Welcome to Life in 361˚. This blog is an 'open journal' - a space where I keep notes on bits & pieces I come across day-to-day - including books and articles I've read that I feel are worth sharing, interesting pictures and photos (I'm a visual learner, you see), random musings - and anything else that happens to catch my eye or ear. It also acts as a kind of 'open experiment' in terms of developing my views and writing skills - and networking with other people of a like-mind.

If you've stumbled upon here randomly, then I suggest you check out my biography and other pages.

Please Note: This site, and the social networking profile pages connected with it, reflect my personal interests & views which do not necessarily represent those of organisations I am affiliated / associated with.


Christmas in the 21st Century

My internet browsing, deep reading of various books and subsequent blogging have all slowed due to the Christmas period - and that's a good thing. I've said it many times on this blog before, I'm sure, but those of us with inquisitive, analytical, whirring minds need to take time just to be otherwise we exhaust ourselves and fail to appreciate the simpler, often finer, things.

However, I thought I'd log on this morning to quickly give mention to two articles about this time in the traditional Christian calendar. I don't necessarily agree with them, but they are provoking.

First, there is Daniel Hannan's 'Christmas celebrates the defining event of our civilisation'. Daniel Hannan is a libertarian, often dissenting member and MEP, of the UK's Conservative Party. He argues, drawing on his own Peruvian connections, that the narrative and history of European Christianity finds a constructive connection with Paganism rather than it simply being a case of conquest and replacement - and that Christmas, which is clearly Pagan-rooted, is an example of this. He also argues that the Jesus Story of Ultimate Sacrifice continues to be the defining narrative of European / European-rooted civilisation.

Second, there is Mike Ghouse's 'Interfaith Christmas: Making God Boundless'. Mike Ghouse is writing for the Huffington Post, a liberal-left online newspaper, and is an advocate for religious pluralism. He argues that Christmas, the Christian version not the Capitalist one, need not alienate those of other faiths due to the universal religious value of forgiveness and generosity it expresses. (In trying to re-find the article by Mike Ghouse, I also found an article by Petula Dvorak, 'Christmas for Christians, Muslims and Jews', which expresses similar sentiments.) This seems to be more a Jesus Story of Continuous Service.

I am unsure how these fit with the debate over whether Christianity is culture-central or counter-cultural in terms of its relationship with Western societies. A longer discussion for another time I think.

I guess what we ultimately find in these are two views is an exclusive, harder-edged view of Christianity and a milder, more inclusive one. I am not sure where I stand, I think the Jesus Story does represent a key turning point in European history, and world history for that matter, but for me it's not necessarily all about atonement - it's the idea of an emerging 'prophethood and priesthood of all believers', a building of a 'Commonwealth of God', that the story of Jesus's life and teachings acts as a catalyst for. 

I guess that might make me a milksop for some, and maybe an ordinary radical to others.


Evershed Arts Billingshurst said...

Hi Matt,

very much enjoying exploring your blog. Your journey reflects mine quite closely (albeit I'm a Mansfield Town supporter).

Lots of interesting links for me to explore - thanks.
Stuart Coupe

Billingshurst Unitarians


Matt said...

Thank you for your heartening words, Stuart.

I'll take a look at your own site...