Christmas in America has become a reason for cultural conflict. Conservatives continue to portray themselves as victims and talk about supposedly declared a Christmas war, for victory in which you need to make this holiday “was Christmas”. Progressives, in turn, condemn accompanying Christmas consumer materialism.
In fact, conflicts around Christmas is a long tradition. Thousands of years it was the center of cultural, political and religious contradictions. Something contradict each other, even the biblical version of the story of the birth of Christ.
So what sense should we invest in this holiday? What it could mean for supporters of left — wing political movements- whether they are Christians, followers of other religions or atheists?
Each of us, regardless of religious beliefs or lack of them, you should know that the New Testament tells about the birth of Jesus, and to understand how different interpretations of these stories can help or hinder our cause. It should also be noted that a difference of the interpretations is laid in the Scriptures.
Parts of the Gospels that tells of the birth of Jesus is, first and foremost, literature, as biographers of Jesus were not present at the events described. Accordingly, each of these stories, like any good story, written from a certain point of view.
Matthew: Jesus vs king Herod
The gospel of Matthew — the first book of the New Testament. The story of the birth of Jesus it contains obvious Parallels with the old Testament story of Moses. Both were born at a difficult time, both miraculously saved from death, both are called liberators.
The majority of the corresponding chapters in Matthew tells of the birth and infancy of Jesus. Astrologers from the East come following the star, bearing gifts for the newborn king Jesus, but first they visit king Herod. Maybe they leads him to the star, but perhaps they just assume that the king was to be born in the Palace. King Herod asked them to inform him where to look for the Royal baby, but they don’t.
So become clear to the political views of the author: a child who has not learned to speak, more important powers. Star dates back over his head and not over them.
When the astrologers do not return, Herod is enraged. He reacts as almost any power, feel a threat to myself — violence.
Herod orders the killing in Bethlehem of all children under two years of age. Fortunately, Joseph, stepfather of Jesus, receives in the dream a warning to flee with his family to Egypt.
So Jesus ‘ family becoming refugees. They are looking to kill. A brutal dictator expels them out of the house.
After Herod’s death they return, but not to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, and in the Northern mountain town of Nazareth. Because of this Jesus grew up in a small town, populated by poor farmers. The irony of the situation lay in the fact that the “new king”, which Herod conspired to kill babies, lived not in the power of Rome, and not even the rich Bethlehem, but on the periphery.
Jesus ‘ mother Mary then was not more than fifteen years. Joseph was thirty, and his profession of carpenter was not considered prestigious. In modern society, Mary would have been pregnant by the girl who married a handyman.
Matthew that is disadvantaged, oppressed, and deprived of social and political capital have revolutionary potential and can carry the release.
Luke: protest songs, outcasts, heresy
The third book of the New Testament, the gospel of Luke also talks about the birth of Jesus. In this version the Holy Family is not a refugee, and the poor. The narrative is from the point of view of Mary.
When Jesus not yet born, pregnant They suddenly Maria sings inspirational song— a radical Declaration of protest against the rich. “He [God] hath put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly, sings it. Hunger performed goods and bogatasa let go for anything.”
The song Mary proclaims a complete change in the social and political order that carries out the Lord. She says that God is on the side of the oppressed and the poor, not on the side of well-fed and powerful.
This text remember, not only believers. It was taking advantage of the fighters for justice around the world. The meaning of the song Maria looks so dangerous for the authorities that a totalitarian government repeatedly forbade her: in India during the British rule, during the “Dirty war” in Argentina, during the civil war in Guatemala in the 1970-ies and 1980-ies in El Salvador.
In addition, Luke with the birth of Jesus the host of angels announce to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”.
This phrase is not as harmless as it may seem to the modern reader — she looked sharp attack against the Caesar Augustus.
Prieska the inscription, carved in stone, about 9 BC in honor of the birthday of August, proclaims his divinity. It says:
“[Caesar Augustus] is sent to us and our descendants as Savior, has put an end to war and established order; and as, becoming the incarnate God, Caesar has fulfilled all the hopes of bygone days…. the birthday of Lord Aug became for the world the beginning of the gospel about it.”
In the Roman Empire, the Augustus, the Supreme ruler was a deity and incarnation of the world. Those who didn’t agree were killed or enslaved. The fact that the angels of heaven proclaimed peace of the newborn baby, born far from the palaces and rich houses, looked like a slap in the face of authority.
Having received a message from the angels, the shepherds come to a baby. Shepherds at that time were traditionally despised — some of them were still kids and they all lived in extreme poverty. But it didn’t matter when they came to the barn where they ate and crapped animals and was infested with fleas and rats.
The story of Matthew asks: “Who holds the power?” Luca’s story asks: “When will be a revolution of the poor?” Luke persistently puts forward the revolutionary ethics of overturning a society and thrusting into the foreground the weak — women and the poor — is strong.
The gospel writers were not journalists seeking accurate transmission of facts and polemicists who wrote anti-Imperial texts. In the Gospels the world this world brings not Caesar who brings only violence and enslavement.
The world in the Gospels — the world is not for the rich elite, and for the forgotten and the oppressed — brings a poor baby born in a manger among fleas.
Cultural history of Christmas
Of course, not all Christians interpretiruya these stories as we. Christmas, which is based on complex and ambiguous biblical stories were reinterpreted for centuries, appropriated, denied, and returned. For centuries people have debated about how it is acceptable to allow the inevitably occurring mixture of pagan rituals and the prevailing culture to determine the value and nature of the holiday.
© RIA Novosti, Ilya Pitalev | go to fotobanken in the booth for confession
As shown in his book “Christmas at gunpoint” (“Christmas in the Crosshairs”) by Gerry bowler (Gerry Bowler), in the middle ages the spiritual and the secular elite frequently condemned surrounding the feast of riotous behavior — music, dance, gluttony, drunkenness. English puritans went further: they called for fasting on Christmas and incited the crowd on the shops that were open that day.
Nowadays some progressive Christians seek to reform Christmas in the spirit of liberal values. Bill McKibben (Bill McKibben) and a number of other activists struggling with the commercialization of the holiday, emphasizing the damage that does to the environment, consumer rush, generating mountains of garbage and leads to huge fuel consumption. Organization Adbusters has long been waging a campaign for “buy nothing Day”, and program “of the Church of cease shopping” is clear from its name. They urge people to buy less, and instead spending time with family and friends, and also to do charity and volunteer work.
Christmas consumerism, undeniably, is a problem. It pushes poor families deeper into debt, and sellers in shops makes you work on holidays without rest, for hours on end soaking giant influx of visitors for a meager salary. However, the fighters against consumerism often don’t notice that the Christmas spirit may be revolutionary. Worse yet, their proposals are unpleasantly reminiscent of those methods cultural and behavioural control, that elites so love to use to the working class.
Capitalism is impossible to win consumer boycotts. It can handle only the organized working class. Holidays provide work to relax and prepare for the coming struggle. They also give us the opportunity to remember that history of Christmas, which is so like to talk a conservative fighter for Christian culture, is the history of the struggle for liberation. Rituals that deposed the mighty from their thrones and exalt the humble, of course, should be respected.
In addition this holiday is another useful feature — it brings joy and hope to many of those people who need them. Yes, Christmas can be heavy and oppressive, can inspire a sense of loneliness, but for many they are — a rare chance to get a break from work, socialize with family and to feel that they can bring pleasure to your children. And all this is going on a holiday, reminding us of the ancient revolutionary history that remains relevant to this day.
Christmas, in its best sense, is a celebration in honor of the arrival in the world of the one who brought the good news to the poor and freedom to prisoners. There is a certain the only “right way” to celebrate it. However, those of us who struggle for justice, there is every reason to consider it. As he wrote to the theologian Howard Thurman (Howard Thurman):
Ceases when the angelic song,
when extinguished star in the sky,
when kings and princes have returned home,
when the shepherds go to their ataram,
begins the work of Christmas:
find the lost,
to heal the poor,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to revive the peoples
to bring people the world
and get the music playing in your heart.