Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Holiday Season: Beauty and Joy...

Okay, enough of the elections. On to less controversial subjects---like, religion. You can't avoid it this time of the year. Christmas combines Christianity, Paganism and the Secular Religion of Consumerism---all thrown together like a bad stew.

I'm old school so the Holiday Season really shouldn't start until the leftovers from Thanksgiving have been fully consumed. When the stuffing is gone and the turkey is stored away in the freezer, then it is time to break out the Christmas Music. My favorite being John Denver's Christmas Album.

That's when we get our tree. We thin some of the pines around here and find, generally, an anemic tree that is packed too close together with other trees. And since we have an 18 foot high ceiling, we can get a tall one. It is a fine pagan tradition---which, of course, comprise most of the Holiday traditions.

This time of the year, you need a celebration to make it through the, literal, northern hemisphere darkness.

Of all the holidays we celebrate in the US, Thanksgiving seems to be the least adulterated. I think all of us can get behind the rather simple notion of being thankful for the harvest. Okay, so nowadays we celebrate the harvest of mostly GMO crops while eating a bird that was blown up with growth hormones and anti-biotics while the poor gobbler more than likely never got to see the sun or breathe fresh air. We celebrate the ideal while ignoring the real way things are done.

So yes, we splurge and buy a fresh, organic, happy turkey. It costs forty dollars more but it is more than worth it. Another tradition out here on the Left Coast, and maybe a bit more Foodily Correct is the practice of eating Dungeness Crab on Thanksgiving. The Crab opener often coincides with Thanksgiving. Dungeness Crab is a success story the way it is sustainably harvested. No guilt while eating Crab. And it is delicious.

But I meant to write about Religion in this post. That's the direction I was headed when thinking about the Christmas Season. And the point I wanted to make? Religion is best when reduced to being about Beauty and Joy. Beauty and Joy are sufficient mystery enough to complete any catechism. We need not worry about Transubstantiation or Virgin Births or Magi or Heaven or Hell or Cartesian Arguments for the Existence of God or Baptism or Circumcision or Original Sin or Communion or Confession or Sermons or Rosaries or Stations of the Cross or an After Life. Beauty and Joy are sufficient mystery for me.

And a corollary is true too: Beauty and Joy should comprise the basic tenets of our political ideology. We need a politics of Joy and Beauty as our response to creating the world we live in.


  1. Kia ora Allan,
    I still get sentimental memories and wistful thoughts around Thanksgiving. Not hard when living in a country where the last Thursday in November is all it is. Until I get fairly immersed into the indigenous community here, the Maori perspective, did I start to question some of that. There is a real story of a raw deal dealt to some behind every one enjoying that turkey and stuffing. The Calvinist origins leave a bit tb desired. Yet I juxtapose those facts with my memories. Nothing gets easy as we get older it seems. In any case Happy Yuletide wishes to you and yours?.
    Ka kie ano,

  2. Robb, Yeah, there is that manifest destiny, empire thing that pollutes the Thanksgiving holiday. Pilgrims and Indians and we all know how that ended with the slaughter of bison and the native population. Blankets given from people with small pox. Not a pure holiday by any means. And that is a pretty glaring omission on my part. Yet, Pilgrim gunk aside, it is our equivalent of a harvest festival.