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The Truth is in the Music

The Truth is in the Music

If the story of Christmas Eve feels like a myth, it is — a very truthful and divine one.

DAVID RICKEY — As I approach Christmas, I find myself asking the question normally reserved for Passover: Why is this night different from all other nights? What is it about the sacred Christmas story that so engages us?

I don’t believe any of the “events” described in the Christmas story. There are actually three stories that don’t agree but are brought together to make the Creche scene complete. The wise men, or Magi, come from Matthew. The Shepherds and sheep come from Luke. The stable is Luke, while Matthew has Jesus born in a house. John just gets philosophical, and Mark doesn’t even mention the birth at all.

But these are not historical stories, even if the authors believed they were. They are myths in the deepest sense, just as Joseph Campbell would have described them. My working definition of myth here is “a culturally shaped story that attempts to express awareness of a mystery.” The story isn’t true. The myth hints, successfully I believe, at Truth.

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Christmas a pagan holiday? Yule be surprised

Christmas a pagan holiday? Yule be surprised

Why Bill O’Reilly’s defense of Christmas is secretly un-Christian

BY DANNY KENNY — Fox News talk-show personality Bill O’Reilly thinks the Holidays just won’t be the same without The Tree, Santa, the gifts of appreciation, the mistletoe and holly, etc. These are the things he claims are threatened with extinction by the so-called ‘War on Christmas.’

But I guess he doesn’t realize that these traditions he’s apparently missing from his Irish Catholic childhood are thoroughly pagan in origin, some dating back 4,000 years. Which begs the question: So, Bill, what in the name of Jesus are Yule celebrating?

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“Rule the hearts of thy servants and the President of the United States”

“Rule the hearts of thy servants and the President of the United States”

On this First Day of Advent, The Great Litany has a new ring under an Obama presidency

That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants, the President of the United States, and all others in authority, that they may do justice, and love mercy, and walk in the ways of truth.

BY PAUL KAIHLA — That line in the six-page petition, or poem of loving kindness, called The Great Litany had a plaintive ring during the two Bush terms. But as churches across America chant it in procession at the beginning of Advent, marking the official start to a liturgical new year, it feels like a prayer that actually connects under an Obama presidency.

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What are the spiritual origins of Thanksgiving?

What are the spiritual origins of Thanksgiving?

SPIRITUAL IQ QUIZ — The Thanksgiving celebration is not uniquely American (or if you’re Canadian, an October thing). Festivities expressing gratitude for prosperity and abundance occur in practically every culture, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, and beyond.

So if you need an escape between family feuds and football, we give you six trivia questions about the spirituality of a holiday named after gratitude. Answer by clicking the radio buttons below:

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Angela Brown “tu lips”

The search for the magical Other

A Jungian psychologist’s take on Eros and Valentine’s Day

BY PAUL KAIHLA — This is the one day of the year in our secular society where a celibate Catholic gets top-billing, marquee treatment. There were probably three saints called Valentine, one of whom history says is entombed in Rome’s catacombs.

But the origin of Valentine’s Day is in a medieval social custom, so it’s not like a long, lost high-holy-day has been hijacked by capitalist consumerism.

The custom marks the first day of spring mating season, so let’s hand over the mike to psychologist James Hollis for his take on how we modern humans channel that energy — eros, in Greek mythology:

Eros is dynamic and shape-shifting . . . always going somewhere, seeking to connect, to fill in, to transcend. Just as nature, we are told, abhors a vacuum, so our psyche is terrified by emptiness. Seeking to fill that emptiness, we all too often fill it with ourselves. Wheresoever space opens, into that hole flies projection . . . Eros substitutes as it seeks the Cosmic Other in the frail vessel of the Beloved.

Illustration, “tu lip,” courtesy of Angela Brown

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An Ash Wednesday confession: You are stardust

An Ash Wednesday confession: You are stardust

If happiness equals slimming-down the ego, the Imposition of Ashes on the first day of Lent is a powerful and public ritual of spiritual self-immolation

BY ANONYMOUS — I did confession (Ash Wednesday) and received the imposition of ashes. I’ve never felt so stripped naked in public as when I kneeled below the altar, and the priest made the sign of the cross on my forehead with ashes and said: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (or ‘stardust’, as I like to say…)

It was a shock to have the fact of my mortality announced so officially and openly. Truly humbling to realize this me is a fleeting illusion… It feels overwhelming when everyone else in the church is acknowledging their mortality, too, one by one.

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lent

Ash Wednesday and the ghost in you

A ritual for Lent: make a daily list of what brings you joy, and what brings you closer to Spirit

No, we don’t mean our favorite song by the Psychedelic Furs, which was given a short second life a couple of years ago by the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore vehicle 50 First Dates.

But now that we brought it up, did you ever wonder where they got that phrase, ‘the ghost in you’? Check out Corinthians 6:19, one of the most famous passages in the Bible:

Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? . . . Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The passage points to the reason that people of a certain persuasion, starting tomorrow, give up pleasures of the flesh like coffee, sweets, alcohol or cigarettes. It’s a cleansing ritual that honors the temple of your body, and the Spirit which gave rise to it.

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davinci

Spiritual Surf: Tom Hanks, Egypt, Parinirvana, street preachers, terrorism, hypnosis, depression during pregnancy

Tom Hanks newest patron of Da Vinci Code church

Tom Hanks has personally donated to help restore Scotland’s Rosslyn Chapel, where part of The Da Vinci Code was filmed. According to Dan Brown’s novel, the chapel was built by the Knights Templar, marks a point on the “Rose Line”, or prime meridian, and contains several  esoteric sculptures. 

In actuality, the chapel was built over 100 years after the Templars vanished, the prime meridian does not cross through the chapel, and many architectural features were added later by Anglican and (what do you know?) Scottish Freemason patrons. As its newest patron, will Hanks request any other additions?

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fruits_and_vegetables11

Spiritual Surf: Ash Wednesday, PETA, Polygamy, Madonna, atheist pastor, J.D. Salinger, yoga dating

Ashes to ashes . . . this Wednesday

Christians this week celebrate Ash Wednesday in commemoration of Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness where he faced demonic temptation.  Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, where Christians share a similar journey in a spiritual desert. Lenten practices usually involve fasting, penance, making confession, praying the stations of the cross (prayerful meditation on Jesus’ journey towards crucifixion), and receiving ashes on the forehead with the words “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return”.


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pope-texts

Spiritual Surf: Sundance takes down Mormons; Kitty Kelley takes down Oprah; Tu Beshevat (the tree of life) and St. Paul

8: The Mormon Proposition, a movie on spiritual politics

Utah not only hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival; in the 2010 edition of the film fest, the state’s (unofficial) church has a starring role in the line-up of movies.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is taken down in a documentary about the 2008 initiative that successfully banned gay marriage in California.

Another irony: the film, 8: The Mormon Proposition, is directed by a former Mormon. It details the counter-revolutionary intervention Mormons poured into passing Proposition 8.

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