P.S.: 50% of this piece was written at 34,000 feet above MSL, the remainder in a hungover blaze.
What’s Christmas? What are the elements of Christmas? Here, I break down my understanding of the season of noels- a point in every letter.
C – carols
Nothing charge endorphins like that of Christmas carols over blasting Bose speakers
H – holiday
“Holiday” is not dictated by one’s employer. “Holiday” is a state of mind. My company can steal my Christmas, but they can NOT steal my Christmas spirit.
R – run for no man’s land
My liver’s endeavour this season of giving.
I – intense humidity
No eggnog, roasting chestnuts, evergreen spruces, or falling snow. But we Malaysians have our heat. I’m dreaming of a humid Christmas.
S – Santa Claus
Apocryphal fable. Unless you subscribe to the logic of a speeding sleigh at 650 miles per hour, which is 3000 times the speed of sound or 23 times the speed of a Ulysses space probe (the fastest man made vehicle).
T – tree
If I say my plastic tree branch, erected in a juice bottle, garnished with earrings, is a Christmas tree, then the heck it is.
M – mistletoe
Where can I find one? To felicitously embellish my make-out hut, aka couch potato haven (my sofa).
A – aliment
Nosh that consist of the main Christmas food groups- fats, sugar, cholesterol and alcohol.
S – Son of Man
No, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th (try June-ish, or so the experts say).
So we celebrate His generic birthday. But is HE generic too? I mean, I rant about the unsubstantiality of Santa Claus (refer to point “S”); but am I hypocritically celebrating another fictional character?
Rather than indulge the emotional whirlwind many Christians spiral into, I decided I like facts.
Here goes, although He wasn’t born amongst mistletoes and falling snow, non biblical data suggest that Jesus existed. (Because of course the bible is bias in this context- every rationalisation should begin from a plane of congruous underlying assumptions).
“Nero fastened the guilt … on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of … Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome….”
Wrote Roman historian Tacitus on Emperor Nero’s bid to “tai chi” blame to the Christians for the engulfing fire that ruined Rome in A.D. 64.
The “extreme penalty” of “Christus” is believed to be Jesus’ crucifixion during the reign of Pontius Pilatus; and “mischievous superstition checked”- His resurection.
I like the use of “mischievous superstition”. I have a mischievous superstition about drivers who switch lanes without using the turn signal.
“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
This could be a slight stretch, or perhaps its gravity is lost in english translation. You be the judge.
In a letter from Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan, he wrote about the Christians, seeking advice on how they should be dealt with legally.
He mentions their worship to Christ, “as a god”. Historians believe the expressed message is, “they worship this man as if he were a god”, which indicates the actual blood-and-flesh existence of a man named Jesus Christ.
Of course, “as a god” could hold other meanings. But I’m inclined towards the man-God theory.
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he … wrought surprising feats…. He was the Christ. When Pilate …condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared … restored to life…. And the tribe of Christians … has … not disappeared.”
Jewish historian, Josephus wrote in his book, Jewish Antiquities, a portion called Testimonium Flavianum. There are conflicting views on this passage. Because of its tune, some scholars think a Christian edited it. But even after disregarding the chilli sauce and pepper, the skeleton remains- that there lived a man named Jesus. (Remember that our question under focus here is did Jesus truly exist, discounting the accompanying theologies)
“Being therefore this kind of person… Ananus, thinking that he had a favorable opportunity because Festus had died and Albinus was still on his way, called a meeting… of judges and brought into it the brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah … James by name, and some others. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law, and he handed them over to be stoned.”
Another portion of Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities mentions Jesus. The focus of this passage is not Jesus, though, but His brother, James.
During that time, there were like, a million men named James. To specify the James in question, Josephus relates him to Jesus. But since there were 2 million Jesus’ at the time, he goes one step further, and labels Him “Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah”- synonym to the Jesus of the bible.
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald … cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.”
The Babylonian Talmud is a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled approximately between A.D. 70-500.
“Yeshu” is Jesus in Hebrew, and “hanged” refers to the hanging off a giant “T”- crucification.
The “stoning” in question, is what the jewish leaders were planning to do before Roman involvement. And the “sorcery” is that the perspective of Jesus’ accusers. However, the stoning and sorcery are irrelevant given that our issue at hand is “did Jesus really exist?”, and eye witness accounts once again implies so.
“The Christians … worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…. [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.”
This passage, on the other hand, is no eye witness. However, the Lucian of Samosata, Greek satirist is believed to have gather his sources on Jesus from that other than the new testament, hence its status as evidence of Jesus’ existence.
I try to base my faith on facts and evidence. I work extensively to NOT be a Pocahontas Christian (everything has a spirit, has a life, has a name). However, the emotional whirlwind I mentioned? Guilty at times.
Because, what is a relationship without sentiment? I possess head knowledge that my husband is a good man; sweet, sexy, and
talented in bed responsible. But our relationship won’t BE a relationship without my fervour for him.
In the same way, I know Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. I know He was born (not on December 25), and crucified for my sins. But my relationship with Him stems from more than knowledge. It sprouts from the warm of His love for me- my best friend, heavenly father and 24/7 counsellor.