Christmas Tradition

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Posted by w0ep on November 30, 2017 at 6:23 am

[Yesterday: 3.5 miles]

So we are coming up to Christmas again and I’m back in the traditional Facebook argument with my cousin about the supposed pagan meanings of Christmas.

I probably shouldn’t get into it again with him.  But it does help me think through some things.  This year I’m thinking about information and conscience.

So, he tells me that putting up a Christmas tree is a reference to an ancient pagan worship practice.  I assume he is right that pagans did this, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is, by imparting to me that information he removes my ignorance and my innocence.  The rightness or wrongness of the information doesn’t matter, but my reception of it does.  (I should say, the right/wrong of the information doesn’t change the shift of burden from him to me.)

Our society is going through a period of “outing” famous men for being sexually crass.  I’m not going to comment on that, but just say that your favorite entertainer, artist, commentator is outed.  It can change your attitude about their work and the enjoyment you had before is not the same now.  A case in point:  Bill Cosby.  What was seen as a wholesome TV show is forever tainted because now everyone knows that Bill Cosby did some bad stuff.

Is it better to know or not to know?

I’ve been mostly a not-know guy and I’ll probably continue in that vein.  My wife gives me a bit of a hard time about this, for keeping my head in the sand. I suspect I do it for my own self preservation and I’ve missed the opportunity to help people who needed help.

Here’s my defense:  by assuming that someone is innocent it helps me to have an innocent attitude toward them.  Neither they nor I are improved by my knowing their intimate faults, unless there is some assistance I should be giving.

On the other hand, having an untruthful conception about someone is counter-factual, living in denial, not where I should want to be.

It’s an interesting question.

And, back to the Christmas thing, the impartation of information can have this moral dimension:  step on a crack, break your mother’s back.  Ok, if I internalize that information it changes the way I walk.  I’m going to step on all of the cracks to fight empty superstition / I’m going to not step on a crack because I love my mother / I’m going to ignore that stupid saying and step wherever my foot goes.  It’s a weight of information (hopefully not too heavy in the “step on a crack” case) that is transferred from one person to another.  So now I think about Christmas trees in a different way. I don’t think it has improved my life to know this.

Is ignorance/innocence something to be valued?


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  • On November 30, 2017 at 7:43 am Jonathan Howard said

    So the tree was co-opted by mainstream religion. Big deal. It’s not as though people are worshipping the darned thing.

    Personally, I like Woody Allen movies. And he’s icky.

  • On December 1, 2017 at 6:36 am Sue said

    A couple of things…

    One, I feel sorry for our cousin who grasps at Old Testament straws to make a statement (or is he trying to evangelize?). He’s in an untenable position sitting the fence between OT Judaism and NT Christianity. You referenced Peter replying to the woman on the thread, but I suppose it flew right past. Maybe more study will be done with the result of more understanding.

    Two, one of the burdens of being the church treasurer is the knowledge of who gives what. I don’t mind the job, but dislike my internal reaction when someone who doesn’t give anything toward the upkeep of the place has a complaint about how church funds are being spent. I have to stop and remind myself I don’t know what they’re doing with their money and it’s none of my business. Sometimes I vent to Mike a bit – but try not to because, being a flawed human being like me, it can harm his innocent perception of the person involved. (I’m not referring to the truly poor, who, in my experience, typically give beyond their limited means.)

  • On December 1, 2017 at 8:33 am w0ep said

    I can’t tell if he is really digging into this and interested or if he just is a troll who likes to be seen as having special knowledge… maybe a bit of both. ( It reminds me of highschool: “Oh, you like the 1812 Overture? Did you know that Tchaikovsky was gay?”)

    It’s a thing I can fall into myself so I try not to be too judgmental.

  • On December 1, 2017 at 8:42 am w0ep said

    Woody Allen: I don’t know his movies very well but I remember in Sleeper the Orgazmatron where he steps into this booth with some chick and there’s a puff of smoke (or some equivalent) and they jump out having experienced a terrific sexual experience.

    I think he encapsulated the anonymity and shallowness of the sexual revolution very well.

    He just didn’t take it the next step of someone jumping into the booth with their goldfish or an octopus or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (or their girlfriend’s adopted daughter) (I may be destroying your innocence here… sorry about that)

  • On December 1, 2017 at 8:59 pm Jonathan Howard said

    The only Sleeper reference I remember is excavating a buried VW Bug and it started immediately. The movies I like of his are those with Mia Farrow or Alec Baldwin. And a few others. They are brilliant. Magical.

    About church treasurer, I have a similar (but not same) situation in that I know the compensation of 270,000 people, including those I work with. Some are overpaid, some underpaid (in my opinion), but I get rattled when I see some being taken for granted and working dutifully and efficiently for less than hotshots who schmooze and are faking it. That instances are rare but they exist.

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