Merry Christmas!

by on December 25, 2016 at 12:19 am in History, Religion, The Arts | Permalink


1 stephan December 25, 2016 at 12:25 am

Nice painting of the Resurrection by Giotto. Merry Christmas everyone !! and Thank You for this Blog Tyler and Alex.

Some pictures of Christmas from around the world

2 stephan December 25, 2016 at 12:44 am

hmm, wondering why a painting of the resurrection was used instead of a painting of the Birth of Christ like this one for example

Not sure of the symbolism. Is it the USA that’s resurrecting after the election of Trump ? or are we in big trouble and we need a miracle now ?

3 Thiago Ribeiro December 25, 2016 at 4:43 am

According to Prophet Bandarra, Brazil will lead the world in the fulfulling of the biblical prophecies. Then “there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16) and “every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight”.

4 jim jones December 25, 2016 at 2:14 pm
5 Thiago Ribeiro December 25, 2016 at 3:01 pm

No, it is not. We just don’t sweep the dirt under the rug as Americans do, which, by the way, is how you get a scammer like Mr. Trump and a candidate nicknamed Croocked as presidential candidates. Now, certainly, simple honesty is not too much to demand of men in government. We find it in most. Brazilians demand it from everyone. They demand it from everyone no matter how exalted or protected his position might be. Ask the Congressmen, governors, rich jailed CEOs about it. Brazil is mankind’s greatest achievement.

6 Post-Truth Politics December 25, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Always interesting to read your comments, Thiago. HIllary was nicknamed Crooked due to fake news. There was no evidence that she did anything illegal. But there was tons of actual evidence of the con artistry of Trump.

One of our U.S. customs is false equivalence. If one person has been a con artist all their life, and there is plenty of evidence for that, and the other has done large amounts of public service that has helped large numbers of people, and her opponent tells numerous lies about her, and nicknames her Crooked, then in the U.S., then both are considered equally bad candidates.

Do you do false equivalence in Brazil? Here, when a renowned accomplished author writes a book about the Holocaust, and goes on TV to promote her book, the TV station is likely to invite a Holocaust denier to “give our viewers both sides of the issue.” Is false equivalence a custom in Brazil also? Or not?

7 Thiago Ribeiro December 26, 2016 at 3:00 am

“Is false equivalence a custom in Brazil also? Or not?”

Of course it is, but the Brazilian electorate, the world’s most sophisticated, can see through it. The point is, the decisive factor in the American election was a populace who lost its faith in its leadership and in the idea that All Americans live under the same law. The American system has become rife with corruption and transparency-avoidance. Also Brazil, in keeping with our democratic traditions and our forefathers’ heroic struggle against the Nazist beast, outlawed Holocaust-denying and other Nazist manifestations.

8 prior_test2 December 25, 2016 at 7:36 am

Naw, selecting a picture of the resurrection to celebrate the birth of Jesus is about par for the course when it comes to accuracy at this web site.

Possibly, ‘Nativity – Birth of Jesus’ was intended, as seen here –

9 dearieme December 25, 2016 at 11:12 am

He is subtly implying that a happy event – a birth – may lead to a gruesome death. Or he’s made a simple cock-up.

10 Thor December 25, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Indeed. Or he is expressing his taste for the paintings of Giotto. (But don’t reply to Prior; it only encourages him.)

11 Sam the Sham December 25, 2016 at 9:31 am

Two points in Tyler’s defense

The birth of Jesus is nothing without his sacrifice at the end.

Also I kinda need a caption to really understand what’s going on the picture. Maybe it’s some well-provisioned shepherds keeping watch by taking a nap, while an Angel steals Mary’s flag. This was seriously what I thought at first.

12 Thiago Ribeiro December 25, 2016 at 9:57 am
13 anonymous December 25, 2016 at 11:02 am

Merry Christmas! The reading from midnight mass includes Isaiah 9:6 – “For a child is born to us, a son is given us / upon his shoulder dominion rests. /They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” It continues – “His dominion is vast, and ever peaceful/ from David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains, by judgment and justice, now and forever…The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!” Most people are more familiar with the version from Handel’s Messiah…

14 Greg December 25, 2016 at 12:58 am

Merry Christmas Tyler and Alex! Your blog is such a great gift to so many people!

15 Thor December 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm


16 Jay December 25, 2016 at 1:07 am

Merry Christmas. In a good kind of way. Not like this from New York’s finest…

17 Thiago Ribeiro December 25, 2016 at 5:05 am

So there really is a War on Christmas.

18 cw December 25, 2016 at 1:38 am

It looks like a beatles concert

19 Cove99 December 25, 2016 at 2:10 am

Tyler Merry XMAS ….you’re the coolest but you’ll NEVER be Mick Jagger

20 too hot for MR December 25, 2016 at 6:08 am

Merry Christmas to Tyler, Alex, and the whole lot of you.

21 rayward December 25, 2016 at 6:48 am

Mary wept while the guards slept. That the guards were sleeping explains the absence of eye witnesses to the resurrection; skeptics suggested that the sleeping guards allowed the body to be removed from the tomb. And Mary, having seen the resurrected Jesus, said nothing to anyone. One can only guess what Cowen has in mind, but the scene in the painting captures our situation today. Who is this Jesus, his own Disciples failing to understand who He is.

22 Jan December 25, 2016 at 6:56 am

Merry Christmas.

23 Thanatos Savehn December 25, 2016 at 7:34 am

Merry Christmas! And thank you TC/AT for creating and curating this oasis of thoughtful discourse amidst the internet’s desert of endless, inane chatter.

24 a definite beta guy December 25, 2016 at 8:36 am

A most Merry Christmas to you!

25 AlanG December 25, 2016 at 8:53 am

Both Tyler’s and Alex’s post lead this reader to wonder if this is indeed a Christian website. Why couldn’t a more generic holiday image and greeting be posted in lieu of or in addition to the ones shown? For those of us who are not of the Christian persuasion the two Christmas greetings seem oddly out of place on a site that tends to be agnostic on most everything else. Anyway, to a lot of the readers here I’ll add a Happy Hanukah (which started last evening with the lighting of the first candle).

26 prior_test2 December 25, 2016 at 9:18 am

Prof. Tabarrok, growing up in Canada as he did (one can assume that Canada was never part of the war on Christmas), at least seems somewhat aware of what Christmas means – which, from a documented perspective, is the use and abuse of power to push around the weak and helpless at whim. After all, Jesus was born where he was due to a distant ruler, and his family needed to flee due to another and closer ruler. And one should note that Prof. Tabarrok, an immigrant, is not a hypocrite – he too appears to favor granting succor to the weak and helpless attempting to flee their own lands.

Prof. Cowen, on the other hand, seems more than a bit confused about the distinction concerning how Christians look at the miracles of the virgin birth and the resurrection.

Though possibly, one can look forward to Prof. Cowen posting a nativity scene when Easter Sunday rolls around next year.

27 Asher December 25, 2016 at 10:55 am

I think Hanukah is too parochial for a general blog. It is perfectly legitimate for the Jews to celebrate the military and cultural victory which secured their safety and freedom of religion, but it is a bit far reaching to suggest that this particular holiday has a universal message.

28 Thiago Ribeiro December 25, 2016 at 11:28 am

We are just 4 days now from the 29th December. Remember, remember the 29 th of December.

29 Thor December 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm

No, it’s a website run by two moderate libertarians who are FREE to post whatever images they like, irrespective of ninnies who read too much into a couple of Xmas posts.

30 Javier Hueso December 25, 2016 at 9:46 am

Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

31 Tyler Cowen December 25, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Precondition #1 is that I like the painting. Kudos to Thiago for artistic literacy.

32 Thiago Ribeiro December 25, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Thanks. Although I usually call it Nolo Contendere. I can only manage to remember it is a latin phrase which begins with “Nol…”

33 Asher December 26, 2016 at 1:25 am

Why do English speakers use a Latin expression for a saying uttered in Aramaic and recorded in Greek?

34 Thiago Ribeiro December 26, 2016 at 3:15 am

In a word? Rome! “Dicit ei Iesus noli me tangere nondum enim ascendi ad Patrem meum vade autem ad fratres meos et dic eis ascendo ad Patrem meum et Patrem vestrum et Deum meum et Deum vestrum” John 20:17 (Biblia Sacra Vulgata). Latin used to be a big deal among Christians, also Giotto, for example, was from the 13 th/ 14 th Centuries, way before the Reformation. Makes sense both individual paintings getting titled this way and the phrase being used to name the general theme.

35 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Religious Tribe December 25, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Merry Christmas, or Happy Whatever Kind of Holidays You Have, to Tyler, Alex, and everyone here.

Thanks, everyone, for your comments about the painting chosen, some of which were hilarious.

36 Anon December 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm

To Tyler, Alex and all the commentators here:

Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2017.


37 Ray Lopez December 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Do they know it’s Christmas time …in Africa? LOL. Waiting for some friends while I type this.

“And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time” – the original lyric substituted “Africa” with “Ethiopia”…

38 tjamesjones December 26, 2016 at 4:31 am

wow if I was this literal I think I’d top myself. pretty obviously the lyrics are making the point that there isn’t much joy and celebration in starvation. it’s not that subtle!

39 Sirr Duende December 25, 2016 at 4:28 pm

How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25?

A. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

B. The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).

C. In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.[2]

D. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

E. Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.” The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

F. The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”[3] Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.[4] However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

G. Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”[5]

H. As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.”[6] On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed.

40 Post-Truth Religion December 25, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Sir Duende, you are interfering with my post-truth religion here, LOL.

Interesting account of history there. Thanks for it.

41 Adrian Turcu December 26, 2016 at 8:33 am

Merry Christmas!

42 Jeff Rensch December 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Tyler – for someone who just called himself “not religious” you certainly warm my Christian heart with this!
Jeff R

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