I think I’ve mentioned here on this blog somewhere that I ran the planetarium when I was in college as a work-study job. Every November and December, we ran a Christmas star show, which showed that the story was a lot of nonsense. But people still flocked to it because they didn’t pay attention and were sure that it was about them and their religion (rather like Christians being sure that the song “Take me to church” is flattering to religion. Hint: it isn’t).
One thing that I recently read about the Christmas nativity story struck me as something rather new (I got this from my FFRF newspaper and the article was by Barbara Walker, an author). It’s just one more in the pile of bizarreness, contradiction and nonsense that is the nativity story (the story everyone knows is a mash of Matt and Luke), but this point satisfies my love of astronomy and geography. Let’s look at a few verses (I’m using the KJV because the more extreme of Christians seem to favor it:
“2 2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
“9 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.”
Now, some versions have footnotes that say that this “really” means that the magi saw the star while *they* were in the east, but the translations, ostensibly all guided by God, don’t say this. What they actually say is that the magi (a Persian term) saw this star as it rose. Stars rise in the east. Oh and Luke doesn’t mention a star at all, something that would be pretty obvious to shepherds (who aren’t out in the fields in December…) Sigh.
It’s a bit hard to follow a star that is in the east, to find someplace west of you, unless you go the loooong way around. There is an obscure prophecy in Numbers that mentions a star out of Jacob and it seems that this star had to make and appearance to validate the story.
As for the “war on Christmas”, I think it’s best done by idiot preachers screaming that Santa isn’t real to children (of course it was in the US). Seems like someone isn’t getting the attention he thinks he deserves, tsk.
In case you’re curious, a couple of older holiday posts:
7 thoughts on “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a star in the east…. wait a minute…”
Note: contains altered ending
I love the War on Christmas!
We had a planetarium at the Air Force navigator training school. It was used to learn star identification (done so easy today with my iPhone). We also did a Christmas show, but I don’t recall any of the scripted details. We did point out some celestial theory options of how something bright may have been, scientifically, in the sky. I did it as a volunteer for a year or two.
I never thought of the USAF doing that. 🙂 In my astronomy courses in college, the prof made us learn the northern constellations much to the misery of many in the course. There’s a lot of cool things the star could have been, so at least people got exposed to the ideas.
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Another celestial navigation training device was a huge wire-mesh ball with small light bulbs of major starts and planets attached. We would enter it to a sextant station for practice. It was very difficult to keep it semi accurate, so was eventually abandon.
I can imagine. I love finding out about this type of thing so thank you very much for telling me.
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