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Friday, December 05, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS, YOU JERK

I once despised Bill O’Reilly. It was exhausting. Nowadays repetition has reduced Bill (in my mind at least) to a boring Muzak for imbeciles. As an example, there was his November 18th program where he hosted "Faux News” "anchor” John Gibson in their joint return to the ancient happy ratings hunting grounds of his “The War On Christmas”. First O’Reilly read a list of those store chains he claims are no longer telling their customers, “Merry Christmas”, including "Toys R Us", but only because they are, “…simply not going to answer our questions, so we assume that means they’re not using “Merry Christmas” – as opposed to "Toys are Us" not being willing to engage in any of Bill’s reindeer games. Mr. Gibson parroted O'Reilly, “We don’t call it the Christmas break. It’s the winter break, as if people worship winter.” Sigh. Okay, once more into the breach, dear friends.

First, I am sorry to inform Mr. Gibson, but the facts are that first we celebrated winter, and later Christmas was grafted on. Passing over (pun intended) the pagan celebrations of Saturnalia, Juvenalia and the birth of Mithra, because all three of those gods predate Jesus by hundreds if not thousands of years, it must be noted that the birth day of all three of those gods was celebrated on December 25th., long before any angels had been harkened to Bethlehem. And besides, for the first 300 years after the crucifixion, the birth of Christ was not celebrated at all. The Christian writer Origen of Alexandria pointed out that only sinners like Herod and the Pharaohs of Egypt celebrated their birthdays. And Arnobius the Elder of Sicca, argued around 300 A.D., that it was foolish to even think of any god, let alone "The God", as having a “birth” day at all. After all, the implication of birth, is death.But are Bill et al discussing a war on the birth of Christ or war on the birth of Christmas? Ah, there’s the rub. According to some, such as the De Pasch Comutus, c. 243 A.D., Christ was born on the 19th or 20th of April, or perhaps as early as March 28th or as late as September 29 (Rosh Hashannah?) sometime about 5 B.C. The interpolations of New Testament passages supporting all of these dates is supported by Luke, Chapter two verse eight: “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night”. No shepherd in their right mind is going to be sleeping outside in December, not even in Palestine where it is common for the nighttime December temperatures to fall below freezing.On the other hand we actually know the day and year that the Christ’s Mass was first celebrated: January 6, 354 A.D. This date was not the birth date but the circumcision date of Jesus, relabeled as either the Epiphany or the “Adoration of the Magi”, to avoid reminding Christians that Jesus started out life as a nice Jewish boy. (In the Catholic calendar the circumcision is now assumed to have been on New Year’s Day.) Any way, you back up 12 days from the circumcision, as is Jewish custom, to give any newborn ample opportunity to die after the birth, and you arrive at December 25th, God's birthday. Merry Christmas, Bill, you self centered popinjay.Now, given Mr. Gibson’s level of alleged ignorance, perhaps we should start his education with the late December Norse celebration of Yule, or the mid-winter games celebrating the birth of the god Oden, or the hanging of Holy to celebrate the birth of the god Saturn, or the gift giving to children that celebrated the midwinter birth of the god Jove. Or maybe we should celebrate a Pilgrim Christmas, when to repeat the phrase Mr. Gibson professes to love so much would have earned him an arrest and a fine of 5 shillings, or about a weeks’ earnings. Now that was a real war against Christmas, Bill.

Our Pilgrim forefathers considered Christmas a display of “popish” extravagance inspired by Satan, and not without some justification. Until the 19th century Christmas was usually celebrated by drunken riots. The city council of New York finally voted to pay for a special uniformed Christmas day police force after a particularly deadly Christmas evening riot in 1828. But that didn’t stop a repeat in 1851 when the New York Tribune noted the “…musketry and firecrackers, the bacchanal songs and noisy revels, which for two hours after midnight made sleep not a thing to be dreamed of.”

And, if you really needed any more of an excuse to riot on Christmas day there was always religion. In 1853, on Christmas day, a largely Irish Catholic police force for Cincinnati did battle with a largely German (Protestant) mob that had started out marching to celebrate the purity of the Protestant view of Christmas over the Catholic view of Christmas. So, by all means, Bill and John, let us rabble rouse another riot between religions. It ought to be great for your ratings. Or maybe you ratings- tramps already knew that little piece of American religous history and were counting on it, the way a pyromanic counts on gasoline.You see, this is why I no longer take Bill O’Reilly seriously. Either he is an idiot, which make his idiotic pontifications infuriating because they are so widely spread, or he is well educated enough to know his pontifications are idiotic, which makes him all the more infuriating because his hypocrisy is so widely repeated as faith. It doesn’t matter which line of logic you follow about Bill O’Reilly, because they both lead nowhere. It is important to remember that Bill O’Reilly is just the latest in an endless line of rabble rousers selling nothing more substantial than their own egos. When a statue of a great man or woman erodes it at least leaves behind pebbles, which become soil which can support new life. When Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson erode (and they will) they leave behind nothing that can support life. They are both of them, intellectually, morally and figuratively, dead ends

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