Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Big Atheist Babies and Their Weird Christmas Hang-Ups...

Serious question: Is there anything more ridiculous than getting offended because someone says, "Merry Christmas"? Or sends you a Christmas card? Yet there is now a growing class of people out there - big atheist babies (we could call them "babs" for short) who will go out of their way to express how insulted they are when anyone "presumes" to use any word with the word "Christ" in it in greeting. Quite a number on principle won't even write the word "Christmas" anymore - only "Xmas" will do. This is incredibly silly. Just what we need - yet another class of eager victims! Yet another Stalin-esque purge of our linguistic impurities and thought crimes!

I'd like to suggest here that those who feel their certainty that there is no God compels them to shun the very word "Christmas", should - to be consistent - also get busy shunning the word "goodbye": it is, after all, a contraction of the words "God be with ye". And they should also be lobbying for its replacement by a "less offensive" version - like "Xbye". Are you starting to see how silly this is?

To all you babs out there: Yeah, I know Christianity ain't what it's supposed to be. I know it makes zero sense that Jesus begged himself in the Garden of Gethsemane to allow himself to not suffer, and then accused himself of "forsaking" himself while on the crucifixion cross. I also know it makes no sense that God created us destined to suffer excruciating pain for eternity unless we tortured and murdered him. I know the whole thing, when you think about it, seems, or is, totally nuts. Does that mean you can't even say the word "Christmas"? Hasn't "Christmas" in many ways gotten to the point where it has become more of a celebration of all that is good in humankind? Of mercy and generosity and gratitude? And isn't that what you'd really like Christmas to become anyway? And if so, wouldn't continuing to use the term "Christmas" when you mean something non-religious by it, actually help achieve what you most want - less focus on a Jewish reformer who died 2000 years ago, and whose legacy has been prostituted beyond precedent, and more on certain virtues?

Anyway - this weird hyper-preciousness about one's non-belief in God is just as irritating and unbecoming as hyper-preciousness about belief in God; and I suggest there are lot more important things to worry about than whether someone says "Merry Christmas" - or "Happy Hannukah" or "Merry Kwanzaa", for that matter. Who cares? It's almost like these guys are afraid that if someone says "Merry Christmas" to them, that they'll wind wake up the next morning chanting in tongues that the world's only 4000 years old and Noah really did bring two of every animal on his ark. Maybe they've been whipped into a paranoid frenzy by Dawkins's meme theory stuff ("I might catch Christianity!"). It's like a phobia or something.

Anyway, this is one non-believer sincerely wishing everyone out there a




And to all the babs out there reading this:




erlybird said...

Roger that, Tal! As atheists the last thing I feel we need is to be keeping politically correct chips perched on arrogant shoulders. Hell, let them steal all the pagan holidays they feel like stealing. It doesn't change the fact it's really the winter solstice we are all celebrating does it? So, whenever you hear strains of Handel's Messiah "...Unto to us...a SUN is given..." just chuckle and and enjoy the irony.

Lars Larson

Janet said...

LOL I qualify as Atheist, and I LOVE Christmas! Christmas has NOTHING to do with the christian god. That makes me very happy, actually.

That, and I grew up in a religion/cult that didn't allow celebrating holidays AT ALL (evil world, you know) so now I totally make up for it!

I don't teach my kids the Jebus connection, but I do tell them about Santa. That's a good story about giving to those in need.

Tal said...

Thank, uh, God I got some support on this one...!

Janet said...

I have a friend that says Dog instead of God, and I say either FSM or IPU.

FSM: Flying spaghetti monster
IPU: Invisible pink unicorn


Alexander said...


As someone from a bi-religion family, it doesn't bother me that someone says "Merry Christmas" to me. It bothers me that some christians think that Christianity is the only religion in the world. As such, we get this:

Signs such as "Jesus, he's the reason for the season" ignores the fact that the reason Christmas is celebrated in December is that the Christians appropriated the holiday from the pagans because they couldn't suppress it.

That's what's offensive. Whatever happened to "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays"?

Anonymous said...


It's great that you tell your children about a 4th century Christian religious figure rather than an earlier Christian religious figure!!

I don't know why you wouldn't teach your kids about how Christmas came about and the connection of Jesus to it. I don't know why any parent would not want to let their children learn as much about the world as possible. There is a difference between teaching your children about religion and teaching your children to follow a given religion.

Kbear said...

Don't we humans, as somewhat sensitive people always celebrate the important dates in history? Do we not always try to remember the heroes and world changers in some reverent way? From Martin Luther King day to Rememberance day...we honor those who have done thier part in changing mankind, standing up for something important changing someone's circumstance or rising above adversity to inspire others to be better?
We do.
Jesus was a man who lived on this planet, whether you believe him to be the Son of God who walked the earth 2000 years ago or not. We know he lived. His imprint is everywhere.
He changed lives, he loved, sacrificed more than we could ever imagine and he taught countless people life lessons that ANY person would agree are good teachings to live by...
His birth was a day to celebrate. He changed history like NO other has ever done and ever will.
We should never forget whether we are Christian or not, that Jesus Christ is worth giving honor to. Christmas is many things to many people, but to those who have read and studied who Jesus was, what he stood for, what his life meant...He is Christmas. You can never take that away.

Scott S. said...

Tal, I agree (except I think you still might be using the word atheist wrong, but that's really a separate point).

Anyway, I love Christmas in the same way I love Halloween. I don't need to believe in ghosts or monsters or spirits rising from the grave for that matter to enjoy Halloween. Holidays based on myths are just fine with me. If a bunch of people do believe in monsters it doesn't diminish my enjoyment of Halloween or Christmas one bit. You get to infuse whatever meaning you want into your celebrations.

By the way, the reason for the season... axial tilt.

And oh yeah, Merry Christmas!

dude said...

Ack! Christmas,
In this time of consumer excess as the foundations of our government certified homes bear the weight of our bric-a brac, kitsch, and objects d’art. As our unnecessary and unneeded items fuel our grossly overextended lines of credit ultimately giving way to an economic and moral societal collapse. What we need is a little political correctness to lighten our load. Yet another reminder that we have, once again, been mistaken – even in our seemingly innocent sentiments. I look forward to seeing ourselves so self censured that we can’t even whisper under our breath “ Merry Christmas” to our neighbours for fear for being shunned. And so, to make up for our emptiness, we will over shop. In lieu of simplicity and basic human acceptance we will buy plastic doilies with our plastic cards and place then on our annually purchased coffee tables.
Wishing you a spirited Christmas, whatever your convictions may be..

Tal said...

Kbear wrote:

"We should never forget whether we are Christian or not, that Jesus Christ is worth giving honor to. Christmas is many things to many people, but to those who have read and studied who Jesus was, what he stood for, what his life meant...He is Christmas. You can never take that away."

I am not exactly sure how to respond to this comment. Certainly there would be no such holiday as Christmas if a religion had not formed around the teachings of Jesus...but were it not for the government appropriation and subsidization of the fledgling religion courtesy of Emperor Constantine, it seems very doubtful it would have become what it has. So maybe it would be just as true to say that "Government is Christmas" as "Jesus is Christmas", for "Jesus", in the sense of the image or icon upon which the religion of Christianity, was largely the creation of interested politicians some centuries after his execution, as were the Christian holidays.

No wonder that a close reading of the accounts of Jesus's life in the New Testament reveals near-zero similarity between how he operated, and how any of the self-styled Christian churches of which I am aware operate. It really ought to produce the most severe cognitive dissonance trying to reconcile the image of Jesus and his ministry as portrayed in the NT, with modern-day Gentiles in business suits or outrageous robes and hats, running multi-million dollar TV stations and insurance companies and banks (when Jesus railed against "usury", or interest!), claiming exclusive representation rights...

I mean...there is not even any scripture that I can find in the gospels in which Jesus even so much as intimates he would like to start a brand new religion. Rather, he repeatedly asserts his fidelity to eternal Jewish law - and nowhere implies that it was to become obsolete upon his death. He makes no mention, for example, of an impending change in dietary law, in Sabbath observance, in additions to the canon of scripture...nothing. The gospels present him simply as a popular reformer of the Israelite religion. It is really not until Paul - who, it is worth mentioning, never met Jesus once during his lifetime, and of course had no access to the gospels, since they hadn't been written when he wrote his epistles - that you start to hear anything about some sort of new religion, some superannuation of Judaism.

Lastly, strictly speaking, there never even was anyone named "Jesus Christ". His name was Yeshua (Joshua), and his surname wasn't "Christ" (this is only the Greek word for "anointed one"), but Josephson (bar-Yosef).

Obviously, Joshua Josephson was a striking and dramatic figure - charismatic, insightful, fairly disciplined (he did beat up a bunch of people at the temple), occasionally scathing and sarcastic, and ultimately, very unfortunate. I don't doubt he is worth knowing about - but the reality is that many of the positive points of his message were not exclusive to him (many of his most famous teachings are recapitulations of Jewish dicta), and some of them simply must be disregarded - and are disregarded - for any kind of shot at a healthy, normal life. For example, when a man rapes you, do you "turn the other cheek" and let him rape you again? Or do you resist him with utmost force, and even lethal force if necessary?

Anyway, enough about that...

Anonymous said...

I agree. Americans today have become stupidly sensitive about ridiculously pointless things. Though, I suppose it's a bit harsh to classify Americans as being the only ones -- but seeing as I live here, it's all I ever see. ;]

- Laura