus Christ.
When did the Greek letter start to be used in the word “Christmas?”
Most scholars agree that the first appearance of this abbreviation for Christmas dates to 1021, “when an Anglo-Saxon scribe saved himself space by writing XPmas,” reported First Things. Parchment paper was quite expensive, so any techniques for saving space were welcome. The abbreviation stuck and eventually was shortened to Xmas.
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge used it in a letter, dated December 31, 1801, for instance: “On Xmas day I breakfasted with Davy.” The verb “xmassing” was also used in the magazine Punch in 1884, according to The Guardian.
Are there any other Christian examples of this?
There’s an ancient acronym many of us are familiar with, even if we don’t realize it. Have a look:
It’s pronounced Ich-thus, and it’s the Greek word for fish. You may know it better as the so-called “Jesus fish” of bumper sticker fame. Early Christians used it as an abbreviated form of one of their creeds: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”
These shorthands happen in seminaries all the time. As they do with Christ, seminarians write a similar shorthand for the Greek word God, which is θεός (theos). When abbreviating the word, they’ll just jot down the first letter, θ (theta).
So how did Xmas become so hated?
Good question. The answer may have something to do with the culture wars, the historical tension between the left and the Christian right.
Think about Franklin Graham’s quote above. For him, and to many who share his particular religious leanings, Xmas is symbolic of a bigger problem with our culture: not only are we crossing out Christ in the word, they say, but we’re tossing him out of the public square. Therefore, Xmas, as Graham said, “is a war against the name of Jesus Christ.”
Graham and those who think similarly (like actor Kirk Cameron and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin) believe the secularization of American culture is so all pervasive that even if they’re aware of the religious roots of Xmas, they still believe it is symbolic of a larger trend. Thus, it has to go.
Is there any good reason why Christians might hate “Xmas?”
Certainly, Christians have a right to feel however they wish, and if they think that Christianity is being driven from the public square, there’s really no arguing they’re wrong. In fact, polls show that organized religion in America has been declining.
Writing at First Things, Matthew Schmitz, who is well aware of the historical roots of Xmas, discusses another reason some Christians might be wary of the shorthand:
The cultural, religious, communal traditions we see as especially embodied by Christmas have been undermined by the rise of commerce and cult of efficiency. The desire to get from point A to B by the shortest possible route, irrespective of the charms of traditional byways, fuels our mania for abbreviation. The hatred for Xmas, then, may stem in part from an innate suspicion of the attempt to render all things ancient and beautiful modern, cheap, and sleek.
Why does this matter?
First, the US remains divided over several traditional culture war issues, most prominently abortion. The battle over Xmas, though it might seem trivial, only reinforces the “secular vs. Christian America” narrative that fuels those arguments.
Second, the fight over the word Xmas underscores some American Christians’ real fear of persecution. It might seem ridiculous that members of the nation’s dominant religion would feel persecuted, and it’s easy to laugh about those who claim the statement “happy holidays” means de facto persecution. But try looking at it from their point-of-view.
The United States has gone from a nation where the default religion was assumed to be Christianity, to one that increasingly tries to make room for people of all faiths and belief systems. That can seem like a gradual, inevitable evolution to those not embroiled in the culture wars, but it can feel like a massive sea change to those who are. These changes are fast, and they are real, and those concerned about them shouldn’t just be dismissed or mocked.
In fact, dismissing concerns about the changing religious landscape is bad for all of us in the long run, as Susan Brooks Thistelthwaite wrote for FaithStreet about religious pluralism in America. “A conflict that cannot be named cannot be mediated. In other words,” she continues,
the more religiously pluralistic we become, the more visible our struggle becomes with these issues. It is only when we take the risk of actually looking at our religious stresses and strains that we can begin to act to know them, engage them, and hopefully move them in a more positive direction.
While it might be funny to joke about overblown fears about the so-called War On Christmas, it’s probably more helpful to try to understand the roots of those concerns, then address those in a thoughtful manner. Harvard University’s Pluralism Project offers some great ideas about the shape these talks could take.
So what if somebody tells me we need to keep the Christ in Christmas?
You could suggest that the word “Christmas” is itself already a shorthand for “Christ’s mass.” Or, as discussed, point out what the X really stands for.
Or, you could be even cheekier about it, and talk about how the original war on Christmas was actually waged by conservative American Christians. Wary of the pagan roots of the festivities, the Puritans wanted to keep Christmas out of their no-nonsense Christianity.
Or, finally, you could take a page from the man whose name is in the holiday, by realizing this is, ultimately, a pretty big fight over a single letter. Sometimes, turning the other cheek is pretty painless.
The X in Xmas literally means Christ. Here’s the history behind it.
Rome| An Italian expert studying a first century document written by the Roman historian Marcus Velleius Paterculus that was recently discovered in the archives of the Vatican, found what is presumed to be the first eyewitness account ever recorded of a miracle of Jesus Christ. The author describes a scene that he allegedly witnessed, in which a prophet and teacher that he names Iēsous de Nazarenus, resuscitated a stillborn boy and handed him back to his mother.
Historian and archivist Ignazio Perrucci, was hired by the Vatican authorities in 2012, to sort, analyze and classify some 6,000 ancient documents that had been uncovered in the gigantic archive vaults. He was already very excited when he noticed that the author of the text was the famous Roman historian Velleius, but he was completely stunned when he realized the nature of the content.
The text as a whole is a narrative of the author’s return journey from Parthia to Rome that occurred in 31 AD, recorded in a highly rhetorical style of four sheets of parchment. He describes many different episodes taking place during his trip, like a a violent sandstorm in Mesopotamia and visit to a temple in Melitta (modern day Mdina, in Malta).
The part of the text that really caught M. Perrucci’s attention is an episode taking place in the city of Sebaste (near modern day Nablus, in the West Bank). The author first describes the arrival of a great leader in the town with a group of disciples and followers, causing many of the lower class people from neighbouring villages to gather around them. According to Velleius, that great man’s name was Iēsous de Nazarenus, a Greco-Latin translation of Jesus’ Hebrew name, Yeshua haNotzri.
Upon entering town, Jesus would have visited the house of a woman named Elisheba, who had just given birth to a stillborn child. Jesus picked up the dead child and uttered a prayer in Aramaic to the heavens, which unfortunately the author describes as “immensus”, meaning incomprehensible. To the crowd’s surprise and amazement, the baby came back to life almost immediately, crying and squirming like a healthy newborn.
Marcus Velleius Paterculus, being a Roman officer of Campanian origins, seems to perceive Jesus Christ as a great doctor and miracle man, without associating him in any way to the Jewish concept of Messiah.
Many tests and analysis have been realized over the last weeks to determine the authenticity of the manuscript. The composition of the parchment and ink, the literary style and handwriting have all been carefully scrutinized and were considered to be entirely legitimate. The dating analysis also revealed that the sheepskin parchment on which the text is written, does indeed date from the 1st century of this era, more precisely from between 20-45 AD.
This new text from an author known for his reliability, brings a brand new perspective on the life of the historical character that is Jesus of Nazareth. It comes to confirm the Gospels on the facts that he was known for accomplishing miracles and that his sheer presence in a town was enough to attract crowds of people.
A complete and official translation of the document should be made available online in many different languages over the next few weeks, but the impact of the discovery is already felt in the scientific community. Many scholars have already saluted the finding as one of the greatest breakthrough ever realized in the study of the historical life of Jesus, while others have expressed doubts about the conclusions of Professor Perrucci and demand for more tests to be performed by other scientific institutions before drawing any conclusions.
NEWLY-FOUND DOCUMENT HOLDS EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF JESUS PERFORMING MIRACLE
Kickstarter is a great place for people to get their movies, inventions and other cool ideas off of the ground. One of my favorite success stories is the camping stove that can charge your gadgets. But, for every good idea on Kickstarter, there are a bunch that sound pretty crazy. The latest kooky idea I’ve come across is an emoticon Bible. That’s right, someone wants to translate the entire Bible into those tiny smiley face icons that people, especially teenagers, use to text and instant message.
According to the project’s creator, Kamran Kastle, putting together the Bible won’t be cheap. He’s looking to raise $25,000 to fund the project.
In a video posted on the Kickstarter page for the project, Kastle states that he’s trying to make a Bible that’s more accessible to young people by translating it into words – or pictures – they can understand.
In fact, the project’s tagline is “One of the oldest books translated into one of the newest languages – Emoticons.” That’s a noble goal, but I don’t think it’s going to catch on.
Sadly for Kastle, this project looks like it’s dead in the water. With just under two weeks left to raise funds, he’s only picked up $28 in donations. That’s a far cry from the $25,000 he’s seeking.
It’ll be difficult for the project to raise the money needed to succeed in the time it has left, but crazier things have happened on Kickstarter. Remember the guy who raised over $50,000 just to make potato salad?
Still, I just don’t think too many people are going to invest their hard-earned money in this. It just looks too goofy.
Making the Bible more accessible for young people isn’t a terrible idea, but I think Kastle is going about it all wrong. His project is just a little too out there for most people. But, that doesn’t mean all Bible projects on Kickstarter are doomed to fail. Click here to see a great project that ended up raising over $1 million dollars to create a Bible that’s easier to read.
Source: Kickstarter (1)
WILL YOU TRANSLATE THE ENTIRE BIBLE INTO EMOTICONS?
WILL YOU INCLUDE THE ENTIRE BIBLE IN YOUR BOOK?
Yes. Half of my Book will be the Bible translated into Emoticons and the other half will simply be standard Biblical Text. Every Biblical Verse will be followed by its’ Emoticon equivalent. Readers will be able to go back and forth between standard written text (the Bible) and Images (Emoticons).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE TORAH?
Torah refers to the 1st 5 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—also known as the Pentateuch. The Old Testament refers to all 46 Books of the Bible written before Christ, including the first 5 that Jewish people call the Torah.
WHAT WILL KICKSTARTER FUNDS BE USED FOR?
Printing and Shipping the Book.
WHEN WILL YOU SHIP THE BOOKS TO PROJECT BACKERS?
December 1, 2015 – In time for Christmas.
HOW WAS THIS IDEA CONCEIVED?
Kamran Kastle is a Photographer that sees the world in pictures. After attending University of Southern California’s prestigious Film School, he founded ‘A Hollywood Ending Studios’ (ahollywoodending.com) – A Marketing Agency.
Kamran also volunteers his time at a charity that teaches filmmaking to underprivileged schoolchildren – Los Angeles Film Society (losangelesfilmsociety.org). After administering a Movie Screening of “Ben-Hur” (1959) a good number of the inner city students sitting before him expressed never having read the Bible. Naturally, he asked “How come”? One 16-year-old girl responded, “If I can’t read it on my IPhone, I don’t read it.” Kamran asked, “If I translated the Bible into Emoticons, would you read it?” With a curious smile upon her face, the teenager said, “Yes!” Thus, the inspiration to translate the oldest book into the newest language – Emoticons – was immaculately conceived.
Since I have already started translating the Bible into Emoticons, I do not foresee any challenges. With your help, I hope to translate one of the most influential books of all time into images commonly used for text messaging so that the Smartphone Generation will be encouraged to read it…in addition to everyone else. Kamran Kastle(2)