Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happy Holidays

A few weeks ago I read a letter to the editor which basically said that anyone who says, “Happy Holidays,” is a P.C., Christmas-hating, God-ridiculing, Communist.  Okay, so those weren’t his exact words, but he was clear that he was not a fan of the alliterative greeting.

I really do not understand why people do not like the greeting “Happy Holidays.”  I too celebrate Christmas, but if I want to say, “Happy Holidays,” does that make me less Christian?  Is saying “Merry Christmas,” really the badge of true Christianity?  When someone says “Merry Christmas,” are they then keeping the day holy?

The only reason most people care about whether or not you say “HH” or “MC” is because Bill O’Reilly made it a big deal.  Before he claimed that there is a “war on Christmas,” no one noticed said war.  “Seasons Greetings,” and “Happy Holidays” have been accepted greetings for years.  There is an old Christmas song, “Happy Holidays,” that no one seemed to mind.  The word holiday is a contraction of the words holy day, so in effect, we are saying “Happy Holy Days,” thus keeping Christmas holy.

Plus, this is simply the time of year when there are a lot of holy days.  Beginning with Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and New Years, this is considered the holiday season.  I’m not sure why acknowledging a coincidence of our calendar is somehow seen as “attacking Christmas.”  Another holy day in this season is Hannukah.  Hannukah is actually a minor feast day in the Jewish tradition, but has been co-opted for commercial reasons.  Much like Christmas was.

For many centuries Christmas was not a holiday.  Two of the four Biblical Gospels give no account of Jesus’ birth, and Matthew and Luke have almost no references back to the birth stories once they are over.  The birth stories were not a big deal to early Christians.  Christmas only became a holiday as a way to appease pagans in the Roman empire.  It is little more than a co-opted winter festival.

But today it has become an important holiday.  Not only in our religion, but more so in our culture and economy.  Many retailers depend on the holiday season to survive.  And mind you, not everyone buying a bunch of crap at Christmas time is Christian.  For the most part, Christmas has become a cultural holiday – driven by economic need much more than religious fervor.

So when people get angry when someone says “Happy Holidays,” I get angry that they are angry.  If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, worry about things more important than the signs and decorations at JC Penney.  You think Christmas should be about Christ?  Then take up your cross and follow Jesus – not into department stores, but into the prisons, the hospitals, among the poor and the outcast.  You get angry when someone doesn’t say “Christmas?”  Try getting angry over Christ’s children dying of malnutrition or AIDS.  Try getting angry over the fact that the Christmas chocolate you love so much was kept cheap on the back of the working poor.  Try getting angry over the fact that Christians are keeping people out of churches with their closed minds and closed doors.

You want to keep Christ in Christmas? Try putting Christ in your life first.  Then we’ll talk about how to greet each other.  And if you want a truly Christian greeting, one that makes no mistake whether or not you follow the Christ child, try, “the peace of Christ be with you.”

You brood of vipers.  You hypocrites.  Try getting upset over something that matters.  Merry Christmas and Happy meme 2

11 ways to Be Christ In Christmas

A Reflection at Christmas for those that mourn

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Blue Christmas

Yes, it is a cheesy Elvis song, but it is also the reality for so many during this season.  Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration; it is the time when the Word was made Flesh, when God broke through the darkness of night to reveal the power of grace.  Even if you keep only to the secular meaning of Christmas, it is supposed to be a time of laughter, of family, of giving.

For so many, Christmas is none of these things. It is simply the time when the pain, which is usually numb, comes back in agonizing sharpness.  For those that mourn at Christmas, for those who have lost loved ones in the past year, for those that are lonely and lost and seeking desperately for someone to cling to, Christmas can be a stark reminder of the emptiness.

It is not that they begrudge others of their joy.  It is not because they are jealous.  Often, the source of their sadness is the same source for the joy of others.  Christmas is linked to our childhood, to our memories.  The signs of Christmas are a seasonal reminder of what once was.  For some, this means joyful memories of happy gifts, singing songs, warm hugs and delicious foods.  For others, this means memories of abuse, empty chairs, meager tables.

Blue Christmas is a reminder that not all celebrate during this season.  Blue Christmas is a reminder that not all holiday memories are happy ones.  Blue Christmas is a reminder that those that mourn are not alone.

If you are mourning this Christmas, there is nothing wrong with you.  It is okay to be sad.  It is okay to be lonely.  It is okay, and you are not alone.  There are others that are struggling.  There are others that cannot face the depth of the cold black night.  There are others that do not want to wake.

Sometimes this knowledge is enough – not enough to lose the pain – but enough to get through it.  Sometimes it is enough to simply know, “I am not alone.”  So I offer you this reminder, you are not alone.

You weep, and I weep with you.  But more importantly, God weeps with you. 

You are not alone – never.  Not in the depth of despair.  Not in the darkest shadow.  You are not alone, and God has the power to break through the deepest darkness, even if you don’t.

For that, I hope we can all say, “Hallelujah.”  Even if it is a cold and broken Hallelujah.

And if you are in Chenoa on Thursday, December 18 at 7:00 p.m., stop by the United Methodist Church and be with us for our Blue Christmas service.


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1,000th visitor!

So if this were a store, there would be baloons and confetti falling.  I just checked my “blog stats” and it told me that there have been 1,004 visits to read what the Fat Pastor has to say!  Pretty exciting stuff.  The busiest day on this site had about 70 views – the day after I emailed all my friends with the address.  The second busiest day had about 65, the day I posted the address on the message boards. 

I am really having fun with this, and the positive response – especially the comments – mean a lot to me.  So, thanks for reading my site.  Sorry though, no prizes.

My next post will be coming soon.  It is going to be a response to a letter to the editor I read in the Pantagraph, Bloomington’s daily newspaper.  It was from some guy that apparantly takes great offense to anyone that says, “Happy Holidays.”  I really, really do not understand that.  So, feel free to leave any pre-post comments.

Happy holidays!

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Lost resolve

I have a confession to make. The last time I went to the gym was the Friday after Thanksgiving. It has been 10 days, and now I have a chest cold and almost no motivation to go. Cardio work would be miserable, and I can’t help but feel like I have lost so much of the progress I made over the past couple of months.

I had made so much progress. I had gotten my bench press up to 250. I was up to 20 minutes on the eliptical. I could do a set of 150 jump ropes without having a brain aneurism. I was able to do 60 sit ups on the decline bench. I was feeling better, and now its all slipping away.

I’m not sure what happened. I was growing frustrated by how exhausted I would get after working out in the morning, so I tried working out at night more often. The problem with that is there are a lot more excuses not to go at 5:00 p.m. At 5 p.m. I need to cook dinner, or spend time with my daughter, or work on a Bible study or on the bulletin. At 8 a.m. there isn’t much else to do. The problem is that when I went at 8, it wiped me out for the day.

I thought it would get better after getting my CPAP machine. This is a thing that helps me sleep. It turns out that I stopped breathing over 100 times in an hour. Sleep apnea can be deadly, and if it doesn’t kill you, it can affect your short term memory, heart condition, energy level, and weight. I got my CPAP machine, and I could tell an immediate difference in my sleep, but I am still not comfortable with it.

The frustrating thing about it is that we decided to go all in and buy the yearly membership. Since she wrote that check I have not been back. I need to wake up and start getting this done. I have no excuse, and this confession is cathartic. I might not be able to work out tonight, but I should. And I am going to go in the morning. I am.

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Twilight reconsidered

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the book Twilight. At the time, the movie was about to come out and the stars from the movie were making their rounds to promote the movie. I couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing Cedrick Diggory, whom I have now come to know as Edward Cullen.
In that post I pretty much blasted the book, but I had not finished it. I have now finished it (and am almost done with New Moon), and I thought that in fairness, I should take another look at what I think about the book.

Let me be clear , not much of my opinion has changed. I feel of Twilight much as I did about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was good, but it could have been about 150 pages shorter. The building romance between Edward and Bella was draining and incredibly redundant. Some have told me that the book was just “very descriptive.” No, I don’t mind descriptive. This book was agonizing in building up Bella’s devotion to this “boy” that was so dangerous.

Some told me that the ending was the best part, and I agree. It did pick up. There were dramatic events and unforeseen twists, and it became an exciting book over the last 100 pages or so.
On a readability scale, I would say the first 150 pages were good, the last 150 pages were very good, and the middle 200 pages were agonizingly bad.

On another level though, I still have the same problem with the relationship. Bella, as one of the commenters on this page said, has no identity apart from Edward. She begins the book as a strong, intelligent young woman, but degenerates into a needy and sort-of-stupid girl. In the end, her actions seem to be motivated by selfless courage, but could just as easily be interepreted as suicidal melodrama. Laying down one’s life for loved ones is dramatic and romantic and courageous. Walking willingly into your death for no good reason is stupid.

I still feel that if my daughter was very much a fan of these books, I would be a little worried. Yes, it is teen romance, so it is full of melodrama. It is certainly a dramatic love story – and the Romeo and Juliet motif gets played out even more in the second book – but I am concerned with Bella’s utter lack of self-love.

Bella is a woman that should be admired. She is smart, resourceful, well-read, witty, and apparantly beautiful. Yet despite all of her amazing attributes, she has nothing but self-loathing in comparison to her “love.” A true love should make you feel better about yourself. A true love magnifies your qualities and reflects them. A true love lifts up the individuals for the benefit of the pair. Unfortunately in the relationship between Bella and Edward, she is simply overshadowed, she loses herself, and she is constantly fearful that she “isn’t good enough.”

That’s not love. And that’s not what teenage girls need to think love is.


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