Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Unitarian Christmas

Numerous articles and blogs have noted the strong case to doubt Christmas' authentically "Christian" origins. Christ probably wasn't born on Dec. 25. The Puritans banned the holiday because it wasn't authentically Christian. And many of its rituals trace to the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice or Saturnalia.

The modern understanding of Christmas is also significantly influenced by Charles Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol."

Charles Dickens, you see, was a Unitarian Christian. And "A Christmas Carol" preaches a decidedly (19th Century) Unitarian message on Christmas. To Unitarians, "Christianity" was all about good works and good will, NOT God's grace through Christ's atonement. And "A Christmas Carol" hardly ever mentions Jesus at all, but is about good works and good will.

Now, orthodox Christians likewise appreciate good works and good will. But that is secondary to God's grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ -- God the Son Incarnate. And "A Christmas Carol" celebrates this message that the orthodox could consider at best secondary or incidental, not the central theme of the Christian religion.

That said, have a Merry Unitarian Christmas.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

The modern understanding of Christmas is also significantly influenced by Charles Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol."

Ah, but America influenced Dickens first!

Pardon our Wiki:

"Washington Irving's The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, written over twenty years previously and depicting the harmonious warm-hearted English Christmas festivities of earlier times that he had experienced while staying at Aston Hall, attracted Dickens,[1] and the two authors shared the belief that the staging of a nostalgic English Christmas might restore a social harmony and well-being lost in the modern world.[22]

In "A Christmas Dinner" from Sketches by Boz (1833), Dickens had approached the holiday in a manner similar to Irving, and, in The Pickwick Papers (1837), he offered an idealized vision of an 18th century Christmas at Dingley Dell.[22] ...

Other likely influences were a visit made by Dickens to the Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from March 20–22, 1842;[25] the decade-long fascination on both sides of the Atlantic with spiritualism;[14] fairy tales and nursery stories (which Dickens regarded as stories of conversion and transformation);[2] contemporary religious tracts about conversion;[2] and the works of [Englishman] Douglas Jerrold in general, but especially "The Beauties of the Police" (1843), a satirical and melodramatic essay about a father and his child forcibly separated in a workhouse,[25] and another satirical essay by Jerrold which may have had a direct influence on Dickens' conception of Scrooge called "How Mr. Chokepear keeps a merry Christmas" (Punch, 1841).[3]"