CSFF Blog Tour: Sabres, Cherubs, and Guardian Angels

During the blog tour of Angel Eyes, I wrote a post considering different aspects of the angels’ portrayals and their foundation in Scripture. Now that Shannon Dittemore has continued her series, I will continue mine. The portrayal of angels may be classified one of three ways: biblical (taught in Scripture), anti-biblical (contradicted by Scripture), and speculative (neither confirmed nor denied by Scripture).

So here we go:

Angels called Sabres worship God near His throne – The Sabres bear a resemblance to the four living creatures of Revelation, whom John saw around the throne and who “never stop saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.’ ” They are also similar to the six-winged seraphim Isaiah saw flying above God’s throne, “calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ “

But the Sabres can’t be the four living creatures. For one thing, there are twelve of them, and for another, they aren’t covered with eyes. Nor does their description match that of the seraphim. Although the Sabres have some biblical antecedent, they are speculative inventions.

Cherubs are small – Pearla, the Cherub, is a small angel; the demonic counterparts of her “cherubic order” – “impish” spies – are apparently small, too.

The Bible makes some mention of cherubs, or cherubim. They were a prominent aspect of the holy art of the tabernacle and the temple, and the Ark of the Covenant was overshadowed by golden cherubim. In the desert, when Bezalel crafted the Ark, he made the “cherubim of the Glory” of one piece with its cover. Centuries later, when Solomon built the temple, they made “the chariot” – two sculptured cherubim who spread their wings above the Ark in the Most Holy Place.

It is clear that those sculptured cherubim – whose design God had given to David – had two wings. We’ll get to the importance of that later.

Cherubim, together with the flaming sword, guarded the way to Eden and the tree of life. The four living creatures Ezekiel saw were cherubim – angels with four faces, four wings, and a multitude of eyes. “When the creatures moved,” the prophet wrote, “I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army.”

The walls of the temple Ezekiel saw – like the walls of the temple Solomon built – were decorated with cherubim. In the temple of Ezekiel’s vision, each cherub had two faces.

In chapter 28, God speaks: “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you … You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. … Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.”

Pearla, the Cherub, was called “little one” by the archangel Michael. One cannot imagine Michael extending the same endearment to the cherubim guarding Eden, or the four living creatures, or the “guardian cherub” of Ezekiel’s prophecy. One word you would not associate with the cherubim of Scripture is “small”.

In making imps and cherubs small, Broken Wings is drawing from culture and art, not the Bible. Indeed, the small cherubs make a very different impression than the cherubim of Scripture. Yet given the diversity of cherubim even in Scripture – two wings, four wings, two faces, four faces, covered with eyes, covered with jewels – I am reluctant to call Pearla the Cherub anti-biblical.

God assigns to human beings Shields (guardian angels) – In Acts, after Peter’s miraculous escape from prison, he came to the house of John Mark’s mother, where the believers initially thought he was “his angel”. Christians have believed in guardian angels since the beginning of the Church.

Two verses in Scripture support the idea. In Hebrews, the author writes, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” The Gospel of Matthew recounts Jesus saying, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven.” This is even more in the way of guardian angels, because it implies that God does attach specific angels to specific people.

The details of “our” angels, and how they minister to us, are unknown to us. Maybe the popular idea of an angel who is always near us is correct; maybe the angels watch from heaven; maybe they come, from time to time, as God directs. The “Shields” in the Angel Eyes Trilogy are a sound biblical idea, even though the specifics are by necessity speculative.

Review: A Matter of Basic Principles

I wondered whether posting a review of this book would be a good idea. As much as I appreciated it, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to burden my blog with so heavy and disagreeable a topic as Bill Gothard.

A Matter of Basic Principles is worth it, however. When I began to research Gothard’s teachings, I wanted a calm, biblical critique. This book outdid my expectations. It is scrupulously documented, referencing books, articles, and interviewees (usually by name).

The authors test Gothard’s views with the Bible. They are clearly knowledgeable of the Scriptures and how to interpret them. They are also well-versed in Christian theology and its points of dispute. They compare, for example, Gothard’s view on grace to that of the Roman Catholic Church, citing the Council of Trent.

They also contrast Gothard’s teaching on the Mosiac Law with traditional Protestant views (Reformed, Lutherans and Dispensationalists, and Theonomists). Gothard goes beyond all these groups in applying the Mosiac Code to Christians. He regulates when husbands and wives can have relations based on OT ceremonial laws. Gothard preaches circumcision, too, in defiance of the Bible’s teaching that circumcision has no spiritual value (Gal. 5:5). His legalism also shows itself in numerous smaller ways – such as his strange animosity for Cabbage Patch dolls, store-bought white bread, beards …

The things I was most surprised to learn are these:

  1. The pervasive weirdness of Bill Gothard’s teachings. The man believes that the presence of Cabbage Patch and troll dolls can make women unable to give birth. He also asserts that uncircumcised men are more promiscuous than circumcised men, connects a person’s health to the meaning of his name, teaches that the Flood was caused by dating, holds up Samson as someone “most qualified” to choose a wife …
  2. Bill Gothard’s unprincipled behavior. The book recounts several stories – including the authors’ own experience – about Gothard’s dealings with others. I was startled at what they showed him doing – lying, slandering, making false promises, violating his own teaching, and treating others with a lack of kindness that was, at times, truly remarkable. At one point he attempted to extort property from one of his followers. This is the man with the “Institute for Basic Life Principles”.
  3. Bill Gothard’s distortion of grace. I can’t do justice here to the authors’ excellent exposition. I will, however, quote one of their conclusions: “For Gothard, the primary purpose of grace is to assist Christians in keeping the Law.”

I realize this last borders on a charge of heresy. You could get a copy of the book to see it proven, but it would be easier just to go to Bill Gothard’s website and read his page on grace. His essential definition of grace is easy to find – it’s the sentence in a font two or three times bigger than anything else on the page: “Grace is the desire and the power that God gives us to do His will.”

Roll that over in your mind, Christian. It doesn’t come within a thousand miles of being right. Grace is not about God enabling us to do His will, but about God saving us when we didn’t do His will. Grace is about God’s love – “Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done; Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.”

Equally disturbing is this comment from Gothard’s website:

Circumcision is not required of believers for salvation. … Neither is circumcision required for achieving the righteousness of the Law or the sanctification of the believer.

It’s amazing that Gothard would list “achieving the righteousness of the Law” along with salvation and sanctification. The righteousness of the Law has nothing to do with either. As Paul writes in the first chapter of Romans, “For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ “

We can no more achieve the righteousness of the Law than we can walk to the sun and roast marshmallows in its atmosphere. That is why we need Jesus. Just as He took our sins at the Cross, so He gives us His righteousness. That is grace, and it’s a beautiful thing.

It’s a thing that Bill Gothard apparently doesn’t understand.

In A Matter of Basic Principles, the authors give a severe verdict on Gothard’s teachings, and they get in a few sharp barbs along the way. But the tone of the book is calm and measured. The authors do not take cheap shots, and unlike Joseph’s brothers, they can say something good. Their even-handedness gives credibility to their final judgment. Anyone wishing to understand Bill Gothard’s teachings and their popularity would do well to start with A Matter of Basic Principles.

God is Dead

“God is dead.” Who hasn’t heard that? Nietzsche proclaimed it, one of those godless Germans of the nineteenth century who had such impact on the twentieth. I always thought it was triumphalist; they’d crow if they didn’t sneer.

So I was surprised when I read Don Veinot quote it in context:

God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife – who will wipe away the blood from us? (The Gay Science)

This, from the atheist that Nietzsche was, is startlingly plaintive. There is no sneering or crowing here. Nietzsche’s point – as explained in two different sources – is one countless Christians have made: Take away the God of the Bible and moral chaos ensues. “If God is dead, then anything is permitted.” Nietzsche took that truth and drew the conclusion that made him Nietzsche. The quotation continues:

What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we now have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

God is dead, so what atonement and what sacred things shall we now invent? God is dead, and now we have to become great enough to live without Him. God is dead, and so we must become gods ourselves.

And we are back, again, in the Garden, dreaming of pulling ourselves onto God’s throne.

Violence in the Bible and other Christian books

A little while ago, the discussion on the CSFF blog tour turned to the violence, or lack of it, in Donita Paul’s Dragons of the Valley. Becky LuElla Miller wrote a couple posts about violence in Christian fiction, and particularly fantasy. I’ve decided to throw in a couple thoughts of my own.

It can be tricky to set standards for violence. There are at least two issues that complicate it. For one, violence – unlike, say, crude humor – may be either moral or immoral. For an example of moral violence, let’s go to the Scriptures:

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them.

4 The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the LORD’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor.”

6 Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

10 The LORD said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. 12Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.” (Numbers 25)

This is the irony of moral violence: You save life by taking it. Phinehas killed two people, and God rewarded him with a covenant of peace. But for all that Phinehas’ act is commendable, I wouldn’t want to see it on a screen. I wouldn’t even want to read it in any more detail than the Bible already gives.

Which brings us to the other issue of presenting violence: It’s the how as much as the what. It’s not just a head count of how many people died, or a page count of how many fight scenes were narrated. What violence the characters experience, and what violence the readers experience, can be very different things.

Let’s look again at the Bible. It has a large amount of violence, but a small amount of description. It relates gruesome deaths, but with a great tendency to avoid the gruesome details. The Bible tells us that Jael drove the tent peg through Sisera’s temple, and Saul fell on his sword, and Herodias got John’s head on a platter – and leaves it at that. Apparently it was necessary that we hear about certain violent acts; apparently it was not necessary that we wade through the carnage of those acts.

Becky asked if we must all follow Donita Paul’s lead. I don’t think we have to follow her in keeping things “light”, or in avoiding battle scenes. But I think we would all do well to have a general chariness about violence. Violence is a dark thing even when it’s a good thing, and there are places we can go but shouldn’t linger. It ought to be true of violence in Christian fantasy – as it is true of violence in the Bible – that a great deal more could have been told than was told.

And it really is possible to write an awesome battle scene without pelting your readers with gory details and grisly images. There’s more value to it; there’s even more art. For proof positive of this, I send you to The Two Towers, to read the battle of Helm’s Deep.

A quick word on the CSFF blog tour: The next one begins February 21, and the book is The God-Hater, by Bill Myers. I finished it this past Sunday. Stay tuned, folks. This is going to be a fun one.

The Pardon of Christmas

Here is a Christmas poem by G. K. Chesterton. Comments at the end.

The Pardon of Christmas

Roofed in with the snows of December

It returns, it is left to us yet

    A day: with one day to remember.

    A day: with long days to forget.

Undeterred, recurring, soft-footed

It comes down o’er the world, as today,

To the work, unfulfilled, uncompleted,

The house where the builders delay.

It sinks from the stars and sits throned

On the roofs, as the angel of snow,

Watching pale, as the prophets are stoned

With the stones that were red long ago.

Though our evangel hedges and palters,

Though the earth-land be rooted in hate,

Though Caiaphas stand at our altar

And Lazarus gasp at our gate.

Though the gold still clings for our cursing,

It returns: it remains to us yet

    A day, with one day to remember,

    A day with dark days to forget.

To forget eighteen centuries wasted

Thick squandered in madness and guilt,

With the wine of love standing half-tasted,

The city of promise half-built.

Join hands. Still we surely may gain it.

The King does redeem and renew.

O kings ye have lauded and slain it!

Ye have failed Him: and have we been true?

Ye have shackled and guarded the door,

Ye have hoarded the key in your grips.

Ye have taken the hope from the poor

And the word of God from his lips.

Ye have spat on and stricken the meek,

Ye have fenced in and rented his way.

Ye are red with the blood of the weak—

Join hands; join hands for today.

Though church councils betray and out-vote Him;

Though His little ones gasp for our gain;

Though the rich, that cried “traitor” and smote Him

Cry “Holy”, and smite Him again.

We have all done the sin: we have spoiled Him,

Thorn-crowned Him, and mocked and defiled,

Join hands, join hands—do it softly,

To-night He is glad, and a child.

I know this is a somber poem for a merry season. Yet I think that Christmas is both more serious and more joyful than we usually remember. It is the terribleness of the world, of our own sin, that makes Jesus’ coming so inexpressibly wonderful. The first Christmas is far away, but its promise, and our need, could not be closer. Christmas doesn’t come in spite of our failures and sins; it comes because of them. That our Savior is born is old news, but it is as good and joyful as on the day the angel proclaimed it.

In Defense of a Commercial Racket

Recently, I’ve been having a recurring thought: Christmas is coming. This is followed by another recurring thought: I have to start Christmas shopping.

Here I am, victim of the commercial racket they’ve made of Christmas.

Every year we hear about the commercialization of Christmas. It’s practically a Yuletide tradition. The sentiment is entrenched in the sixty-year-old classic Miracle on 34th Street: “Make a buck, make a buck…”

This is one Yuletide tradition I don’t join. I can’t get behind the “commercial racket” chorus. For one thing, it’s never been clear to me exactly what the problem is. What is “commercialization”? Material things trumping the spiritual (but wouldn’t that be materialism)? Is it people spending too much money? People making too much money? People making and spending money, period? As C. S. Lewis’ old teacher used to say, “Please clarify your terms.”

Sometimes it seems there’s a subterranean feeling that the junction between commerce and Christmas dirties up the holiday. This is one idea I am ready to completely deny. If we are going to celebrate Christmas, we are going to spend money on it. Someone is going to have to sell us the ham and eggnog and tree and gifts. I see no reason to be unhappy that businesses are angling to provide that service and make that buck. Sure, they’re making a profit on Christmas. And doctors make a profit on sick people, and dentists make a profit on people with toothaches, and grocery stores make a profit on hungry people.

Of course, trying to convince people to buy things they don’t want or can’t afford – the old sins of business – are always with us. And there is no doubt that some marketers can use Christmas rather cheaply. But once we get to specific criticisms, we’ve put down the broad brush of commercialization to please clarify our terms.

What’s even worse than the broad brush of commercialization is the hammer of the “commercial racket”. Rackets are, after all, the province of con men, frauds, and the Mafia. Are people who use the term simply overstating the case? Or do they really mean that the public is bribed, intimidated, or tricked into Christmas shopping by commercial interests? Are they saying that our traditions of gift-giving, feasting, and decorating were invented by capitalists looking for a profit?

There have been people who think the whole holiday is more or less a capitalistic scheme – people besides Lucy van Pelt. And so I end with a quotation:

If a man called Christmas Day a mere hypocritical excuse for drunkeness and gluttony, that would be false, but it would have a fact hidden in it somewhere. But when Bernard Shaw says that Christmas Day is only a conspiracy kept up by Poulterers and wine merchants from strictly business motives, then he says something which is not so much false as startling and arrestingly foolish. He might as well say that the two sexes were invented by jewellers who wanted to sell wedding rings. G. K. Chesterton

My Body Is A Temple …

“My body is a temple.” We’ve all heard this as a mantra for dieting, exercise, taking care of one’s self. When you really think about it, the words have a less than Christian ring – an odd thing for a biblical phrase.

The Bible does state (at the end of 1 Cor. 6) that “Your body is a temple,” but it goes on to this crucial end: “of the Holy Spirit.” Omitting those last words changes the whole meaning. In its biblical form, the admonition is to honor God with your body, remembering that His Spirit dwells in you. It is, by the way, used against sexual immorality. Sloganized in popular culture, it is used against overeating. You are to take care of your body because your body is a temple of … you.

A temple, it is good to remember, is the house of a deity, giving the popular urge disturbing overtones of worshiping the god within. Of course, most people who say it are not changing a profound Christian teaching to a statement of pantheistic self-worship. Usually they’re just reducing it to a trite, self-focused bumper sticker. Either way it’s no longer Christian – all for want of four words.

Can Aliens Be Saved?

One preoccupation of the modern era is outer space, the multitude of planets and the possibility of intelligent beings other than ourselves. It has occasionally been wondered what it would mean for Christianity if we discovered extraterrestrial life – or it discovered us.

This November a Times reporter named Hannah Devlin posted an article whose title inquired, “Does Jesus Save Aliens?” Setting the tone immediately, the article began by noting that the Catholic Church burned Giordano Bruno at the stake four hundred years ago for asserting the “plurality of worlds”. This was how the author led into her report of a meeting between scientists and religious leaders at the “seemingly more open-minded Vatican”.

But the meeting isn’t the point of the article, either. The point of the article is what the reporter tells us the scientists and religious leaders did not discuss: “the theological quandaries thrown up by the possibility of other life forms beyond this planet”.

She then cites a cosmologist’s opinion that “the possibility of other civilisations – potentially more intelligent than our own – puts Christians ‘in a real bind’. Specifically, he says that nobody’s satisfactorily addressed the question of whether aliens get saved. ‘The Catholic church offers a very species specific brand of salvation. No one says that Jesus came to save the dolphins and certainly not little green men.’ ”

This is not a question of modern science causing difficulties for religion. It’s a question of science causing difficulties for Christianity. We are informed that the existence of aliens does not pose such problems for Eastern religions, which are “less Earth-centric”, or Islam, which “speaks explicitly of life beyond Earth”. As does Mormonism, but we won’t go there.

One might also say that you do not need to worry about whether there is salvation for aliens when you do not believe there is salvation for humans. What makes this issue unique to Christianity is that only Christianity proclaims a Redeemer.

Devlin writes, “I agree with Davies that this isn’t a trivial issue for theologists. Giggle factor aside, the question of whether Jesus would save aliens goes right to the heart of Christian beliefs. If you believe that ‘intelligent life’ equals having a soul, then you have to ask where you’d draw the line. If scientists found dolphins on a distant planet, they would be mad with excitement at having found something so smart. But what would theologians make of them?”

This paragraph is all you really need to know that you’re dealing with an argument made in ignorance. Theologians would make nothing more of dolphins on other planets than they make of dolphins on this planet. The reason that “No one says Jesus saves dolphins” – of any planet – is simply that they have no souls to be saved.

Despite the repeated assertions, the issue of possible extraterrestrial life exists is not significant to Christianity. There is no problem, no theological quandary, no bind – whatever you come up with.

Taking the question from the beginning, many people have thought the mere existence of aliens would be troublesome for Christianity. (It’s an Earth-centric religion, the cosmologist tells us.) Christianity is wholly silent on the subject of extraterrestrial life, and its silence cannot be used as an argument against it. The Bible, as C. S. Lewis once pointed out, was not written to satisfy our intellectual curiosity but to tell us what we need to know. One needs no great faith in divine wisdom to say that the matter of (a) aliens and (b) their souls was reasonably omitted.

The Times article, of course, asserted that the quandary for Christianity was whether aliens can be saved, not whether they exist. The argument, as I said, is made in ignorance of Christianity, and part of the ignorance is the assumption that if aliens exist, they need to be saved. What, after all, is it that Jesus saves us from? Our sin. The Redemption of Man cannot be understood without the Fall of Man; you have to understand the doctrine of Original Sin before you can understand the Gospel.

Christianity teaches not only that the human race is corrupt, but it is corrupted. As the author of Ecclesiastes said, “God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” Our sin is unnatural in the sense that it is not our original state, not the way we were created or meant to be. If God created other rational species, then He created them upright also.

But let’s take the bull by the horns. Let us assume that there are aliens and they, like our race, have fallen. That would hardly present a startlingly new scenario, a matter outside Christianity’s reckoning. The Bible already teaches the existence of beings more powerful and more intelligent than we are—and also fallen. And it leaves no question that the redemption God provided for fallen men is not offered to fallen angels.1

Why God, in His sovereign choice, did not show fallen angels the mercy He showed humanity is a mystery for the ages. The Bible offers no explanation. Over the years Christians have speculated on what the reasons could be. Perhaps rebellion in heaven is a worse sin than rebellion on earth; perhaps, being greater than we are, angels are judged more strictly. “To whom much is given much is expected.” Maybe it has something to do with the fact that all angels were given Adam’s choice; they were not made sinners through another’s disobedience.2 Maybe angels and demons are not capable of faith as humans are, as they know things that we must believe.

All this is only speculation, but it should open to us the true complexity of the matter. Critics can ask glibly if Jesus saves aliens, but the serious answer—the most rational and the most orthodox—is that if there are aliens, God will deal with them according to their situation and His own will, justice, and mercy.

Maybe, after all this, someone will want to ask, “What if all these conditions are met? Supposing there are aliens, and they have fallen, and their sin and their guilt are like ours—would Jesus save them?”

Honestly, I don’t know. It’s hard to answer a question founded on ifs like that. It’s even harder to feel much concern over it. One thing I am certain of: We will have a theological quandary when—and no sooner—we have made the acquaintance of little green men and made an exact determination of the state of their souls.

1Ironically, Christianity is often mocked as superstitious and mythical for teaching the existence of angels, demons, and Satan—i.e., rational beings other than ourselves. It is also condemned as narrow and backward in light of the possibility of extraterrestrial life—i.e., rational beings other than ourselves.

2Romans 5:12-21

To All A Merry Christmas…

“Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the LORD. “And I will heal them.”

– The Book of Isaiah, chapter fifty-seven verse nineteen

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

–  The Book of Luke, chapter two verse fourteen

In honor of the season…

Christmas quotations:

If this birth had been announced to the nobility of this world and the shepherds had compared themselves with these men of influence and their wisdom and wealth, it would have been frightening to them. For men fear power and stand in awe of wisdom. If Christ had come with trumpets and had had a cradle of gold, his birth would have been a splendid affair. But it would not be comforting to me. He was rather to lie in the lap of a poor maiden and be considered of little consequence in the eyes of the world. Now I can come to him. Martin Luther

It is not for the angels to be proud of Christ’s incarnation, for Christ did not assume angelic but a human nature. Therefore it would not be a surprise if the angels looked at us with envy in their eyes because we human beings, creatures far inferior to them and sinners besides, are placed above them into an honor so high and great. They worship Christ, who has become our Brother, our flesh and blood; and yet they are not envious but gladly grant us the honor and are sincerely pleased by the fact that Christ is our Brother. They marvel at the human nature in Christ; and yet the honor and glory are not theirs but ours. And we human beings are unable to rejoice and be proud of it… Is this not a great pity? Accursed of God be this wretched unbelief! Martin Luther

[T]he birth of Jesus is a glorious moment, and the manger scene brings comfort and joy and Christmas cheer. But it should also inspire a holy terror in us: that this baby is God incarnate, the King who came to set the captives free—through His violent, bloody death on the cross as atonement for us, His unworthy subjects. Chuck Colson

The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man–a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab. C.  S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

If a man called Christmas Day a mere hypocritical excuse for drunkenness and gluttony, that would be false, but it would have a fact hidden in it somewhere. But when Bernard Shaw says that Christmas Day is only a conspiracy kept up by Poulterers and wine merchants from strictly business motives, then he says something which is not so much false as startling and arrestingly foolish. He might as well say that the two sexes were invented by jewelers who wanted to sell wedding rings.  G. K. Chesterton

Any one thinking of the Holy Child as born in December would mean by it exactly what we mean by it; that Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate. G. K. Chesterton

The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.  G. K. Chesterton

Christmas articles:



Christmas poems:

At Christmas

by Edgar Albert Guest

A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season is here;
Then he’s thinking more of others than he’s thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime.

When it’s Christmas man is bigger and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service that is prompted by the heart.
All the petty thoughts and narrow seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he’s seeking is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas he is almost what God wanted him to be.

If I had to paint a picture of a man I think I’d wait
Till he’d fought his selfish battles and had put aside his hate.
I’d not catch him at his labors when his thoughts are all of self,
On the long days and the dreary when he’s striving for himself.
I’d not take him when he’s sneering, when he’s scornful or depressed,
But I’d look for him at Christmas when he’s shining at his best.

Man is ever in a struggle and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it, but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost what God sent him here to be.

The House of Christmas

by G. K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless

And all men are at home…

And, yes, we will even have a…

Christmas joke:

Top Ten Things To Say About A Christmas Present You Don’t Like

10. Hey! There’s a gift!
9. Well, well, well …
8. Boy, if I had not recently shot up 4 sizes that would’ve fit.
7. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.
6. Gosh. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. There are lots of unexplained fires.
5. If the dog buries it, I’ll be furious!
4. I love it — but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.
3. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.
2. To think — I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

And the Number One Thing to say about a Christmas gift you don’t like:
1. “I really don’t deserve this.”
Merry Christmas!