Why Do We Do the Things We Do?

Why Do We Do the Things We Do?

WillSelarep/iStockphoto

Have you ever wondered why we believe what we do, why we follow the traditions we do, or where those customs came from?

Have you ever noticed how young children often use the word “why”—usually in the form of a question directed at a person older than them? How often they tend to pester others with that question! And each answer, it seems, triggers another question—another why.

But as they become older, that inquisitiveness begins to wane. They stop asking why so frequently. What is the reason for this? Is it because they know it all at that point? No. For some reason they become comfortable with the status quo. Most of us are like this. Sooner or later we begin to accept things just the way they are—without question.

Perhaps our curiosity got squelched somewhere along the way by the expressions of frustration from those who didn’t have time to answer, or who didn’t know the answers, to our childish questions. Or maybe we got the impression that there are no answers to most whys. Whatever the cause, we eventually accept that it is a whole lot easier to accept most things as they are—unquestioned, without considering the reason. It is what it is, we think to ourselves.

What a shame it is to lose this curiosity! What problems and wasted hours we could avoid if we would only examine ourselves to see why we do the things we do—and if we ought to be doing them. It’s so effortless to follow the crowd, to cave in to peer pressure, to do what comes naturally—what we feel satisfies us, whether or not it really is beneficial.

Too few have ever wondered why they believe what they do, why they follow the customs they do, or where those customs came from.

One example is the celebration of various holidays and traditions. Take Christmas, for example. The traditions surrounding Christmas stir warm feelings in the hearts of many—young and old alike—all over the Earth. Families come together. Children eagerly anticipate the morning they will receive their presents. Loved ones give gifts, gather for Christmas dinners and recall previous Christmases spent together. There is no other time quite like it.

But why do people around the world celebrate December 25? Many assume it is in honor of Jesus Christ’s birthday. But if they would check any reliable encyclopedia or reference material, they’d find that the exact date of Jesus’s birth is unknown.

When Jesus Christ was born, the Gospel of Luke records that “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). December is in the midst of a cold, rainy season in Judea. The shepherds always brought their flocks in from the fields and mountains to be corralled by mid-October at the latest, for their protection. Song of Solomon 2:11 and Ezra 10:9 and 13 show that winter was a rainy season, thus confirming that the shepherds would not have been in open fields on December 25, during the dead of winter.

Regardless of when Jesus was born, the Bible nowhere instructs Christians to observe birthdays. Instead, they are told to observe the anniversary of Jesus’s death as a perpetual memorial (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

So where did we get all the various customs and traditions associated with Christmas from, if they didn’t originate in Christianity? The Encyclopedia Britannica states, “Christmas customs are an evolution from times that long antedate the Christian period—a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition” (15th Edition, article “Christmas”). This and other authoritative reference works plainly confirm that many decorations such as the holly wreath, mistletoe and the Yule log are relics of pre-Christian times.

Jeremiah 10:1-5 make reference to an evil practice occurring during Jeremiah’s time—hundreds of years before Jesus was born. People were cutting down evergreen trees and decorating them for their homes. The great Creator God was not impressed.

Some people, when faced with the fact that Christmas has evolved from pagan customs, will claim they are really “honoring” Christ instead. They think it does not matter to God how the Messiah is worshiped. However, Jesus Himself said that it is possible to attempt to worship Him and still do it all in vain—if we don’t do it His way. (Compare Matthew 15:9 and Deuteronomy 12:29-31.)

It’s time to stop assuming and check up! Why should we follow pagan traditions and superstitions such as Christmas—or New Year’s Eve, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween, for that matter? Why should we blindly go along with what everyone else in society seems to be doing?

The late Herbert W. Armstrong, in his book The Missing Dimension in Sex, put it this way: “This world’s society and its customs are based on human nature—which is to say, on Satan’s ways—and are diametrically contrary to God’s ways! Go along with the crowd, and you are stumbling along with the other dumb sheep to the slaughter! Why be one of the crowd? Why not stand out from the crowd of ignoramuses and weaklings, as one who has knowledge, wisdom and character! Any old dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim against the current!”

Why be one of the crowd? Why not stand out from the crowd as one who has knowledge, wisdom and character! That’s quite a challenge!

Ask yourself why you do what you do. Analyze yourself. Check up. Ponder. If you find what you are doing is right, then that’s good. If it isn’t right, make it right. You will be happier for sure.

Request your free copy of The Truth About Christmas for more information about the origins of the December 25 holiday.

Egypt’s Catholic Bishops Conference Stands Up to Morsi

Egypt’s Catholic Bishops Conference Stands Up to Morsi

European External Action Service/flickr

“Whenever Islam becomes politicized it automatically turns into a fascist dictatorship,” says Bishops’ spokesman.

While most of the West dithers and stutters over Egypt President Mohamed Morsi’s power grab, one institution is speaking out very forcefully: Egypt’s Catholic Bishop Conference. Rafik Greiche, spokesman of the conference, is making it clear that the Catholic Church firmly opposes Morsi, his treatment of protestors and the constitution he is trying to rush through.

“The European Union must make it clear to President Morsi and his government that they have to observe human rights,” he told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, according to a report published on their website December 12.

“The militias of the Muslim Brotherhood have threatened people demonstrating peacefully against the president’s policy,” he said. “This is just as unacceptable as the text put forward for the future Egyptian constitution.”

Egyptians will vote on the new constitution on December 15 and 22. The document was hurriedly put together despite the opposition of Christians and other minorities.

But Greiche made is clear that he is not just opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood or Morsi. He is against any form of “politicized” Islam.

“Whenever Islam becomes politicized it automatically turns into a fascist dictatorship,” he said. “Then comes the impending threat that the sharia in its most fundamental form will be introduced.”

These are shockingly candid statements. And the only organization willing to make them is the Catholic Church.

In an interview with IlSussidiario.net, the news outlet for Italian think tank Foundation for Subsidiarity, Greiche said the Catholic Church “would never go back” to approving the work of Egypt’s constitutional committee.

He also criticized the United States for not doing enough. “The West and especially the United States is very soft with President Morsi,” he said.

“It seemed as though the United States were encouraging the Islamist movement in the Arab Spring,” he said. “This is not good for the rest of the Muslims who do not [want] part of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as for the Christians, who have not been encouraged at all.”

Instead, Greiche calls for help from the EU.

This outspoken priest calling for help from Europe on behalf of Egypt’s Catholic Bishops is a sign of things to come. The Catholic Church will soon take the lead in pushing Europe to confront the rise of radical Islam. For more on the Catholic Church’s role in the Middle East’s future, see the article currently featured on the front page of theTrumpet.com, “The Last Crusade.”

Iran Wants to Own Both Persian Gulf and Red Sea

Iran Wants to Own Both Persian Gulf and Red Sea

ATTA KENARE/AFP/GettyImages

Tensions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program have distracted the world from Tehran’s growing naval power.

Since 2000, Iran has perceptively expanded its navy. Most recently, Fars News Agency reported that the Iranian Navy had added two light submarines and a missile warship to its fleet. This follows the addition of fast-action, short-range speedboats designed to slip in and out of shallow coastal waters surrounding the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

In June, Iran participated in a well-publicized joint naval exercise with Syria and Russia in the eastern Mediterranean.

Iran has traditionally been a land-based empire. So to understand Iran’s strategic plan in putting more ships in the sea, you must consider geography. In recent months, Tehran has continued to spread its influence in Libya and Ethiopia. And it appears that it has defeated Israel in the battle for influence in Eritrea.

Control over these nations leaves Iran with the tempting and strategically crucial possibility of being able to control the southern passage of the Red Sea.

Back in April 2011, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “[W]hy would Iran be so interested in getting some measure of control over Libya and Ethiopia? … All you need to do is get a good map of the Middle East, with the emphasis on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Then you can see why the king of the south, or radical Islam, is so interested in an alliance with or control over these two countries (as well as Egypt and Tunisia). They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world!”

If Iran were to cement its control of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal it, would prove to be a dangerous situation for more than just the Middle East. Seeing that Iran’s ambitions have progressed so successfully on the ground, any buildup in the Iranian Navy should be taken as cause for concern. As Trumpet columnist Brad Macdonald wrote recently, “More than 5 percent of global oil supplies, some 2 to 3 million barrels per day, pass through the Suez and the Red Sea. Roughly 20,000 ships—an average of 55 per day—pass through the Suez Canal and Red Sea each year. About 15 percent of global maritime trade travels through the Red Sea.” That is the power and leverage Iran would obtain should it gain control of the Red Sea.

The consequences would affect nearly every individual on this planet. An Iranian ability to threaten—or worse, shut down (even temporarily)—one of the most important maritime trade routes could create chaos in America and Europe almost overnight, Gerald Flurry wrote. “That could give Iran virtual control of the trade through those seas. Radical Islam could stop the flow of essential oil to the U.S. and Europe!”

The Trumpet has been warning about this for years, but now other sources are beginning to see it too. Dr. Shaul Shay wrote in a paper titled “Iran’s New Strategic Horizons at Sea” (July 26):

Iran recognizes the Red Sea as a strategic area of interest because of its desire to gain control over the main maritime oil and gas route to the West, the straits on each corner of the Arabian Peninsula: Hormuz to the east and Bab-el-Mandeb to the west. The latter forms the southern tip of the Red Sea between Eritrea and Yemen, places of strategic importance for Iran. Control of this area is also important when combatting Somali pirates who operate in the Gulf of Aden and threaten international oil shipping routes. The Red Sea route is also a main channel of communication and arms supply from Iran to its regional ally Hamas in the Gaza Strip, allowing Iran to funnel weapons to the Strip via Yemen, the sea, and through Sudan to Sinai and ultimately Gaza.

A Tehran with the ability, to lock down the Persian Gulf and Red Sea would make it very obvious to the world that it was the undisputed king of the Middle East. But contrary to what Iran may believe—threatening the world’s oil trade routes will also make it a bigger target for the West, especially Europe.

China’s Economy to Surpass U.S.

China will probably surpass the United States and become the largest economy in the world by 2030. That’s the finding of a new study, called “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.” The report, which was issued by the United States National Intelligence Council, paints a faded picture of American prominence.

Justin Logan, the director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, said that the report’s conclusion was not necessarily surprising, yet it could impact the nation’s future political direction.

Logan said, “[W]e’re a big, powerful country that does a lot of things in the world, so even slight changes in how American policy-makers think can have big consequences.”

China’s economy grew 7.7 percent this year, and is predicted to grow nearly 8.5 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, America’s economy grew at only about 2 percent and is expected to grow at about the same rate next year.

The divergence between America and China can also be measured in debt. According to the Treasury department, the United States owes China about $1.15 trillion, and it owes Hong Kong another $135 billion. Analysts suspect that China also owns additional U.S. debt through proxies in the United Kingdom. As America’s debt grows, China’s financial position strengthens.

God prophesied in Deuteronomy 28:44 that foreign countries would overtake modern Israel, including the United States financially: “He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.”

To understand why the Western financial system is failing, read The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

Peres: ‘We Have to Forget the Past’

Israeli president says what happened 2,000 years ago will not happen again.

Israeli President Shimon Peres recently said he believes the United Nations vote that upgraded the status of the Palestinian Authority means that Israel and the Palestinians must return to the negotiating table. In order for peace talks to resume, he said, Israel must “forget the past” and move forward. Peres said, “We are not going to deal with Abraham, our father and brother. It’s over.” If Israel’s own leaders begin separating themselves from their biblically grounded heritage, will it finally bring peace?

Did Islamic Terrorists Try to Bomb Bonn?

Did Islamic Terrorists Try to Bomb Bonn?

JM Tosses/flickr

Germany is on the alert after a failed terrorist attack.

A bomb that could have created a “large fireball” was discovered at Bonn Central Station on December 10. cnn reports that German intelligence believe Muslim terrorists were behind the plot. The Interior Ministry warned that there is an increased risk of an attack on Germany’s Christmas markets.

A 14-year-old boy alerted police to a blue bag that had been placed beside the train track. The bag contained a pipe bomb made with ammonium nitrate and four containers of propane gas.

“The propane gas cartridges would have caused a very large and dangerous fireball,” said the head of the investigation at Cologne police, Norbert Wagner. “The chemicals were highly explosive.”

Authorities quickly arrested two men, whom cnn identified as Omar D. and Abdifatah W. Both were released, but cnn reported that Omar is still a suspect. German newspapers report that Omar has links to Islamic terrorists in the area.

However the authorities aren’t certain who is behind the bomb. Last year, a left-wing group said it was responsible for several bombs found on railway lines in Berlin.

Terrorist attacks can radically change the direction of a country. The 9/11 attacks upturned American foreign policy. The Madrid bombings probably changed the course of an election. A terrorist attack could have a similar effect on Germany.

In a Key of David program several years ago, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained how both history and Bible prophecy show that Germany is about to undergo a political transformation—a transformation that could be triggered by a terrorist attack. An attack “could very easily happen, and that could even be certainly a stimulus to the biggest change in world events in quite a long time,” Mr. Flurry said.

“A strong man is going to be brought on the scene in Europe, so says your Bible,” he said. “Will an attack by al-Qaeda provoke that? … It certainly could.”

Despite the death of Osama bin Laden, the threat of terrorism is still very real—and it has the power to transform Europe. Al Qaeda is still a threat. And so are other groups and even lone Islamic madmen.

Germany is prophesied to become the most aggressive enemy of Islamic terrorism. A terrorist attack could bring this about.

For more on the potential effect of such an attack, read our article “Is Germany’s 9/11 Coming?