Holy Babies!

Happy Holidays!  And, once again, as always, it’s our choice, our decision, what we do with this season.

So, step back, take a deeper than usual breath, try not to be a Big Baby and read the annual Christmas Baby message:

I recently taught a class on World Religions, at least a few of them, with the theme “Rivers of Wisdom.”  Lots of water; some refreshing and clean; some muddy or stagnant or polluted.  But there IS water, there IS wisdom to be found in the ancient rivers.  We may need to test it before sipping.  It seems the wise thing to do.  You never know.

Wisely comparing rivers got me thinking:  while we’re ahhing and awe-ing over the Bethlehem baby in the very un-stable manger, what about the other babies in the history of wisdom?  What about baby Abraham and baby Sarah in Iraq; or baby Moses floating in that reed basket on the Egyptian river; or baby Buddha or baby Krishna of India, baby Confucius of China or baby Muhammad in Arabia?  And all the female babies forgotten in those stories?  What about these infants in the childhood of the human family?  Why pick just one Wee One of Wisdom?

I just read that archaeologists seem to have found a shrine around an ancient tree in Lumbini (Nepal) where Baby Buddha may have been born (can we hear the giggly, gurgling sounds echoing–wakefully–through the centuries?). The crumbling cave where Baby Confucius is thought to have been born on Mount Ni near Qufu in China makes the smelly stable in Bethlehem look like a palace.  There is now a library in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on the site of Baby Muhammad’s birth.  That seems respectable.

The rivers of history have presented us with many Nativities to investigate, commemorate and, if we so choose, celebrate.

What do we do with Baby Religion?  When faith gathers around a child, a “special” or “divine” child, what does this mean for us?  Does it mean we should, as one of those toddlers grew up to say, “become as little children to enter your Daddy’s and Mommy’s house”?  What if faith remains in the nursery, in awe of the sweet, snuggly, cuddly God we just want to squeeze?  “I could just EAT him up!”  And some do.

Then, what happens when the little boogernose grows up to be a respected teacher who says things like, “you must be born again”?  What then?  Starting over isn’t really possible, but seeing Life more simply is.  Could this be part of the meaning?  Not sure.  Babies are fragile, vulnerable, innocent.  Like tiny, wide-eyed wild animals living by instinct, without reason, taking in the big world around them with wonder and fear.  Wonder and fear–integral elements of infant faith.  So many reaching for the great Mom or Dad in the sky, crying for the cosmic parent.  “Our Father Who art watching over and protecting me: ME!” It’s all about ME when you’re a baby.  For crying out loud, we’d love to stay warm and safe in the Great Womb and whine when we can’t get back in.  We’re such whiners, aren’t we?

Like our decisions about the holidays, we have a choice to get caught up with these Mini-Gods in diapers or we can decide on something different.  We can save our sanity (and our savings) or we can shop the spiritual supermarkets looking for supernatural sales. We can ride camels with the Wise (Zoroastrian) Philosophers back to the big scary adult world or stay with the sheep in the dark stables and nurseries nursing our comforting, childlike beliefs.  We can choose to celebrate every birth as “sacred,” every child as a unique gift to the world, or we can continue this age-old silliness of elevating a handful of ancient babes above all others and say the stars shine especially on their little faces.  It’s still our choice.  I think we should choose carefully.  There are no guarantees when we outgrow our cribs, our swaddling cloths and our beloved bedtime stories.

Here’s a thought, a suggestion:  Why not celebrate the wonder and leave the fear?  Sounds like a wonderful idea to me.  Maybe a couple of the Holy Babies would think so too.  It’s a wonder-filled time of year.  Nature puts on quite a show for adults and children alike!

Let’s try to keep some of our childlike fascination and imagination, even as we live as grownups in a world that needs all the balanced wisdom, responsible decisions and reasonable action of adults it can get.

Here’s my Winter Wish for you, for us, for our world:

“Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,

Your waters never drumlie (muddy).” ~Robert Burns


{Oh, and please remember, you really don’t have to kill more conifers or consume more creatures–babies or adults–to enjoy the great natural beauty of this Solstice Season}

{Oh2:  Fun Historical Facts to Discuss around Your Holiday Table:  Baby Abe and Baby Moses were not Jews; Baby Buddha was not Buddhist; Baby Yeshua was not Christian; Baby Muhammad was not Muslim.  Babies (children) are not born believers. And (this fact especially for Europeans and Americans):  none of these Holy Babies had light skin, spoke English or ever read the Bible or went to Church.  Aren’t facts fun!}

In Praise of Christmas

“In Praise of Christmas” (Nevius, SF Chron)

“Even if it had nothing to do with organized religion, we need a holiday like Christmas.

We need a day, or a season, where people come right out and say peace on earth and goodwill toward men, even  if we know we live in world of strife and ethnic divides. Just saying that is a reminder of where we’d like to be and that we should try harder to get there.”

Hope you all had a. . .meaningful, peaceful Christmas and New Year


Bright Gift this Year:  Christmas by the Bay with my daughter

Traditional Christmas. . .Puritan Style


A perfect gift for your favorite Preservative (that is, Conservative) this holiday season.

Remind them of the True Story of Christmas in Early America.

They’re going to Love This!

The Puritan War on Christmas

I especially liked this part:

“The contemporary War on Christmas pales in comparison to the first — a war that was waged not by retailers but by Puritans who considered the destruction of Christmas necessary to the construction of their godly society.”

Read that a couple of times to let it sink in, like a real bad Christmas Carol.

Then this little gem:

“they contended that there was no Scriptural warrant for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Puritans argued (not incorrectly) that Christmas represented nothing more than a thin Christian veneer slapped on a pagan celebration. Believing in the holiday was superstitious at best, heretical at worst.”

Have a Happy Puritan Holiday!  (but I’d recommend the Pagan version)

Connecticut School Shooting

Here’s an idea:

Since we’re all sad and feel rather helpless to save our children from the madness of mad people with guns. . .

This holiday season:

Religious leaders could get up in their pulpits or on their stages and ask everyone with a gun (at home, or in their pocket in the pew) to go home, sit with their nice cold steel weapon, think of their own kids or the children who died, think long and hard about their need to feel protected and powerful, their “right” to kill who and when they want. . .and to ask themselves what “faith” means or “god” or “The Child in the Manger,” and come back next week to talk about it.

Then, these leaders can ask the godly gun-lovers in their midst to make a decision.  Each one is invited to bring their (unloaded) gun to church (synagogue, mosque, temple) and make it an offering of peace, of sanity, of “faith.”

And for the Christians: they can place their weapons right in the manger with the baby.  And then everyone together can say a prayer or think a peaceful thought for all the children who have been killed by these weapons. . .and all the innocents who will NOT be killed or wounded by the offerings.

The madness needs to stop.  The madness CAN stop!

We’ll now see Who the True Leaders Really Are. . .Who will Do the Right Thing and “stand their ground” with the NRA.

We’re waiting to see.  We’ve waited too long to see.

I urge you to visit the NRA Website and just see how the Religion of Guns is proclaimed.  Read how joyfully they report things like this, even in the Christmas Season:

“Sometime next week in Florida, somebody will become the state’s 1 millionth holder of a concealed weapons permit, solidifying the state’s No. 1 standing in the nation in that category.”