What a mixed up and oddball day of celebrations today turns out to be! Sometimes it’s a challenge trying to put them together in any sort of cohesive way, but I’ll do my best.
Today is Religious Freedom Day – a day to remember the history of religious discrimination and persecution, and as a result celebrate the adoption of the Virginia Statue for Establishing Religious Freedom by Thomas Jefferson. Before the American Revolution, Virginia had a state-established church. No matter what someone’s religion was, they all had to pay taxes to support the local Anglican priest, and it was mandatory to attend church. Presbyterian and Babtist ministers were required to have a license to preach, or face jail. Licenses were difficult to get, and many were refused on principle. By the year 1775, more than half of the Baptist ministers in Virginia had been jailed for preaching, others had stones thrown at them, or they were chased down with dogs. It is said that one prayer meeting was broken up when someone threw a hornet’s nest amongst the congregation, and another had a snake thrown into the middle of things. During the war things improved a great deal – the Anglican leaders needed the Baptists and the Presbyterians to fight, but when the war was over the tight government-religion connection was sought again by the Anglican establishment, by imposing a “general assessment” tax be paid to all Christian sects. Jefferson was horrified, but there was nothing he could do since he was serving as ambassador to France. James Madison stepped in, insisting upon a separation of church and state. Evangelical Baptists and Presbyterians agreed, arguing that mixing church and state would corrupt both. Baptist preacher Lewis Lunsford issued this demand – “The unlawful cohabitation between Church and State, which has so often been looked upon as holy wedlock, must now suffer a separation and be put forever asunder.” Freedom-loving evangelicals supported Madison, and because of that support Madison was able to push Jefferson’s Statute through the Virginia legislature. This statute later became a foundation for the First Amendment. So why should we celebrate? In spite of what we see around us today in our government – where God is being pushed out of our schools, our public buildings, and even uttering the name of Jesus creates a raging battle, we still are free to worship as we wish, nobody tells us how to worship, who to worship, or where to worship. No matter how hard this nation’s leadership attempts to make Christianity a dirty word, stand strong, stand firm and don’t ever forget – our First Amendment GUARANTEES that we have freedom of religion and don’t ever let ANYONE tell you otherwise. To me, that’s a great reason to celebrate.
And now for the less serious celebrations . . . nothing like some time to be silly to put a smile on your face. Today is National Nothing Day! What does that mean? Well I asked myself the same question and here’s what I found out. Today is very simply . . . a day for nothing. This is an un-event day. The expectation was that we do not create or otherwise promote this day – or more precisely . . . we do NOTHING. Saying anything more about it would contradict the purpose of this day. So how to celebrate this day? Well, by doing nothing, of course. But . . .you may want to clear that with your boss. Seriously, the only thing that I could find out was that this day was set in motion in 1973 by newspaperman Harold Pullman Coffin. Other than that, I found out nothing about this day . . . which is somehow absurdly appropriate. I do need to point out though – like I have with other special days – that there is no evidence to suggest that Nothing Day is truly a “national” day, which requires an act of congress.
And last, but certainly not least . . . today is Appreciate a Dragon Day! Hurray for dragons . . . considered by some to be the noblest of creatures. Dragons has existed as symbols for centuries, and it is thought by some sociologists that the dragons of myth and legend were the result of our ancestors’ combining the lizards and the alligators that they knew, with the few fossilized skulls and the remains of dinasuars that they’d found. I had to chuckle at one site I was reading – it said that “those who have met a dragon know that sociologists are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.” hahaha Since I’ve never considered the thought of celebrating dragons – I had to look up ways to appreciate them . . . some ideas I found were:
* visit the local library and look for articles or books about dragons. Study what other cultures and societies believe in dragons, or read a story about them. 2 books that I found listed were Minerva Wakes by Holly Lisle for a good laugh about dragons, or Dragons Can Only Rust by Chrys Cymri if you want a good cry about dragons. I can’t personally way whether or not these books are any good – but I may check those out next time I’m at a library!
* Write a story about your very own dragon – put your rusty imagination to good use today! Where does it live? What does it eat? How would it spend its day? (assuming the book isn’t written around Nothing Day of course)
* If you’re artistic (and I know at least 1 of my readers is), draw your own dragon – pull it right out of your mind – what does it look like? What color is it? Your own imagination is the only limit to the creativity of your dragon.
* Pop some popcorn and watch the movie Pete’s Dragon – This is a really cute movie I haven’t seen since I was a kid, about a New England boy and his cartoon dragon friend Elliott.
What are some famous dragons from movies, books and music? Well, there’s . . .
* Puff the Magic Dragon – this is a dragon from a song written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow, made popular by the group Peter, Paul and Mary in a 1963 record. The lyrics for “Puff” tell a bittersweet story of the ageless dragon Puff and his playmate Jackie Paper. I have heard people say that the song is actually talking about drug use . . . but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
* Elliott – The friendly, sweet, very memorable cartoon dragon from the live-action/animated musical Walt Disney movie Pete’s Dragon.
* Figment – This is the mascot of the Imagination! pavilion at the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World Resort. He is a small purple dragon who usually wears a yellow sweater and made his first appearance in March of 1983.
* Toothless – This is actually a dragon in a movie I LOVE – How to Train Your Dragon, a truly fun animated movie by Dreamworks. I cannot say enough good things about this movie and highly recommend it to all ages.
There were a lot of other movie – mostly cartoon of course – dragon references and I’m sure we can all think of dragons that haven’t been mentioned here.
I had no idea how many quotes about dragons are out there! I had to laugh because they are funny!
* “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.”
* “The light at the end of the tunnel may be an approaching dragon.”
* “I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” —John Lennon
Go with God today – after all, we are free to do so and celebrate that openly today!!! If you have a chance, do nothing for a few minutes to rest your thoughts, and watch a movie about dragons afterward. Yes, the day is going to be action packed for you . . . or not . . . but whatever you do with it, be blessed. I’ll see you tomorrow.