Category Archives: Mere Christianity
I admit this is partially my fault: for the sake of sounding pretty, I’ve been using words like ‘rapture’, ‘apocalypse’, and ‘end of days’ fairly interchangeably. Nor am I the only one. For this reason and probably many others, there’s a certain level of confusion about what’s actually been predicted for today.
Well, I can clear that up for you. In fact, I shall – and in a helpful Q-and-A format, no less. As a librarian and blogger, it is my duty to spend the end of days spreading knowledge, so people can approach the Rapture and the ensuing tribulation better informed. And rest assured that as long as the Internet survives in our post-Rapture world, I’ll continue to blog helpful hints for surviving the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Or, y’know, other stuff. Just in case the Second Coming isn’t forthcoming.
Until last year, I had never realized there were Christian traditions out there that made a very careful distinction between Advent and the Christmas season. But last year I’d joined the First Communion Prep team at my little Anglo-Quebecois parish, and all of a sudden, I was part of one.
And they were dead serious about it. I wanted to institute a “giving tree” for the parish to collect items for a local women’s shelter, and the priest gave his blessing – but it couldn’t be a Christmas tree. Ever tried to scour Wal-Mart for an Advent Tree? It’s nothing but naked branches! I found one, though, and the endeavor was a success. We had a Jesse tree, too – though I’m not sure the kids get what that’s all about – and an Advent calendar from World Vision or some other organization with ideas for collecting money each day of the season. (“Put 5 cents in the jar for each toy car you own”; “There are x doctors for every y people in Zambia. Put $1 in your jar for a child to visit a doctor”; and so forth.) Advent wreaths were de rigeur, lit in church every Sunday and also to be lit in the home. Until December 24, there was not a manger or poinsettia or Christmas light to be found.
And then suddenly, an elite task force swarmed in to dress things up for the Midnight Mass. Instant Christmas.
This year, the struggle for Advent has made it to the media limelight, along with all those “War on Christmas” stories you hear where the ACLU bans a nativity scene here or some store tells their employees to say “Happy Holidays” there, or – God forbid! – somebody writes “Merry X-mas!” in a Christmas card. In a culture where many of us have been shopping under red and green garlands since All Saints’ Day, some denominations are getting counter-cultural by delaying their festivities until the very last moment. Check out some of these Advent-related stories from around the blogosphere:
- Let Xmas be Christmas? from GetReligion (which apparently has a podcast! I’ll swoop in on it later.)
- Some deck the halls earlier, others check the calendar from the Washington Post
- Celebrate Christmas – gasp! – on Christmas? from T-Matt (Terry Mattingly) on Religion
- Celebrating Christmas before Dec. 25? Bah humbug! from Religion News Service
- Waiting in Joyful Hope – a pastoral letter from John C. Wester, Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City
Okay. So Jews have Hanukkah. Hindus have Diwali. Christians, obviously, celebrate Christmas. Pagans kick back even further in time and celebrate what Christmas was before it had Christian symbolism attached: they call that Yule. Africans have Kwanzaa, though technically Africa is not a religion. And Muslims have Ramadan, even if it doesn’t always fall neatly in the time period we’ve designated as “the holiday season”.
But am I the only one who never heard of the Buddhists’ December holiday?