Dr. Arthur Chang, author of “The New Positive Spirituality: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Everyday Life,” defines positive spirituality as the practice of positively embodying God’s attributes of love and law and using them in our lives to bring our desires into physical reality.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang


It appears many people who love the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus are unaware that of the four Gospels, only two tell this incredible story of virgin birth, angels, wise men and King Herod. Among those who know the story, some may be surprised to learn that they are two fundamentally different stories even as they have much in common.


For example, Luke’s Gospel tells of Joseph and a pregnant Mary journeying to Jerusalem during the reign of Caesar Augustus when Quirinius was governor. This was about six CE, or six years after the date celebrated as Christmas day. In the Gospel of Matthew, in which King Herod plays a central role, Herod ordered all Jewish babies killed in order to ensure that the messiah, who had the right to Herod’s throne, would be killed. History tells us that Herod died in four BCE—four years before the traditionally accepted date of Jesus’ birth. There is a ten-year difference between the two renditions of this astounding birth. Matthew has Joseph and Mary already living in Bethlehem and not finding rest in a stable as Luke stated.


If we recognize that these stories are mythic themes or faith statements by these writers, we will realize that the stories are about much more than ordinary time. By mythic themes, filled with paradoxes, I mean stories addressing the world of soul rather than that of history.


Carl Jung notes, “Myths are first and foremost psychic phenomena that reveal the nature of the soul.” Myths have served various functions in different cultures across time. One of the more common of these functions has been to provide individuals with a template, or model, to assist in their psychological maturation and development. Scripture, as partly mythic renditions, teaches how to find our way back to the Source and our true relationship to it. C. S. Lewis says, “The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.”


Appreciating that scripture employs mythic themes, which are for moving us out of our everyday logical sequential minds, will allow a new clarity for living to come into being. This alternative awareness will provide us with the necessary wings to fly in the miraculous sky of infinite possibilities, where the limits on earth become possible in heaven. On descending to our ordinary, terrestrial life, we will be gifted with an extraordinarily transformed consciousness.


Here we will, also, experience a virgin birth of understanding that life does not depend solely on the mind that only reads the objective world. As George Bernard Shaw said, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”


Spirituality is the core of creativity. By literalizing its teachings, we will reduce spirituality to mere morality. As important as this is in achieving and sustaining a social order, the more important function of spirituality is its potential to ignite the fire of creativity and blaze new trails for the greater expressions of this life. The paradoxes of spirituality are not to be solved; they are to be contemplated. These contradictory Christmas narratives are rich in symbolic meanings even while appearing illogical historically.


Mythologist Sir James Frazier said, “All versions of a myth are important.” Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”


I have covered many of these symbolic meanings in my talks. These are only a few of the paradoxes of the Christmas stories of Matthew and Luke to be contemplated. This Christmas, read Jesus’ birth or Christmas stories poetically and symbolically as we do at Founder’s, and see how much they will contribute to your spiritual depth.