Category Archives: church
Spoiler alert: Don’t Read This if You Believe in Santa Claus (AKA if you are a member of American Atheists, turn around now)
I wasn’t home last night, and even when I am I rarely turn on Fox News for anything other than The Five or Red Eye, but when I got in it was to hear from my dad that Hannity had been talking to the President of American Atheists on his show, about a billboard they have put in in Times Square.
Apparently atheists are operating under the idea that Santa is a real person or something.
Technically I suppose they were trying to be witty and reference how the secular trappings of Christmas are a-okay with them, but cut out the religion right this very minute because they can’t stand one myth being talked about…but the other myth of the jolly fat man in a red suit is perfectly fine.
Can we just take a moment to recognize how utterly ridiculous this is?
No really, does American Atheist understand how stupid they are for implying that only one of those images is a myth?
Santa and Rudolph and the sleigh with all the toys are a myth. They know that right?
Last year I wrote a post about Nativity scenes on public property and this was part of it.
So why is it that a holiday that is based on some fictional account of a baby being born in a barn, is so offensive to an Athiest or Liberal’s sensibilities?
I know that Star Wars is just a story, completely fictional. However there is an entire religion based on The Force. There are huge groups of a devoted fan base that worship The Force and even those that don’t follow the religion still collect relics, dress in odd clothing, and attend huge gatherings to, essentially, worship the films. Do I ask that Star Wars conventions be shut down? No, absolutely not, because while I’m not a Star Wars fan (I’m a Trekkie okay) I know that it’s just a story, that some people enjoy and maybe put a little too much of their lives into.
So if I don’t demand that Star Wars conventions be shut down (which are both more physically and olfactory offensive than Christmas and probably much less healthy for the convention attendees) why is it that a bunch of plaster fictional characters on a lawn can invoke such irrationality?
Atheists reject one myth, because it’s more popular or believed by more people, but completely accept another myth as socially and politically acceptable in the public forum, simply because they believe it’s secular.
I have news for you. Nothing about Christmas, from it’s name right down to the elements of the celebration, is based on secular ideas.
Okay, possibly Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph are purely secular and capitalistic creations, but the core traditions are religious, whether they are Christian or not.
Let’s break this down shall we. What are some of the key ‘secular’ parts of Christmas.
Christmas Trees: Extreme pagan and Christian religious symbolism.
The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.
The modern Christmas tree, though, originated in western Germany. The main prop of a popular medieval play about Adam and Eve was a “paradise tree,” a fir tree hung with apples, that represented the Garden of Eden. The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes.
Lights: Lights on the tree and elsewhere came from a Christian practice, as well as pagan practices.
Candles, symbolic of Christ, were often added [to the Christmas tree].
The Celtic fire festival of Yule was a time of renewal and rebirth, celebrated by lighting fires to welcome back the lengthening days. The remnants of this practice may be found in the charming tradition of the Yule log, still enjoyed by many people at Christmas even today.
The lighting of candles and modern Christmas lights is also a relic of this ancient need to bring light to the darkest time of the year, and even in this era of electric lights that dispel the gloom all year round, many people still enjoy the warming feeling of seeing a beautifully lit tree or an array of lighted candles.
The circle of the Yule or Christmas wreath represents the pagan “Wheel of the Year” or “Circle of Life” that marks the annual changes in the seasons at the Festivals celebrated at the solstices and equinoxes.The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes.
Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick: Literally a Catholic saint and the basis for the modern Santa Claus that was so wittily placed on a billboard mocking Christianity. Brilliant move American Atheists!
Santa Claus, legendary figure who is the traditional patron of Christmas in the United States and other countries, bringing gifts to children. His popular image is based on traditions associated with Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian saint. Father Christmas fills the role in many European countries.
“The giving of presents at the midwinter feast almost certainly began as a magical more than as merely a social custom. Saturnalia presents included wax dolls, given to children. A charming custom, no doubt, by times of record, but with a macabre past: even contemporaries thought this probably a vestige of human sacrifice, of children, to aid the sowing.”
- History Today
We have many recorded events in history that show the giving and receiving of gifts dates back at least to the 4th century. St. Nicholas, a Christian Bishop, was known for his generosity in giving to those less fortunate than he, as well as giving to children of all backgrounds simply because he felt they needed to savor their childrood, and have joyous times to remember.
These really aren’t that secular after all then. So I guess what your real problem is, is that Christianity is involved (in which case, no Santa for you either, he’s a Catholic Saint).
If you have a problem with religion in general, then keep in mind that those lights you are hanging, that tree you are decorating while singing secular x-mas carols, and those gifts you are giving out, all have religious connotations.
So you should probably ask your job if you can come in on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, to let other non-Scrooges enjoy a day with their family, since you can’t stand any religions at all. Since you totally reject all religions that believe in “magical sky daddy’s” or whatever mocking phrase atheists are referring to god by these days.
(This is the first, in what may be 2 or 3 posts on this issue. This is a general response, next I will respond to the rest of his speech, and perhaps another post to deal with some of the responses that liberals have had to the completely justified outrage that conservatives are feeling about this.)
I spent most of the day, yesterday, trying to figure out how to start this post.
I’m usually quite witty (if I do say so myself), but I’m honestly just very angry about this. Wit has deserted me in favor of mental equivalent of “HULK SMASH!”
Now let me preface this with something that I don’t talk about often.
I am not a Christian. Let’s get that out of the way so that I won’t be categorized as a “religious bigot”, “butthurt Christian”, “conservative fundie”, or any of the other terribly tolerant language that the liberal blogs have been categorizing anyone who takes issue with Savage’s language as.
Yes, that’s right, I’m personally pro-life and extremely conservative in most other ways…but I don’t believe that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, ate the last supper with the 12 apostles, or died on a cross and rose again 3 days later.
I do believe that the Bible has some good stories and some good lessons to teach, just as I believe about many religions. I believe that it shows a unique look at a society (or a religious history, for the Jewish people, if you are looking at the Old Testament) and it must be read in the context of its time, as a form of history. (Something even my mother who, unlike my father, can be a bit of a Biblical literalist, freely admitted in a conversation with me last night).
The Bible, similar to most other philosophies and religions, has some bad parts as well. The large portion of the Old Testament is history and some truly awful shit has gone down in every society/religion at some point.
Now, having said that.
What Dan Savage said in his rant (yes, that’s what I categorize it as. Lot’s of anger, no real substance) just made him a bully and destroyed his credibility as a promoter of “anti-bullying” views.
Yes, calling a holy book, or part of it’s contents, “bullshit” is sometimes accurate (I often say similar words about things that about the Q’ran) however, saying the things he said in a pre-planned speech, to a group of high school students, was bullying. This wasn’t said in the heat of the moment, when he was angry at someone coming after him personally, this was pre-meditated and there is no way he did not know that many students and teachers in that crowd would be Christians. That would be a statistical improbability.
Then, of course, he took it a step further and called those who did the mature and walked out (rather than I would have done, even as a non-Christian, which would have been stand up and take him to task…or possibly pop him in the mouth…depending on my mood) “pansy assed”. Which, unless I’m wrong, is a pejorative used to refer to effeminate gay men.
Oh the irony inherent in a man who hates the bullying of gay people, using a gay slur to insult others.
Maybe he should have just called them faggots and gotten it over with.
I have an intense problem with hypocrisy. It is the one thing that will automatically make me lose all respect for you.
I may not like the views of certain groups (PETA, liberals in general, the Taliban, etc) but if you can remain consistent in your views and actions, I can at least respect that you know your own mind…even if I can’t stand the way your mind works.
It is the hypocrisy of Dan Savage’s views that kills me.
You cannot truly know yourself or your beliefs if you believe that bullying of one group is wrong, but bullying of some other group is fine…because you don’t like them.
You can’t be believed or respected if you say “It Gets Better” from one side of your mouth, while the other side says that you wish an entire political group was “just fucking dead”.*
You can’t demand respect for gay people, while using gay slurs to categorize those that you don”t like.
You can’t demand change and respect from people, when your actions against those who disagree with you is to make up vile uses for their name.
Not only has he shown his hypocrisy, but Savage has once again shown his sheer lack of intelligence (Yes, I think you are unintelligent if you can’t hold consistent beliefs, it isn’t hard to do) and his immaturity.
Is this really the person the gay community wants to represent the great future that is in store for young GLBT people?
How can life “get better” if the role model for a better life is so filled with anger, so bitter and hurtful to others?
You can’t fight fire with fire Mr. Savage. Perhaps it was your intent to live up to your name, but you are doing a great disservice to those you claim to be trying to help.
As Perez Hilton said** “Can’t we just be good and kind to each other? Isn’t faith in love and honesty and kindness all any of us really need?”
That is what will get our world where it needs to be, not divisive language and anger towards anyone who doesn’t fall in line with your ideal.
*As a gay conservative/Republican I would like to know what that means for me. Should I just die to make Savage happy? Or does life get better for me too, since I’m gay?
**Yes, I was shocked that he was one of the people to speak out about this.
How is it that this guy manages to have basically all the same views as myself? It’s almost eery.
I think my Christmas wish this year is that, somehow, I will be able to meet him in person and get drunk with him and discuss politics. That would be the most amazing thing ever.
Even if the name “War on Christmas” is a bit silly, it still happens. I blame Progressive and “politically correct” liberals, Atheist and Theist alike.
Okay, that’s a lie. The post on Christmas Eve will contain my number one favorite Christmas song, here-to-fore unmentioned in these blogs. I’ve kept it a carefully guarded secret! *maniacal laugh* *maniacal laugh*…sorry, if you haven’t seen the new Muppets movie that joke will make no sense whatsoever.
Hey look! I’m exhausted while writing this. Won’t this be fun?
#9. Carol of the Bells
#8. Angels We Have Heard On High
While I love several of the modern interpretations of this song, nothing beats, in my opinion, a really good choir singing the song. It was made for multiple singers.
I always like this particular song, I’m not sure why, but it is sort of fun. I remember singing it for Christmas Pageants (yes, I was consistently cast as one of the three kings…I’ve never been sure why. Maybe because I had such bad stage fright that playing any characters on stage for more than 3 or 4 minutes would have been almost impossible…yeah, that’s probably it.)
Anyway, a few years ago when I discovered the Trans-Siberian Orchestra I heard their alternate version of of the song and loved it as well.
So here they both are.
#1. We Three Kinds of Orient Are
#2. We Three Kings