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December 24, 2010: “Finally: A Conspiracy for the Good”

You know how Xmas Pageants are- ‘Kids will say the darndest things”-I had hoped they would mess up tonight and I could use a great blooper! Well, unfortunately everyone did a great job! BUT at another such pageant with the three Wise Guys, I mean Wise Men and the first one didn’t get it quite right when he announced, ‘We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur.”

        Sure Xmas is a bit different in Texas and in Southern climates.  Indeed, when I went to San Antonio, I expected Xmas to be different, but I wasn't prepared to see the a Nativity Scene that showed the three Wise Men were wearing firemen's helmets!  I asked the DRE, who was from Georgia, I think and she said in her deep Southern accent "You darn Yankees never do read the Bible."

    This Yankee assured her that he did read the Bible, but he could not recall anything about firemen in the Bible. Well we tried to find one, and you know how hard it is to find a Bible in a UU Church, but we finally found one being used as a doorstop. She asked me to read the passage and when I read 'The three Wise Men came from afar.'" She said, see, it's right there in the bible. That's why they have on "Far" (Fire) helmets!

If the Magi Were Women…

You know what would have happened if there had been three wise WOMEN instead of three wise MEN, don’t you? The three wise WOMEN would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the Baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and given practical gifts.

        Those people who think Xmas can't last all year obviously don't have credit cards! Some people think Xmas is just a corporate conspiracy to get us to spend money, and I will grant you there's plenty of evidence for that. I mean, after all, the Santa Claus we're most familiar with usually does have a bottle of Coca-Cola in his hand! And didn't Macy's Department store figure a little prominently in both the old and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street? And did you know that Rudolf the Red nosed reindeer was a Xmas advertising gimmick drawn for Montgomery Ward Stores before become a hit Country Western song by Gene Autry in 1949? Oh the commercialism of Xmas goes way back!   Indeed, it goes so far back that it has become more cultural than recent corporations; oh, they've managed to manipulate us, no doubt, but it's not like we're resisting Xmas. Yes, we buy stuff we don't need for people who don't want it, but that's our fault! We should buy less and stop wasting wrapping paper!

     The religious right thinks there is a conspiracy to eliminate Xmas because the government is finally recognizing that since it is a specifically Christian holiday, the government is not supposed to be supporting it! Hence, Happy Holidays instead of Merry Xmas, so people of other faiths are not slighted, offended or excluded. So no Government Nativity scenes, but snowpeople are OK!  I found this old parody of Twas the night before Xmas-

A Politically Correct Christmas Poem

‘Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s a wreck…
How to live in a world that’s politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to “Elves”,
“Vertically Challenged” they were calling themselves.
And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!
The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their rooftops.
Secondhand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called “Unenlightened.”
And to show you the strangeness of life’s ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose
And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in overdue compensation.
So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she’d enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.
And as for the gifts, why, he’d ne’er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that’s warlike or non-pacific.
No candy or sweets…they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
No baseball, no football…someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be pass’;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.
He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you’ve got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might Give
to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere…even you.
So here is that gift, it’s price beyond worth…
“May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth.”
Harvey Ehrlich, 1992 –

        Reminded me of some of our churches! It's difficult balancing social justice with what can appear political correctness to some, and yet I am always suspicious of those who use the term political correctness as a defense against social justice and equality for all.

And there was the conspiracy by the early Church to actually invent Xmas! After all, the details are rather sketchy and they seem to contradict each other. The earliest writings we have are from the Apostle Paul, and in fact, notice, I said fact, because he is, in historical FACT, according to biblical scholars, the only known author of the New Testament writings; the rest are anonymous, and even some of his letters are not all his! He doesn’t mention the birth story of Jesus at all! In fact, there’s that word again, nothing about Jesus, until he was probably about 30! The first Gospel written was Mark; no mention there. The last Gospel written, John also didn’t mention it! Only Matthew and Luke, AND THEY DIFFER! Only 2 mentions of the birth story. No date is given in either and it sounds like Spring, but the church conspires to battle the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice and various Gods birthdays on December 25 and in the year 350 CE declares December 25 Jesus Birthday!

        But that's also done and over. No, the Xmas Conspiracy I want to talk about is the only one I think that is for the Good and may even be unintended even Freudian, maybe Jungian, maybe even divine. It is, I will argue, maybe the reason we are here tonight as Unitarian Universalists, which means at the very least, nontraditional, maybe humanist, maybe theist, but probably not traditional trinitarian Christian (Not that there's anything wrong with that) on Xmas Eve.  That is few of us believe in the virgin birth, the trinity or the divinity of Jesus, so why are we here? Why do we consider this a holy night?

Xmas is a conspiracy to keep the child in us reborn every year! Xmas Eve is holy because it reminds perhaps when we DID believe in magic! When we could hear the bell of the Polar Express! When we wrote our letters to Santa. When we were comforted, if we were fortunate, by loving parents and perhaps by a loving God, even a loving Jesus, maybe even a loving church community. Or maybe we want that now!

        I think that Xmas eve was the only time we went to church at night growing up in the congregational church and the candlelighting part at the end was magical and moving, now I feel like it linked us to pagan rites from ancient times stirring something deep within, our feeling of connection to the divine mystery, the changing of the winter solstice.

        Xmas Eve was also a church service charged with that mixture of sacred and profane-  evergreens, and poinsettias, and hearing beautiful music and a sense of love and especially of children and baby Jesus, and then knowing that Santa would come at home where the other sacred ritual would play out the next morning!

        "This is the season," writes UU minister and mystic, Jacob Trapp, "when the child in the heart of us all awakens and the embers of long-forgotten dreams are blown into flame.  The tramp of the legions is stilled; the Caesars lie in the dust, but the light from that humble stable shines warm and bright.

Something old and almost lost amid the clutter of the years is calling from the skies and across the fields of snow. The night winds are stilled and in the darkened heavens the stars foretell of lengthening days and the birth of spring after the winter’s cold.

This is the sign that the light of hope, which shines in the dimness of our broken dreams, will never fade or die. O stretch your hands, palsied by fear, and with the simple trust of the child, grasp another’s hand and walk the way together.’

        What did Jesus mean, do you suppose, when he said that you had to be as little child to enter the kingdom of heaven? I think it had to do with the pure love of a child and that the conspiracy of Xmas is for that to be reborn in us, that it is so simple, even a child could do it. Love one another.

        May love be born in us all.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Christmas Children
|by Edward Frost

I suspect that the Christmas Spirit is Memory– Personal, yet universal, Shared collections of shards of other days pieced together in this season by common consent, making the otherwise commercial venture religious,
Communal, making it Holy as,
by Memory we are re-created,
Born again.
So the bittersweet of this time,
Since Memory and that recalled are, at best, Mixed blessings.
I sit before our Christmas tree
With years of former selves gathered,
Chattering of how it was in their time
Asking ‘Remember when…?’
At Christmas, I am with all my children, all my years of former selves come home who have sung carols, opened presents,
given gifts of perfume and after-shave, who lay listening through sleepless Holy Nights.
All my children crowd and dance about
as I hurry from place to place,
clutching, tugging, plucking, holding, shouting ‘Wait, wait, look, look …
Remember when we…?’
My children, my spirits of Christmas Past who make of all my seasons One.
I tell them stories.
They tell me truths
in sweet innocence of truth’s pain.
My family of self, reunited,
Come bringing gifts of Memory,
too young to know the sadness of
too much memory, unwrapped.
We sing together at Christmas,
I and all my children.
Voices above distant murmurings from other rooms.
And another child is born.
Christmas Children
by Edward Frost

Roger Greeley, writes this:


That there may be love (I will be loving) That there may be peace (I will be peaceful) That there may be joy (I will be joyous) That there may be warmth (I will be warm) That there may be kindness (I will be kind) That there may be friendship (I will be a friend) When the candle is spent and the yule log, ash; and wreath removed and the tree-stand put away, I shall keep alive/in my life/love–peace–joy/ and kindness–friendship–and warmth. (At least I hope that I do, for if I don’t /the season passed me by without my even KNOWING it.)