November 29, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 12.25.10

Merry Christmas! It is Christmas Day everywhere that Internet Monk is read. Even in Ireland, where every day is Christmas for Martha. Even in Maine, where Joanie D and Ted keep Moxie in business by drinking it by the case. And even in Nebraska, where Santa has agreed to put Laree Lindburg back on the “nice” list. She is getting some of those little doohickies you put into the ends of ears of corn so you don’t get butter all over your hands. Me? The elves have been working overtime to get me an extra helping of Saturday Ramblings.

It is even Christmas in China these days. And while we continue to complain here in the West about the commercialization of the season, it is exactly this commercial aspect of Christmas that is allowing missionaries and others to explain the real meaning of the holiday. An interesting turn of events, don’t you think?

Christmas is not a joyful time for many Middle East Christians. Those in Iraq, for instance, face increased threats of violence when they meet for public worship. In Saudi Arabia, the practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden. Christmas trees are not sold in most Middle East nations, as Christmas is not promoted, even by Christians. It is not one world.

And let’s put an end to talking about those who get upset at clerks who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” with this from Father Martin, who says we have lost the Christmas cultural war. And this from Michael Gerson defending both Santa Claus and Jesus’ birth.

Pope Benedict XVI says that God delivers us, but often in surprising ways. Sister Joan Chittister says we need to know what we are waiting for. And N.T. Wright speaks of the Word made flesh, and how this Word’s words can change us.

When Jesus shows up, he changes things. That is what Father Samaan in Cairo, Egypt says, and he knows of what he speaks. Father Samaan’s congregation is trash—literally. He ministers to those who collect the trash in Egypt, and comb through it for their living. Jesus lives among these people—and he is changing their lives. When Jesus shows up, he changes things.

Looking for a place to await the arrival of aliens in 2012? There is a village in France where pilgrims are gathering to wait until that sacred day, December 21, 2012 when our world will end. It seems that this spot in France is appealing to the aliens who will be arrived on Winter Solstice in two years’ time. Best brush up on your French.

We have one celebrity birthday to celebrate this week: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There are some interesting people who share the same birthday with Jesus, including Humphrey Bogart; Cab Calloway; Anwar Sadat; Jimmy Buffett; Barbara Mandrell; Annie Lennox; and Karl Rove.

Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about? Linus knows. It doesn’t get any better than this. Merry Christmas from your friends here at the iMonastery.


  1. Hey, it’s only 11PM Dec. 24 here in SoCal so it ain’t quite Christmas yet. Still got gifts to wrap and then a long winter’s nap.

    Merry Christmas to all at iMonk!

  2. Just now 10:08 in Alaska where we’ll start our 3rd service in just under an hour. But it will be Christmas day when we end… Christ is born. Amen.

  3. VolAlongTheWatchTower says

    God Bless you all, Merry Christmas! (Go Big Orange!)

  4. Merry Christmas from North Florida. Brrrr.

  5. All of you at imonk rock, may our Lord give you blessings and peace this day. I echo the apostle Paul, ” I thank my God for every remembrance of you”. Merry Christmas. He came to save us, the rescue mission has begun and continues to this day. Love and Peace.

    Merry Christmas to all you imonkers from me in Maine!

    Jeff, I got a kick out of Father Martin quoting Linus in his article! And this was a good line: “Christ may be the new Voldemort.” I have done some of what he recommends to do: I told my stepchildren to have their children and themselves not buy me stuff, but write me a poem or give me a drawing or something similar. The little kids did make me some ornaments, but things were still purchased. That’s OK too. They are busy and sometimes it’s easier to buy stuff than make stuff. I like decorating for Christmas, but the buying presents part stresses me out because I don’t know what to get most people and when I ask for lists, usually I don’t get them.

    I was thinking about our discussion of Santa Claus and whether we teach our kids to “believe in” Santa or not. I am thinking that it is kind of like practice for believing in God! In a child’s case, they get presents to indicate to them that Santa came and that Santa loves them even though normally they cannot see Santa. In God’s case, they can be taught that they may not get every THING they think they want materially, but that they get God himself and that God will always be with them as they go through any struggles and challenges. I know that I and my siblings and other relatives never felt betrayed by our parents for telling us tall tales about Santa. Instead, we passed along the fun stories. I do have to admit that in my immediate family, there was not as much follow-up on teaching about God, though. That was left for those “professionals” in the Church to teach about and talking about religious things in most of my family is considered tasteless and tacky, sort of. I do very little of it to not offend or scare my family off.

    As usual, I love everything that N.T. Wright writes in his article.

    Wow, the Father Samaan article was wonderful! I love that the people chose him to become their priest even though he was “only” a businessman. What a turn-around is going on in that village!

  7. Merry Christmas and God bless us all. Greetings from Winter Park, Florida A nice crisp 44 degrees this fine Christmas Morning. Thank you I Monk for all of you insights you provide

  8. Wishing you all the best from a gray Christmas in Northern California, where we sing “let it fog, let it fog, let it fog” and James the Mad is still recovering from jet lag after his work stint in the Philippines. HAPPY HOLIDAYS — because there’s more than one Christian holiday this time of year! We’ve got the days of St. John and St. Stephen coming up quick, right, my Ancient-Future bros?

    Seeing the graphic at the start of the column, I wanted to provide a link to the Curious George “Christmas Monkey Song,” but couldn’t find it online. The Linus clip is better anyway.

  9. Joyeux Noël

  10. “We cannot divide up into independent entities the interplay of grace and freedom, or the interplay of call and response. The two are inseparably woven together. So this part of the angels’ message is both promise and call at the same time. God has anticipated us with the gift of his Son.” – Pope Benedict XVI, from his Christmas Eve homily.

  11. Loved the article by Father Martin…how ironic that true Christmas observance is being squelched more by free market opportunism (a hallowed biblical principle for some) than godless liberals or other ‘un-christian’ sorts. I liked his suggestions at the end, and I hope to be more intentionally ‘anti-christmas’ and subversively counter-culture in the future. Blessed holidays to you all!

  12. Happy Santa Day!

  13. Merry Christmas! But in all the excitement about Irish whiskey (or whisky) and Maine-brewed beer, I forgot to buy the Moxie! And today the stores are closed…

    Excellent article by Father Martin. It would go nicely with this article by Rodney Clapp in Christianity Today, originally published in 1993, entitled, “Let the Pagans Have the Holiday”:
    Clapp agrees that Christmas has been lost, and that we should reclaim Easter as the central holiday, as it was before 19th-century commercialism got hold of it. See what you think.

    And, as usual, Sister Joan Chittister is a voice crying in the wilderness, God bless her.

  14. That Other Jean says

    Merry Christmas, all, wherever you are and whatever you do today.!

  15. Merry Christmas Everyone from the nations capital, Washington, DC.

    I really feel blessed to have stumbled across this blog. Christmas for me has always been my favorite holiday. I love talking about Santa Klaus to little children and the Sandman and watching their little faces light up with excitement and how happy they are. It brings back memories from my childhood and makes me genuinely happy. Why would I take something away from children that gave me such joy as a child. I think that is just mean. I really do not understand people who take away the joy of Santa from children. Yes, Santa is a myth. However, children have their whole adult lives to be grumpy, unhappy and disillusioned. So I feel let a child be a child and have fun and if they believe in the magic of christmas they can also believe in the miraculous birth of Christ.

    Which is really the reason for the season.

    I wish everyone a very merry, healthy and fun Christmas!

  16. May the blessings symbolized by the celebration of the birth of the King of Kings help us through the coming year.
    Here in a sunny Southern California, we continue to smile and be happy while getting ready to go to church, despite the visit of the Grinches–I mean, Jehovah’s Witnesses–objecting to all we believe.

  17. Another Southern Californian here–Merry Christmas to everyone! I don’t post around here a lot, but I do read regularly and I appreciate all of you.

    Have a blessed day!

  18. Merry Christmas to y’all from Arizona! God bless us, everyone!

  19. Rev. Angie Gage says

    Thanks again, Jeff, for another great Saturday Rambling. It was just what I needed to read this afternoon.

    I get bent out of shape over people who get bent out of shape when someone says Happy Holidays. That phrase doesn’t even bother me. The people who make a big deal about others saying it do. The word “holiday” is actually a compound word meaning Holy Day. Even Merriam-Webster dictionary acknowledges this as the number one definition of the word. So, when someone says “happy holidays” I am reminded that we are celebrating holy days and that we should be happy that we are able to celebrate them freely in our country. Thanks from reminding us of the differences and difficulties that other Christians have when it comes to celebrating Christmas.

    I hope that you have had a wonderful Christmas this year celebrating the coming of Christ into the world and that you have Happy Holy Days.

    • The term “Happy Holidays” (plural) has been in use my entire life. I’ve always taken it to mean “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” So if people insist on it, that’s fine with me. 🙂

  20. Just to let you know, you’re Huffington Post links load painfully slowly if at all. Stupid edge dot quaintserve dot com always gives me (maybe others?) fits. Maybe you could find alternate, quick-loading links that don’t rely on an external ad server? Just a thought… Love your Ramblings otherwise. 🙂

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.