June 3, 2005
Christianity can be compared with many, many, many, religions that preceded it, and in comparing it; one will find an assortment of similar and copied characteristics from those religions into Christianity. You ask if the pagan roots of so many Christian holidays and practices have a negative impact on Christianity. My answer would have to most definitely be “yes” and “no.”
Yes, the pagan roots of most of the Christian holidays do have a negative impact on the Christian religion because many Christians staunchly believe that Christian holidays are, have always been, and always will be Christian. It is this type of ignorant misunderstanding of the facts that cause me to view this arrogant side of Christianity in a negative light.
According to English essayist Rosalind Miles, there are many Christian holidays that were originally pagan. They are as follows: Samhain (pagan), which occurs on November 1, is equivalent to the Christian Feast of All Saints. There is a few days difference between the pagan holiday of Midwinter Solstice (December 21st) and the Christian holiday of Christmas. February 1st, is the pagan holiday of Imbolc, which was used by Christians later as Candlemas. April 1st for Pagan’s is known as Llud’s Day, and to the Christians it is known as All Fool’s Day. August 1st for Pagans is Lughnasad, and later changed to Lammastide by Christians. And also, on September 21st, the Pagans celebrate the holiday of the Autumn Equinox, the name of course changed later by the Christians to Michaelmas. One thing about the holidays that I find amusing is the fact that though many Christians believe that Halloween (Hallows’ Eve) is an evil, Pagan, or Wiccan holiday, it was actually a Christian holiday, as there apparently was no equivalent for it in pagan holidays, according to Ms. Miles.
But, I must also answer “no” to the same question due to the fact that there really is no original religion since they all pretty much have copied each other’s ideas throughout time.
As for Dr. Martin’s witty explanation of the “Christmas Story,” I found myself amused and interested at what he was trying to put across. He supported his ideas well, although, there were flaws, as with anything. He used his vast knowledge of the planetary movements and paths and of history to achieve his widely-accepted assessment. Everyone knows the Bible was written by people who weren’t very bright, or at least they weren’t as educated as we are today (no offense intended) and so we must not take everything that is in that book literally, as some do. But, if we can scrape away the superstitious beliefs (if possible) from the text and really try to analyze true events in history and science, as Dr. Martin has attempted with his work, we will be better off to determine what it is exactly that we need to learn.
I must admit I was astonished to learn that planets can actually move in loops like that sometimes. And also that the Zoroastrian astrologers came up with the idea that there was going to be a “coming of the messiah” due to the fact that they interpreted the movements of various planets and stars. I think his interpretation of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus makes more sense and has more explanations than the one in the Bible.
There are, of course, many things that I find wrong with some of the beliefs of Christianity. For example, a virgin giving birth- that’s a complete oxymoron, virgin birth; but then, of course this may be just a mis-translation of the original text’s meaning, as was explained in class. There has not been any documented evidence ever that there has ever been a woman who had a child without having had intercourse, unless they had in-vitro fertilization, but then again, that was not possible in the ancient world (at least, there is no evidence that there was any such thing). I agree whole-heartedly with the quote by John Dominic Crosssan when he said, “…It is not morally acceptable to say…our story is truth but yours is myth; ours is history but yours is a lie.” He’s absolutely correct. I don’t believe that Jesus was a holy man who was born from a virgin, and neither do I believe any of the others that have claimed the same things, be it Buddha or Plato or Hercules or what have you. When I read the one that stated that Alexander the Great was born of a virgin Olympias, I laughed out loud, for it is well known that Olympias was known to have said just about anything to make Alexander think he was a god, and to make others believe that he was divine.
I think that we are all just plain humans, but there is, on occasion, someone who knows how to make people believe what they themselves believe, and in doing so, come off as being saviors or prophets or great masters of philosophy. When, in my opinion, all men are the same. We are born, we live and we die. Just some of us are remembered better than others.