Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Charlie Brown

Christmas is nigh. This is the time to gather with family and friends, to feast on ham and yam and squash and beans, to open presents by the Christmas tree, to kiss under the mistletoe and to sing yuletide carols. (The ham, the tree and the mistletoe come from ancient pagan traditions.) And after the football games, we will watch the fourtieth repeat of Charlie Brown's Christmas. We love to watch that beloved blockhead try to figure out the true meaning of Christmas. Now we can purchase a DVD of that voice in the wilderness decrying the commercialization of Christmas, gift wrapped for a dollar extra.

Much of the Christmas story comes from the Gospel of Luke. The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and prophesizes the birth of John the Baptist. A few months later, Gabriel appears to Mary. Now here comes the best part, the Holy Spirit knocks up our virgin heroine.Nine months later, a choir of angels sing to shepherds.

Luke was a Greek who did not know Jesus personally. I imagine Luke reciting the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Greek tradition is full of stories of gods intervening in human affairs. Zeus is notorious for begetting children of virgin women. Zeus was the father of the Greek people -- he fathered so many of them.

To Jews living in the time of Jesus, the idea of God having sexual intercourse with a mortal woman was not only blasphemous, but dangerous. The intercourse of gods and women was the kind of sinful behaviour that brought on the great flood that nearly destroyed the human race.

But we forget all this when we celebrate the spirit of Christmas. At its best, Christmas is the time for peace and kindness and generosity and love. The only thing wrong with Christmas is that it lasts only one day. The rest of the year we can be mean and nasty and miserly. That is the meaning of Christmas.

May we celebrate the Spirit of Christmas with a good bottle of Christmas spirits.


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