Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Trouble With Christmas

I finally got around to reading this book, and it just so happens I got it done just before the holidays. So I'm carrying this book around to work and such and almost feeling like I have to hide the damn thing since Christmas and the Santa Claus thing is such a holy cow anymore. The author is associated with Free Inquiry, which I bought a sub for last year...I don't really subscribe to the whole atheism thing myself, (despite what someone might conclude from reading my attacks on cuckoo Christian ideas on here) but I like to think I'm enlightened enough to read others' opinions that I don't necessarily agree with.

It's the same with this book, pretty much. The one core tenet I CAN agree with is that I find the idea of lying to children about something fairly substantial during critical phases of childhood development is one that makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I agree that there is a good reason to think it may retard or even cripple critical thinking skills. Just because "everyone does it" is no justification at all. At one point, "everyone did" slavery. Hive thinking is not thinking at all.

What I disagree with is the idea that Christmas is really all that terrible - even if sombunall Christians do get a bit overzealous about the whole "war on Christmas" thing and they bristle at such phrases as "happy holidays" - yes, they are being stupid, but intelligent people of other faiths or no faith can successfully ignore them these days - with the caveat that it is kept out of school. I think I can emphathize with Jews or others who didn't celebrate Christmas yet were coerced into singing Christmas songs at school, decorating, etc. They must have felt like second-class citizens, and I have to believe that virtually anyone that gave it a bit of thought has to realize that schools should have no business coercing children into others' beliefs, even if they enjoyed an overwhelming majority in the past.

I think there is a tipping point that is coming or has already arrived, however. Whether it's non-Christian believers or agnostics or unbelievers or even Christians sects that don't celebrate Christmas or even members of sects that do, but are sick of the commercialism, I think there are people who are making their voices heard on this. I think I even saw an op-ed in Free Inquiry (this book WAS written in early 90's so a bit out of date) that says pretty much the same thing - the reason sombunall Christians or at least those that like to pose as Christians in order to stir up "controversy" (think Michael Weiner AKA Savage here) over Christmas is that they sense that there is a sea change, and that they have to give up privileges that they always enjoyed. No longer will they be able to lord it over others, as demographics is destiny and the times they are a-changin'. I don't get my back up if someone says Happy Holidays, I don't care if someone assumes I'm Christian and says Merry Christmas. It's not that big a deal. What IS a big deal is when someone has to POINTEDLY say Merry Christmas which only highlights that they are aware that they are being de-privileged. Happy Holidays is really only marginally more inclusive anyway, as not everyone is even celebrating anything, so it's not all that "politically correct" if one really thinks beyond O'Reilly talking points.

There is a reason that religion is being chased out of the "public square" and there is a reason prayer is not allowed in school. It just avoids problems. People are not going to assimilate to a so-called mythical Christian America (a ridiculous idea that conservatives are STILL mouthing) and so there are more than just a few things to celebrate or pray about and not all can be accomodated reasonably and get the tasks done at hand (like learning if at school). No one is keeping anyone from practicing their beliefs on their time at their home and their places of worship. Trying to accomodate the holidays of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Ba'hais, pagans, etc., would be unrealistic and only cause issues, so it's just best to keep it out of school and work and public places altogether. I keep hearing conservatives talking about "bringing prayer back to school" since that's the reason the country has gone so wrong...even if the country is that immoral since prayer was yanked, they all seem to assume it'd be prayers they'd approve of. Which prayers? Even assuming they are Christian, ones that are okay with Baptists? Anabaptists? Calvinist? Quakers? Lutherans? Catholics? Latter-Day Saints? Some members of these can't even agree that others are "legitimate" Christians, so how is that going to work?

What was most interesting and engaging about this book was the history of the what is considered a "traditional Christmas" - essentially created by Victorians, and virtually none of it is unique to Christianity, with the exception of the midnight mass. Nearly everything else is borrowed from other traditions.

So, with all that, I'm looking forward to Christmas since I celebrate it anyway. :) I just hope I can dig out of all this snow that Denver is getting - probably something like 2 feet or so once it's all done.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?