Christmas Day Reads

Boston Common Christmas Tree

Boston Common Christmas Tree

Good Morning! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Everyone! However you choose to celebrate the return of the light,  may your days be happy and bright!

We’ve got a tiny bit of snow in the Boston area this morning–not enough for a white Christmas, just a dusting with a few flakes still coming down. I guess the real stormy weather today will be in the South and Southeast. I hope everyone down there stays safe!

To be honest, I’m very glad that I don’t have to go anywhere today and I’m going to spend my day peacefully alone, except for talking to loved ones on the phone.  I do have a few suggested reads for you this morning and a couple of videos to watch if you have the time.

Most Americans have grown up with an image of a Jesus savior with white skin and light brown hair. We don’t know for sure if there was a historical Jesus, but if so, he probably had dark skin and hair. From The Final Call: Color struck: America’s White Jesus is a global export and false product, by Wesley Muhammed.

What color was Jesus? Most American Christians—Black and White—would dismiss this question as both irrelevant and unanswerable as the Gospels fail to give us a physical description.
The irony is that most of these same Americans in their heart of hearts are pretty confident any way that they know what color Jesus was. They attend churches with images of a tall, long haired, full bearded White man depicted in stained glass windows or painted on walls, and they return home to the same depictions framed in their living room or illustrating their family Bibles.

Further compounding the irony is the fact that America actually has an obsession with the (presumed) color of Christ and has exported her White Americanized Savior around the world, as recently documented by Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey in their book, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America (2012).

In fact, the world’s most popular and recognizable image of Christ is a distinctly 19th-20th century American creation. It is true that versions of the “White Christ” appear in European art as early as the 4th century of the Christian era, but these images coexisted with other, nonwhite representations throughout European history. The popularity of the cult of the Black Madonna and Black Christ throughout Europe is evidence of the fact that the European ‘White Christs’ never acquired the authority and authenticity that the White Christ now has globally. This Christ and his authority are American phenomena. As a predominantly Protestant nation Early America rejected the imaging of Christ that characterized European Catholicism.

Much more at the link. And from Alternet, This Christmas, Let’s Remember, Jesus Was A Palestinian, by Gideon Polya.

On Christmas Day this year the World will again celebrate the birth of Jesus but needs to loudly and publicly proclaim the truth that Jesus was a Palestinian. Goodhearted and honest Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Jews, Animists, Agnostics and Atheists would all agree that Jesus was a wonderful humanitarian, and an outstanding moral philosopher.

All of us, from Atheists to Zoroastrians, recognize Jesus as the most renowned Indigenous Palestinian. Today under US-, UK-, Canada- and Australia-backed and racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel the land of Palestine has been 90% ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinians, 75% of Christian Palestinians have fled the Occupied West Bank, and Palestine, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, is peculiar in being denied de facto statehood and remains violently occupied by a nuclear terrorist, rogue state run by genocidally racist European colonizers.

Palestine is the land west of the Jordan River and derives its name from the Philistine sea people who settled the coastal region in circa 1200 BC and are referred to from that time onwards by the Egyptians and thence by the Assyrians in circa 740BC. Canaanite, the name given to Palestinians in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, refers to people trading in the purple cloth of the great Semitic Phoenician civilization. The great 5th century Greek historian Herodotus (c irca 484 – 425 BC) referred to ”These Phoenicians… now inhabit the sea coast of Syria; that part of Syria and as much of it as reaches Egypt, is all called Palestine”. The Jewish Roman historian connected with the Hasmonean Jewish aristocracy, Josephus (37-circa 100 CE), was involved in the First Jewish Roman War (67-33 CE) but thence rejected rebellion against Rome as inspired by fanatics. Josephus referred to Jews as among the inhabitants of Palestine (see “The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia”, volume 3).

The forebears of the Indigenous Palestinians were the Semitic inhabitants of Palestine and participants in the agrarian revolution in the Fertile Crescent that was one major nucleus of human agrarian civilization.

It’s a long read, but check it out if you have some extra time.

From the Grio: Christmas 2012: The burden of being a black Santa, by Brittany Tom.

Although they’re only employed for about two months of the year, it certainly doesn’t stop these dedicated men to don long white beards and red velvet jumpsuits.

But a few men across the U.S. are attempting to challenge the iconic image of Santa Claus, with the simple phrase: “Why can’t Santa be black?”

Dion “Santa Dee” Sinclair has started an entire business around the image of the African-American Santa Claus. Sinclair along with his two other black Santa Clauses, Santa Bob and Santa Tee, have provided the same Santa magic to children in multicultural communities in Atlanta, Georgia. Sinclair believes it’s important for children, especially minorities, to have a prominent icon they can culturally identify with.

“A black Santa is something that they can associate with. It’s black Santa, and I’m a black person.” Sinclair told theGrio in a phone interview. “[These kids] can associate with having a black Santa or a black angel on the Christmas tree because they’re black. There shouldn’t always be a white angel or a white Santa.”

Having grey hair since he was a child and a”salt and pepper” beard in high school, Sinclair said that becoming the iconic role of Santa Claus was his destiny. Now, this southern Santa has turned his ‘destiny’ into a family-run business hiring everyone in his family from his mother who plays Mrs. Claus to his youngest daughter who stars as Elf Gigi.

At The Daily Beast, James D. Tabor asks, “Should Christians Celebrate the Birth of Jesus or Paul?”

Millions celebrate the birth of Jesus without realizing that it was the Apostle Paul, not Jesus, who was the founder of Christianity. Jesus was a Jew not a Christian. He regularly went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, read from the Torah, observed the Jewish festivals such as Passover and Yom Kippur, and quoted the Shema: “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is One Lord.” In Jesus’ day the closest holiday to Christmas was the Roman celebration of the Saturnalia.

The Romans crucified Jesus for sedition in the year 30 AD, but his apostles, led by James his brother, continued his movement, believing that Jesus would return from heaven as the triumphant Messiah. They were called Nazarenes and lived as Jews alongside other Jewish sects of the time such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, or Essenes.

Paul never met Jesus. He was not one of the original apostles. He was a zealous Pharisee who initially opposed Jesus’ followers and supported moves to repress them. His opposition to the movement dramatically reversed about seven years after Jesus’ death when he began to experience a series of clairvoyant visions—“revelations of Jesus Christ” he called them. Paul adamantly insisted that the message he preached did not derive from the apostles before him. He refers to James, Peter, and John, as the “so-called pillars of the church,” but quickly adds—“what they are means nothing to me,” insisting on his independence, based on his direct visionary access to Jesus. Over a span of three decades Paul had contact with the apostles in Jerusalem on only two or three visits, during which tensions were high. He operated independently in Asia Minor and Greece, preaching his message to non-Jews.

What Paul preached—his “gospel” as he called it—forms the basis of Christianity today. Paul taught that Christ was the divine Son of God who became incarnate, “born of a woman,” as he puts it. Jesus lived a sinless life and died as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. He was raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, soon to return to judge the world. Those who accept Christ and his offer of salvation by faith will be saved, and those who reject it will be condemned. The reason this message sounds so familiar, so “Christian,” is that this gospel Paul preached became the basis of the major Christian creeds—from the early Apostles creed to the Nicean creed in the time of the emperor Constantine.

Whether or not there was a historical Jesus, everything we know about him is based on folklore. A few years ago I watched a fascinating documentary called The God Who Wasn’t There. It’s all about the history of Christianity. I watched it again last night on Youtube and found it just as compelling as my first viewing. It’s about an hour long and well worth the time if you’re interested in religious history. I can’t get it to embed, but you can watch it here.

At the Atlantic, Megan Garber offers Wrappers’ Delight: A Brief History of Wrapping Paper

There will likely come a day, sometime in the not-too-distant future, when we look back on wrapping paper with the kind of retrospective condescension we reserve for the most naive elements of our history. Wasting precious paper — killing trees — for decoration! Spending money on a total frivolity! How ridiculous people were back then!

And it is true: The money we spend on it notwithstanding — $2.6 billion annually, per one estimate — there is something quite trivial about wrapping paper. As much as half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume each year, apparently, goes toward packaging, wrapping, and decorating objects — and wrapping paper and shopping bags on their own account for about 4 million tons of the trash we create annually in the U.S. In Britain, per one estimate, people throw away 226,800 miles of wrapping paper over the holidays alone — enough to stretch nine times around the world….

But where did the wrapping tradition come from? Why do we, each time we give a gift, ritually wrap that offering in decorative tree pulp? The short answer is that wrapping, as a practice, has been around for ages — literally, ages. The Japanese furoshiki, the reusable wrapping cloth still in use today, is a pretty faithful rendition of the version that’s been around since the Edo period. The Korean bojagi dates from the Three Kingdoms Period, possibly as early as the first century A.D. In the west, using paper as a covering for gifts has been a longstanding, if largely luxury-oriented, practice: Upper-class Victorians regularly used elaborately decorated paper — along with ribbons and lace — to conceal gifts. In the early 20th century, thick, unwieldy paper gave way to tissue (often colored in red, green, and white) that would similarly work to conceal offerings until they were opened. The practice was echoed in a slightly more practical form by stores, which would wrap customers’ purchases in sturdy manila papers.

Learn more at the link.

I’ll end with the Obamas’ Christmas card, posted on the White House website, and a video of the First Lady reading The Night Before Christmas as Bo steals the show.

2012WhiteHouseXmas

Have a wonderful day Sky Dancers!! And if you have the time to drop by, please share a link or two with us.