Christmas is weird
Note: This was originally posted on facebook, on Christmas.
I've only realized this Christmas how weird the whole thing is. From the outside, not much happens: a baby's born out of wedlock in a barn. Some shepherds show up. For whatever reason a few Zoroastrian dudes bring presents.
And yet, if we believe the biblical accounts, this is the one and only God coming to earth. This is the crux on which the universe's history is supposed to turn, an omnipotent and incomprehensible God becoming comprehensible by becoming, of all things, a baby who's going to grow up to cast out demons, heal the sick, and overcome death. This is possibly the most important thing that has ever happened, and it's just some random carpenter's kid sitting in a bunch of cow food.
This is an idea that really weirds me out and I can't put my finger on why. I guess I think of things I care about (woo theater and math) and think the world should revolve around them. Or at least should revolve around things like politics and economics and power and science and things where you can see the results. Like of course people like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders seem to be, regardless of how we feel about them, more important than the average person.
But what if that's not the way it is? What if, in some intangible but nevertheless real way, the weird twenty minute conversation with the homeless dude who keeps singing the same song but you feel too awkward to just leave turns out to be more important than an entire semester spent on some class? What if the toothless guy whose fingers don't work and who can't get into a shelter because he has pneumonia turns out to be more important than the famous politician you're kinda tired of seeing but just doesn't seem to go away? Not just in a throwaway "we should care about everybody" line but a way that's somehow true?
I don't mean this in an "It's a Wonderful Life" sort of way, like "wow twenty years later the twenty minute conversation turned out to have helped me be in the right place at the right time and led to a series of steps that changed history." Something closer to "if we can mix up God with some random baby and screw up enough to crucify him, then there's something super off in how we view the world". Something doesn't line up between the physical world as we see it and Jesus's proclamations that the kingdom of God belongs to the poor and weary. Or that the earth shall belong to the meek. To say that "the last shall be first and the first shall be last" is either a cheesy sentimentalism and false, or something sincerely difficult and challenging and counterintuitive and kinda scary and, somehow, true.
I dunno. I can't provide evidence for this. It's not even a statement that can be true without some level of supernaturalism. But I think it's one that follows from the Christmas story (the Jesus one). And I think it's something that, if true, has very real and dangerous implications for how we spend our money and live our lives. For who we value and how we value them. And it's something I can't wrap my head around so I wrote a super long post hoping to clarify things in my head but it didn't really work.
Anyways, Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! (if you don't celebrate Christmas and have made it this far, then many kudos to you for reading things you don't necessarily agree with! You are succeeding in the Epistemic Closure challenge!) Happy any-other-holiday-you-may-be-celebrating-around-now!