Let me start off by wishing you all a happy and healthy 2008. May you find your dreams this year.
It seems that the older I get, the more severe and more prolonged the post-Christmas doldrums get. This year has been particularly rough, which is why I have not written anything in the last few weeks. The fact that I came down with a nasty staph infection in my right ear did not help much. After almost two weeks on some heavy duty antibiotics, I seem to be recovering finally. Take my word for it, it was not fun!
Also, we had out of town company last week – my brother, who I have not seen in twelve years came down to visit his oldest daughter, who lives about an hour from here. He came to dinner one day last week and the visit was about what I expected – unpleasant. Oh well, such is life. We will both survive.
One of the things I got for Christmas was an online version of a role-playing game I used to play with my friends back in the 1970s and ’80s when I lived in Chicago. The game, of course, is Dungeons and Dragons.
D & D was originally designed by a small company, TSR, up in Wisconsin. A number of years ago the rights were bought by The Wizards of the Coast. Over the years, the Wizards have modified the rules some and have licensed other game manufacturers. especially Blizzard and Bioware, to design their own D & D games. Blizzard did Warcraft and Bioware did Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Between me and the kids, we have all of those. My kids prefer World of Warcraft, while I prefer D & D Online.
The doldruns seem finally to have passed and I think I am ready to get back to writing. With the Easter season coming early trhis year – Lent starts in two weeks, I am going to put the Christmas articles I had been working on on the back burner and rather focus my attention to disucssions of Easter – both in the Syncretism series as well as the Heresy series. Hope fully, the first of those artic les will be ready by Ash Wednesday.
Easter is an interesting seasom in the Christian liturgical year. It opens with a forty day period of fasting and repentance, then a week of morbid fascination over the suffering and gruesome execution of Jesus. And it all ends with a one day celebration of the Resurrection.
I always felt that there is too much emphasis on the Crucifixion and not enough on the Resurrection. For the early Church, as we shall see, the importance of Easter was not that Christ died, but that he came back from the dead. Nowadays, especially among the fundamentalists, it seems that his death is more important than his resurrection.
Also, the Crucifixion, with or without the Resurrection, has completely overshadowed the Incarnation. I have always felt that Jesus’s birth was and should be more important than his death. There can be no Crucifixion and Resurrection without the Incarnation. But, that”s another chicken and egg argument, I suppose.
But I wonder if the reason that Christmas has become so paganized and so commercialized is because of the lack of emphasis on the Incarnation in Christian orthodoxy. The Easter season, if you include Lent, lasts a month and a half. Granted, the Christmas season does include Advent, but very few of the orthodox churches put much emphasis on that. My family was originally German Lutheran, and I remember my mother always celebrating Advent with candles, an Advent calendar, and special foods every Sunday of Advent. As a kid, you used to be able to buy electric Advent candles to hang in the window, but I have not been able to find them recently.
I have revived some of my mother’s Advent customs for my children so as to re-establish the importance of the true meaning of Christmas for them. They certainly enjoyed the Advent calendar this year, so that custom will definitely continue. If any of you know where to buy Advent candles, send me a private message. I”d really appreciate it.