Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rerun Article: Fixin' the Nativity!

Sorry this is late, everyone, but I had a very eventful week! Thanksgiving was last Thursday, as you all know, and I had a nice, quiet time of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with my family and having a delicious dinner. But I also have some VERY cool news to share in the "In the Spotlight" section.

Days till:
It is: 26 days till Christmas
It is: 33 days till New Years Day
It is: 195 days till Jurassic World "Opens" in theaters

In the Spotlight:
I have some awesome news to share about Jurassic World; it is probably the most awesome news we've ever gotten: THE TRAILER WAS RELEASED!!!

Before you watch it though, take a moment to look at the teaser that was released last Sunday:

This trailer was supposed to be released on Thanksgiving Day, but they decided to release it on Tuesday instead, which totally made my day! I have been waiting 6 years to see this moment. Without further ado, watch the trailer to Jurassic World:

I was not disappointed upon seeing this trailer! It was AWESOME!!! I would have given it two "likes" on YouTube instead of one if I was allowed to. The overall plot is that Jurassic World (the theme park, not the movie) has been open since 2005 and it is a success, complete with Gyrosphere and monorail rides, a Cretaceous Cruise, a petting zoo and even a Mosasaurus Feeding Show. Unfortunately, the need to always please the public and prevent them from getting bored causes a group of scientists, led by Claire (her full name has not yet been revealed), to create their first hybrid dinosaur. And in usual Jurassic Park fashion, things soon go terribly wrong! I can't wait to see how the movie plays out. In the near future, be on the lookout for my analysis of the trailer, but if you can't wait, click this link for director Colin Trevorrow's analysis of the trailer.

In addition to the (awesome!) trailer's release, a new viral website for the park was "opened" online: It's a theme park website, describing the rides, attractions and dinosaurs they have at the park! How exciting! I really have to hand it to the advertising department of this movie: they are doing GREAT!!! They spared no expense, I'm sure. Some things on the website are locked for the time being, so check it often to find out more things about, as John Hammond put it, "The most advanced amusement park in the entire world."

Jurassic World roars into theaters June 12! Can't wait!

Since we've got the a cool dinosaur-related movie to look forward too, I thought now would be a good time to bring out some cool dinosaur-related Christmas songs! A few years back, some of you might remember that I posted these songs on this blog. Since it is Christmas time again, I decided it would be nice to bring them back for the holiday season. Here is our first Dino-carol: Hey Duckbills!

Hey, 'Duckbills!

Hey, 'Duckbills! Hey, 'Duckbills!
Oh, how can we say
'Why your odd-shaped cranium
Were made to look that way? (Repeat Chorus)

'Dashing looks aside, I think
that I would dread
To have so many bony pounds
en-crested on my head!
Unless this crown would bring, along
with sinus space
Some fine survival advantage to aid my
humble race!

(Repeat Chorus Twice)

Hidden in your crest were chambers
full of air,
Could these extra cavities enhance
your vocal flair?
'Did they make your voice resound
so deep and loud?
Or was yoru crest just fashion fluff to
make your mate feel proud?

(Repeat Chorus Twice)

Lyrics by Anne Muecke (slightly edited by Christian Ryan)

Topic of the Week Christian Ryan
The true meaning of Christmas isn't about getting stuff, or about Santa Claus, or about family and definitely not about eating! Those things aren't bad, but they’re just the icing on the cake. The true meaning of Christmas is really about Jesus’s humble entrance into the world as a tiny baby. We all know the typical nativity story told in Sunday Schools and other church related events all around the world: “Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem to register in a census and while traveling, Mary’s Child was almost ready to be born. After they reached Bethlehem, Mary’s Child was ready to be born but the nasty innkeeper turned them away because there wasn't any room in his (or her) inn. The only place available was a small stable. So she and Joseph went there and Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ. Then shepherds from the fields, who had been told by angels of the Child’s birth, came to the stable to see the Baby. They were followed by three kings from the east who had followed a star and they gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.” That is the typical story that people know around the world.

But you know, it’s been almost 2,000 years since the nativity took place, and since then, a lot of the story has been changed to make it “cuter”. The only 100% accurate account is found in the Bible. So let’s take a quiz to see how much you really know about the nativity:
  • What did the stable look like?
  • What time of year was the Nativity?
  • What animal did Mary ride to Bethlehem?
  • How many kings were there?
  • What animal did the wise men ride?
  • How old was Jesus when the wise men visited him?
Now, I want you to read Luke 2:1-20. Then read Matthew 2:1-18 and take the quiz again. Did you answers change any?

As you can see, much of the story has been changed over the years. So how much of this story really happened? Let’s delve into history to find out!

The scene was set 2,000 years ago, in Nazareth. A young teenage girl named Mary was expected to be married to an older man named Joseph. Back at the time, it was customary for a girl her age to be married to an older man, maybe in his 20’s. The Bible doesn’t say how old she was, but it’s possible she was anywhere between the ages of 16 to as low as 13. She was minding her own business when suddenly, an angel named Gabriel appeared to her and told her that she was going to have a Baby. The Baby, who would be named Jesus, was to come thanks to the Holy Spirit (because she wasn’t married to Joseph yet). Now there are critics who would say it’s impossible for a virgin to give birth, but that’s not true. (I could go into this lengthy topic, but I’d like to not do that today!) Mary was willing to take on the responsibility. Her husband-to-be, Joseph, was going to dismiss her quietly when he found out she was pregnant, until an angel told him that it was ok to go marry Mary because her Child was coming because of the Holy Spirit.

Gabriel announced to the teenage girl Mary that she was going to give birth to God's Son!
Not long after that, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that all of the Roman world should be taxed. So that meant literally everyone, including Mary and Joseph, and to leave for Bethlehem because they had to pay the tax in Joseph’s home town, the town of David. Now, the Bible doesn’t say what Mary rode to Bethlehem, does it? I’m saying it’s wrong to think she could have ridden a donkey. It is possible, but I am merely saying we simply don’t know for sure if Mary rode anything at all to Bethlehem. Considering she was pregnant, it would make a lot of sense!

After they reached Bethlehem, Mary’s Child was ready to be born. The Bible doesn’t say exactly when she gave birth – whether it was as soon as they reached Bethlehem or if it was a little while after they got there. Like I said with the donkey thing, it isn’t wrong to think she could have given birth as soon as they got there, but we don’t know for sure. As the Bible says, there was no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph so Mary had to give birth in a small stable. Many stables in Bible Times were actually more like caves, kind of like what was seen in the movie Nativity Story. Perhaps though, one of the more likely places Jesus was born in was at one of Joseph's relations' houses in the area where the animals are kept. So Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed Him in a manger. Why was He born like this?

The Bible doesn't say what building Jesus was born in, so we can't say for certain that He was born in a stable. It just states that He was laid in a manger after birth.
You might wonder why Jesus was born in this way. After all, He was really God in flesh! Well, have you ever heard of Jesus being called the Lamb of God? When ewes are pregnant, shepherds at Jesus’ time pulled the lamb out and wrapped it in cloths and laid it in a manger to calm it down (sound familiar?). Now you know why He was born this way!

Jesus is often called the Lamb of God because lambs used to be sacrificed to pay for people's sins, just like Jesus would sometime in his 30's. 
Another familiar part of the story would be the shepherds who were out in their fields with their sheep at night when angels came upon them to tell them of the Savior’s birth. A lot of people think that since Christmas as we know it is in December, the first Christmas must also have been in December. But think about it: even in the Holy Lands it can get quite cold at night where the shepherds were in the winter time. Plus it was night time, so it would have been pretty cold had the Nativity taken place in winter! Many Biblical scholars instead believe it more likely that the Nativity took place in the spring, a much better time for the shepherds to be out with their sheep!

At last, we’ve reached the part in the story where the wise men enter. Now, a lot of stories will tell you that three kings visited baby Jesus with the shepherds. But as you’ll recall, the Bible doesn’t mention kings, it mentions wise men. So how on earth do people think that they were kings? This might come from another verse in the Bible, Daniel 9:24-26 (see this link). So could they have been kings? Possibly, but it is more likely they were wise scholars who had tracked down a star moving about in the sky to find Jesus. Now, in just about every picture, movie, Christmas play and book with the Nativity in it, you will see the stable with Mary and Joseph standing (or sitting) next to the Child, the shepherds watching the Baby, and the Wise Men either watching or giving their gifts. But let’s take a closer look at Matthew 2: 1-15. Hmm, it said that they visited Jesus in the house with His mother Mary. Doesn’t say a thing about shepherds or the stable, does it? The wise men visited Jesus when he was probably one or two years old. Not the newborn that we commonly see in picture books about Christmas.

The wise men followed a certain star to the place where Jesus was when He was a toddler, not a newborn as is often believed. 
Did you notice how many wise men the Bible says visited? It doesn’t, does it? Perhaps it was three, but it could have been four, five, six, seven, eight, ten, 20, 50, 90 . . . OK, maybe I went a little over the top, but we simply don’t know how many wise men there were. People just assume it was three because three gifts were given. Which would make some sense, unless some wise men gave the same gifts. We just don’t know.

Sorry, wise men! You guys need to turn back around and come back to visit Baby Jesus in another year or two!
Wow! Popular culture really has the Nativity story all wrong doesn’t it! Now we know the truth about the Nativity. Even though the stuff we just learned might be a shock to some, it does teach us something: when we hear something about scripture, no matter who it’s coming from, we should literally check the scriptures to see if what is being said is true and not just listen to it. Because it could be wrong!

DisclaimerMany (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, politely let me know via one or both of the email addresses above.

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