Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Origins of the Jewish Holiday Tree

Lincoln Chaffee has offended some people by insisting on calling the Statehouse Christmas tree a “Holiday” tree. Now, some of us may be wondering why all the fuss? After all, lots of religions other than Christianity decorate trees with lights and ornaments and put them up in their homes this time of year. Now, thanks to the intrepid reporters at the Colbert Report, we have finally uncovered the true origins of the Hanukkah tree as seen in the picture below.

So, you see, calling our seasonal, coniferous, living room decoration a Christmas tree instead of a Holiday tree is really just WASPy prejudice. All religions are basically the same, right down to the little trees they decorate and place in their living rooms and their desire to pollute their most holy days with crass
while ignoring the true meaning of the holiday.

Next in our series on the origins of the Holiday tree: the Kwanza and Diwali trees. Because inventing history is far more interesting than pretending our culture appeared out of thin air 10 years ago.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Marriage and the Single Life in Theology and Practice

In the past, I have attempted a tongue-in-cheek explanation for why so many women who want to marry end up single and frustrated. Today I'm going to attempt to critique a much smaller subset of the problem, though one that I think is important for several reasons.

By basically ignoring passages in Scripture such as I Corinthians 7:1-9 and never developing a robust theology and practice of the consecrated single life, Protestantism condemns numerous women to either 1) a lifetime of seemingly purposeless singlehood/second class life compared to married people or 2) marrying men who are entirely unserious about their faith.

Throughout history the percentage of men who are serious about their faith has always been smaller than the percentage of women, especially after leaving the home. In the Catholic and Orthodox worlds, offering the option of becoming a nun to young women helps to balance the marriage market and increases the odds of young women finding a partner with whom they can be "equally yoked."

It is incredibly ironic to me that a subset of Christianity which has accepted contraception, in practice even the kind that sometimes stops implantation, has no visible representation of the consecrated single life which Scripture and the early church recommend so highly. I suppose though, it makes sense that a society which finds it unrealistic for married people to practice periodic abstinence would also have difficulty creating a vibrant culture where the unmarried could enjoy a meaningful, joyful sexless existence while feeling just as valued in their churches as their married comrades.

Anyway, that's my reaction to having been on both sides of the Protestant/Historic Christianity divide and hearing far more Protestant women complain bitterly about the lack of Godly men than Catholic/Orthodox. While the pain of not finding one's spouse/vocation can be visceral and real on both sides of the 16th century theological divide (especially in today's culture where many men are still living the life of an adolescent into their thirties), in my limited experience, it seems to run deeper and to be more common on the Protestant side of things... and the only (mainstream) answer seems to be "Don't Give Up on Marriage," which strikes me as entirely inadequate.