Archive for December, 2010

‘Twas the night before – X-mas? Winter Festival? December Holidays? Festivus? As Canadian society moves in an increasingly secular direction, public disagreement over what to call the season becomes more common. But even when we retain the historic title Christmas, the average person’s thoughts run along the lines of Santa Claus, family dinners, taking time off work, and gift-giving (or getting). The birth of Jesus, if remembered at all, is at best an afterthought. While perhaps the third most important day in the Christian calendar (after Good Friday and Easter), it appears Christmas has lost much of its religious significance for the world around us.

So begin my thoughts in a recent article for The Canadian Lutheran.  Entitled “The battle for Christmas,” the article highlights the tensions between Christian and secular understandings of the holiday/holy-day, presenting a historical framework in which to view a very contemporary concern. Check it out in pdf form here or in standard web-format here. (The pdf has an additional subarticle entitled “Keeping Christ in Xmas”, which discusses the origin of the “Xmas” abbreviation which – despite common perception – is actually Christian in nature).

Growing up, The Chronicles of Narnia were my favourite books by far (and were a glorious introduction to the wider writings of C.S. Lewis). Needless to say, when The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe finally made it to the big screen in 2005, I was ecstatic. I had always thought the Narnia stories were made to be watched (Lewis’ own concerns on that front not withstanding). And now, for the first time ever (ignoring, as we must, the infamous BBC series), Narnian fans would be able to enjoy the stories visually.

Fast forward five years. A week since opening in theatres, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is doing extremely well internationally (though, alas, not particularly well in North America). The Canadian Lutheran asked for my thoughts on the latest film and I was more than happy to write up a little something for them. Check out my article “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: An odyssey in faith” at their website.

Incidentally, have I mentioned how much I love The Canadian Lutheran Online? The digital counterpart to the bi-monthly magazine, it’s among my favourite sites on the web. With up-to-date news and views on a variety of subjects (both popular and theological), the site is an absolute must-read. Go check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

A few Fridays back, outspoken Atheist Christopher Hitchens and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair held a debate on whether religion was a force for good or evil. That type of event – where the religious are called on to justify their very existence – has become more and more common in recent years as atheists such as Hitchens and Richard Dawkins become increasingly strident (and fervent, I might add) in their condemnation of religion.

In light of this new hostile atmosphere, Charles Lewis (religion reporter for the National Post and editor of the Holy Post religion blogsite) has released an open letter to atheists. It’s entitled “Dear atheists: most of us don’t care what you think.”

Most atheists do not have a clue what religion is about. They see religious people as blind sheep following a series of incomprehensible rules and dogmas and then scoff at their lack of enlightenment.
And again:
Every serious religious person knows faith includes struggle. Faith is not about sweet “feelings.” Real faith is a lot tougher and more difficult than feelings…. Faith is about a certainty of something underlying all that surrounds us and a dogged acceptance that this life is part of an eternal pilgrimage that has trials.

An article well worth the read. Check it out on the Holy Post website.