A Broken-Bread Christmas

A reflection on what Christmas, our lives, and our world should really be about.

This year, as on some prior occasions, my family had no time and energy to prepare for a festive Christmas break. So we went to a grocery shortly before they all closed on Christmas Eve to buy some tasty tidbits and breads. One star among the latter was a French baguette. Sadly, it broke on the way to the cash register. We noticed it but decided to buy it anyway. It was somehow symbolic for my whole life to me. We decided to make its fracture harmless by eating it first, long before its fracture could dry it out. We even made good use of the fracture by doubling it over in our shopping bag that it otherwise wouldn’t have fit into. Bendable bread. Neat. Best thing since sliced bread perhaps. ;-)

Making the best of all circumstances, good, bad, and horrible — that’s been my life. It seemed suitable to celebrate a family holiday that way. Oh, and isn’t Christ supposed to have broken some bread to feed the many?

Next came Christmas Day, and I heard that in Austria a televised show of orchestral Christmas songs started surprisingly not with a typical Christmas song but with the people’s movement song “We shall overcome”. A sneaky suspicion in the back of my mind suggests that this may have been one of those establishment reactions to uncouth Donald Trump who with his blatant moves makes the establishment look bad — almost as bad as it actually is.

Still, may we possibly hope that this was something else instead: another little sign that the people are beginning to rise up, in this case singers and musicians? I find this song, which always brings tears to my eyes, far more fitting for a Jesus celebration than the normal Christmas songs, considering the way he is described throughout the Bible: a fighter for peace and justice, and especially the poor and disenfranchised; proclaiming that the rich are too evil to ever make it into heaven; and notably getting aggressive only one time — namely when provoked by the temple’s money lenders, the ancient equivalent of today’s global banksters and Wall Street predators.

Sadly, the Christmas most of us celebrate nowadays echoes nothing of that. Rather, it as a festival of consumerism with people heaping truckloads of useless gifts upon each other (especially on children who end up valuing hardly any of them for more than a week being so swamped with them). And with that rampant consumerism they end up being even more beholden than they would otherwise be to the money lords who run our lives.

That’s why I tend to call our yuletide holiday neither Christmas nor Xmas, but X-mess. Also, I am not a religious man. I cannot convince myself that a world so abysmally evil as I have experienced it could be the makings of a benign creator or controlled and run by a benevolent almighty omniscient god witnessing so much tragedy and doing nothing about it. Additionally, I perceive lots of hype and fraud in established big religions, as well as smaller sects. All their reality-denying and mind warping operations I see aimed at bringing power and comfort, or even great wealth, to those running them from the top; and always protecting and propping up the cruel establishment — with few respectable exceptions among their clerics or missionaries who tend to end up marginalized or even assassinated.

I am wired differently from religious folks. I am unable to succumb to wishful beliefs in the face of counter-evidence. I believe in what is evidenced and plausible, and my mind is always open to changes of opinion when the evidence changes. And the Jesus Christ I can admire and love is the one I reflected upon above, the one so many self-declared “Christians” – lighting candles, falling into trances, braying against “unbelievers”, or worshiping the “power of his blood” – seem to have forgotten all about. The one who started a world religion by winning over countless slaves oppressed throughout the Roman Empire.

It is time for us, the people of America and the world, to realize that we too are slaves – if not by name and official status – then still in the reality of our top-controlled and widely miserable lives. It is time that we unite, not to start yet another corrupt church, but to shrug off the yoke from the top. I suspect that, if contrary to all evidence life after death exists, Jesus will applaud us from beyond.

Yes, dear ancient friend, we may be diverse today, not all beholden to Abrahamic mystical world views like you and your fellows were back in the dark pre-scientific ages in a remote sandy corner of the planet. We may be scattered across a large variety of religions and non-religious world views enlightened by scientific understanding today; but there is a growing number among us who hold to your principles of liberty and justice and a good life for all, and who stand up to power like you did.

We shall overcome some day.

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Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

'We shall overcome' song recording with lyrics:

(Note: If this video gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: "Pete Seeger - We shall overcome ")

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