I just ran across this interesting article.
The author includes a statement that resonates with me, but I have not seen elsewhere: “The declining role of institutional religion has, I think, led to a serious loss of community, as the religious participant has given way to the ever more atomized consumer.”
Institutional religions all seem to have their negative characteristics, but I think it is too easy for us to under-appreciate the underlying spiritual and cultural benefits. I think I will purchase Neil Macgregor’s book and see what other insights he has.
Our family knows about mourning a loss. We lost a daughter-in-law, a cousin, and a mother in just the past few weeks. We appreciate all the expressions of sympathy and comfort.
I suppose we are especially sensitive to these situations right now, but I just read a blog that really hit home. Check it out at:
I recently finished reading “The Birth of Christianity” by John Dominic Crossan. I am kind of proud of myself for reading all the way through this book, because it is very academic and detailed in its approach. But it was worth the effort.
Crossan is one of today’s leading scholars regarding the historical Jesus. His interdisciplinary approach includes anthropology, history and archaeology to develop an understanding of earliest Christianity in the decades following the death of Jesus but before the first gospel writings. His findings are often at odds with major teachings of the Church today, but there is much to be learned in this book whether or not one agrees with all of Crossan’s conclusions.
I won’t go into details here. But one of the assertions that I found most interesting is that the earliest followers of Christ (about 30 AD to 60 AD) were focused primarily on the sayings of Jesus (the oral “Sayings Tradition”) and the shared meal tradition (love feast/ communion/ eucharist). Their creed was to live as Jesus had instructed his followers. The Christian focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection did not seem to come until later, especially as emphasized in the writings of Paul.
This book isn’t for everyone. It will challenge your thinking, and even your beliefs. It will drive you to your dictionary to look up some of those words used only in academia. It is 600 pages long. But it is worth the effort.
This is indeed a special time of year. It is a time to celebrate hope and new beginnings. Today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day and longest night of the whole year. This occasion has been celebrated by people around the world from the most ancient times because for the next 6 months the light will triumph over the darkness throughout the northern hemisphere.
In modern times Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, which falls on December 25. However, it’s believed that this date was chosen to offset pagan celebrations such as the Scandinavian solstice Feast of Juul (Yule). Whatever Jesus’ true birth date might be, this does seem like a particularly appropriate time to celebrate His light coming into our world.
So I choose this day to send my Holiday greetings to all family and friends. Rejoice in the light of the sun, the Light of Jesus, and the new opportunities that 2015 will bring.