EPISODE 2: Questioning Christmas
This week (March 3) on Shabbat Night Live, one of the first Christian traditions that believers begin to question is Christmas. Is it pagan, or isn’t it? Does celebrating Christmas constitute sin? If not, what’s the problem?
Luke and Kayte Abaffy recall their journey creating a documentary around the Christmas question.
Watch the episode — included on this blog post.
While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Aside from fulfilling the mandate to spread the truth of YeHoVaH throughout the world, evangelical efforts in the Southern Hemisphere have been notably proliferating in recent decades. How have Western media outlets either ignored or marginalized this activity, despite their focus on migrants and populist movements? Is this a function of arrogance, carelessness, or a refusal to recognize the impact of spirituality?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how has the increasing commercialization of Christmas in wealthy countries since the mid-20th century served indirectly to aid evangelical endeavors in the developing world? How does the unthinking materialism that is promoted throughout the capitalist West through exploitation of the Christian calendar serve to encourage “the still, small voice” of divine truth within the poor and unlearned?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How do today’s evangelists in this vast, multinational part of the world face the challenge of semi-literacy among those who seek salvation? How can such subjects as scriptural history, the vagaries of translation in biblical texts, and the dangers of syncretism be taught and advocated without the corporatization that often restricts freedom of thought and imposes narrowly-defined learning models?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does the method of scriptural and historical interpretation demonstrated by Hislop’s controversial The Two Babylons (1853) serve to illuminate ancient Babylon as an enduring point of reference for diverse believers who seek salvation through YeHoVaH? How have postwar developments in the Middle East, such as the restoration project of this city by the Ba’athist government of Iraq, underscored the challenges posed by seeking contemporary signs of the Book of Revelation’s prophecies?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) In light of the recent evangelical revival at a small, largely unknown Kentucky university and the grudging reportage by the mainstream media, how likely are such practices to make an impact upon public perception and conscience in our cynical, materialist age? How might the spread of voluntary restrictions in diet and days of work among various denominations, hearkening back to our nation’s earliest settlers, become part of an emergent and unanticipated spiritual awakening?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) How is the post-Christian reflex of the early 2000s manifested through such popular culture events as solstice celebrations in music and dance, environmental efforts involving Native American ceremonials, and the resurgence of Gnosticism? How might the conflicting components of these practices allow for influence of the demonic among those unwitting individuals who lack any sufficient background in Christianity?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Similarly, how might the spread of these diverse activities be indirectly responsible for the disturbing revival of anti-Semitism throughout many nations, thanks to pervasive ignorance of the Hebrew heritage in both Christian worship and Western civilization? How do such elements as the BDS movement and the euphemism “Anti-Zionist” serve to corrupt the attitudes of those who are susceptible to the temptation of scapegoating?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How does the tiresome phenomenon of the “twice-a-year Christian” pose a problem for those who practice their faith on a daily basis, incorporating prayer, study, and calendar-based worship? Aside from matters of negligence, how does this syndrome convey to potential believers an example of easy salvation predicated on the notion that scripture study and informed practice of doctrine are optional factors that do not impact salvation?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) Similarly, how does this level of poor intellectual formation also increase the vulnerability of those presumptive believers who might accept an inadequately-sourced or even invented foundation for certain practices, such as those discussed in a recent series about Mormonism? How does this widespread tendency reflect the progressive erosion over recent decades of deep literacy among our population, to the endangerment of countless souls?
- (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Conversely, how does this attraction to exotic yet questionable belief systems demonstrate both the very human need for a coherent structure of worship and the attendant imperative of evangelism for YeHoVaH’s promise of salvation, as commanded by Yeshua? How is this perennial situation ironically referenced in our cynical political commentary about received “narratives” concerning particular leaders and their self-serving testimonies?