Thursday, December 03, 2020

Steve Hays' Contribution To Christmas

I considered discussing the subject in my Christmas Resources post this year, but decided to address it separately instead. I conclude my Christmas Resources post each year with links to the Triablogue material written on Christmas issues over the past year. This was the last year in which that collection of links would include posts from Steve.

During the Christmas season of 2004, Time and Newsweek published articles against the historicity of the infancy narratives, and those articles got a poor response from Christians. Seeing what happened that year convinced me to become much more involved in doing apologetic work on Christmas issues. I've been building on what I started in 2004 every year since then. I joined the Triablogue staff in February of 2006 at Steve's invitation, which gave me a prominent platform for doing that Christmas work. He not only gave me that platform, but also frequently encouraged me in doing the work, both publicly and privately, including shortly before his death.

And he did a lot of Christmas apologetic work himself. I've linked many examples over the years in my Christmas Resources posts and elsewhere. It needs to be remembered that producing material like that cost him a lot of time, effort, reputation, and other resources. Something that only takes, say, two, five, or eleven minutes to read and is so easy to understand after he's set everything out was much harder for him to put together and maintain (answering questions, responding to objections, updating whatever needed updated, etc.). Given how few people go as deep into Christmas issues as Steve did and how few think outside the box as much as he did, it was a rare privilege and joy to work with him in that context. As I mentioned in a tribute to Steve that I wrote shortly after his death, I miss his knowledge, his wisdom, and his constant presence and persistence. As he did in other contexts, he expanded my thoughts about Christmas not only by increasing the information I had within the parameters of my thinking, but also by expanding those parameters.

He wrote a lot of good material on Christmas issues outside the context of apologetics as well. He would often write about music, including Christmas music, to which he often posted links during the Christmas season. As he mentions in his autobiography, he and his family have a history of involvement in music. For example:

The Christmas Eve [church] service left an impression of sorts. This was partly because it was the only day of the year when I was allowed to stay up so late—well past midnight. We had a family tradition of playing the Festival of Lessons and Carols, by King's College Chapel choir, before heading off to church. The Alpine clarity of the high treble descant, echoing in the ambient chapel, was mesmerizing to me. And the candlelight service at church augmented the magical mood.

That planted a lifelong fondness for King's College Chapel choir, and its repertoire. Nowadays I can watch services on my laptop. The hymns I've been hearing and singing since childhood take on greater resonance as we ourselves pass through the pilgrimage of life and faith–watching our godly relatives go ahead of us, and following in their footsteps. (25-26)


Last year, he wrote a post about singing in heaven. He'd written on the subject in a 2017 post as well. What he wrote about his Christian relatives at the conclusion of his autobiography now includes him:

For my sainted loved ones, the pain is past, the longing gone, the sorrow over, the patience requited, and the waiting rewarded. Far above the stars, where angels chime the watches of the night, they join the everlasting choir–in the tintinnabulations of a thousand-thousand bells. (85)

3 comments:

  1. Hello. I've been searching for blogs of christian apologetics and just found out yours. I am really enjoying! Kisses from Brazil 🇧🇷

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  2. It's so much to read from Hays. But his stuff is really good. I, too, miss his posts, though no doubt great content is still produced here at Triablogue and one of my favorite blogs without a doubt!

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