Hey! I'm a Christian but I want to celebrate Hannakah to closely emulate the life that I believe Jesus lived. If I study the reasons behind it, would it be inappropriate for me to celebrate Hannakah?
If there is one holiday, above all other holidays, i think Christians shouldn’t celebrate it is Chanukah because it is literally about preserving Judaism in the face of assimilationist pressure. There is no Holiday for which the term “cultural appropriation” would be more appropriate. Chanukah is more a celebration of Jewish survival than it is a religious observance based on Biblical commandments. Its sources, the Books of the Maccabbees, aren’t even considered to be official parts of the Tanakh.
So for a gentile to celebrate Hannukah without an invitation by Jewish friends or family members, feels not only weird, it feels wrong. So I wouldn’t do it. I get uncomfortable when Christians celebrate any Jewish Holidays, given Christianity’s rejection of Jewish Law, but Chanukah feels like an especially severe case since it feels a great deal like a conqueror stealing a celebration of the survival of the conquered. Make no mistake, Christianity has tried to convert Jews and destroy Judaism from its very origins. That trend has only started to reverse recently and then haltingly and even then only among certain groups of Christians.
So if you must appropriate a Jewish Holiday, make Chanukah the last one on your list.
First of all, I want to apologize to anyone who has felt I’ve given them incorrect information concerning researching runes. I can only speak from what I know and I’ve studied, which is what I did. Then, when others offered a dissenting voice, I also included those because this is a blog for my personal journey with the runes, and more information is always good. The two people who gave alternative rune books have studied historical runology (well, I know for sure one has in an academic setting, the other at least seems very passionate about historical accuracy). I was recommended the books I posted by people who have studied the runes for decades. People I very much have (and still will) look to concerning insights into working with the runes. Thorsson, Aswynn, Paxson, and others have been a big part of revitalizing northern paganism in today’s world, and so I’d almost guarantee that any/most people who are rune workers (speaking divination) have read their works.
Now, the historical runology camp may cringe at the rest of what I have to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.
The script is key; it’s your biblical text, the source code. Everything is there and for me, I can never understand a character without going through that script. One of my favorite actors, Anthony Hopkins says that he goes through the script again, again and again until he knows it. There’s something interesting in that, I don’t know if it’s like it for anyone else, but you start to embody it [the character] a little bit – once you’ve read that a character is a certain way, you just start to become it, there’s a natural element that you can’t control. Then there are the learning lines and if there’s an accent, which is more a technical element, but in terms of the soul and the spirit, actors have this sponge thing where we just absorb. I think everyone has it; you know when you’re around someone for a long time and you become perfect at doing an impression of that person? It’s just that.
When you’re brought up as a child under the influence of religious parents – wait. Let me clarify what I mean by “religious”…‘American’ religious…
…I’m talking, literally taking Biblical scripture as a source of truth and wisdom by which the world is perceived through the lens of the literature declaring the Word of God and measured by the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is a being appointed by this divine and Almighty invisible force of action and condemnation and strength and kindness and wrath and omnipotence and superior knowledge of the past, present and future dubbed God or Alpha Omega that some call The Redeemer whom sent - in homo sapien sapien form - the spirit on behalf of himself, his Son (because he’s the real Father of us all without giving a proper explanation of where the Mother resides) whom he places in a specific time on the human journey where only an “eye witness” testimony was sufficient for dictation and clarity which would, after a few thousand years, still been passed on and communicated just as confusing yet seemingly familiar paralleled with all of the other ideas ancient people relied on as the source of knowledge and understanding rather than explore a second opinion to validate their perceived understanding of their existence and the world around them…(deep breath)….it’s a bit difficult to discern from reality when said religious ideology is law, held up on a pedestal as just and honorable.
Yet, this idea still persists and continues to influence. Now, when you are born into an environment where the initial human beings (under this kind of religious influence) that you not only have an encounter with (your birth) but care for you and hold you and guide you through life, their perceived wisdom and re-institution and validation is perpetuated through church attendance. Then, it extends outside of Sundays and sometimes there are special functions at the church, someone is hosting a baptism, or your parents are in some kind of “grown-up” service, and the youth are directed to “Youth Groups” where you’re invited instructed to mingle with other humans your age whom were being brought up this way while being “educated” by a teacher via reading certain verses, discussing them across a preset worksheet style format with a group, then the entire class is to provide summaries and hopeful “right answers” for that intellectual jam session near the remaining minutes left of the time left…it becomes a bit difficult to detach society from the concept of a deity.
This was my life, and remains the active lifestyle of so many human beings, young to old, who’ve tossed aside the prevailing methods and tools of “science” which will always come in a distant second to the Truth of Biblical Scripture. There is no surefire cure for this. It will be a gradual process of rationality and acceptance of reality by the aid of our means to understand what it means to “know” reality via the processes of meticulous scientific inquiry and scrutiny. Questioning everything. Milking this existence for all its worth by creating worth of our own through curiosity and thirst for awe.
However, the evolution of how we educate children from infant to adult will certainly create far more intellectual and skeptical human beings who will be able to discern for themselves through their natural inquisitiveness and pronounced understanding that science and technology are the utilities for survival and prosperity for the biodiversity thriving on this planet, as well as our role as stewards to keep and protect this world, which means as well to prolong the existence of life in our dusty nook of the universe by disseminating these ingredients and intellect outward amidst the cosmos, requiring an organic and collaborative community of space pilgrims to commence this migration.
In dissecting what it means to accredit oneself to a religious institution of ideological thinking based on dogmatic and fundamentalist pre(mis)conceptions of the world we live, the temporary existence we experience, and the insignificant yet fortuitous rock we occupy within this immense space we call the universe, we find commonalities across all religions throughout the human timeline who’ve clung to (what Carl Sagan terms) “reassuring fables” rather than confronting reality with an open mind and accepting of the seemingly “harsh truths” our environment communicates to us.
Our society is enduring a very unique epoch. Since the advent of transformative scientific progress a little over 400 years prior to this present moment, others - experiencing not so different problems and triumphs as we are now - it’s only logical that religious ideology will not whither and rot, but transcend alongside our understanding of the environment we live.
As generations ahead integrate technology with education and what were once “experimental” or “non-traditional” methods of teaching move beyond a “traditional” realm altogether by incorporating such advents as virtual reality (VR), machine learning (AI), advanced robotics (engineering), and computer science (coding), the present push for STE(A)M curriculum and encouraging interest and pursuit of science and scientific fields will be looked upon as temporary symptoms of a society gasping for knowledge while being exploited for all the wrong reasons opposite to exposing and grooming their respective human potential.
This is all not to say that religion (supernatural thinking) will not remain a presence amongst our civilization, but it will mature and evolve to act as a positive and personal influence just as history in any age or epoch has lessons to teach us. It will not, however, be a force of negativity or naiveté wielded upon those who remain uneducated, as everyone the world over will possess the means, capabilities, and access to technology and information amidst a globally-connected society via internet, VR, holographic tech, and far more efficient means of transportation (on and off planet).
If my experiences throughout my childhood and present life under the influence of my staunch and dedicated religious peers and family have taught me anything, it’s a broader understanding of our current adolescence, how much more we have to grow as a communal society, what means are going to disrupt and stimulate this maturation, and how serious we must concern ourselves with our current trajectory toward hope and peril.
Dreaming has always been a mystery to us. All mammals appear to dream. Yet, we have a mechanism which shuts off dream images so we do not confuse them with real images. Science has always been puzzled as to why we dream. Historically, in Greek mythology, ancient Biblical sources, sources from Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, Native American cultures and even modern psychoanalysis have attached a great deal of importance to dreaming. Dreams are often seen as prophetic. Abraham Lincoln was said to have dreamed of his own assassination. Old Testament prophets dreamed of battles.\ The Lakota shaman Sitting Bull famously dreamedof the Custer battle.
Yet what is this “dreamworld”? Is it random flickering of our memories? It would appear not. Dreams for all of their surreal imagery provide us with information and help us deal with our external reality. We can visit dead relatives, be free or be captive. We can experience danger and love. We can, some how, tap into memories which are not our own. Dreaming is at least as important as waking. In our dreams we are Gods creating our own reality. In dreams we experience things without ever leaving our beds which proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that our perceptions are all internal.
Bottom Line: Our dream state is a real form of consciousness.
I have a queston concerning the Real Presence: As Catholics, the justification for Eucharist is in John 6, but Protestants point out that John 6:63-64 says that the flesh is useless, and thus it has to be symbolic and Christ was speaking metaphorically to the crowd. How do Catholics justify the Real Presence, Bibically?
Thank you for your question. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a bedrock belief of the Catholic faith. John 6 is a very important source for this teaching on the Eucharist, there are other Biblical sources in the Last Supper accounts of the Four Gospels, and in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (11:26-28). Those other sources can be looked at another time.
One important element of religious discussion is not to get into the act of throwing “Bible bombs“ back and forth; with the Catholic saying, "John 6!” the Protestant retorting, “John 6:63-64!” and the Catholic hitting back with, “But, but 1 Cor. 11:26-28!!” There is no actual interchange taking place, no deeper understanding between the parties, and nothing being achieved other than lobbing verses back and forth like a game of hot potato, with the winner being the one who throws the last verse. We do not want to fall into that black hole. So, if you are in a conversation with someone on this topic, limit yourself to John and have a real discussion, using some of the questions you’ll find later in my response, before moving onto other Biblical texts.
Let us return to the story as found in John 6, the main section we are dealing with begins with verse 22. The people who Jesus had fed the previous day with a multiplication of loaves went looking for him. They find him, and ask for a sign so that they may believe (v30). This is very important to note, as the story will end, not with the people believing, but with the people scandalized and leaving (v66)!
The next step is to see what exactly scandalized the people and made them leave, and more importantly, why Jesus would allow them to leave. After all, if your friend is correct in saying that verses 63-64 were merely symbolic, why wouldn’t the people have understood that? And why would Jesus have allowed people to leave Him over a misunderstanding?
Let us return to the text, in verse 32, Jesus says that the bread of God is that which, “comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world,” and the people respond, “Sir, give us this bread always” (v34). Everything is good at this point. The people sought out Jesus, they found Him, they want to believe in Him, and they ask for the bread which gives life to the world.
Jesus though, immediately orients the entire conversation to Himself by saying, “I am the bread of life…” (v35-40). After Jesus is finished speaking, the people begin to become uneasy and “murmur“ about Jesus and ask how He can say such things (v41-42). Interestingly, Jesus does not seek to alleviate their concerns, but doubles down on what he was saying, even telling them to, “Stop murmuring,” and concluding by saying, “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven[…] and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (v48-50).
The people listening to Jesus now move from murmuring to outright quarreling. They challenge Jesus asking Him, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v52) Does Jesus back down? No! He doubles down on his double down. Jesus adds a new teaching by no longer limiting Himself to being bread from heaven, but telling the people to drink his blood (v53-56). Remember, these are Jews who keep strict kosher laws. The people who he is speaking to will not even eat the blood of an animal, and now he is telling them that they will have to drink his blood!
The people protest to Jesus yet again! ”This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Jesus speaks the verse cited by your friend, but He in no way abrogates his previous teaching. He is speaking to the fact that humanity cannot save itself through the sacrifices of the flesh which were taking place in the Temple. Rather, it is only by having the Spirit of God in which one is saved! And how does one receive this Spirit? By eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus. We know this because in verse 66 we are told that many of the people immediately left, then and there, returning to their former ways of life.
Why would they leave if they simply believed Jesus was speaking symbolically? Why would Jesus allow them to leave if He felt he was being misunderstood? And note what comes next, when he turns to the Twelve, he simply asks, “Do you also want to leave?” (v67) He is referring to the discourse which had just happened. His teaching, the people’s objection, his stronger teaching, the people’s stronger objection, his even stronger teaching, and the people leaving. He lets the people leave, and now he is giving his closest disciples the same opportunity. He is asking the Twelve, “You have heard what I said, the people won’t accept it, but you know me, and you have seen my signs, do you believe what I am saying to be true.” Peter replies, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v68). Peter has come to believe that the words Jesus was speaking in his discourse with the people are true, true in essence, and not merely symbol. He chooses to stay with Jesus knowing full well the implications of this teaching, even as the crowd has abandoned them.
We can see now why we must look at the whole context of the passage rather than a particular verse. We can always twist verses and use them as Bible bombs to suit our needs. The Scripture deserves better than to be treated in this manner. Sadly, both sides often use Bible bombs to try and prove their arguments. But when we look at the text as it was written, as it was initially proclaimed, and as it was understood by the first scores of generations of Christians; John 6 is most coherently interpreted not through the lens of mere symbol, but by the clear meaning of the words of the Word Himself.