#MicroblogMondays: What If?


A few weeks ago, I was listening to one of Bob Edwards’ final shows on Sirius. He was interviewing someone who had written a new book about The Odyssey. I caught only the last 10 minutes, and it was really good. One comment stood out. The auth0r noted that the Greeks’ worldview meant that they focused on today and resolving issues in this life. They didn’t focus on an afterlife.  He mused about what it would have been like if the Greek worldview had prevailed over the Judeo-Christian worldview with its focus on an afterlife and concentrating your efforts there instead of in the present.

I’m not trying to get into a debate about pros and cons of various religious and political systems, but the big “what if” is fascinating. How would Western Civilization and the world be different if history’s victors had not prevailed? Would it be better? Or would it be a case of different POV, different problems?  I suspect the latter, but it’s intriguing to do these mind exercises.

Are there any historical events about which you speculate how things could have turned out differently? Could that sentence be clunkier?

What War on Christmas?

Last week I read an excerpt of Sarah Palin’s book in an article on Salon (because heaven knows I’d never spend money on that drivel). The part excerpted focused on her anger about the supposed War on Christmas and the lack of “Christ” in Christmas.

I can’t handle that level of ignorance. First of all, you can’t go anywhere in this country after Halloween without encountering impressive Christmas displays. In fact, if you look closely, you can see the shelves of Christmas items hiding well before Halloween, waiting patiently for the calendar to flip to November 1. Who am I kidding? They aren’t even hidden. They are tucked in the back but hardly hidden. Secondly, I am unsure if I have met anyone for whom “Happy Holidays” trips effortlessly off their lips in an attempt to be inclusive and respectful of other beliefs (and the fact that several holidays occur within a short period of time, making “happy holidays” appropriate shorthand) compared to “Merry Christmas.”

Finally, though, how about learning a little fucking history about this faith and holiday you vow to defend and preserve?  Palin’s Christmas is very recent invention, and I think she and many others would be very surprised at the holiday’s origins and place in Christianity.

I don’t mean this to be a rant. I have an entire post I could write about my experience with organized religion and why I feel the way I do, but the crux is that very little enrages me more than the willing avoidance of facts and knowledge, items so amazingly available in this day and time.  Why would you work so hard to keep yourself ignorant? Is your faith so shaky that you cannot handle information that might threaten your beliefs? Or do you truly believe that information that comes from sources other than the Bible or the 700 Club to be suspect?


Anyway. For your reading and viewing pleasure, here are a few books and documentaries I enjoyed about the historical origins of Christmas. And you know what? Reading and watching them has not diminished my pleasure in the holiday or my celebration of family and friends, of love and thankfulness, during that time.

I am in no way saying these are some sort of definitive, historical record, but they are interesting and enlightening.

OK, I guess I did have to rant a bit. If you read or watch any of these, let me know! I’d love to know what you thought.

Of Pharaohs and Sphinxes

There’s a tiny bit of magic in my office.

My office, my job are mundane.  I am your typical office worker in your typical office.  My office is messy more often than not because I am a dedicated pile maker, and I hate to file.  Most of my day is spent in front of my gigantic monitor, coding or researching until my eyes cross.  Occasionally I attend a meeting.  Most of my brain power is spent taking a concept and dissecting it in order to figure out its essential components.  Though what I do may seem incomprehensible and mysterious to some, it isn’t to me.  There is nothing especially magical about my job.

But I’ve found a little bit of magic in a bottle.

(No, not that kind of bottle)

This tiny bottle.

Like sand through the hour glass...

Yes, yes, this bottle does contain sand, but it’s not just any ol’ sand.  This sand came from Egypt.  Truly.  One of our student workers spent her Spring Break visiting family in Egypt. Lucky minx.  I think the most exotic place I ever spent Spring Break was Myrtle Beach.  Myrtle Beach is many things, but exotic is not one of them.  Before she left, I jokingly asked her to bring back some sand.  On Monday she surprised us by giving us these little bottles filled with sand that she collected from the sand around the pyramids.


I look at the bottle, and I’m transported.  I see thin white cotton outfits.  Blazing suns.  Camels.  Cleopatra rolling out of a carpet at the feet of Caesar. Pyramids so magnificent and perfect that you sort of start believing those alien conspiracy theories because could man have created something so perfect? I see tombs and sarcophagi and jars containing brains, hearts and other treasures needed in the after world.   I see a giant cat with a human face and remember reading that if you put your ear up to it, you might learn a secret. Hieroglyphics and wildly inappropriate phallic drawings (too much History Channel).

Some places have history while some places are history.  Egypt is the latter for me.  A coworker remarked, “we might have sand that Moses walked in.”  I know that is highly doubtful, but it tickles my imagination to speculate. If we could somehow analyze these grains of sand, what story would they tell?  What history has been burned into them?

Now, when my brain starts to hurt and I need to take a break, I turn to look at my little bottle of sand.

Just a little magic in an otherwise ordinary life.