Secularism

Happy Saturnalia…err, I mean Christmas

Is Christmas really a Christian holiday?  Here are 4 things you need to know about the origins of Christmas

1. Is December 25th the birthday of Jesus Christ?

“In the Roman world, the Saturnalia (December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchanging of gifts. December 25 was also regarded as the birthdate of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness.  December 25th was not selected because it was the birth of Christ or because it was even near it. It was selected because it coincided with the idolatrous pagan festival Saturnalia.” The True Origin of Christmas – www.realtruth.org by David Pack

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2. In the Bible the three wise men gave gifts, isn’t that why we do it?

“In the ancient Roman system of religion, Saturn was the god of agriculture. Each year during the summer, the god Jupiter would force Saturn out of his dominant position in the heavenly realm; and the days would begin to shorten. In the temple to Saturn in Rome, the feet of Saturn were then symbolically bound with chains until the winter solstice when the length of days began to increase. It was this winter solstice, December 25th, that was a time of celebration and exchange of gifts as the hardness of winter began to wane and the days grew longer.” What are the origins of Christmas – www.carm.org by Matt Slick

grinch

3.  Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, thy leaves are so unchanging….

4. What about Christmas wreaths

The wreath has been used symbolically for centuries. Pre-Christian, or Pagan, cultures placed much importance on the December celebration of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. For them, this was a time of death and rebirth, a celebration of the end of the ever shortening days and the anticipation of the coming promise of spring. As part of many celebrations, evergreen wreaths were gathered as a sign of the approaching spring light.” The Meaning of the Wreath at Christmas – www.enlightenme.com

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My Journey (…still ongoing)

question2I like to say that I have always been a skeptic. But, I accept that sometimes our memories can be figments of our imagination. However, I did have questions growing up. I remember hanging out with one of my best friends when we were teenagers and questioning the things we were taught from the Bible. As a gust of wind would go by, we would laugh and say that God was going to kill us because we were asking questions about the secrets of his nature.

Yes, I had questions. But for most of my youth I was a devout Christian, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. My upbringing was pretty fundamental. I wasn’t supposed to go to the movies, couldn’t wear jewelry, no drinking or dancing and we basically became hermits between sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, only to emerge from into the light of day to attend Church and evening Adventist Youth (AY) sessions. All in all, however, I had a pretty good childhood. The comradery that is associated with Christian fellowship is a nice one at times, especially as a child and as I entered early adulthood.

Yet, I had questions.

I usually would ignore these questions or if I asked an adult, I was met with the cliché answers, “That is part of God’s plan” or “God works in mysterious ways.” As I watched people get sick and die, families being separated by divorce, and as things happened in the world such as war, famine and disease, I conjured up fantastic images of a loving god. One who was looking down and allowing all of these to happen so that we could look from the safety of our lives and somehow learn from these events. When they happened to me or my family, I just knew that everything would be OK, because I was cradled in the arms of a wonderful deity that had a plan for my life and these life events would somehow make me a better person and bring me closer to him.

Still, sometimes, I had questions.

I think the first time that I started to actually and seriously question my religious upbringing was when I went off to school at Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL, USA. This was a historically black college and affiliated with the SDA church. Even though I was still following the dogma of my upbringing, I started to notice things. Hypocrisies, intolerances and untruthfulness on the part of the administration there ran rampant. Rumors of the women’s dormitory dean stealing money from the school. Pastors kids dealing drugs (my roommate) and personal incidents of theft of my property. I won’t even go into the black-separatist, black power (racist?) atmosphere of the campus. I was faced with a new question. If I was part of such a powerful, truthful and righteous way of life, why was I surrounded by such seemingly vile individuals (not all of course, there were some nice people there). Unfortunately at the time, still entrenched in religious doctrine, I quelled these questions with believing that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” and everyone was a sinner and….well you know where I am going with this.

Also during this time, I was really falling into a violent inner war with myself in terms of my sexuality. I went through some deep, dark depressed states, contemplating suicide and begging my heavenly father to save me from sin. My relief never came from above.

And now, I had even more questions.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all

My bough broke when I was living in Atlanta. By this time, I had become disillusioned with my past SDA upbringing and had decided to “get saved” into the Baptist church. It was the easiest ticket to heaven I had ever received. All I had to do was say “Yes, I believe” and that was it. One Sunday, after listening to the Bishop, and during a musical selection by the choir, I was overcome with my questions. Why would God just love me for no reason, no matter what I did, who I hurt, or the like? I was so confused. I left church that day confused. I needed an answer. I was tired of living without answers. So, I did what any person should do, living in the 21st century. I went to the Internet.

Since then, I have learned that it is OK to ask questions and that if the answer is “Just accept it”, you need to look for a different source for your answers. Starting to look for real answers has wiped the mysticism from my eyes and I now see the thinks in a more puristic view.

I have given my story to let other’s out there know that there is nothing wrong with questions. It is when you ignore the questions and delay trying to figure out the truths or facts that you lend yourself to living with ambiguity and possibly never living your life fully.

Do not be afraid to always question!

Bermuda Needs Secularism

In an article entitled, Island misses out on UK’s gay marriage move, it is stated that “Premier Michael Dunkley said in 2012 that he did not support [same-sex marriage] because ‘marriage to me is a union between a man and a woman’.”

Since when did Michael Dunkley become God?  I didn’t get the memo.  How is it that he can decide on all Bermudians civil rights, based on his opinion?  Bermuda, so it seems, has been held hostage by the churches since the birth of our country.  One cannot deny that everyone has a right to worship how they feel, but why is it that the religious leaders and organizations in Bermuda have so much influence politically and socially, and get to dictate their beliefs to everyone else? When will Bermuda become a secular nation?

Now most people are not sure what secularism is.  The various religious entities in Bermuda and around the world portray scenes of immoral debauchery, perversion, chaos and every other way to slander this idea that they can find.  Secularism, however, has a much more noble purpose.  If you go to Wikipedia, you will find that the real purpose of secularism is the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.  That’s it.  No sinister plot, no plan to turn society upside down.  It is to protect everyone so that all will be equal before the law.  I would even venture to say that keeping dogma and religious tradition out of the law is a human right.  No one should be forced by legislation to be coerced into following someone else’s religious opinion.  And when those opinions are found in existing laws, it is the responsibility of our legislators to move our society to a more equal plane.

On the converse, one would wonder if the opposite is better.  Well, we have many shining examples of theocracies around the world.  Many countries in the Middle East use Sharia Law.  According to James Arlandson of American Thinker, Sharia Law can bring out the most violent traits of humanity.  Based on a holy book, when someone commits an “offence” they can be injured or murdered. Is this where we want to go in Bermuda?  I think not.

So when the Premier and Leader of the country, Michael Dunkley states that his opinion is that marriage is between a man and a woman, and when the Opposition leader, Marc Bean, can feel comfortable stating that same-sex marriage will turn civilization upside down and upon its head, it is time for us to tell our political leaders that their religion has no business being forced upon people who may not share those same beliefs, through law.  Bermuda needs secularism.