without Jesus, beyond the binge and after the bloating indigestion, mega-sugar-crash, and fortified eggnog and other spirits hangover, what was it about? Fantasizing about Santa and goodwill to all people for some vague reason? Receiving some gifts that symbolize a love which is usually neglected in practice? Feeling a nice glow for a few days but then crashing back into the loneliness or shallowness of regular life for most of the rest of the year?
Evil has a personal face, all the time. A natural process is not “evil” of itself, but can evil effects on the living creatures sometimes caught in its path. Since we do not control these processes, we call them “acts of God”.
But the Creator is not “evil” for creating a cosmos in which its elements and processes may bring pain and suffering on the beings inhabiting it. Those beings are also part of that cosmos, but the difference is that some of them are aware of how things proceed, what kinds of effects some actions can produce – both on themselves and on other creatures, and even on the non-living part of the cosmos. That is where the moral element enters.
To be able to give the Gospel accounts a fair hearing, we have to do two things: (1) recognize our own operative worldview-paradigm for what it is, along with its limitations, and (2) understand, at least to some extent, the context in which the Biblical stories happened, including the operative worldview-paradigms of that time and culture.
Even today, with all the weight of our educational apparatus and cultural propaganda against bowing to “the absolute” and accepting our natural awe of the transcendent, the vast majority of humankind still adhere to what the sages of the ages have told us about the spiritual foundation of reality and the presence within it of mystery and things we are intended to seek, but from which we are estranged.
The ‘old truths’ are under siege, and, if there is any new truth, it shifts and reforms so quickly that it is like trying to catch your shadow. The West is trapped in its Enlightenment paradigm of truth: reason-logic-science will lead us to it. The West’s technological and economic ascendancy (now under threat from the rising stars of the Orient in particular) have engendered enormous backlash, even while those reacting to it adopt its main characteristics.
we should stop slandering the poor Neanderthals, who, anthropologists now tell us, had larger brains than we do and were just as intelligent, did not drag their knuckles, and did not talk in inarticulate grunts, having fully evolved vocal capacity.) To undo our Neanderthal slander, we should have our Parliaments and Congresses, and perhaps the UN, move official apologies to them and all their descendants, along with legislation for appropriate compensation.