There are many models of human and spiritual development. We could describe three stages as Simple Consciousness, Complex Consciousness (both “fight and flight”), and Non-Dual Consciousness (“the unitive way” or “third way”). More recently, I have been calling the developmental stages Order > Disorder > Reorder. [1.]
It’s that time of year again and I think some reconstructing is in order! I mean think about it? Throughout the history of most western cultures, Christmas brings many wonderful and powerful traditions. But, like all traditions, it has some mythical elements which don’t always prove to be literally true.
We can see that many traditions within this holiday derive not just from the Christian religion, but from many “pagan” traditions as well. Now, please here me out: Paganism (Celtic traditions to be more specific) engulfs some pretty beautiful universal truths when it comes to its customs. When we understand that Christ is holding ALL THINGS TOGETHER (Col 1:17), this idea of adopting other customs into the Christian tradition isn’t novel or erroneous.
For example, the lights on the Christmas tree. Early Christians adopted this custom from early Celtics due to its symbolism of keeping “the evil spirits at bay”[2.]. Christians repurposed this custom into a symbol of resurrection to the “tree of paradise”. Both customs bring with it a truth of protection and new beginnings. Thus, the reason early Christians adopted the custom.
Also, even with the issues the Santa Clause brings (consumerism, greed, etc.), he did stem from a real Christian figure in Saint Nicholas as well as the folklore character known as Woden. Both figures brought gifts to the ones in need (which is a great symbol of what God does for her creation). I think the actual historic figure in this (Saint Nicholas) should be the ones we tell our kids about. Here is what the real good old Saint Nicholas was about:
He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from execution, provided grain in a famine, and rescued a kidnaped boy. [3.]
I think we really have to ask ourselves: Does God want unity or division? Yes, I understand that not every tradition has healthy customs or practices. We can see this with the unhealthy concept of eternal consciousness torment in hell (an ancient Egyptian belief) and the mental issues that come with it. [4.]
That is why we have to deconstruct, let it sit in chaos for a bit, then start rebuilding our traditions to more beautiful outcomes. Not all the traditions we hold are bad. Others are. In the end, Christ shines to and through and for all things. It’s not a dualist-antagonistic frame work, but a beautiful calibration that brings light through the darkness. (see Robcast episode 222). We just have to understand and discern the difference between the two…
“You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”