Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Religious Christmas History

This time of year many thoughts occur to me while I sit and relax. Needless to say, lately, all sorts of things enter my mind....questions.....memories......more questions.......and wonder.

I had a conversation on the telephone with an old friend tonight. We had not been in touch for many years........and it might have remained that way for more years if not for the receipt of a Christmas card. The card came with a note that my friend's mother was not expected to live to see Christmas this year. She is suffering with cancer and is staying with her daughter for hospice. This is all too familiar for me because we are essentially going through the very same thing here at my home. When it rains it pours, doesn't it?

Worse yet, the note stated that my friend had a serious health issue himself. In the phone conversation it was revealed that he has terminal cancer. He is a year or two older than me. He never smoked and he has lung cancer of the worst kind. As you can imagine, I was stunned by this news. News like this makes you think alot, about your own life.....those in your immediate family........relatives......friends.......everything. You think about the old days when this kind of news was never delivered to you. It's like there is this inevitable monster out there that will eventually claim another victim that you happen to be closely associated with. You can't run and you cannot hide from it........and it keeps coming and nobody can stop it. So what shall you do?

Well, so far, there isn't much you CAN do.....except appreciate the good that you have and maybe you can be able to help others up the right path so that they can appreciate and enjoy the good in their lives.

As to enjoyment, I fully intend to enjoy this Christmas. As we do each year, the family will will head down to Fell's Point for Midnight Mass at Holy Rosary Church on Christmas Eve. What makes this event even more special than it already is, is that this is all done in Polish. Holy Rosary Church is one of the few "Polish" churches here in Baltimore. Before the Mass, Polish "Koledy" (Christmas Carols) are sung. It just would not be a complete Christmas if we stayed at home. The songs are beautiful and the atmosphere is exactly what is needed. After the Mass is a small "social" gathering for some coffee and snacks. One of these snacks is called "cruschicki", which are shaped like bow-ties covered in powdered sugar and is a necessity for a true Polish style Christmas.

This is the inside of Holy Rosary Church in Baltimore. As you can see, there are Christmas trees and poinsettias in full display.

Here is a closer look at the altar. I realize that churches are not everyone's cup of tea. Some people choose to go to a small building that looks like it should be part of an industrial park. For me....there is no place like Holy Rosary Church and the feeling you get when inside.

That church has a long history in our family......many christenings, marriages and funerals. And while some things have changed over the years....the choir is smaller, the neighborhood gentrification, the school has closed........it is pretty much the same as it always has been. Nothing changes all of the memories that are firmly embedded in our lives. Those memories are always refreshed whenever we attend.

I cannot say that about others, though. Other people will not be celebrating the birth of Christ. They will be busy studying magazines and preparing their door-to-door gloom and doom sales spiels. Those people are known as Jehovah's Witnesses. Nobody can ever give me a good explanation for not wanting to honor the birth of our Savior. Never. If anyone should be honored, it should be Jesus..........especially if you happen to consider yourself Christian. If you do not consider yourself Christian, I might could understand why you wouldn't bestow any honor of Jesus Christ. And if you are the complete opposite of a Christian, you would be called an "anti-christian". The first thing that comes to mind when hearing that term is "satanists" or "witches".....or simply "evil"............yet, there are people that are led to believe that they can be "Christian" and do things exactly as the "anti-christian" does.

A Satanist surely doesn't celebrate Christmas. It is obvious as to their reason for not doing so. But a Christian not celebrating?.............that just doesn't make sense to me. Back to the Jehovah's Witnesses.......it is unfortunate that many of them are not aware of their own organizational history. There was a time, back in the formative years of what is known as the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, that they DID in fact celebrate Christmas! Sadly most of Witnesses are never told about that........and when they are told, they sometimes respond with "the organization was run by apostates back then" or "we had new light". (which apparently cancelled out all prior new light....hehehe)

The following photo is of a large group of people that operated the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society in NY. Some in the photo were their "governing body" members. Some went on to become President of the corporation. History does not lie. The big question is WHY did they stop doing as Christians do?

By golly there was a lot of gift giving going on....and it wasn't just a new magazine or book all wrapped up. Notice the Christmas decorations? I don't see alot of smiling faces there.........maybe some were disgusted that they couldn't any of the crackers or drink any of the wine...........no wait!...........wrong celebration.........THAT is what happens (or should I say doesn't happen) around Easter. I will explain that another day.
Alot of Jehovah's Witnesses also do not seem to know much about the founder of their "religious" corporation. His name was Charles "Taze" Russell. That's a picture of his tombstone above. His picture is on the tombstone. Everytime I see his picture I cannot help but think of the old guy in the movie "Poltergeist" that was scary looking and said "you're all gonna die!" One of the big things about Russell that the Witnesses seem to never be aware of........other than that Russell requested his "toga" while dying on his deathbed........is the pyramid that you see in the photo shown below.
Yep..........THAT pyramid. The notorious Watchtower pyramid. As it is, this grave site of Russell sits right across the road from a Masonic Temple. The cemetery is believed to be a Masonic cemetery. Further clues as to that fact is the obvious usage of Masonic symbols on the markers. Some go way beyond just a marker or a tombstone and put up a rather sizeable chunk of granite. The Watchtower folks put up a PYRAMID.......and not just any pyramid. This one, decked out with Masonic symbols and the Watchtower name sits right adjacent to Russell's grave. If his tombstone is his "headstone", then the pyramid could be called his "footstone". There is no denying it......the pyramid is still there to this day.

Have a closer look............ Yep.......it says "Watchtower Bible And Tract Society"....right below that crown and cross symbol.

So what does all of this matter? Well.........that is a long story, I suppose. I guess the best words I can offer to sum it all up, is, for what it's worth............it is said that "those that fail to remember their history, are condemned to repeat it". Seems to me that sometimes that could be a good thing to a certain degree. You never know......one day in the near future, the Watchtower may get some "new light" again and have the Jehovah's Witnesses actually celebrate the birth of Christ again...........and THAT would be a step in the right direction.

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