May your Yule Log glow throughout the new year. Let it symbolize the flame of learning and yearning for truth. We need all of that next year.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. However I don’t plan to celebrate the mass in any Christian way on Sunday and Monday. Back in September, Patti and I were discussing Christmas trees, which she wanted to obtain and decorate and I did not. Our friend Mary Elliot Rolle suggested an alternative of getting a tree but calling it by a different name. Unfortunately, until yesterday, Patti and I no longer remembered the name M.E. and her daughter, Kylie, use. After a circuitous Google search I found it: Saturnalia. Saturnalia according to Wikipedia, my favorite first source, was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December to include Winter Solstice. The Rolle women have a Saturnalia Tree decorated with symbols of tribute to Earth.
By Cristian practice and tradition we celebrate holidays near the end of the calendar year. OUr current calendar was established in 1582 by Pope Gregory. It fixed an error of eleven minutes that had been in place since about 46 BCE. With the Gregorian calendar, the New Year begins six days after Christmas. Fixing an eleven minute error was good but setting New Year after Christmas and the Winter Solstice was arbitrary. Probably not any big deal, but a sign that AD and BC are a slippery kind of stupidity, nonsense connected with Christianity.
New Year is a zero point in cosmic space for our planet. This new year marks another time to think about our little blue org making another trip around the sun while spinning on its axis and exposing all of the planet to the life support system providing light and heat from nuclear fusion. The answer rises every morning for 365 days until the planet reaches another remarkable place in the cosmos. Solar energy has sustained nearly all life on our planet for something close to 3.5 billion years. We are here as a guest of green plants. As we use up our gift of fossil fuel, polluting our atmosphere and causing global climate instability, we more than ever need to address a world at risk. That is not fit for a single day celebration, yet or ever, but is a 24/7/365 planetary imperative.
This may be my declaration to the planet that I am highly skeptical of any religion based on a single God or a creative but fuzzy spiritual trinity that is both one and three. That doesn’t add up as possible. That is not to deny spirituality. I celebrate the spirit of all life – human, animal, plant and microbe – that enables Gaia to sustain life on this wonderful planet. It is certainly possible that there are a few remaining folks who labor under an impression that I am a Christian. I am not Christian. It is about time that I write down Why I am not a Christian. I’ll do that but not here.
That confession or testimony (it is neither) would begin with a citation of a work of an identical title by Bertrand Russell, which I read first as an 18 year old undergraduate, trying to reconcile all of the dogma that had been heaped on me by relatives and the Evangelical Mission Covenant Church. Those faithful acolytes ranged up and down a hierarchy from the internationally known ministers Drs. Billy Graham and Paul S. Reese to a handful of lesser lights with the title of Reverend; a group that included an uncle and a convicted pedophile (not the uncle). I never experienced an evangelical alter call because I just sunk low in a pew. Although I did a Sunday School “testimony” because it would have been very conspicuous to not do one. Looking back i can trust my doubt that I was ever a believer.
We celebrated the Winter Solstice yesterday hoping for new furniture for our living room. Alas, once our free enterprise vendor got our money, there was a huge gap in fulfilling their responsibility to deliver as promised nearly six weeks ago. We have a new promise that sounds a lot like DJT. New furniture is probably not a great icon for global sustainability and earth stewardship, but someday soon will be more comfortable than our IKEA choice two years ago when we moved from Herbster to Minneapolis. We hope the nice, clean hide-a-bed couch contributes some comfort for a family in need as we donated it to a wonderful local charity, Hope Chest.
We Americans have so much to celebrate. And this despite a thoroughly despicable political situation that feels no shame for what they are doing to fundamental values of reason and truth. Answers based on slippery rhetoric and rigid ideology, rather than empirical facts, should have faded with the enlightenment beginning 300+ years ago. Should have, but didn’t.
Yuletide carols being sung by a fire are still good enough, and just about enough, for me to celebrate.
Warmest regards for a wonderful New Year.