What are our Christmas Carols Trying to Tell Us?

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What were the authors of our Christmas carols and hymns really telling us?

Have your ever seriously considered what our most popular Christmas carols and Christian hymns are really trying to tell us? Find a hymnal and take a look a the lyrics for hymns such as Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Oh Holy Night, Coventry Carol, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Onward Christian Soldiers, etc. Do you really understand what those authors meant when they proclaimed "Let Earth receive her King" or described Christian soldiers "marching as to war"?

Most of us have been distracted from such issues by the rapid pace of modern-day commercialism. But if you have read my article "How it all Began" on this web-site, you will have some idea what those authors were trying to tell us. Next month, the points which they were making will be amplified with ASTOUNDING clarity when I re-publish the commentary on St. John's Book of Revelations which I sent to Pope John-Paul II in the summer of 1979.

In preparation for that, let's consider the issue of loyalty, as it pertains to the "one nation under God" portion of our "Pledge Allegiance to the Flag."

For the past eight years, at least, The Boston Globe (which is considered by many to be a "liberal" newspaper) has generally avoided setting foot in the waters of Biblical interpretations of current events, even when it has been pointed out to them that such interpretations are HIGHLY RELEVANT to ultimately solving some of the problems which they DO describe in their news coverage. They are certainly not alone in that regard. However, on November 20, 1996, they published the following letter:

[Globe titled] "Jesus set an example of abstaining from politics"

With reference to the article "The urgent responsibility of black churches" (op ed Nov 10), the premise that these institutions are involved in politics is painfully obvious. Like their counterpart on the other end of the spectrum, the Christian Coalition, they seem to be expending great amounts of their limited resources endeavoring to influence politicians.

It would be best if these right- and left-leaning churches spent more time feeding their flocks. But what really caught my eye was the following quotation "...we can greet the dawn of the new millennium by being as radically political as Jesus."

I defy the authors to show me anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus or his followers got involved politically. In fact, the one incident in Scriptures when the crowds tried to get him involved in the politics of the day, Christ fled to the mountains in retreat (John 6:14,15).

Looks like there are many who are representing themselves as ministers who need a refresher in Theology 101.
--- Jack King, Pelham, NH.

On November 29, 1996 The Boston Globe published the following response.

[Globe titled] "The Bible tells us Jesus's story was very political"

Jack King certainly writes as if he were someone who knew what he was talking about when he says, "I defy the authors to show me anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus or his followers got involved politically" (letters, Nov. 20).

In fact, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a Messianic donkey (Matthew 21:5), was hailed by his followers who cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matthew 21:9), was arrested by Roman soldiers (John 18:3), tried as a Messianic pretender (Luke 23:2-3) and executed by a Roman governor (Matthew 27:27), who put this sign over the cross "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (John 19:19). If Jesus had kept quiet, he might have lived a long life and stayed out of trouble with the political authorities.

It would not be hard to show that Peter and Paul were also arrested on political charges, duly tried and executed for meddling in politics.

--- Rev. Richard Arthur, Merrimack, NH

That's a decent reply, but I believe the following email which I sent to The Boston Globe on Nov 21 provides an even better perspective on these issues:

To: letter@globe.com
Subject: Jesus did NOT "abstain from politics"

This is in regards to Jack King's letter which you published on Nov 20th entitled "Jesus set an example of abstaining from politics." That's not true at all!

Although there were no democratic elections or political parties in Palestine at that time, Jesus taught his followers to put their faith and loyalty in what he called the KINGDOM OF GOD, a spiritual "kingdom" of people who seek, follow, and tell the truth relative to the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (with no restrictions on one's definition of "neighbor"--Luke 10:25-37).

King Herod was so fearful when he learned that another king might arise from Bethlehem that he tried to kill Jesus by murdering all of Bethlehem's male children under the age of three (that's political!). When Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem, the crowds hailed "Blessed the King who comes in the name of the Lord" (that's political!). When Jesus chased the money changers out of the Temple, the local religious leaders began plotting to have Jesus killed (that's political!). And on numerous occasions, Jesus publicly (and severely) criticized many of the local religious leaders and scribes (the religious news editors) of his day for not taking God's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself seriously (i.e. Jesus did indeed endeavor to influence what amounted to the local politicians of his day).

Jesus declined to lead those who were seeking Jewish "independence" from Rome (accurately predicting that their zeal for such ungodly objective would lead to Jerusalem's destruction), but he did preach that people should put their faith and loyalty in the Kingdom of God rather than the state. Many early Christians chose to sacrifice their lives rather than yield on that point (again, those were political acts).

So if Mr. King's Theology 101 course taught him that Christian churches should merely "feed their flocks" and cop out whenever violations of the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself become labeled as "matters of political concern", then obviously there was something seriously (and from a Christian point of view Satanically) WRONG with that course!

--- Christopher C. Currie Burlington, MA

So the question of loyalty boils down to this:

Will you take that "one nation UNDER GOD" phrase seriously (as proclaimed in our Christmas carols)?

Or will you simply "follow the flag" wherever someone happens to be pointing it?

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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002