On one of the blogs which I follow, The Calico Critic, the blogger was telling us about a new title which she had just received from the publisher for review. Of course, after a little bit of googling I found out the the author is a major editor at Zondervan, a conservative Christian publishing house. (Some of my readers know that I am not Christian; however, I am interested in religion and theology.) Verlyn D. Verbrugge also recieved a PhD from Notre Dame. Anyway, the title of the slim volume is Not So Silent Night.
from The Calico Critic: "Traditionally, Christmas has been celebrated as a time of joy, peace and light. Verbrugge takes a different viewpoint. If you consider why Christ came into the world, His birth ushered in a new era of spiritual and physical conflict. The heralding angels should really be seen as soldiers of a heavenly army, declaring their readiness to their Commander in Chief. Essentially, "Christmas is the beginning of war." (p.74)Now, this type of theology is very like the Jihadist theology of Islam to my way of thinking. I am not someone who believes in sunshine and roses as any mainstay for a spiritual life; however, I do NOT believe that this world is a dichotomy of black vs white. This, in fact, has been a major "heresy" since the 4th/5th century of the Common Era. People have been murdered because of it (ie. The Albigensian Crusade). However, it is always there, underneath the surface. It is the famous mind/body problem of philosophy. Guess what? It's all material, people. There is no dichotomy. Spirit and flesh, mind and brain -- these are the same things. The world is a very messy place -- and we have to clean up the messes which we create. No demonic being creates these messes -- we do. In addition, we cannot shift the blame to "The evil devil made me do it." That is the largest piece of bush-wah ever -- and it was NOT a part of the Torah. Our brains, when they evolutionally reached the state of consciousness, started to create ethics as a means by which we can live with one another. Our brains also have a capacity to learn, if we allow it to happen. I am very cynical about this happening much right now, with more and more people wanting to take the easy way out. So, now that we are informed that this is NOT really a season of peace because "evil" is an ontological entity. We must rise and say, NO! We are the peace-makers -- and the war-makers -- and, finally, the mess-cleaners. No one makes us DO anything -- and no one else -- not even the gods -- will do it for us.
ADDENDUM : Added the following day:
All sacred literatures are subject to interpretation. They are all "sacred lies", "mythologies", or "parables." This is because NO ONE can really ever, ever know the exact nature of the divine. The prequel of the Christian story of salvation is read INTO the Torah and Tanach; however, it is really NOT there. It is a much later interpretation (much later than the 1st century of the Common Era in fact) of some statements in prophetic literature, which can be read any number of different ways. St. Augustine was the theologian who derived Original Sin out of Genesis. The concept is utterly foreign to Judaism. In addition, later so-called apocraphal Jewish literature which is very questionable (I don't believe that it is in the Tanach and it is not in Protestant versions of the Old Testament) has been used as much of the buttress, along with a watered-down dualism which came from Persia and the later Gnostics, to help cobble together much of what was to become "orthodox" Christianity. I am not going to dispute the idea of an historial Yeshua ben Yosef, one of many so-called messiahs in the early 1st century, though there really is no actual historical "proof" since the Josephus citation in his history of the Judaic Wars, written for Vespasian, was later added by some unknown scribe. His mission was in continuing rabbinic Judaism, which had started during the first century before the common era. He was never interested in anyone except his own ethnic group. In fact, up to Constantine, there was never universal religion of any sort. It was always known that people worshipped the gods of their ancestors and the land in which they lived. In the Tanach it is stated any number of times that the gods of their neighbours existed; however, the Hebrews were told not to worship them along with Yahweh. The Tanach can also be said to be a sort of history of the formation of what was to become modern Judaism.
Now, seguing into the issue of "demons" as being evil -- sorry, these ideas are quite different from the ancient Greek word daimone, which is an emanation (like a numa) from a deity. They can also come from our ancestors, heroes, etc. (and saints and angels). Even in that most problematic book of the Tanach, Job, the Light Bringer who inflicts misery upon Job is sent by Yahweh in order to test the strength of his belief and love. He is NOT an evil being. In most of the ancient world the divine realm was not purely good at all. In most cases it was neutral. The gods were beings beyond good and evil -- they just were and they were deathless