This one goes out to everyone who ever wondered who Good King Wenceslas was (St Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, 907-935 AD), or what the "Feast of Stephen" in the song referred to. The Feast of St Stephen is today, December 26 (also Chairman Mao's birthday, for interested parties), which is how Good King Wenceslas got to be a Christmas Carol. In Canada and other countries, today is known as Boxing Day, a day to give alms to the poor, as Good King Wenceslas does in the song. (In my saltier moments, I have wondered if the US doesn't celebrate Boxing Day because nobody believes in giving to the poor.)
And what kind of Deadhead would I be, if I didn't post ST STEPHEN? The best short (operative word, SHORT) musical version I found was recorded in 1969, and both Bob and Jerry look like teenagers (except Jerry looks like an exceptionally hairy teenager). It was recorded for Playboy After Dark, which isn't optimal, but whatcha gonna do?
St Stephen was martyred in the New Testament. Because he is what is often called a "Biblical saint" (meaning his sainthood was "grandfathered in" and he didn't need to undergo the usual canonization process) I thought it would be safe to wish another Christian a happy St Stephen's Day today. Ha! Dream on, Daisy! John Knox spins in his grave! The Christian-in-question bit my head off in the usual Calvinist style. Honestly, I'd like to know what they put in the water over there at Bob Jones University, which seems to make the people 1) stupid and 2) terribly unhappy.
This conversation broke out into a rather heated theological discussion that seemed to leave everyone around us alternately freaked-out and awestruck, but I'll be DAMNED if I will allow some FUNDIE KNOW-IT-ALL who is studying to be another CLUELESS PREACHER (as if we don't have enough preachers around here as it is) tell me all kindsa bullshit about "epistemology"--a word they have apparently just learned over at BJU, since I've heard it from two of them now.
The discussion ended up with young Preacher-Man self-righteously informing me I was not WORTHY (shades of Wayne's World!) to hear the Gospel. I guess he doesn't think I've heard it already, or not the CORRECT one, in any event. He said he'd visit here to argue with me further, and I wouldn't underestimate him. ZEAL is the brother's middle name. He is right, everyone else (except for John Calvin and Bob Jones, one assumes) is wrong, and that's that.
And then, I remembered the day itself; I thought of St Stephen:
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:Who is now doing the stoning? It's interesting to read this, in our modern times. Who are the people doing the judging? Who are the people deciding that other people are not good enough, or (ahem) WORTHY enough?
Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it].
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord
And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
--Acts 7: 52-60 (KJV)
The Calvinist fundamentalists would have stoned St Stephen, as surely as they now have no need for his feast day.
Did he doubt or did he try?
Answers aplenty in the bye and bye
Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills
One man gathers what another man spills
Saint Stephen will remain
All he's lost he shall regain
Seashore washed by the suds and the foam
Been here so long he's got to calling it home
Grateful Dead - St Stephen