the secular stealing the Sacred

As a survivor of the Communist Holocaust I am horrified to witness how my
beloved America, my adopted country, is gradually being transformed into a
secularist and atheistic utopia, where communist ideals are glorified and
promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are ridiculed and
increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation.
Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called
“liberal” and “progressive” elites, God has been progressively erased from
our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of
delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

(vintage Christmas Card)

About a week back or so, I wrote a post about the fact that we actually have two
Christmases…with the truth being that we do…we do have two.

And in turn, we have what seems to be a melding.

One is the secular Christmas of Santa, presents, stockings, commercialism and merchandising.

The other, of which is the original of the two, is the Christmas of a birth.

A birth that isn’t just any kind of birth…but rather it’s the birth of
a Savior…the birth of the Sacred.

So now that we have all of that clear—I should let you know that I have always tried hard
to keep the two separated yet at the same time, trying to keep them as one.

I think that chore is more of a burden that is not merely my burden alone…
but rather a burden that most Christians have struggled with…that being
the balance of the Sacred and secular.

And it seems as if, every year about this time, I jump on a tiny soapbox pontificating this
same ol conundrum…
And every year I tell myself, enough is enough.
I won’t get sucked in…not again.

There’s a lot of work to do for our secular side.
And it’s really a great deal of busy, and even expensive, sort of work.
And oh how we stress over it all.

We fret over the tiniest of details.
We strive for perfection while always falling short as we are then made to feel as if
we did not live up to the expectation our culture has put upon us.

But let’s be honest, we really put it on ourselves do we not?
If put another way, we actually “allow” it to make us feel as if we have not lived
up to the perfection….
However, me thinks there is something more going on here, more than meets the eye…

It’s actually something which many would consider near criminal…
A crime that is actually taking place in plain sight—
yet none of us appears to be any the wiser.

It is the stealing of the Sacred by the secular.

Yep, you read correctly.

The secular is, or certainly is trying, to steal the Sacred.

Yet here’s the thing…we are allowing it to happen.
We are complicit.
We are falling hook, line, and sinker— while all throughout this theft, we’re being dupped.

It is in our defense, that I state for the record, that we are being hoodwinked.
We are being lulled into this crime of complicity by the shiny lights and sounds
of the slick merchandising of the season that now ramps up sometime after July 4th.

So this year, my one small “rebellion” against complicity…

I opted not to send out Christmas cards.

At first, it was going to be the lights.
Then it was the tree, the gifts, the cooking, the decorating….see what I’m saying??
we’re living on an out of control fast rolling snowball turned avalanche.

Every year, early in the Fall, I’d seek out my Christmas Cards.
I did not take the task lightly.

When our son was little, ours was the basic card of a small family wishing
A Merry Christmas to all.
It was always a photo type card of our little boy with a Christmas Greeting from
all three of us.

Yet as time passed and he grew to be a young man versus that of a little boy, I shifted our
card focus from the greeting of a family through the image of their child to now
a card of only the Sacred.

A religious card that proclaimed the birth of a Savior.

It was not to be one of those types of cards with pictures of the whole family at the beach,
or on some exotic trip or some sort of montage of family feats and accomplishments…
nor was it to be one of those letter types of card that is a laundry a list of who, what
and where of the great and grand.

I understand that the simple sacrificial Christmas card morphed into becoming a surrogate
form of communication…
It became the equivalent of filling in the gaps of a year without having touched base
with the list of names on a list.

The Christmas card turned into the catch-up of life, liberally spiked with a heavy dose
of grandstanding.

It became the litany of a brag sheet of trips, events, accomplishments, and milestones…
Nothing about Christmas…that being Christ’s mass.

Nothing about Christ even being hidden in the details of that spectacular vacation to Machu Pichu
or your eldest now graduating top of her class.

Where is Jesus in the tales of where you went, who you saw, or what you accomplished?
Are there any thoughts or reflections regarding your service to Him or his sheep?

I don’t mind the images of the little children or even those of grandchildren as children
seem to be the connecting glue between the Sacred and the secular…
it is the children…or so that is what it should be.
The Sacred is that of a child and the secular is that of collective children.
Or so it was to be…
Innocence and the mystical mixed with the gift of Sacred birth.

So I figured…I’d send out my card here instead.
Just one big card for friends, family, and even strangers…

And since I would have sent them out by now, I figured I should do so here today.

So I offer you this lovely Italian baroque time period painting of the Nativity–also known
as the Adoration with Saints Francis and Lawrence…
a beautiful image for reflection and proclamation.

Yet it is a painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio—commissioned in 1609 as an altarpiece
for an oratory in Palermo, Sicily, the Oratorio di San Lorenzo…
A painting with a mysterious past, painted by a rogue of a painter…

It would be centuries following its completion that the painting would be
quietly taken by two men working for the Mafia and in turn
it would be “lost” for nearly 40 years.

A painting of the Sacred, painted by one who was anything but…
A painting that was stolen by those who were perhaps even worse than the artist…

Thus we have an example of the secular literally stealing an image of the Sacred….hummmm

(here’s a little link to the backstory behind the painting and artitst…I’ve written
about Caravaggio before…a very secular rogue of an artist who could paint oh so powerfully
the of the Sacred in a way unmatched by many other artists…one of my favs… )

May we all be blessed as we recall the Sacred birth of Salvation…

The Adoration / Nativity with St. Francis and St Lawrence / Caravaggio 1609)

13 comments on “the secular stealing the Sacred

  1. hatrack4 says:

    Your Christmas card reminds me of an old Christmas decoration we had. We had a choir or young boys in robes, just like the card, except they were all candles. Of course, in the South, they can melt if placed in the wrong place. I think my mother placed them in the window once, and we got puddles of white and red wax.

  2. Salvageable says:

    I think the stress and strain of trying to keep Christ in Christmas while also trying to keep up with the secular Christmas is part of the seasonal depression that so many people suffer this time of year. Of course the shorter days and longer nights contribute too.
    Last week I heard a pastor who spent his one minute of radio time talking about how special Christmas is because the world stops and listens to the Story. He mentioned singing angels and the miracle of childbirth, but he never got around to saying what the Story is, let alone what it means. I was very, very disappointed. J.

  3. Wally Fry says:

    I have always found Christmas engenders a lot of performance anxiety. Even before I realized it all had anything to do with the Incarnation I hated it for the most part. Seems like it’s impossible to meet everybody’s expectations. LOL, being broke is actually quite the blessing, as there is no pressure to make everybody happy. In other words, take what you get and be happy.

  4. says:

    I read your post this morning, but didn’t have time to respond. That gave me all day to digest it. This year is our first without a tree. I have a million ornaments tucked away in the attic. Most of the other trappings are also in the attic. I’ve not yet done any baking or shopping. I gave up sending cards a few years ago. I sound like Scrooge right? Actually I feel sad that we don’t have a tree, but we aren’t having anyone here for the holidays so it would just be for Paul and me. There
    Is very little extra for gifts and we have two birthdays this month. It occurred to me, that none of that stuff matters. Mary and Joseph were facing humiliation and scorn. She was due to deliver her firstborn child any minute and had to travel almost a hundred miles on the back of a donkey. There was no midwife, no bed to lay the child, a young husband who knew nothing no about birthing no babies. They had no money, no food and no place to stay. Still it was all part of God’s master plan to save His people. Out of poverty He came. He left his royal kingly robes and exchanged them for swaddling clothes. This little child was God in the flesh and he came to earth to give all the people freedom from sin. That’s what it’s all about. Thanks for this precious reminder.

    • well you know I wasn’t “doing” a tree until a first time retired retailer free from the bondage of Christmas sales…wanted to actually enjoy a tree for the first time this year…which I get.

      I hear you about birthdays colliding with Christmas…both Brenton and Abby turn 30 days before Christmas…throw in Christmas and a new grandbaby who will have her first Christmas and actually her last first Christmas as unbeknownst to her, her brother will be here in May…so yes, I get that…as I feel like a satuated sponge.

      You know, we try desperatley to hold on.
      The simple Advent calander wreath is all I want. Nothing more, nothing less…but that is not to be.

      I can remember when I was in about the 4th grade, we had a Jewish boy in class who got up before the class to share with everyone what Hanukkah was all about…where I was intrigued by the Menorah and the lighting of the candles, the class was all about 8 nights of gifts. It wasn’t the story, the oil, the light…it was 8 nights of receiving a gift.

      And so we see, it starts young…

      We get sucked in with the getting vs the giving….

      Less is truly more as far as our reverence for Christmas is concerned…meaning that the trappings and all that goes with the “holiday” takes away from the true purpose of our adoration!!!
      Adoration vs celebration!!!

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