Take and Read (3)
I've been staying away from the Christmas theme here at g&h. I was asked the other day if I've got the Christmas spirit yet? Asked, mind you, by a non-believer. For her, the Christmas spirit is a vague glow (I suppose) that you "catch" like the common cold. Have you caught it yet? It's especially associated with gift-shopping. A Christmas spirit without gifts, without lights, decorations, etc., would be almost unthinkable. My town is beautifully lit this time of year with many-colored lights on all the trees downtown. The purpose of these is to attract sight-seers to the neighborhood where the shops are. Now, these lights are quite beautiful, and in fact I really love them, but they are not Christmas-y except in the most vacuous sense of the word.
Still, it seems a little silly to rail against the secularization of Christmas. Doesn't the Bible teach us that this is a fallen (a secular) world. Of course Christmas is secular! The real question is: is the Christian conception of Christmas not also deeply compromised and problematic?
I happen to think that's a good question. So, apparently, do a few others. Among them, Gad(d)about is nuanced (as usual) in his critique. Check it out. Meanwhile, Nate at Eight Strings is provocative. "We have collapsed the reality of the Holy Night into an abominable "slogan-in-decor." We have contained it in something that will allow us to stand tall and declare that we are Christians, and this is our Season." By the way, Nate is thinking his way through all this as he goes, which is in my opinion one of the beauties of blogging--it is a process, not a product. Good stuff.
It's not a blog, but Jill Carattini has more to say along these lines. I quote: "I have long been struck with the idea that even our thoughts of God can at times become idols." It's probably at least as important that we question our own assumptions as that we argue with the "culture."
Bluefish.org has an interesting post on the offense of the cross [HT: Transforming Sermons] There you'll find the following John Owen nugget: "fill your affections with the cross of Christ that there may be no room for sin." Oh, man, is that ever so right!
Reading Ephesians closely and repeatedly over the past few weeks, I've been focusing a lot on God's ultimate plan and purpose for his creation. That's the background of all the imperatives in Ephesians. Well, Matthew at Pilgrim Heart has something to say about that here. Brief, pointed, and inspiring.