December 23, 2011

Occupy the Holidays

Occupy the Holidays
All cultures regard the winter solstice with wonder. In each 24-hour cycle, dark and cold begins to recede, and the light and heat increase. The promise that Spring will return is in the imagery of Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, with lights and fire, colors and rapturous singing.

Then also, there are ancestral struggles under the festive surface. All three celebrations are born in revolts against political domination; Christmas, with the followers of Jesus against the Romans and their local clients; Kwanzaa with the rise of black nationalism in this country and opposition to colonialism in Africa; and Hanukkah with the triumph of the Maccabean armies against the Seleucid Empire, and the rededication of the Temple.

In the United States, we have all these nativity scenes in the front-yards and by the churches: the stable, the animals and angels, and the kings and parents kneeling before the glowing child. In NY the snow turns black on the sheep and donkeys and angel-wings - the thing turns funky quickly. But when you think about it, this is the Bible starting over again. This is the new Eden — the glowing report with the trumpeting angels that the miraculous creativity of Spring will rise again.

Many Christians would not think that my house of worship — the Church of Stop Shopping — qualifies as a member in good standing, but the story of the nativity strikes me as a lovely ritualizing of evolution, of life surviving through change. The three celebrations celebrate this aspect of the solstice. In 2011 turning into 2012, the earth-magic in this story is powerful, as the Earth struggles to survive the poisons of humans.

We have two modern events that qualify as solstice-makers. Certainly Occupy Wall Street — now in 2600 communities across the world — owes much to the fiery sacrifice of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia one year ago. And we are two years since the Wikileak strike for democracy (allegedly) by Bradley Manning. Change takes new forms now. Spring isn’t always comfortable. The 1% is shrewd and implacable. But we can earn our own solstice celebrations if we rise again!