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Ralyks
12-19-2006, 09:47 PM
I recently read an interesting article in Touchstone on the darker meaning of Christmas. It pointed out that the greatest Christmas carols tend to remind us of the dark, grim, fallen world into which Christ was born. ("Long lay the world in sin and error pining"; "to save us all from Satan's power"; etc.) Christmas is so much more than a holiday celebrating the birth of a cute, cuddly little infant. We talk about keeping Christ in Christmas, but this author noted that it is equally important to keep Satan in Christmas. I found the thought very poignant, and just wanted to share it—It is significant for us not only to celebrate the fact that Christ was born, but to remember why He was born.

Roger J Carlson
12-21-2006, 07:33 PM
When I first saw this thread, I thought it was going to be an inflamatory one. But you make a good point. Christmas is more than just happy times and fa-la-la. It's a reminder of Christ's birth, the reason for which was to save us from our sins. Without sin, there would be no reason for salvation. And that is the reason for the season.

Pat~
12-21-2006, 07:45 PM
Ditto what Roger said. I'm not sure I'd call it 'keeping Satan in Christmas,' so much as keeping humility in Christmas, maybe? Remembering the incongruity of a holy God being born in a stable lends itself to the humbling realization that it was because of my own sin that God reached down and entered my world in such an astounding way. As happens again and again, it's scriptural history melded with allegory--He did this not only physically (historically), but He does this on a daily basis spiritually. It's what my avatar is all about.

truelyana
12-21-2006, 07:51 PM
:D anyone care for a dance...

Pat~
12-21-2006, 08:03 PM
:D anyone care for a dance...

The music's not playing here, but I hear it coming from your thread, and I'll head over in a bit :) ...

Medievalist
12-21-2006, 08:09 PM
When I first saw this thread, I thought it was going to be an inflamatory one. But you make a good point. Christmas is more than just happy times and fa-la-la. It's a reminder of Christ's birth, the reason for which was to save us from our sins. Without sin, there would be no reason for salvation. And that is the reason for the season.

I'm going to post a medieval Christmas carol. It's in Middle English, so it looks odd, but I think if you read the words phonetically (move your lips! It helps) it's will mostly make sense:

Adam Lay Bound

Adam lay ybounden, bounden in a bond,
Four thousand winter thoughte he not too long;
And al was for an apple, and apple that he took,
As clerkes finden writen, writen in hire book.
Ne hadde the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
Ne hadde nevere Oure Lady ybeen hevene Queen.
Blessed be the time that apple taken was:
Therfore we mown singen Deo Gratias.


It's the idea of the Fortunate Fall, that if Adam hadn't fallen from grace in taking the apple we wouldn't have needed Mary to bear Christ.

I love the way that sin and redemption and joy are all united . . .

Pat~
12-21-2006, 08:25 PM
I love the way that sin and redemption and joy are all united . . .

I'll second that!

I'd love to browse through your library, Medievalist. I could spend hours, I think. (Even days.)

BruceJ
12-21-2006, 08:30 PM
I'm going to post a medieval Christmas carol. It's in Middle English, so it looks odd, but I think if you read the words phonetically (move your lips! It helps) it's will mostly make sense:

Adam Lay Bound

Adam lay ybounden, bounden in a bond,
Four thousand winter thoughte he not too long;
And al was for an apple, and apple that he took,
As clerkes finden writen, writen in hire book.
Ne hadde the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
Ne hadde nevere Oure Lady ybeen hevene Queen.
Blessed be the time that apple taken was:
Therfore we mown singen Deo Gratias.


It's the idea of the Fortunate Fall, that if Adam hadn't fallen from grace in taking the apple we wouldn't have needed Mary to bear Christ.

I love the way that sin and redemption and joy are all united . . .

Fascinating poem, Med. And God certainly does have a way of uniting seemingly disparate notions.

Still, though, I think I would have preferred Adam not to fall (if I correctly understand your Fortunate Fall sentence). How history would be different, eh?

Merry Christmas and thanks for the offering. :)

davids
12-21-2006, 09:02 PM
Lucifer abounds in Christmas folly
beautiful as an Angel he
to hate him is to love
to love him is to hate
he sits outside the hearts of man
slight beckon enter
his only wish.

Robin Bayne
12-21-2006, 09:13 PM
Lots to think about.

Ralyks
12-22-2006, 05:21 AM
It's the idea of the Fortunate Fall, that if Adam hadn't fallen from grace in taking the apple we wouldn't have needed Mary to bear Christ.

I am not myself a fan of the Fortunate Fall. There was nothing fortunate in the fact that Christ had to suffer and be crucified---yes, it was fortunate for us, given our fall, that He was willing to do so--but how much more fortunate if we had never required it! This I think is perhaps what the author meant by "keeping Satan in Christmas"--the reminder that Christmas isn't just about beauty and joy and peace and all that...Yes, it's a joyous thing that He was born, and yet it is a sad thing that He had to be born. Or maybe we should just party and save all that morbidity for Good Friday.

BruceJ
12-22-2006, 04:38 PM
I kind of look at it like calling automobile accidents fortunate because now we can have insurance companies. :-)

CS Lewis does a neat job of capturing alternatives to the Fall in his Space Trilogy allegory; Out of the Silent Planet to worlds with populations who did not fall (e.g., Perelandra).

True, Robin. Lots to think about.

Roger J Carlson
12-22-2006, 06:03 PM
I have my own opinions about the Fortunate Fall, but I don't like to discuss them. It opens very muddy waters. Was sin, then, part of God's plan? If not, are we then admitting there is something out of His control?

However, I can say that I do not believe things would have been "better" if man had not fallen.

First of all, man *did* fall, so we can't really know what the alternatives would have been. Secondly, the Fall allowed God to demonstrate his incredible love for us AND allows us to demonstrate our love for Him. Thirdly, without the Fall, there is a distinct possibility that I might not exist. (This might not mean much to you, but I take it personally ;)). But even if I did exist, I wouldn't be the person I am now. I'm not perfect, but for all my faults, I'm me -- the me that God wants me to be. I wouldn't change any of it.

Just my thoughts.

BruceJ
12-22-2006, 06:57 PM
I have my own opinions about the Fortunate Fall, but I don't like to discuss them. It opens very muddy waters. Was sin, then, part of God's plan? If not, are we then admitting there is something out of His control?

However, I can say that I do not believe things would have been "better" if man had not fallen.

First of all, man *did* fall, so we can't really know what the alternatives would have been. Secondly, the Fall allowed God to demonstrate his incredible love for us AND allows us to demonstrate our love for Him. Thirdly, without the Fall, there is a distinct possibility that I might not exist. (This might not mean much to you, but I take it personally ;)). But even if I did exist, I wouldn't be the person I am now. I'm not perfect, but for all my faults, I'm me -- the me that God wants me to be. I wouldn't change any of it.

Just my thoughts.
In this context, I couldn't agree more. The idealist in me, though, still ponders a world where separation from God is outside even the scope of imagination. True, man did fall and the alternatives can only found within that scope of imagination I just mentioned. Also true that the Fall did allow God to demonstrate His love; however, I'm not sure He'd have broken a sweat coming up with other ways to demonstrate His love had the Fall not occurred, nor we for Him. As for your existence, Roger, I, for one, would lament that, too...assuming I would be here to lament it myself. ;) I kinda like you, given what I know about you so far! And who knows, in my idealistic alternative, perhaps we could all be both perfect and the persons God wants us to be. But, given my temporal and limited view of the world, maybe that would be boring(?)

Your best point, though seriously, is the potential implications to His Plan. He is, indeed, in charge and there is a Plan. From that viewpoint, things are as they should be. I guess it depends how far back in eternity you travel to assess cause and effect, eh?

truelyana
12-23-2006, 04:20 AM
:D

AzBobby
01-01-2007, 01:01 PM
Look who can't sleep after the family celebrated New Year's and all went to bed...

Happy Seven, everyone. Can't think of a better subject to start the year with. :)


I am not myself a fan of the Fortunate Fall. There was nothing fortunate in the fact that Christ had to suffer and be crucified---yes, it was fortunate for us, given our fall, that He was willing to do so--but how much more fortunate if we had never required it! This I think is perhaps what the author meant by "keeping Satan in Christmas"--the reminder that Christmas isn't just about beauty and joy and peace and all that...Yes, it's a joyous thing that He was born, and yet it is a sad thing that He had to be born. Or maybe we should just party and save all that morbidity for Good Friday.

Yes on the last point; and no, it's not sad that He was born. I'm a fan of the Fortunate Fall point of view, although the phrase "Fortunate Fall" is a new one to me. It works for those who take the salvation story literally as well as those of us who embrace some or all of it figuratively. (Same benefits, less intellectual trouble.) I can't separate the acts of creation and redemption. I can only understand them as a holistic act of God knowing what He was creating all along -- encapsulating the idea of the redemptive act however many years after the first men walked the earth, and applying however many years afterward -- and doing it anyway, despite the knowledge of future pain to the self as the price of love. To me that's a basic example to every living person who knows love, a strain of reason in salvation history that anyone can relate to, with or without quibbling over the historicity and science of the stories that reveal the point in scripture.

As for "keeping Satan in Christmas" -- uh, whatever works for you. I can't deny the words in the songs we keep singing. However, those negative references seem to always imply a message of freedom -- a reason to no longer worry, because God is among us. The messages taken in whole tend to be positive.

I can empathize more easily with certain examples in the modern stories -- I'm a dark-humor kind of guy and do tend to like Christmas tales with an edge. It's a Wonderful Life works not because it's sentimental, but because it gets so dark at times. George Bailey is one messed up sumbitch. If you don't know what I mean, watch it again with fresh eyes. Look at him, the drunk, crazy bastard who's lost all control of his life. Watch Jimmy Stewart make some of the most psychotic faces in cinema when he realizes how much worse the world can actually get without his existence. He looks crazier than Jack Nicholson in some of those shots. This is my idea of the kind of guy God can deal with.

Even Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer works -- the Rankin/Bass version with the animated puppets -- but for all the wrong reasons. My kids and I laugh out loud at how perfectly awful everyone is in that story. Even Santa is a butthead who rejects Rudolph for being different, until he turns out to be useful. What BS! Sometimes the dark-humor view of things emphasizes positive lessons, so I see our snarky enjoyment of such shows in the positive light. In other words, Rudolph works as an unintentional satire of itself. Only as such can it join the ranks of productions like A Charlie Brown Christmas that strike a blow against the modern materialism of the holidays.

The way dark, scary views of the world and human nature work so well in stories emphasizing positive Christmas messages makes me find some agreement with the point about "keeping Satan in Christmas" -- even if I'm not likely to phrase it that way again. It's even consistent with the tradition of celebrating Christmas around the time of the Winter Solstice -- which in ancient times, meant the life-threatening nights stopped getting longer and the days finally started getting longer again -- probably the best metaphor of the Christmas message the natural calendar had to offer, the promise of light and life emphasized by the time of darkness preceding it.

Again, happy New Year everyone! :)

Ralyks
01-12-2007, 12:57 AM
However, I can say that I do not believe things would have been "better" if man had not fallen.

Oh, I don't know. I think living in Eden would have been "better" than living in a world where a woman can be gang raped, or where babies can be left ignored in orphanages for so long that they stop crying, or where millions of people can be ushered into ovens and fried. I don't know what Eden was like, but I'm pretty sure that kind of stuff didn't happen there. Yes, much better if we had never fallen, if we had never lost Eden. But thank God that there is redemption from this fallen world, from the real suffering in it, a better life beyond it, where every tear will be wiped away. And all because God became flesh and dwelt among us, because we do not have a God who does not know what it is to be human in this fallen world.

I understand the difficult theological complications of saying the fall was not fortunate. It implies that things can happen that are against God's will. But the alternative--the fortunate fall--has equally difficult theological implications. It implies God wished suffering and evil to befall us. It implies that having the four year old child raped repeatedly by a pedophile was part of His original plan rather than the outcome of man's very unfortunate rejection of the world God really planned for him. All of this, any way you look at it, is very difficult. No one has ever resolved the question of theodicy. The story of the loss of Eden is the best and most complete answer we have in this life, and it itself is probably just a metaphor for a truth we cannot yet fully grasp. The story tells us, in essensce, that God created something beautiful and man screwed it up, but God won't let the screw up persist forever. I would like the answer to be neater and more satisfying than that, and perhaps it is. But for the moment, all I have to go on is the faith that God intends us good and that all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.



As for "keeping Satan in Christmas" -- uh, whatever works for you. I can't deny the words in the songs we keep singing. However, those negative references seem to always imply a message of freedom -- a reason to no longer worry, because God is among us. The messages taken in whole tend to be positive.

I never intended to imply the messages weren't positive! How can the destruction and defeat of Satan not be seen as positive? I don't mind tales and songs that remind us of the darkness that is a part of this fallen world. It is the contrast with the darkness that makes the light appear so very bright, and that makes its effect so very powerful. It is that light that is the centerpoint and message; the darkness only serves to bring it into focus in literature.

icerose
01-12-2007, 08:20 PM
Except without the fall we wouldn't be here, there would be no history, and nothing would have moved forward. Adam HAD to fall. He had to lose his innocense or it would be like placing two three year olds together and expecting babies. God knew this. He gave them two conflicting commandments.

One was Do not partake of this fruit or you will die. Which he did for we all know that each rule has a consequence, but mankind was created to be mortal. Knowing that we would be mortal the plan for Christ was setup long before the earth was even created. We gained the privilage of choosing what to do with our lives and that determines what happens to us after we die.

The second commandment was multiply and replenish the earth. They could not keep this commandment in their innocence, they had to fall.

Ralyks
01-13-2007, 08:28 PM
Except without the fall we wouldn't be here, there would be no history, and nothing would have moved forward. Adam HAD to fall.

Why do we need to be here? We're not that important. Someone else better would be somewhereles better, some descendant of Adam and Eve in Eden. There are all sorts of possibilities of what God might have done with Eden, with Adam and Eve, with thier descendants that didn't involve people slaughtering and raping and torturing and generally being cruel to one another. C.S. Lewis's Perelandra is a great book addressing the concept of the Fall and of how the Fall is not necessary, and of one possibility of what a world without a Fall might be like.



The second commandment was multiply and replenish the earth. They could not keep this commandment in their innocence, they had to fall.

Of course they could have done this in Eden. You don't think there could have been sex in Eden? You think sex was a consequence of the Fall? There is nothing in the story to indicate that. Shame may have been a consequence, but not sex. That existed before the Fall. It is not as though a man and his wife making love is some kind of sin that requires a fall from innocence. The consquence of the Fall was not that there would then be sex and birth, but that there would then be pain in birth and pain in life, a pain that did not exist in Eden.

I also don't understand your argument about being created mortal. We were created mortal, but the garden of Eden had in it the Tree of Life. As long as we ate of that tree, we would live, I presume. We were cut off from that tree when we ate the forbidden fruit. We did not "become" mortal, but we were cut off from life, until Christ came to restore that life.

But I believe at some point I took us way off topic, so I will bow out of this debate now. Certainly the "fortunate fall" is an unorthodox doctrine, but a very popular and prevalent one, held by both secularists (in a different form) and Christians.