Kala Xpistouyevva, Kali Xpovia

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Updates on Kindism.org will be suspended over the holidays to give everyone a chance to spend time with their families (or hide from them, depending on the situation). Regardless of how you choose to celebrate (or ignore) the holidays, I wish you all love, joy, peace and light! Regular posting will resume in the New Year! Appropriate Seasonal Greetings to All! xo Kat

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483627_10152317971035487_1625278193_nI’ve shared my struggles with Christmas in the past, and this year is no different. Yes, we are going to have a tree (without an angel on top), we will call the holiday Christmas (because it is easier), and as I pointed out before

Christmas is a wonderful mid-winter festival with a focus on family and togetherness. Bringing fresh greenery inside reminds us that the winter will end (eventually), and the lights on the tree twinkle in the growing dark of late afternoon. Hot chocolate, peppermint, and ginger cookies are tasty. What isn’t to like about a holiday that promotes such things?

This year, while our celebrations will be decidedly influenced by Western European traditions and (to some extent) American consumerist excess, I am also hoping to introduce some new ideas and traditions into the mix so that we can finally have a seasonal holiday tradition that reflects who we are, and where we are on our journeys. I hope to depart from the largely uneaten holiday meal, massive pile of gifts, and general angst that permeates the house and replace it with something lighter and more enjoyable for everyone.

With this (perhaps overly ambitious goal) in mind I got a copy of The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards so that we could have seasonal stories on hand other than a battered copy of The Cajun Night Before Christmas, and an equally well loved DVD of The Muppet Christmas Carol.

In the forward of The Return of the Light, Edwards talks about the global idea of light returning after the darkest days of winter. She focuses on the Solstice and goes on to discuss the Roman holidays of Brumalia, Saturnalia and Opalia, and how Christian (Catholic) tradition has co-opted various pagan rituals through out the holiday season. Although Sol invictus was given an over-view in the forward, I was rather disappointed that the story was not told in full later in the book. Mithra is also given a passing mention.

The stories were still a little advanced for my children, but I’m sure in the coming years they will take more interest. We incorporated some of the Rites and Games — trimming the dead wood (raking leaves counts), decking the halls (collaborating as a family and building a little seasonal scene on our Waldorf-inspired nature table), baking and eating treats (we each picked a favorite cookie recipe). I pulled out our collection of candles, picked up some of Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate, and we played board games.

I am trying to make it feel gemütlich, centered around family and loved ones, with a healthy dose of fresh air to exhaust the little ones for bedtime.

We have been bundling up in layers (waldorf children are like onions in this regard), and going for walks in the woods. Crunching through leaves, squishing through mud and splashing in the few puddles we come across. Some days we get extra adventurous and ride our bikes along the narrow trails, dodging blackberry bushes, and carefully traversing the narrow bridges.

With the early dark of evening settling in, early warm meals have graced our table: homemade pizza, potato leek soup, hearty bread, spaghetti bologense, chili. The house has smelled of baking: ginger bread, peppermint bark cookies, sugar cookies to decorate.

I’m not going to worry about the story of Baby Jesus, my oldest knows Santa is “a story” and sometimes “real people dress up like Santa — like at [the school’s Fall Festival] where people dress silly.” Baby Jesus is a story too. So is Sol Invictus, so is Mithra. In the end, Light will triumph over Darkness, and the sun will rise again. We will have bacon, cinnamon rolls, coffee (hot chocolate for the children), and open the presents under the tree. Eventually we’ll go for a post-present walk, and come back and start on a mostly-made-in-advance meal that just needs to be heated up to be enjoyed.

Santa and Baby Jesus have nothing to do with it. Credit where credit is due, Mommy is simply “awesome” (that’s Kid1’s new favorite adjective — I’m ok with being awesome).

I wish you all love, joy, peace, and light!

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Commentary on Ms. Eddy’s “Christ and Christmas”

While I had heard about Ms. Eddy’s Christ and Christmas poem growing up, I didn’t read it until just recently, when I came across MJSmith’s analyses of it on The Ark of Truth Mother’s Hood. I am more acquainted with Ms. Eddy’s hymn/poem Christmas Morn as it regularly made an appearance at Christmas Hymn Sings, along with the generically Christian  Joy to the World.

MJSmith makes some interesting observations and draws some interesting conclusions from the poem and illustrations, so I decided to find a copy and see for myself. Christ and Christmas is not in our personal collection, but Google Books and Archive.org have copies available online.

I was never much for poetry analysis (my high school English teachers will agree), and I’m sure if I attempted to analyzing Christ and Christmas it would devolve into a study in esoteric minutia and I would likely come to all the wrong conclusions.

I will leave the musings and analysis to MJSmith and the Discover of New Christian Science, Rolf Witzsche. Below is the full text of the poem, a YouTube video of Wizsche’s “New Christian Science: Christ & Christmas,” and links to MJSmith’s analyses.
A quick note: There is much criticism of Christian Scientists by Christian Scientists about the “right” and “wrong” ways to practice, as well as selective/intentional ignorance about certain aspects of the religion. I feel that these things which may be preceived as controversial should be made more broadly available so that people can judge for themselves — and I’m sure it will make for interesting conversation around the dinner table.

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An Atheopagan Life, by Mark Green: “Observances Around the Year: November/December”

Beautiful ways to celebrate the holidays.

Humanistic Paganism

An Atheopagan Life is a monthly column about living an atheist, nature-honoring life.


November and December certainly don’t lack for observances and holiday celebrations. In the temperate zone of the planet, pretty much every culture has had some way of celebrating the winter solstice, and the accumulation of many of those traditions lives with us today in the form of Christmas, Chanukah, the Pagan Yule, newer traditions such as Kwanzaa and even Festivus.

For Atheopagans, navigating this season in a manner free of theistic and supernatural overtones can be a bit of a challenge. We’re besieged with well-intentioned messages from relatives and friends rooted in their credulous religious beliefs. Exasperating as it can sometimes be, the main thing is to remember that those expressions are meant kindly and with love, by and large, not to try to shove religious credulity down our throats.

Meanwhile, our own opportunities for observances are…

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Happy Thanksgiving

via facebook

via facebook — this is a little too close to home right now.

As a good Christian Scientist for many, many years, I did my part and abstained from alcohol. While I enjoy cooking with wine, I still don’t drink, and my over all knowledge of alcoholic beverages is fairly limited. I’m sure there are other former-CS out there with a similar problem. Thankfully, this handy-dandy chart of Wine, Beer & Booze pairings popped up in my facebook feed just in time for Thanksgiving.

Drive carefully this holiday season!

 

Zombies, Children & Religion: gruesome and very frightening affairs

We recently received the following e-mail from Kid1’s teacher:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: I am suggesting that you avoid downtown this Saturday. The now annual Zombie Walk Contest and Race is happening throughout most of the day and into the night. It is a gruesome and very frightening affair for young children. I do not want these awful images living in your children, or coming into the classroom.

Young children trust that the world is true. They take fairy tales to heart in a real way recognizing archetypal truths. A child can be told that something is pretend, then parrot that back to the adult. The truth for them is more that everything they encounter is real and they are in some way part of the encountered things or events.

Please shield your children from this zombie nonsense while they are so young, receptive and imitative.

The last sentence of the e-mail really stood out to me:

Please shield your children from this zombie nonsense while they are so young, receptive and imitative.

You could easily replace zombie with any number of things, as it is not just fairy tales that children take to heart in very real ways. They are quite observant little creatures and you should be mindful of the behavior you are modeling as well as what you say.

The idea of shielding children is not new, they’ve popped up time and time again in parenting books, and in Science and Health, Ms. Eddy reminds us that “children should be allowed to remain children in knowledge (Science & Health, p. 140). If Ms. Eddy was writing the e-mail today, she would likely replace zombie with the Christian Science Trinity of Doom — sin, disease and death — because really, isn’t that what Halloween is all about?*

I am not going to expose my children to the Christian (or Christian Science) notion of sin. The idea that without God they are nothing is harmful, the idea they are born sinners is ridiculous, the complex dogma that has grown around the mythology of a 2000 year old Jewish carpenter who may or may not have existed, and that has been translated and reinterpreted numerous times is not something I plan to expose my children to until they are old enough to realize it is a story, just like the stories of Zeus and Hera in Greek mythology, or the numerous other stories explaining creation.

Disease is a tricky one, there is a line between exposing children to things they are not ready for, and acknowledging that they are not feeling well. I am not going to tell my children about the Ebola outbreak in Africa (that would worry them unnecessarily), but I will comfort them when they are congested and can’t sleep well at night. When the children have questions, I will do my best to answer them in an age-appropriate way: Kid1 saw a photo of some men in hazmat suits cleaning up after some ebola victims and asked what was going on. My husband explained the men were wearing “special suits, like firemen wear” and they were “helping people” — both of these things were true, and Kid1 was satisfied with the answer. I’m sure my answers will change as they grow older, by then I hope to have gained more insight into how to answer difficult questions.

Ms. Eddy goes out of her way to emphasize the unreality of death. There are nearly 100 references to death in Science and Health, and she includes a definition of it in the Glossary. On p. 531, she defines death, as

An illusion, for there is no death; the unreal and untrue; the opposite of God, or Life.

Ms. Eddy goes on to rail about matter, unreality and the flesh, and I lose interest. Ms. Eddy and I live in two very different worlds: Ms. Eddy has returned to the universe, and I am still here. The children have asked a few questions about death, and I have tried to be honest with them. No, [the deceased] is not coming back. We will only see them again in photographs (and possibly on video), we will always have our memories of them, and we can honor their memories by living a full life.

When they are a little older, I will share with them the piece from NPR’s All things Considered: Planning Ahead Can Make a Difference in the End that talks about why you want a physicist to speak at your funeral. I will also share with them the piece by Rev. Michael Dowd, Death: Sacred, Necessary, Real, which beautifully touches on the theme of the positive role of death in the Universe without being creepy.

Young children trust that the world is true.

The children have already been exposed to “zommies” — they’ve watched my husband play Minecraft, but those are very different than zombies walking down Main Street, SmallTown USA. They know the zommies in Minecraft aren’t real, that would be silly, the world is not made of pixelated bricks!

image via http://www.planetminecraft.com/project/zombie-arena-1244230/

This zombie is OBVIOUSLY NOT going to be walking down the street any time soon.  image via http://www.planetminecraft.com/project/zombie-arena-1244230/

Why do they know these things? Mommy and Daddy told them so, and they’ve seen for themselves — they don’t look like Minecraft characters. There is the grey zone, with things like Santa Claus, and angels — I’m still sorting out how to deal with those, but I feel quite strongly that I will not pile upon my children the burden of nonsense that sin, disease, and death are somehow their fault. I will not fill their nightmares with images of zombies, the false idea that sin brings sickness, or the confusing mental gymnastics required to pretend to comprehend unreality of matter.

 

* I’m being sarcastic there. I don’t have any problems with Halloween, but I do feel it can be a Bit Too Much for small children so we stick with very low-key celebrations.

A Parable

I came across this in a collection of essays entitled The Truth about Jesus : Is He a Myth? compiled by M. M. Mangasarian, I found it again, online at www.bibliotecapleyades.net.

 I am reminded of the opening of Lord of the Rings (the movie): much that once was is now lost, for none now live who remember it. No one left alive today met Apollo, or Jesus, or Mary Baker Eddy. What will we remember of Ms. Eddy in 2500 years, or even another 20?


I am today twenty-five hundred years old. I have been dead for nearly as many years. My place of birth was Athens; my grave was not far from those of Xenophon and Plato, within view of the white glory of Athens and the shimmering waters of the Aegean sea.

After sleeping in my grave for many centuries I awoke suddenly – I cannot tell how nor why – and was transported by a force beyond my control to this new day and this new city. I arrived here at daybreak, when the sky was still dull and drowsy. As I approached the city I heard bells ringing, and a little later I found the streets astir with throngs of well dressed people in family groups wending their way hither and thither. Evidently they were not going to work, for they were accompanied by their children in their best clothes, and a pleasant expression was upon their faces.

“This must be a day of festival and worship, devoted to one of their Gods,” I murmured to myself Looking about me I saw a gentleman in a neat black dress, smiling, and his hand extended to me with great cordiality. He must have realized I was a stranger and wished to tender his hospitality to me. I accepted it gratefully. I clasped his hand. He pressed  mine. We gazed for a moment into each other’s eyes.

He understood my bewilderment amid my novel surroundings, and offered to enlighten me. He explained to me the ringing of the bells and meaning of the holiday crowds moving in the streets. Continue reading