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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”
This blog has three main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (See John 6:37.) The second is that God wants us all to live lives of abundance. (See John 10:10.) The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus. (See John 14:12.)
And this thought ties them together:
In the meantime:
Aside from the ongoing Season of Advent – from December 3 to 24 – there’s another Feast day to celebrate in early December. Wednesday, December 6, was the Feast day for the REAL “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick.” He was Saint Nicholas of Myra, and he lived from 270 to 340 A.D. So when Dr. Philip O’Hanlon told his daughter Virginia – at left – “Yes, there is a Santa Claus,” he was telling the truth.
Or at least the truth as that term is defined in today’s politics.
But seriously, on December 6 each year Nicholas of Myra is celebrated as a friend of children, giver of gifts and climber of chimneys. (“Etc.”) And as noted in the painting atop the page, he was brave enough to “save three innocents from death.”
Nicholas was visiting a remote part of his diocese [when he heard of the “three innocents.” He set out for home and] found a large crowd of people and the three men kneeling with their arms bound, awaiting the fatal blow. Nicholas passed through the crowd, took the sword from the executioner’s hands and threw it to the ground, then ordered that the condemned men be freed from their bonds. His authority was such that the executioner left his sword where it fell…
Incidentally, the three innocent men had been sentenced to death by the ruler of Myra – today’s city of Demre, Turkey – “the corrupt prefect Eustathios [who] had accepted bribes to bring about the deaths of three men.” This first St. Nicholas “was not one to be intimidated by the power of others, especially the power of the corrupt.” He “stormed into the prefect’s office and demanded that the charges against the three men be dropped.”
That corrupt official eventually “confessed his sin and sought the saint’s forgiveness. Nicholas absolved him, but only after the ruler had undergone a period of repentance.”
Which leads to this thought: “Boy, we could sure use him today!!!”
Then there were the stories of Nicholas of Myra’s “love for God and for his neighbor:”
The best-known story involves a man with three unmarried daughters, and not enough money to provide them with suitable dowries. This meant that they could not marry, and were likely to end up as prostitutes. [This was in “the good old days.”] Nicholas walked by the man’s house on three successive nights, and each time threw a bag of gold in through a window (or … in colder climates, down the chimney). Thus, the daughters were saved from a life of shame, and all got married and lived happily ever after.
Another story was more gruesome, but also had a happy ending. During a time of famine, a butcher “lured three little children into his house, where he killed them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham.” But Nicholas of Myra both “saw through the butcher’s horrific crime” and resurrected the three children from the barrel.
And it was from that “first St. Nicholas” that the jolly old elf at right evolved from. (Even if some stories about him may lessen your appetite for pickled goods this holiday season…)
But then there’s the question: “Why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25, if St. Nicholas Day is December 6?” There are a number of theories, but the most reasonable says that December 25 is nine months after March 25, by tradition the date of The Annunciation. (I.e., the date of the “announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God.” See On the Original St. Nicholas.)
You can see more at St. Nicholas [the] Saint Who Stopped an Execution, and Celebrating St. Nicholas: the Story of the Three Condemned Innocents. Or from this blog, On the REAL “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick,” and On St. Nick and “Doubting Thomas.” But in the meantime you can meditate on the image below of St. Nicholas “transformed into a sympathetic old Santa Claus…”
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St. Nicholas … “transformed into a sympathetic old Santa Claus…”
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The upper image is courtesy of Saint Nicholas – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption: “Saint Nicholas Saves Three Innocents from Death (oil painting by Ilya Repin, 1888, State Russian Museum).” See also St. Nicholas Center … Saint Who Stopped an Execution.
The upper image is courtesy of saint nicholas church st nicholas church is the most outstanding … tourmakerturkey.com, which added: “The protective personality of St. Nicholas and desire of helping children in difficult situations have been transformed into a sympathetic old Santa Claus … appearing on Christmas Eve to make everybody happy.”
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As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has three main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (John 6:37.) The second is that God wants us to live abundantly. (John 10:10.) The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus did. (John 14:12).
A fourth main theme is that the only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:
…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity. According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable… Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency…
So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians. They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.” But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer… (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)
Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.” See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?” The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.” But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.
Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”
In other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.” See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001. The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.”
* Re: “mystical.” As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.” See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism. (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)
For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?