Saturday, December 08, 2018

Who wrote a lot of Christmas songs? Jews!

By Dennis Prager, here.

22 comments:

Hal said...

Looks like it is more about the fake war on Christmas that conservatives moan about than the Christmas songs written by Jews.

This presents a more balanced view on religion and public schools:
Article

bmiller said...

Jesus was a Jew after all.

Starhopper said...

Despite being myself Catholic, I am heavily involved with the Methodist church right down the street from me. Next Sunday I am presenting a talk to its congregation on the Christmas Star. The visit of the Magi has always been one of my favorite narratives in the Gospels. Endlessly intriguing and an absolute gold mine for beautiful imagery. Although I know full well that all the artwork and Christmas cards depicting the "Three Kings" does not match what we find in Scripture, I am still a sucker for them. Love the Wise Men!

(Spoiler Alert: I believe the star was a planetary conjunction that for some unknown reason had meaning for the Babylonian (not Persian!) astrologers who decided to check out in person what they were interpreting in the sky.)

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

So could the ancient Babylonians not distinguish between the planets a star? I don't know the answer but I thought the ancient Greeks knew the difference.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't think there is a systematic war on Christmas. But there are people like this.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/nebraska-principal-bans-all-things-christmas-says-candy-canes-symbolize-jesus.html?fbclid=IwAR2vdQbl8qXHdOmDJ_KW1B5qfA-x3y2jBFPrAn9QYpZSfT3AnS3M7Zh1U1o

Hal said...

Yes, that confusion over what is allowed in public schools was also pointed out in the article I linked to.

Starhopper said...

bmiller,

The ancients in general distinguished between the "Fixed Stars" and the planets, but pretty much thought of them all as being essentially the same sort of thing, the difference being the "stars" stayed put whilst the "planets" moved about. Our very word planet is Greek for "wandering star".

Interestingly enough, the ancient Hebrews had little to no interest in either group. I find it telling that in the entire Bible, no star is ever named - not once. And there are only 2 passing references to the constellations in the book of Job. That's it. And as for planets, there is only a single oblique reference to their existence in all of scripture. (I won't tell you where it is just now, but will give the readers here time to find it for themselves. If you give up looking, I cite the chapter and verse.) I attribute this apparent lack of interest to their distaste for the polytheistic cultures surrounding them, which quite often worshiped the stars as gods.

Mike Darus said...

Venus likely?
Bible search results
Job 3:9 May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn,


Job 38:7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?


Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!


2 Peter 1:19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day

Revelation 2:28 I will also give that one the morning star.


Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Mike Darus said...

There should be a category distinction between Silent Night and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Starhopper said...

My personal favorite explanation for what the Christmas Star might have been (Note that I said "might") is a fascinating series of stellar/planetary conjunctions that occurred in 3 to 2 BC. In September of 3 BC, the planet Jupiter (King of the Gods) executed a triple pass of Regulus (the King Star) in the constellation Leo (as in the Lion of Judah). It then moved on into Virgo (the Virgin) where it met up with Venus in March of 2 BC. The 2 planets approached each other so closely (from Earth's vantage point) that they actually merged into a single "star" - the brightest object ever seen in Earth's sky, other than the Moon or the Sun, in the past 5,000 years!

I can well imagine Babylonian astrologers watching these events (which we can verify happened just as I wrote using contemporary software available to planetariums everywhere) and deciding that something remarkable had occurred in Judea, and setting off to learn more. It must have taken them some time to arrange for their travel, since they apparently didn't arrive at Herod's court until mid-December. By that time, Jupiter was dead south of Jerusalem ("Lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them." (Matthew 2:9)) in the evening sky and in the middle of retrograde motion (an optical illusion caused by the differing orbital speeds of the Earth and Jupiter, in which once a year the planet appears to retrace its path in the sky, moving "backward" as it were). Bethlehem is due south of Jerusalem. On (get this!) December 25th, 2 BC, Jupiter would have completed its retrograde motion and stood still (relative to the fixed stars) for one day ("[The star] came to rest over the place where the child was.").

So if these events were indeed the true Christmas Star, then it would appear that Jesus was born in March (when Jupiter and Venus merged into a single star in the sky), and the Wise Men arrived to give homage on December 25th. Merry Christmas!

Joe Hinman said...



Imposing our values on God and Science

Two studies seem to suggest that Christians project their own social values onto God. Nicholas Epley fins that:This has led some atheists on message boards to advance these studies as proof of the illogical nature of Christianity. It reinforces the atheist's idea that if God did exist it would be impossible to understand what he wants. "So why should atheists (or anyone, for that matter) take theists seriously when theists talk about what God is like, what God wants, what God commands, etc., if theist's are just unconsciously using God as a sound-board for their own positions?." Bit dpesn't it really show the impossibility of not doing this?

Starhopper said...

I want to expand on my comment (Note that I said "might") in my last posting. There are alternative scenarios of objective astronomical events in time frame 6-2 BC that satisfy the criteria for being the Christmas Star. Short of building a time machine and interviewing the Babylonian astrologers of the time, there is no way to definitively demonstrate exactly what they were looking at and just what they were thinking.

BUT... What is undeniable is that there is no need to assume that Matthew invented this story out of whole cloth simply to satisfy some theological requirement. There are scientifically verifiable events that truly did occur in the skies at the time of Christ's birth. The believer is 100% justified in believing the the story of the adoration of the Magi to be historical fact, even if he cannot prove it to be so.

Hal said...

We were listening to Christmas music while decorating the Christmas tree last night. My two favorite songs are:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town sung by Springsteen and the E Street Band

So this is Christmas by John Lennon & Yoko Ono

My wife preferred Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You

For those preferring more traditional Chistmas music, I'd recommend this album:
Deepest Darkness, Brightest Dawn


It is by Gaelynne Lea. Here is a sample of her music:
Tiney Desk Concert

Starhopper said...

My answer will change depending on what was the last song I've listened to, but here are a few of my perennial favorites:

Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine
O Magnum Mysterium (choral)
O Magnum Mysterium (arr. for violin)
Carol of the Magi (Rutter)
O Little Town of Bethlehem (arr. Vaughan Williams)

Legion of Logic said...

My favorite songs would be old versions (not crappy celebrity remakes) of Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, and O Come All Ye Faithful. Those seem to be the only three that don't raise my blood pressure by hearing them for a month solid.

One Brow said...

I've always been a fan of O Holy Night and Silver Bells.

Starhopper said...

I'll agree with One Brow about Silver Bells. Of all the non-Christian Christmas songs (most of which are like fingernails on a blackboard to me), I've always liked that one.

Starhopper said...

Going to the Dark Side, here are my most hated Christmas songs, guaranteed to put my teeth on edge (in no particular order):

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Santa Baby
Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer
Here Comes Santa Claus
Santa Claus is coming to Town
Baby it's Cold Outside
The 12 Days of Christmas
The Little Drummer Boy
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting, etc.)

Joe Hinman said...

I agree with most of those but my most hated you missed: Jingle bell rock,eeeeeeeech!


Metacrock's blog:Atheist Circular Reasoning in Miracle Daniel


The circular reasoning to which I refer is the assertion athesits make that based upon the past inability to prove miracles that miracles have never happened before, thus this presumption counts against current evidence of miracles. The problem with that is past denials are not based upon lack of evidence but upon dismissing the evidence out of hand. Then a long string of denial has built up over the years as case after case is passed off for no good reason, the alleged lack of evidence is assume to be based upon a real lack which is not true. The proof is in the fact that modern cases have good evidence to support them.

Joe Hinman said...

in case no one knows what song i mean welcome to the crap fest

gimngle bell rock

I also really hate the drummber boy song, rupm pum pum pum,rum pm pum pum shut up!

Joe Hinman said...

in case no one knows what song i mean welcome to the crap fest

gimngle bell rock

I also really hate the drummber boy song, rupm pum pum pum,rum pm pum pum shut up!

Favoroites--sug by Joan Baez

I wonder as I wander



here is a whole Christmas album by her(circa 1964) the first oneis anotyerfavoritem --"O come Emmanuel"


Side 1
00:02 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (2:56)
03:01 Coventry Carol; Good King Wenceslas (2:21)
05:28 The Little Drummer Boy (3:00)
08:29 I Wonder As I Wander; Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella (4:31)
13:04 Down In Yon Forest (1:39)
14:46 The Carol Of The Birds (3:29)
18:22 Angels We Have Heard On High (1:21)

Side 2
19:49 Ave Maria (4:05)
24:00 Mary's Wandering; Deck The Halls (3:39)
27:41 Away In A Manger; Adeste Fideles (2:44)
30:30 Cantique Del Noël (3:45)
34:17 What Child Is This (3:01)
37:22 Silent Night (2:22)

CD Reissue Bonus Tracks

39:51 The First Noel (2:32)
42:22 We Three Kings (1:51)
44:14 Virgin Mary (3:04)
47:18 Good Christian Kings (0:55)
48:13 Burgundian Carol (4:38)
52:51 Away in a Manger (1:57) (Alternate version sung in French)

[Vinyl(+CD Reissue Tracks)/80-Images/WAV]

Hal said...

Thanks for the info regarding Baez’s Christmas Album. Didn’t realize she had put one out. Will have to get it.