A Festivus for the rest of us
The Airing of Grievances
"The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re gonna hear about it!"
Look, humanity, this is how it is: in 2013, you goofed up. No, you more than goofed up - ‘goofed up’ implies some form of accident, but your actions were deliberate. This isn’t an isolated incident either; as far as I can see, this sort of thing has been going on since nigh the dawn of time.
In the last year, we have witnessed continued war, terrorist attacks, continued gross denials of basic human rights, continued apathy about the suffering of others, oppressive regimes, coups, and unbridled greed. That’s just a start too! There’s so much more that could be said, and I’ve only talked in vague categories too - the specifics are horrific! My own country has had a terrible year, in making their laws towards people seeking asylum (exercising a human right) even more inhumane, and in continued stubbornness in refusing to truly front up to and account for the past wrongs committed towards its first peoples.
That’s just looking at corporate bodies too - don’t get me started on the personal wrongs of individuals! Hate, greed, covetousness, pride, lust, anger, prejudice, apathy, absence of compassion, gossip, dishonesty, deceit, faithlessness, ignorance, rebellion against God; the list could go on and on.
I’m going to break from Festivus tradition here, and air some grievances about myself. I have been complicit in some of the wrongs committed by wider humanity, and I have been as guilty as any of those more personal wrongs.
Feats of Strength
"And now as Festivus rolls on, we come to the feats of strength. … Until you pin me, George, Festivus is not over!"
As I type this, my father - the head of my house - is sitting only a few metres away, but I don’t think that I will attempt to wrestle him and pin him to the ground; I’ve extended my unbroken stretch of not going to the gym to 22 years, and I think he’d still win out.
Instead, maybe I should focus on my ‘feats of strength’ over the last year. I finished my post-graduate study, and am now - after assignments, practicums, etc. - a fully qualified teacher. I’ve got a teaching position for next year too, and a very good one at that.
Before I wax lyrical too much, it’s time for a reality check. ‘Feats of strength’?! Please! What an absurd notion! At times during this year, it seemed that my ‘strength’ was completely sapped. I am confident that these so-called ‘feats’ (and others I haven’t mentioned) were not achieved by my own strength, but only by dependence on God. And even my dependence on God (if that can be called a ‘feat’) was feeble - this year was a year where I tried so hard to do things on my own, and inevitably crashed, multiple times.
Now, after Festivus, things seem pretty hopeless. The reality is that the world, and the collective humanity that inhabits it (and the individuals that it is comprised of), are completely messed up. We try to move forward into a greater and brighter future, and take as many steps backwards as forwards. We continue to be stuck in the cycle of depravity that flows from our rebellion against God.
Festivus supposedly came from a rejection of the overdone commercialism and religiosity of Christmas, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater (or ‘Baby’ in this case, perhaps - if you catch my drift). Those things can both be pretty terrible, but there’s something about Christmas that can redeem even that. It is only in Christ - whose incarnation as God in flesh we celebrate at Christmas - that we have hope as individuals, a collective humanity and the world for a future that’s different; a future of redeemed, changed people, united by God and united in a love for God that spills over into a love for other people.
"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” -Titus 3:3-8