today i happened across a tv-set, which showed some episode of the ‘blinky bill’ – apparently an australian cartoon where the main heroes are anthropomorphised coala and platypus younglings in search for a) christmas tree and b) snow to c) bring it to no less athropomorphised wombat adult.
the quest ended with a christmas eucaliptus in a little red pot in the hands of the wombat, dressed in red santa cloak and cap, and little pieces of shredded newspaper fluttering over an evergreen little landscape with all sorts of stereotypical australian anthropomorphised animals of various sizes singing something about singing around the christmas tree and waiting for the miracles to happen and so on.
we all (and especially the little ones) have to bee good, and kind, and joyful because it’s christmas. and when i ask the next question – why christmas? the answer more often than not is – because it is, and everyone is supposed to be, and shut up and be joyful, kind and good for this week.
now, this upsets me. it upsets me just about as much as the rhetoric of the parties before and after election, the explanations of the administration about what happened to the money, and the reassurances of the dentist that ‘this won’t hurt a bit’. this sort of answer is upsetting because it is a lie, a deliberate untruth designed to cover up the truth.
at the moment when the truth of christmas sums up in ‘we sit around the christmas tree, singing about how we sit around the christmas tree, and our eyes are shining with joy because it is the season of sitting/dancing around the christmas tree and feeling the joy of the season’ – or similar circular rhetoric that fills the mass media, shopping centres*, streets, cafes and wherever one casts an eye (or does not manage to stop the ear) – at that moment something has gone out of this world. something important has been lost, or gone absent, or been covered with falsehood.
the moving away from god has been accomplished. the creator of all things has been substituted with the created things: political correctness, suspicion, evergreens of all sorts and shapes, simulacra of nature forces and plain simple headology.
the western world has come to ‘the gods of the nations are mere idols’, and all on its own, of its own free will and choice.
so, when the true reason** for the miracle, the forgiveness, the love has been hidden, what remains is fulfilling the ritual. and now the ritual has to be carried out precisely, or else it will not bring the promised fruit – like a chemistry process, a recipe, which, when messed up, will yield poison instead of the medicine, or provide severe indigestion instead of a feast. to fulfill the ritual precisely, i must say, is no small deal. most people fail. hence the stress, running hectically to and fro, depression and the quiet misery the psychologists talk about from year to year.
thus the western world actively divides into three parts: those who follow christmas demons of consumerism and haste and exhaustion; those who follow christ and somehow keep their joy and peace above and in spite of the pressure of the society; and those who do not give a damn. the third lot usually fall prey to the christmas demons because they do not believe such demons exist.
this is a reminder, first of all, for my own self: in a demon-ruled world, there is a god who is not an empty image, an eidolon. he has created the heaven and earth, all things visible and invisible. he has created the vast space with its suns and planets (and my relatives extra-terrestials), and he has created the Higgs boson and things even smaller than that. and he is not just an image – he is a person, he was a man who worked alongside other men, a god who died instead of his believers so that all could have life. and in order to do this – to die and kill death in his death, and rise again – this god, this Person became a little baby, and grew up, and learned about his people, and loved them in spite of their fallacies, and haste, and stupidity, and ugliness, and fun, and beautiful things, and relationships and all that can go right, and all that can go wrong.
in the hands of that little baby in Bethlehem millenia ago is our faith, and our forgiveness, and our life, and for him it is always now.
this paradox makes me less grumpy. way less.
*it seems, the christmas tree is the only religiously inoffensive symbol of the dark time of the year, and so it is the only safe thing to sing about.
**this reason for forgiveness, love, gifts, joy and much much more – the true reason for life in its fullness is the person of Jesus who is at the centre of the events of christmas; but to say that out is too risky or incorrect, or old-fashioned – and so people sing songs to the evergreens, because evergreens can neither offend not get offended.