Behold Who Was Born on December 25th



Lots of interesting people, famous and infamous, were born on December 25 (Clara Barton, Anwar Sadat, Rod Serling!)

Neil deGrasse Tyson stirred up the, um, flock this year with this tweet at Christmas:

On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world.  Happy Birthday Isaac Newton, born Dec 25, 1642

On a probably unrelated issue I’ve been considering this season. . .

What would Religion, and particularly the Christian Religion, have looked like IF God/the Divine/Heaven/the Sacred/the Spiritual was DOWN instead of UP?  Think about it.  What if God was DOWN, in or below the Earth, not UP in the sky beyond the clouds?  Would Religion then be the Ultimate Environmental Organization?  I wonder what Newton would say. . .or other famous thinkers born on December 25.

I’ve just been thinking a little about that.

NOW Who’s Anti-Christmas?

Bad, Bad, Children!

Bad, Bad, Children!

People who read and pay attention already know this, but. . .Bill-O, Listen Up!

Who were the original Anti-Christmas, War-on-Christmas, Scrooge People?

Christians!  Puritans actually (the “best kind” of Christian, some would say).  And who were the first seekers of “religious freedom” in America?

Yes, that’s right.  Puritans. . .and they HATED Christmas.

Read When Christmas Carols were Banned

History (and knowledge, and thinking) is such a party-squasher, isn’t it?

Fa la la. . .Ha, ha, ha. . .ho ho ho.

Yes, Children, there Really IS a War on Christmas!

This sickens. . .but needs to be seen, I guess

This sickens. . .but needs to be seen, I guess

I read that the Attorney General of New York is trying to get stores like KMart, Walmart and Amazon to stop selling fake guns that look real.  If you think this is overreacting, take a look at these two websites (you really should):  Toy Arsenal and More Toy Guns.  I particularly like the Swat team and Sniper rifles, but also the U.S. Army Carbine for only $28.95.  Gee, I’d like to see a whole army of children with those!  And what better time than Christmas!

I can still remember how thrilled I was when my dad gave me a bb gun for Christmas.  I was probably 8 or 9.  I’ll bet I went right out and gunned down a happy robin singing loud and joyful on Christmas Day.  It was only a year or two later that I shot a blackbird through the head and saw it hang upside down on a branch.  That was the last time I shot anything with that gun.

This is all these “toys” do.  They kill or wound things, living things, people.  Or, pretend to.  Think about that.  Pretending to kill someone.  Nice thing to teach children isn’t it?  Sure, target practice was fun.  But it’s just too hard for children not to sooner or later blast something or point the gun at someone. . .like a police officer.

Goodbye child.  Goodbye any real parenting.

I’m waiting for someone to claim it’s their Second Amendment Right for their child to own as many Toy Guns as they want.  Waaaaaahh.

One childlike question:  How many more kids will die “playing with guns” real or fake?

One grownup question:  Raising children to shoot things gives us what kind of adults?

Teaching violence has to be the Real War on Christmas since it’s the Real War on Our Children too.

New Seasons and New Reasons


My old cabin on the island

“Nature looks ahead, and makes ready for the new season in the midst of the old. . .  The present season is always the mother of the next.”

~John Burroughs, Ways of Nature

The wonderful refreshing rains have returned to our thirsty land.  The pasturelands are greening; the streams are flowing and lakes are filling.  Snow is falling in the mountains that await the February cabin trip by the icy rivers.


Snowshoe paradise

I am always grateful for the change of seasons, when the months of contrasts arrive in their annual visit colorfully clothed in dark and light, cold and warm, silence and song, death and life.

When the first sky-waterfalls begin, the sound holds my attention, even when it’s mostly the water pouring down the spouts at night.  There’s a calming and a reassuring sense that the birds, the coyotes, the insects and the land are breathing relief at the taste of liquid life.



My Christmas birthday has changed over the years.  More accurately, it changes every year.  Last year Carol and I surprised our friends Todd and Judy in the City, arriving at their annual morning brunch to a houseful of hugs and good cheer.

Christmas kisses

Christmas kisses

Leaving the festivities we got stuck in terrible touristy traffic.  I was missing my treeclimb, so we got out of the holiday headache and walked Golden Gate Park for a bit where I found a short olive to “climb.”


A few days later I was able to go just a few feet higher in an oak in a local state park.


This year we’ll be in the coastal hills for “the day,” among the redwoods and fir.  Between now and then I’ll find a “climber” to be my Christmas Tree.

I’m climbing around some new reasons to enjoy the season this year.  The family seems to be smiling more; good people are connecting; my classes are really very fun to teach; I’m re-reading some good books (Steinbeck, Thomas Paine, Burroughs) and many more birds and species are gathering in the fields and ponds.

Home for the holidays

Home for the holidays

I hope this season of natural beauty gives you many presents.  One gift is good enough.  Life itself.

*This little reflection was just published on Patheos:  Climbing (not cutting) a Christmas Tree


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!}