I pass by a Catholic church on my way to work each day, and
usually it’s pretty quiet around there. 
Today I was surprised to find the place swarming with parishioners.  I hunted around the memory files in my brain,
but could not find an explanation. 
December 8?  The day after Pearl
Harbor Day.  What’s the significance?

Once at my desk, my Outlook calendar informed me that today
is a Christian holiday celebrating the Immaculate Conception.

But wait… if Jesus was conceived on December 8 and born on
December 25, well, that just doesn’t work.

Google to the rescue. 
It seems I have misunderstood the phrase “immaculate conception” for as
long as I’ve known it.  It refers not to
the hanky-pankyless conception of Jesus (they call that the “miraculous
conception,”) but to the conception of Mary, who was born without sin.

Now I’m wondering, if Mary escaped the “stain of original
sin,” did she also get away without the pain-in-childbirth punishment Eve
allegedly brought down on all of us? 
(Thanks a lot, Eve.  Next time eat
a pear.)  

I’m passing this information on, in case anyone else is
alarmed by unexpected crowds of Catholics. 
You learn something every day.

Late addition:
This is the holiday card sent by the White House to over one million close friends of George and Laura Bush.

Evangelical Christians were infuriated by this offensive display of
tact on the part of the President, who can usually be counted on to be
less circumspect. 

Bush “claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure
doesn’t act like one,” said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative
Web site “I threw out my White House card as soon as
I got it.”

The same folks have been busily boycotting
retailers, like Macy’s and Walmart, whose employees fail to say “Merry
Christmas” to their customers.  I wonder when the mandatory Merry
Christmas-ing starts, exactly.  Right after Thanksgiving? 
And, do they cut the store some slack for discretionary M.C.-ing, or
are they required to chant the official  message to Hasidic
customers in yarmulkes or to veiled Muslim women? 

Does the word “backlash” mean anything to you?


34 thoughts on “

  1. This is a doctrine that I really, really don’t get.  I had heard that this was what the “immaculate conception” was, but I’d forgotten.  Not being Catholic, the Mary stuff has always seemed very strange to me. . .I mean, considering we Protestants share many doctrines [basic, Christian doctrines] with Catholics.
    Sorry to ramble, but that one’s always baffled me.

  2. Actually, I don’t think Mary was born without sin.  It never says so in the Bible.  But from the Bible I do know that she was a virgin and closer to God than many of the other girls.

  3. I am so dumb about these things…one spring day about 10 years ago I saw all these people with smudges on their foreheads and thought wtf???  (I didnt know –it was ash Wednesday..)

  4. I’ve always wondered the same thing about Mary and childbirth.  It seems to me that a virgin might have an extra-hard time pushing a baby out.  However, since she was so good, she probably bore it all in silence, a la the Scientologists.  That’s why Jesus turned out so well.  But I see I’ve thought about this way too much.

  5. I knew what you knew, and now I know what you know. We were wrong, but now we see the light. Oh never mind, that’s just the glow from the neighbor’s Christmas lights.
    Btw, know what an immaculate contraption is?My lint screen… I cleaned it today. Bwahahaha

  6. Ahhh! I just posted about this, not knowing. Thank you for spreading the word. Now, how can I find out if I was born without sin? Is there a test?What I want to know is why these people care if complete strangers wish them a merry Christmas or not. And, *ahem* I’d really like to see evangelical Christians boycott Wal-Mart. Where else exactly are they going to get the grape Hi-C for the Lord’s Supper? I think it would be more effective if the stores boycotted the Christians — you register as an evangelical Christian, and they refuse to sell you anything, no matter how much you beg and plead in your hours of Satan’s temptation of your weakness for deep discounts.

  7. RYC:  It’s certainly a fashion statement I’ve never understood.  Yuck!  I want to see a man’s but delineated, please.  Sculpted curves……
    Being catholic, it never fails to amaze me how many misconceptions abound about my faith.  LOL  “Crowds of catholics”  that’s a good one!  Nell got a Christmas card from the President last year.  I wonder if she got one this year?  Mary was the “Mother” of God, as in Jesus, who was technically born in the spring when the census took place in Bethlehem, the city of the House of David.  Jesus was to be born from the stem of Jesse and descended from the House of David.  So when they went to Bethlehem for the census many thought it was becauase Joseph was of the House of David…not.  Anyway…many historical facts later….she is called the Virgin Mary because she remained virginal.  Jesus’s siblings were Joseph’s children from before he took her to wife.  Men were allowed more than one wife at the time.  She was called Immaculate (pure) as in meaning without sin.  The Bible refers to many who walked with the Lord after Eden, Mary is one of them.  The muslims believe that Mary was impregnated by an angel of God, usually the Archangel Gabriel who gave the Quran to Mohammed in the cave.  They also believe that her son, Jesus, was the healing prophet who wandered the desert for many years.  According to them, he was never put to death.  The Hindus have a similar belief of an immaculate conception only they have a lotus blossom arising from the belly button of Brahman which then opens and we have Vishnu, who in one of his incarnations was described as Christ.  Amazing, isn’t it?

  8. A lovely little post about  religion and then you have to bring up politics…! Did you have to look up the spelling of yarmulke? Or when you say it do you picture the letters, and sound it out: yar…mull…key?

  9. I’m of two minds about the whole “Anti-Christmas” attitude that the major retailers are displaying. While I do not think it is or should be required for any customer service employee to say “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays” (or even at all if the are not of the Christian faith) at the same time I find the “Holiday Tree” thing, putting out all of the typical Christmas merchandise and doing anything they can to promote Christmas without refering to it as Christmas, and saying “Merry Holidays” as going a bit too far IMHO. I’m not going to boycott them though – but I will respond to the “Merry Holidays”-ing with some “Merry Christmas”-ing of my own. It seems to me that in the zeal to push for freedom of religion and political correctness it has become accepted to bash Christians and to treat their beliefs as invalid when they are just as valid as anyone elses. I’m not saying that they are more valid than anyone else’s either. Funny thing though – people object to Christians and their holidays so does that mean those who are strenuous in their objections will work on Christain holidays such as Christmas or Easter? Somehow I doubt it.

  10. Athynz—
    Working as I do with people from across the globe, and women in Hajaib, and in a place where EVERYONE is bilingual (if not also bi-cultural) I can tell you that if we could get commensurate days off on our holy days then it would truly be ok with me to work christmas and Easter.  But I can’t even get my religeons high holy day (Samhain) off without taking vacation, so the christians can think we’re bashing them all they like, but it’s just not so.  Forcing us to take your holidays off and ignoring ours is the bashing… do you even know what Samhain is (or how it’s pronounced)?  Yep because I don’t come to your house with a little book of rules to make you live by…
    My 2 cents-  Ok a nickels worth…

  11. Maybe it’s not the “holidays” part they don’t like, it’s the “hope” and “happiness” – G-D forbid he write Peace on Earth, eh?Where’ve I been? Oh, just looping through the recesses of my brain, sometimes I get stuck in there.

  12. RTYC – that’s funny too because I heard it first on Click and Clack on NPR years ago, but then it started raging arguments in my family most especially with my “Always Right” Sister who refused to believe the solution I gave her until she read it in the book but still holds to her delusional belief in her wrong answer (doing the I was right dance as I write this) but without looking back at your book can you explain the why’s and wherefore’s of the solution?

  13. i grew up catholic and still never got the religious holidays thing with them….now-a-days I would burst into flames if i set foot into my parents church again:)
    i work in retail and haven’t gotten a lecture yet on what to say and not say….my boss says merry christmas…don’t think it is a big deal, but then again 1/2 my time there isn’t spent dealing with customers, it’s locked up in the accounting office…
    i go to the chinese restuarant next door for lunch so often that they know me by name….and they always tell me to have a merry christmas…..what am i supposed to say to them?? I don’t worry about it…i just tell them to have a merry christmas too…

  14. 29 comments so far and nobody’s come up with the reason?  I THINK it may be have been the 25th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon.  I know there were a lot of tributes around Xanga very recently.  Not sure of the day, but I’m pretty sure that explains it.
    As for the Bush holiday card, it’s beyond belief (yet true, I guess) that evangelicals were infuriated.  But this whole time in our nation’s history is beyond belief.  The card was just fine, of course.  So!  Bush can do something right, once in a while.  Oh, well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  15. This “war against Christmas” stuff is utter trash. People have been saying “happy holidays” long before their ever was a concept of political correctness. For God’s sake, there are two holidays (three, if you count Thanksgiving) in there. So, happy holidays covers both Christmas and New Year’s. Give it a break, neo-cons! And is it so terrible to assume that not everyone in the country is a Christian? Is being polite a sin now?I’m personally going to do as much shopping as possible at Target for their refusal to toe the line on this issue. And I can’t believe I’m actually agreeing with the Bushes on anything.Go get em, rabbit!Lynn

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