In may last post I (jokingly?) referred to malign spirits of technology glitches, but over the last few years I've come to accept that there's more spiritual activity in this world than we acknowledge.
While I have to give the obligatory nod to the Lord of Spirits podcast, this view predated my wife's discovery of them, and it also made me very receptive of their message.
Timing is important in these sorts of things. What might have seemed stupid then may make perfect sense now. Given my upbringing, which was very skeptical of miracles and hostile to organized religion, I could only accept these truths gradually.
As the podcast points out, there are singular spirits, but also collective ones - the "spirit of the age" as it were (literally Zeitgeist in German). There are also crowd spirits, and we see this in things like football games or various rallies. How many times has "the mood turned sour" and a reasonably calm crowd suddenly become overcome by madness - a change that even the participants found hard to explain?
I'm sure some of you are immediately thinking of psychological conclusions (certainly I am), but what if psychology itself is an attempt to find a material expression for a spiritual event? The grand experiment in secular psychology is about a century old and the results are pretty awful. We pump people full of drugs, tell them to play with crayons and they still kill themselves.
Indeed, now our "medical professionals" are urging assisted suicide as a solution to chronic depression!
To me, it is increasingly obvious that the problem is a separation from God and any sense of meaning in life. If you're just a bony juice bag waiting to get the whole thing over with, fast-forwarding to the ending makes sense. Obviously, folks like G.K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis pointed all this out decades ago. If you aren't reading them, you should be.
In addition to the spirits of crowds, I think there are also spirits of events, and that's where Christmas comes in. One of the Enemy's greatest victories was turning the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord into a celebration of materialism. I hate "holiday displays" that center on wrapped gifts - as if that's the reason for the season.
Growing up as I did, the culmination of Christmas was Christmas Day, but traditionally that is the beginning, not the end. As the song says, there's 12 days of Christmas, and the decorations should stay up and the music should still play because the event isn't just about tearing away wrapping paper on the morning of the 25th.
I am pleased to say that (at least in the circles I move in), this view is becoming more common.
Partly because our kids are grown, the gift-giving element has become merely symbolic in our household. I'm hoping to do what I can to ensure our grandkids also look at the season as a time for some presents, but that it should in now way be a lavish attempt to either show off prosperity, or a belated attempt to buy affection. I know kids who grew up with that, and it hasn't worked out well for them.
Despite what was in many ways an unhappy childhood, I've always had a warm spot for Christmas because I associate it with joy and happiness. Christmas Day to me has been marked with family gatherings, old friends dropping in and a sense of overall well-being. I hope your Christmas is possess by the same benevolent spirit that has touched mine.