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How Christian was your Christmas?

Not all Christians are Catholics of course, but we Catholics have been taking the brunt of the bad press for some time now (some might say for the last thousand years!). If one were asked to describe Catholics today I suspect the answer might not be very positive. Much of this is our own fault of course. We have a serious identity and image problem.

Too many of us have not embraced an authentic Catholic lifestyle. If we were living an authentic Catholic lifestyle people would just assume we were honest, prayerful, generous, hardworking, ethical, etc. Instead we have struggled to establish a vibrant positive identity. Plagued and persecuted by false stereotypes, burdened by scandals, corruption and the abuse of power, and lacking clear direction, we have failed to establish an authentic Catholic identity in the modern world. G. K. has written: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."  This is particularly true of Catholicism.

From where will we draw guidance and inspiration? Perhaps our new Pope is leading the way. But Jesus himself has surely already given us the answer when he said: "I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)  The love that the life and teachings of Jesus invite us to experience is real and relevant and the world is waiting for us Catholics to embody it.


May he succeed in leading your church to the path of its theoretical role model.
For my family, Christmas is more a time of togetherness than of deep observance. Some of my family members still go to Church, but not many. I don't, and really, I don't think there's anything wrong with that... Though I do hope to find one someday. I once went to a Thursday service before Easter, and I can't tell you how moving it was. But I don't necessarily think I need church to be inspired. It helps, but so do many other things.
A quiet and blessed one here.

Quakers see all days as holy so I try to live the Friends way all year and yes, it isn't easy.

No one ever said that it should be easy. :o)

One of the things which convinces me of the truth of Jesus' message on how we should live (turn the other cheek and all that) is how it goes against all human instincts. :)
I'm both a pacifist (Quakers generally are) and a professional military historian. Quite a circle to square, that one!
I'm a Christian, a Zoologist (firmly believing in evolution) and I write gay romance. Circles to square as well.

What's your specialist era?
I'm also trans and that really upsets some so-called Christians. One can get a little tired of having Deuteronomy (mis)quoted at one (especially as I also have Latvian Jewish ancestry. :o)

I have no difficulty in accepting both creation and evolution- makes perfect sense to me.

I specialise in the 17th century- the wars and civil wars of religion in Europe, particularly the Wars of the Three Kingdoms- England, Ireland and Scotland.
Lots of things upset so-called Christians. They'd probably have run Jesus out of town for being a long haired leftie. (And Levitican pick and mix makes me mad.)

17th century not an era I know much about, alas. Age of Sail and WWI float my boat.

That's part of the issue causing Christianity to fail for so many people- in my case, some sects seem to insist that they know what God intended for my body without seeing that what I dealt with at least proves that God has a warped sense of humour. :o)

They don't understand that my faith carried me through it all without me eventually taking my own life (and that would doubtless have sent me to Hell in their book too). Don't notice them not eating prawns or pork and refusing to undertake market gardening and when was the last time they sold their daughters into slavery?.........

If you are interetested in WW1 the up coming year should be a good'un publication wise!

The husbandly person and I own a house once the home of Major James Byford McCudden VC, the WW1 fighter ace.
Am very envious in re the house. The Museum of Army Flying is near us and they have some great stuff about the WWI lads there.

I have to smuggle books on WWI into the house at present as I may have a few too many...

In re all the laws, that feels a remarkably man made system, if that makes sense.

I'm glad your faith got you through. *hugs*
This is a barracks town. The Royal Engineers, McCudden's regiment before he joined the RFC have a really good museum:


I'm the daughter of a Royal Marine married to the son and grandson of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (My late FiL was a vet of both WW1 and WW2 and his dad of WW1) so I guess you can say my military history was never going to be an accident.

Can one have too many books? :o)

MAN made may be an important aspect of some of the sillier stuff!

I never doubted it would even at the darkest times and there were some of those.
My dad fought in Burma in WWII, although he rarely spoke about it. He had an interest in things military and I guess I inherited it from him.

MAN made may be an important aspect of some of the sillier stuff!

Couldn't have put it better myself. :)
The "sermon on the mount," (or Q1, more specificallY) seems to me not so much contrary to human "instinct" as it is contrary to all "advanced" social, economic and political structures (which i consider anti-human). These teachings are a model of an egalitarian, sustainable community and are sayings which could also be derived from Taoism or Buddhism or some other places.
One wonders if this Francis, like the other one, has heard the words - rebuild my church.
All the counter-reformation, "patriarchal and proud", barnacles on the Barque of Peter" being peeled away, so many things that hide the original compelling simplicity of the message.

But another word - I watched the Midnight Mass from St. Peters.
the thought came to me - Even if a woman is made head of a Vatican Congregation, even if that person is a lay woman, as long as all those faces around the altar are male I am a second class citizen. It is the eucharist, not vatican offices, that is the source of meaning for the catholic. As long as that center is for men only women remain on the edge, excluded, on lookers. The message is still there. No matter the corner office, it's still a men only club.

Edited at 2013-12-31 13:25 (UTC)
I'm not a Christian -- or anything religious. I celebrate the slow return of daylight after the longest day, and the traditional Western new year, with traditions (like present giving, feasting and decorating with lights and greenery) that come from the Romans, the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe and the Scandinavians.

Edited at 2013-12-31 13:55 (UTC)
I try to live my life by Jesus' new commandment. Sometimes it is hard, but I am inspired by Pope Francis and his examples of faith through good works and loving one another equally.
This comment speaks for me, too.
I think that goes for all religions. All man made creations tend toward corruption. No church meets its expectations - it can't. Churches are external things tasked with bookkeeping and maintaining doctrine. A relationship with God is an internal thing that can barely even be verbalized, much less institutionalized.
who on earth thinks of his religion as man-made?
I'd be interested to know of any that wasn't.
a culture makes the religion it needs - made in its own image
how do you know that?
Respectfully, it would take an enormous change to make me believe any organized religion isn't behavior control. Perhaps that is what civilization needed or needs.
My Christmas, as ever, was not desperately Christian, but I see it as a celebration of family and friends. Of course, as a (nominal) Protestant, the Catholics have persecuted my kind over the centuries, as we persecuted them. I can't shake off a belief in a higher force, but I think it's fair to describe myself as more agnostic than anything.
Amen! We all have a lot to learn from the new Pope, I think.

From a Lutheran Christian
As you know, I don't consider myself Christian at all, though I was raised in the Anglican faith. I've studied as much as I possibly can of the varying organised religions, and I suspect that partly the reason the Catholic Church has carried the brunt of the bad press is the sheer immensity of the power they wielded or so long, often in corrupt ways.It's the world's largest and oldest multinational corporations with all the negative connotations of such. I am unsure if your new Pope can help lift the Church, he has a great many around him who cling to the more privileged ways.

I've spoken before that I find my solace in the land, and this quote might explain more of how I feel: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/30396-those-who-contemplate-the-beauty-of-the-earth-find-reserves
I think most religions suffer image problems due to extremists within their ranks. For Christians (both Catholic and Protestants), I feel like that image problem would be fixed pretty rapidly if they actually lived a Christian lifestyle in practice and not just in theory. Especially the love one another part.