Christmas and Pagan Symbols

Nobody does Christmas decor like my Robin. Wow!
Certain denominations, sects, cults and individual practitioners related to the Christian religion have argued that the vast majority of Christian holiday celebrations are contaminated with pagan tradition, symbols, and practices.

Some will even point to specific scripture that they belive prohibits the use of some symbols commonly found in devout Christian homes during the holiday season.

Christmas Trees and wreaths
“Jeremiah 10:2-4 (New International Version, ©2010)

“This is what the LORD says:
Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.”

The mandate here, is not to learn the “ways of the nations”, followed by an example of the futility of one of the things those nations did as a ritual. The tree cutting, carving, and adornment may well have been referring to the creation of idols and their subsequent worship. Mainstream theologians do not believe this to be the pagan roots of the Christmas tree, but there ARE other examples showing how ancients brought evergreen trees into their homes to remind them of their crops that would be rising in the spring.

There are plenty of accounts regarding the druids and their worship of evergreen trees as well.

Lights and candles
Possibly stemming from celebrations of both the Persian sun god Mithra and Roman god Saturn, among others, the tradition of adorning homes inside and out with lights and candles arose with a simple desire for warmth and light during dark winter nights, and tributes to the various pagan gods that were believed to be responsible for keeping that big yellow orb floating in the sky.

Candles, of course, have long been a typical item in Wiccan rituals, and certainly have been used in the Catholic tradition for centuries on end. There are fringe groups in Christianity who believe that candles attract demons, and that their presence (as well as the presence of any religious symbol such as crucifixes, crosses, or even paintings of Jesus or the saints) will attract demons to your dwelling.

There are thousands of objects and symbols used across the wide scape of Christian and pseudo-Christian religious tradition, and the vast majority of them have some origin in pagan tradition and mysticism due to the efforts of various ruling powers over the last two-thousand years to more easily convert pagans to Christianity, or at least establish Christianity as the religion of the state.

The important thing to remember is that these traditions and symbols are not the true elements of Christmas, and not to be worshiped. They are time-honored symbols of human history and a common thread showing that all people have had some glimpse of the spiritual world, whether good or evil, and that our God and Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate, rule over all.

Adorn your house and yourself in honor of Him, regardless of ancient pagan source of the practice. It is your intent and focus and why you do it now that matters when you decorate a tree, not the intent and focus of those that have done it before you.

Merry Christmas, dear reader; may our King and Father bless you and yours as we celebrate His greatest gift to mankind.

The Infamous Michael Frazier Towing Incident

Yesterday I said my brother Michael is a genius. But back when he was 14 or 15, he wasn’t always displaying that potential.

Growing up in Ardis Heights on the outskirts of Greenville, Texas, my siblings and I had ample opportunity for adventure. When nothing exciting was being foisted upon us by the outside world, we were more than capable of creating our own entertainment.

On a hot summer day my older brother, Steve, and I were sitting in lawn chairs drinking iced tea and relaxing after finishing a few gruelling chores. Our younger brother, MIke, was busy fussing over the old Chevy pickup he’d just purchased to restore. The vehicle wasn’t in running condition, and had been towed from the previous owner’s back yard to our front driveway the weekend before by Mike and Dad. I think Mike was 14 or 15 years old at the time.

Dad was at work, and Steve and I were not offering to help Mike with whatever he was currently planning to do with his new project vehicle. We were too busy teasing him about how he would never get the thing back in running condition.

I was bored, and the conversation and teasing had stalled.

Then I heard Steve say, “Look what that crazy kid is doing!”

I had been contemplating the ice cubes in my glass of tea and looked up to see Mike driving Dad’s GMC pickup across the yard. He was looking at us and grinning as if to say, “I don’t need ya’lls stinkin’ help, I can do this all by myself!”

Behind the GMC, hopelessly attached with about twenty feet of chain, Mike’s junk Chevy followed, driver-less, front wheels wobbling back and forth as they traversed ruts and bumps in a lawn that was frequently rotated between uses as a garden and shade tree mechanic parking lot.

Seeing he had captured our attention, Mike apparently forgot about the vehicle he was towing and decided to give us a show by punching the accelerator on the GMC.

To fully understand what happened next you should know a few things about my Dad’s 1966 GMC pickup truck. This machine had a V6. Not the sort of teensy wimpy V6 you find in cars these days. This was a dump truck engine. The cylinders in it were bigger than what you would find in the classic GM 350 cubic inch V8. It had so much torque I had personally used it to destroy the transmissions of half the FFA club members’ pickups at school in illegal parking lot pulling contests. With a Spicer 44 rear end and a granny gear transmission, that truck could do things that the average farm tractor couldn’t. In third gear at 50 miles per hour on smooth pavement you could punch the gas to it and the rear tires would break lose and spin.

That’s how much torque that monster V6 had. As I said, it was literally an engine designed and typically deployed in Chevrolet dump trucks. It got 8 miles to the gallon on the highway, going downhill with a tail wind.

So, Mike punched the accelerator. Sod flew from the back tires as the mud grips tore chunks of earth up and created a rooster tail of blackland clay, grass, and night crawlers that splattered across the grill and wind-shield of the trailing Chevy. All the while Mike was looking at us with that stupid grin on his face, clearly assuming that our slack jaws and stunned expressions were a result of awe that he could push the accelerator all the way to the floor.

As the two vehicles lurched forward and gained momentum, Steve and I could do nothing but watch like spectators at a morbid accident, unable to tear our gaze away from the inevitable disaster that was about to unfold.

In the midst of the increasing velocity Mike suddenly remembered his tethered vehicle.

He panicked and hit the brakes.

The glory of the resulting crash has never been equalled inside the chain link perimeter of our yard. The GMC ground to a halt, then lurched forward as the Chevy closed the gap and smashed into it from behind, like a giant rusty red foot kicking it’s ass.

Mike few forward into the steering wheel, then bounced back, his head flopping like a shot quail’s.

Steve and I were momentarily concerned, but when we saw Mike exit the vehicle and realised he was unhurt the hilarity of the situation suddenly struck us, and we both disintegrated into two heaps of quivering laughter.

Mike was unable to see the humor, and fuelled with a combination of embarrassment, fear over what our Dad would do upon seeing the damage, and shock at our levity, he flew into an instant rage. He snatched a tire iron out of the GMC and strode toward us with a murderous expression on his face, cocking his arm with tire iron in hand over his head as he approached, ready to bring it crashing down upon our helpless bodies.

We tried to flee on hands and knees, still laughing too hard to catch our breath or even stand, as we gasped out threats amid our guffaws about what we would do if he actually hit us.

We managed to crawl just far enough to create the space needed for Mike to reconsider whether he wanted to go to prison for the dispatch of his siblings, and he finally dropped the tire iron and spun around, stomping back to the wreckage to see how much of the vehicles and his pride he could salvage.

P.S. Stephen has reminded me that the reaction of our father to this incident later that evening involved the ejection of his partial plate dentures, and infrequent but entertaining event that occurred when he was yelling sometimes, especially after he had gritted his teeth so hard in anger or frustration that he bent the metal dentures out of shape, causing them to lose their retaining capacity. But those are some other stories.

Mike Frazier is a Genius

When it comes to machinery, especially if said machinery involves any sort of internal combustion engine, my kid brother reigns supreme.

I have to wonder if the execs at Aramark have any idea how many hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s probably saved them over the years in preventative maintenance and proper problem diagnosis and repairs for the fleets he manages on top of the people he supervises.

I know his advice and help has saved me a lot of trouble and money with my vehicles and outdoor power equipment of various types.

Case in point: Yesterday I was at my wit’s end with my Snapper 28″ riding mower. For two years I’ve struggled with its annoying habit of shutting itself down randomly when I engaged the blade, shifted speed settings (it doesn’t have gears, per say), or for no apparent reason at all.

I called Michael and told him I was on the verge of dumping the garden tractor upside down in DFW Small Engine’s front lot with a nasty note, then going out and buying a new John Deere.

Mike asked me three questions, then gave me a suggested possible root cause and fix. Fifteen minutes later, having implemented his fix that turned out to be dead-on, as usual, I was mowing without mechanical interuption for the first time in two years.

I’d had this thing to the mower shop where they claim they’d fixed the problem but hadn’t. I had changed the spark plug, air filter, fuel filter, and completely disassembled and rebuilt the carburettor all to no avail.

I’d spent hours upon hours fiddling with wires, grounds, and air-fuel mix adjustments. I’d tried fuel additives and adjusting the gas cap venting. Nothing worked.

Three questions, fifteen minutes, and my brother had fixed a problem over the phone that a trained Snapper repair specialist couldn’t fix.

And he’s not even a “small engine” wrench twister. He specializes in big multi-cylinder diesels, trucks, and heavy equipment with a past sideline in drag racing. He has an innate troubleshooting ability that I haven’t seen in any other mechanic.

Mike saved that Snapper riding mower’s life last night, because before calling him I was one tequila shot shy of blasting holes in it with rifled slugs from my m500 12 gauge. I’m sure local law enforcement would have been un-approving of such activity, so it’s fortunate I called Mike before sating my appetite for revenge against the machine.

I just wish I’d called him about it two years ago.

Ouch

Today when Robin called the surgeon’s office and described the pain in her leg and how the medication wasn’t even taking the edge off I was sent scrambling home from work to get her down town for an ultrasound. Fortunately she had no blood clots, but in order for the vascular technical staff to do the ultrasound her cast had to be removed.

Then it was back to the surgeon’s office suite so his staff could build a new full cast. I was impressed with how far casting technology has come since my foot was run over at age twelve (come to think of it, that’s a funny story I should write about sometime!).

What used to be cloth soaked in plaster that had to set up for at least half an hour is now some magic rolls of mesh with a water activated plastic resin that sets in around five minutes. The tech dropped the full rolls into a bucket of water and then proceeded to wrap Robin’s leg with it like an Ace bandage.

Ankle on 12/21/09Once the many layers of casting material had set up, he cut a seam all the way down one side and then wrapped the cast in an actual Ace bandage so it could expand and contract with any swelling that might occur. Again, something they evidently hadn’t thought of back when I was twelve.

Between the unwrapping and the tech’s brief absence as he went down the hall to fetch his cast making paraphenalia I managed to get a picture of Robin’s ankle with my Motorola Droid’s handy built-in 5 mega-pixel camera. I bet you’re thinking, “No wonder she needs pain meds!”