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Annual airing of grievances
December 16, 2004 12:20 PM   Subscribe

The War on Christmas. "What we are witnessing here are hate crimes against Christianity." Angered by perceived attacks on the Christ part of Christmas, Christians are taking a page from GWB and staging pre-emptive cultural strikes around the country. Or are they? Is this effort a bigger attack against Judaism and the rest of the nonbelievers/scapegoats, an honest attempt by Christians to "save" the holiday, or a media-manufactured controversy? (Air out your holiday spirit, but save your own personal grievances for December 23.)
posted by mrgrimm (212 comments total)

 
Jesus Christ.
posted by Flem Snopes at 12:23 PM on December 16, 2004


Noted bunghole James Lileks is also claiming that Christmas is under siege.
posted by COBRA! at 12:26 PM on December 16, 2004


This Christmas under attack thing is just such a fucking canard, it makes me want to scream. Christmas as it has come to be in the US is a perverted, idolatrous, gluttonous romp on any values remotely Christian in any true sense. To attack Christmas, would in a real sense, be to save it.
posted by Flem Snopes at 12:26 PM on December 16, 2004


outrage sells, plain and simple.
i think this last year proved nuance doesn't.
posted by blendor at 12:26 PM on December 16, 2004


bunghole

Why half measures? Just call him an 'asshole' if that is what you mean.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:27 PM on December 16, 2004


This Christmas under attack thing is just such a fucking canard, it makes me want to scream. Christmas as it has come to be in the US is a perverted, idolatrous, gluttonous romp on any values remotely Christian in any true sense. To attack Christmas, would in a real sense, be to save it.

substitute "marriage" for "christmas," and you still have a cogent argument.
posted by blendor at 12:27 PM on December 16, 2004


Because bunghole is funnier than asshole, butthead.
posted by COBRA! at 12:28 PM on December 16, 2004


I do think most of the anti-Xmas stuff is rather extreme but the reaction from Christians appears much the same. They are so pursecuted. Poor Christians. According to some poll cited on O'Really some 82% of Americans believe Christ is god or the son of god. Yet somehow they keep losing so much to the remaining 18%.

And they try to characterize their struggle as the preservation of their culture. As if trading "Merry Christmas" for "Happy Holidays" in a few shopping centers will just shatter the Christian faith to its foundations. Poor Christians.
posted by effwerd at 12:30 PM on December 16, 2004


...which makes me think: they've really whittled down their talking points when you can start substituting words and get the same result - an outraged, holier-than-though opinion for every topic!
posted by blendor at 12:31 PM on December 16, 2004


our own vidiot summed this up nicely earlier this week (including a link to XWQREKWFSDFWER too).

If we plaster the word "Christmas" everywhere instead of happy holidays, we're just helping commercialize the holiday.

Is that what real christians want? To associate their faith more closely with rock bottom savings, a $29 DVD player, and an All Doors Open at 8AM Super Sale?
posted by mathowie at 12:33 PM on December 16, 2004


I plan to buy baby Jesus a big wheel of cheese for his whining, perspectiveless minions. Who wants to chip in?
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:33 PM on December 16, 2004


Good point, effwerd. If your religion/faith/belief is so weak that "Happy Holidays/Season's Greetings" will shatter it, perhaps you need to rethink your deity.


And let's not even get into the fact that Jesus's birthday celebration was slapped onto pagan rituals and holy days in an effort to crush foreign beliefs.
posted by Sharktattoo at 12:34 PM on December 16, 2004


Bill O'Reilly recently has been attacking the ADL and Jewish callers to his shows, etc, too. O'Reilly also said that Foxman "throws bombs" and that the ADL is a "militant organization" that is "on the fringe" of Jewish American public opinion; he expressed concern about a backlash against Jews if such organizations let themselves be "used":

I guess antisemitism is good for ratings now?
posted by amberglow at 12:34 PM on December 16, 2004


Oh, amberglow....antisemitism is always good for ratings.
posted by Sharktattoo at 12:36 PM on December 16, 2004


COBRA, if you you think Lileks is a bung or any other kind of hole, you are displaying at best woeful ignorance...the guy is a total freaking genius.

My favorite commercialization of Christmas moment, courtesy of The Simpsons:

"In honor of the birth of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ the MegaMart will be open 24 hours on Christmas Day."

(Off the top of my head, maybe not verbatim, but the spirit is correct.)
posted by 1016 at 12:38 PM on December 16, 2004


I guess antisemitism is good for ratings now?

the O'Reilly attack is clearly the most disturbing piece of the news. i can only hope his pompous blowhardery doesn't influence as many people as i think it does.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:38 PM on December 16, 2004


I'm not sure O'Reilly is really all that anti-semitic. Dude fucking loves falafels.
posted by billysumday at 12:38 PM on December 16, 2004


Ultimately, this pits right-wing Christians against right-wing corporations like Wal-Mart and Federated Department Stores who have been on the cutting edge of promoting "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" throughout the nation.
posted by deanc at 12:38 PM on December 16, 2004


My favorite commercialization of Christmas moment, courtesy of The Simpsons:

"Jesus Died for your Savings" is a Simpsons Holiday Special classic that trumps them all.
posted by mathowie at 12:40 PM on December 16, 2004


Just got done reading the Frank Rich piece on the selfsame subject, and I'm just about out of emotions.

Yes. Yes, I do see this as anti-Semitism sneaking in through the backdoor, all of it. But then, I would, whiny little Jewboy that I am.

Fuck, I'm really starting to take a dislike to this millennium.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:43 PM on December 16, 2004


COBRA, if you you think Lileks is a bung or any other kind of hole, you are displaying at best woeful ignorance...the guy is a total freaking genius.

Yeah, you're right. An unfunny article bitching about a bogus persecution complex is the apex of genius. I stand corrected.
posted by COBRA! at 12:44 PM on December 16, 2004


Of course, since Christmas is really just a Pagan holiday, subverted by Christians for their own religious ends, this entire discussion is just ridiculous. The "Return of the Sun" is what it's really about, not the birth of the Son.
posted by Windopaene at 12:44 PM on December 16, 2004


I'm not sure O'Reilly is really all that anti-semitic. Dude fucking loves falafels.

Great point
posted by TetrisKid at 12:44 PM on December 16, 2004


Where does Lileks shop? Is he intentionally looking for dumbfounded clerks? Does he say it like "Merry CHRIST-mas, you know, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who keeps us all from the pits of hell and gave his life on the cross for your sins"?!

I've never once gotten anything but a "you too" for a "merry christmas."

And I say it in spite of being an atheist.

I wonder what he'd do if someone muslim wished a clerk a happy ramada, or a jew wished someone a happy hannukah or...oh hell, let's not even discuss the pagans. THEN, if the clerk stood flabbergasted, he'd have no issue, I'm sure.

Just the same, I don't think this really happened anywhere outside the asshole's imagination. Either that or he just had a cashier prone to blank, dumbfounded stares. Seasonal retail employees aren't known on the whole for Nobel Prizes and mensa membership ratios.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:44 PM on December 16, 2004


Wait, there's more.

Theophobes Are Trying to Steal Christmas

Candy Cane Suite Alleges Censorship
posted by mudpuppie at 12:45 PM on December 16, 2004


O'Reilly likes to think himself a crusader in the cause of baby Jesus. He had some freak from Forbes on last week and she was blaming the over materialistic nature of modern Xmas celebration, seasonal depression and alcoholism on the phrases "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings." That is truely a Christmas miracle.
posted by effwerd at 12:46 PM on December 16, 2004


I find myself wishing people "Happy Holidays" with more than a smidgen of self-consciousness. I don't even remember when I stopped saying "Merry Christmas". We can hide it under whatever goofy title or johnny-come-lately holiday (Kwanzaa, for the love of pete?) we like, but all these lights and candy canes and jolly fat men in red suits with a small herd of reindeer is all about the super fun secular Christmas. Secular Christmas is for everyone. Merry Christmas, Metafilter!
posted by gsh at 12:48 PM on December 16, 2004


gee, i know a lot of christians, seems like they are everywhere. not a one of 'em i'm in regular contact with appears to be involved in this pre-emptive strike that i can see. on the other hand, all the usual suspects are bleating - cal thomas was bemoaning all over my op-ed page last night, FOX News - well, credibility already zero there, and from where i sit this sounds like the same old "don't forget the reason for the season" christmas music that plays every year, no? i clearly remember this sort of thing from when i was a rosy cheeked high school lad.

not to say the whole thing isn't an excercise in consumer manipulation via social pressure, because it is. america literally measures it's well-being by how much shit gets bought and sold at christmas.
posted by quonsar at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2004


Honestly, as a Christian, I am so sick and tired of Christmas as it is presently celebrated...I am all for just turning it over to be a secular holiday. Easter-or as we prefer to call it-Resurrection Sunday should be the big celebration for us anyhow.

Every year I find myself longing for January 1. I am serious.
posted by konolia at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2004


Right, because we have christmas trees becuase jesus liked to climb, wait he was glad he wasn't nailed to one because of the needles, no he said 'blessed are the pine-smelling'.

Unless you spend xmas in a church praying, you're celebrating the norse midwinter festival.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2004


the local right wing rag that's mailed to everyone around here had a cover story titled "THEY'RE ATTACKING CHRISTMAS!!!" (caps theirs) - given that they have a few days lead time before it comes in the mail... i think it at least smells coordinated. I guess a memo will show up eventually
posted by muddylemon at 12:52 PM on December 16, 2004


Ohhhhhh boy. "Theophobes."
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:54 PM on December 16, 2004


Easter-or as we prefer to call it-Resurrection Sunday should be the big celebration for us anyhow.

I'm already looking forward to 35% off day-old chocolate easter eggs. Jesus saves again!
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:55 PM on December 16, 2004


Metafilter: blessed are the pine-smelling
posted by Urban Hermit at 12:56 PM on December 16, 2004


I guess antisemitism is good for ratings now?

well, antisemitism did work wonders for movie grosses, maybe it'll work on TV.

after all the ass-kissing and shameful pandering to the Israeli right, Republicans only got barely 20% of the Jews' vote. the GOP'll just go back to the old James Baker "Fuck the Jews" line. American Jews, G_d bless them, have always been and still are a reliable progressive, tolerant voting bloc. as victims of true, painful persecution, they can detect the GOP's not-so-faint-anymore smell of authoritarianism more easily. no wonder the GOP doesn't really trust them.

and remember children, "Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength".
posted by matteo at 12:56 PM on December 16, 2004


I also like the way these shitbritches think it's all clever to throw around the Teutonisms, kulturkampf seemingly being a favorite.

But, hey, go right on ahead playing with fire. They'll come for you too eventually. Niebuhr knew what time it is.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:56 PM on December 16, 2004


I wished a close jewish friend a Happy Hannukah and said I hoped Hannukah Harry brought him great gifts beneath his Hannukah bush.

Didn't go over too well.
posted by mathowie at 12:57 PM on December 16, 2004


Candy Cane Suite Alleges Censorship

Suit. Sorry.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:57 PM on December 16, 2004


not to mention, MetaFilter should have a policy of utter disregard for falafel-fuckers' opinions
posted by matteo at 12:57 PM on December 16, 2004


I wonder what he'd do if someone muslim wished a clerk a happy ramada

I think everyone is insulted when a muslim tells you what hotel chains to patronize.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:58 PM on December 16, 2004


I look forward to hearing the Christians screaming about persecution every year because it just goes to show how truly ignorant of history people are if they think Christmas is somehow deeply intertwined with the founding of the country, or American history.

America was settled by radical Puritans looking to get away from the rules and traditions of the Church of England, and Christmas was a big English holiday at the time. The Puritans didn't want anything to do with it, and because of all the drinking and partying that went along with it, they considered the whole thing an affront to God. Christmas was banned in the some parts of the colonies as early as 1657, and was banned in Boston specifically for a number of years.

It was the Anglicans loyal to the King who celebrated Christmas, and in 1706 riots broke out in Boston when Puritans stormed the Kings Chapel (an Anglican church) because of a Christmas celebration. Soon after there was a big push to develop an anti-Christmas Reformation doctrine in New England.

It was, in fact, Dutch settlers who gave us most of the elements of what we now consider to be "modern" Christmas, as well as New Years Day.

And that's why all real, true Americans are for the destruction of the decedent, sinful Christmas holiday just like our ancestors would have been.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:58 PM on December 16, 2004 [1 favorite]


That's why it should be called X-Mas!

I cannot believe these kid touching wankers are going to shout from the rooftops about them having their holiday co-opted by non-believers who don't particularly feel like suckling at Christ's teat.

"Jews can't eat Christmas snow, Kyle."

Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!
posted by fenriq at 12:59 PM on December 16, 2004


Seasonal retail employees aren't known on the whole for Nobel Prizes and mensa membership ratios.

Unless they are bookstore temps.
posted by malaprohibita at 1:02 PM on December 16, 2004


I'm already looking forward to 35% off day-old chocolate easter eggs. Jesus saves again!

amen, AR. the two greatest days for impoverished candy freaks are the days after Easter, Valentine's Day, and Halloween. woohoo! i'm getting a sugar rush just thinking about Feb. 15.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2004


What irks me is the hypocrisy of how Christmas is celebrated in the US. If it's essentially a secular holiday, why don't people recognize it as that? But, no, it's nominally a religious holiday that is mostly secularized that, in the end, makes it a mockery to both Christians and to non-believers.

Of course, it's ironic that the holiday's roots are as a pagan holiday with the invention of a presumed Christ's birthday as an excuse to coopt it.

Anyway, so, here I am, the atheist, who on Christmas day insists on playing for my family Bruce Cockburn's "Cry of a Tiny Babe" to correct for the influence of "Jingle Bells" and remind them of why, supposedly, they are celebrating this holiday:
Cry of a Tiny Babe

Mary grows a child without the help of a man
Joseph get upset because he doesn't understand
Angel comes to Joseph in a powerful dream
Says "God did this and you're part of his scheme"
Joseph comes to Mary with his hat in his hand
Says "forgive me I thought you'd been with some other man"
She says "what if I had been - but I wasn't anyway and guess what
I felt the baby kick today"

(chorus) Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe

The child is born in the fullness of time
Three wise astrologers take note of the signs
Come to pay their respects to the fragile little king
Get pretty close to wrecking everything
'Cause the governing body of the whole land
Is that of Herod, a paranoid man
Who when he hears there's a baby born King of the Jews
Sends death squads to kill all male children under two
But that same bright angel warns the parents in a dream
And they head out for the border and get away clean

chorus

There are others who know about this miracle birth
The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth
For it isn't to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums
And the message is clear if you've got ears to hear
That forgiveness is given for your guilt and your fear
It's a Christmas gift you don't have to buy
There's a future shining in a baby's eyes

chorus
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:05 PM on December 16, 2004


I've invented a new drinking for Fox viewers! it's very simple: all you do is take a drink everytime you hear the word, "secularists."
posted by mcsweetie at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2004


This helps to explain something I've been wondering about - why Jerry Falwell and other Christians have gotten behind the movie Christmas With The Kranks (NY Times link), one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year, and one which doesn't even mention Baby Jesus as what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Now we see, the movie is a revenge fantasy for poor put-upon born-agains - the Kranks are the evil secularists, who want to do away with Christmas. The neighbors who want to force Christmas on the Kranks are, in this reading, the movie's good guys. In the end (I haven't seen the movie, but have seen the trailer, so I probably know everything that happens in the movie), the Kranks give up their anti-Christmas ways and stand in the happy glow of the Christmas tree, with big forced smiles on their faces - the same smiles you and I will be wearing, friend, when the Christians take over everything.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
posted by barjo at 1:09 PM on December 16, 2004


mrgrimm the short bus is here time for you to go home. We'll cover counting to three tomorrow.
posted by Bonzai at 1:11 PM on December 16, 2004


COBRA, if you you think Lileks is a bung or any other kind of hole, you are displaying at best woeful ignorance...the guy is a total freaking genius.

Funniest thing I've read in days!

Oh, wait, you're not kidding. Bwahahahaha!!!

That makes it even funnier!

You are the master COBRA, I bow in your general direction.

Happy Holidays everyone!!
posted by nofundy at 1:12 PM on December 16, 2004


http://metatalk.metafilter.com/mefi/8664#183860
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2004


Jeez, it took me long enough to figure THIS ONE out...

Metafilter: Conglomeration of the most cynical self-appointed genuises on the world wide web. (did I say that outloud?)

P.S.
Though cynical and abrasive, most of you are witty beyond what most people could possibly understand.

Happy Holidays, suckers.
posted by mic stand at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2004



posted by 327.ca at 1:17 PM on December 16, 2004


Secular Christmas is for everyone.

I don't know a lot of Jews who say that, just like I don't know a lot of women who really think the word "he" can be used generically. At the library, we're not even allowed to say we're closed on the 25th for Christmas, just for "december 25th" whatever that's supposed to mean. Tom Franks in What's the Matter with Kansas has a great argument about how the right wing Republicans have basically co-opted the effectiveness of populist rhetoric to re-cast their side as brave valiant fighters struggling against people [Jews, for example] who would keep them down. Regrettably, as effwerd says, they're remarkably effective, for a majority. Meanwhile, we've got a creche up on the town commons, but someone has already stolen the baby jebus.
posted by jessamyn at 1:18 PM on December 16, 2004


I think Christians are sometimes nostalgic for the days in which they were actually persecuted. I wonder why it's important for people to feel victimized?
posted by quadog at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2004


James Lileks is awesome.

Christmas, though? Meh.
posted by neckro23 at 1:27 PM on December 16, 2004


I do not think Christians have anything to worry about. I would imagine the War on Christmas will be about as effective as the war on drugs, piracy and terror.
posted by Mr_Zero at 1:29 PM on December 16, 2004


And that's why all real, true Americans are for the destruction of the decadent, sinful Christmas holiday just like our ancestors would have been.

Nice history lesson, SweetJesus! Along the same lines - and conveniently ignoring cultural changes & multicultural immigration - true American patriots should be following austere, puritan lifestyles & waging war on gluttony, pride, rampant consumerism, arrogance, lust & lechery, alcoholism, obesity, laziness, mindless pursuit of wealth and celebrity for their own sakes...(etc etc etc)

According to this, crucifying Annual-Gift-Man may be a step in the right direction...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:29 PM on December 16, 2004


I wonder why it's important for people to feel victimized

Because everyone loves the story of victims triumphing over evil. It's the american underdog story that I fall for all the time, but I tend to think of actual minority opinions/holders to be the underdog, and the right has done an incredible job tailoring their language so that people that follow them believe they are under constant and never ending attack from a dedicated tiny minority that must be stopped.

Victimhood is what it is all about.
posted by mathowie at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2004


If they could just recover some DNA from the shroud of Turin, then with a bit of cloning everyone who wanted to could have their own Baby Jesus -- and thanks to in-vitro fertilization they could be virgin births, too. Then we wouldn't have to have Christmas because every day would be Jesus' birthday, and the whole argument would be moot. And they say science can't solve all our problems.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2004


I'll just do what I've done for the last 5 years and celebrate the winter solstice...
posted by kamylyon at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2004


I wonder why it's important for people to feel victimized?

see Rene Girard: Islam "now provides the cement that we formerly found in Marxism."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:35 PM on December 16, 2004


I would like to sign up as an enlistee in the war against Christmas. Give me a rifle and Santa won't stand a chance.
posted by baphomet at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2004


The funniest "take the Christ out of Christmas" essay is still Leonard Peikoff's Christmas Should be More Commercial. On first glance, it looks as though the author is taking an ironic approach a la Swift's A Modest Proposal, but as you read on, you discover that he's serious:
America's tragedy is that its intellectual leaders have typically tried to replace happiness with guilt by insisting that the spiritual meaning of Christmas is religion and self-sacrifice for Tiny Tim or his equivalent. But the spiritual must start with recognizing reality. Life requires reason, selfishness, capitalism; that is what Christmas should celebrate -- and really, underneath all the pretense, that is what it does celebrate. It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.
Even as a Catholic, I can get behind this -- I'm already guiltlessly egoistic! I also choose to read "this-worldly" as "strippers and booze".

Who's with me?
posted by AccordionGuy at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2004


I'm going to go (as I usually do on this Christmas type thread) and state that while I don't think its to the extreme that some of these articles say, I do think that Christmas is under attack. From schools than can no longer have a brass group play Silent Night to changing the name to the "Happy Winter Solstice", I'm kind of getting tired of the watering down of the holiday. When I was younger, in my town, Christmas and the holidays were a special time. We'd have Christmas parties in school, and music would be played, people would bring in Santa napkins and plates, some people would share the Hannukah traditions, and we'd all have a fun time. Now, lawsuits hit and out of fear of being sued, schools started calling it "The Winter Solstice Holiday" instead.

Is my faith going to be shattered because of this? Nah. Some people think this is just desserts for Christian persecution by some of other religions. I guess that's a matter of perspective. As I have stated before, I wasn't the one persecuting your beliefs. I'm sorry you feel that one wrong justifies another.

I just don't understand why tolerance means "Let's remove ANYTHING that could possibly offend someone.. so no more Christmas trees, no more carols in the school, we'll just make it a winter celebration". It's impossible not to offend someone. Don't just change the name from "Christmas" to "Winter Solstice" in a school and expect that I'm going to be thrilled about it. Will I curl up and die? No. Do I think we're trying to teach people that tolerance = lawsuits to water down things. Yup.
posted by Drylnn at 1:37 PM on December 16, 2004


I also like the way these shitbritches think it's all clever to throw around the Teutonisms, kulturkampf seemingly being a favorite.

Yeh...the first linked article mentions "Khristmaskampf", which is pretty amazingly ignorant in itself, considering the Germans refer to Christmas as "Weinacht"...(Google Khristmas site:.de -> all of 79 results!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:39 PM on December 16, 2004


Islam "now provides the cement that we formerly found in Marxism."

If Islam is the new Marxism, is Osama Bin Laden the new Groucho?
posted by mudpuppie at 1:40 PM on December 16, 2004


COBRA, spend some time at lileks.com and you'll see what I mean...
posted by 1016 at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2004


That's not persecution, DryInn. It's what tolerance looks like from the majority side: you, the majority, tolerate non-majoritarian perceptions. It's what (used to) make America great. Try it on for size.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:44 PM on December 16, 2004


I think everyone is insulted when a muslim tells you what hotel chains to patronize.
posted by Mayor Curley
I love you!
posted by yodelingisfun at 1:44 PM on December 16, 2004


From schools than can no longer have a brass group play Silent Night to changing the name to the "Happy Winter Solstice", I'm kind of getting tired of the watering down of the holiday.

if you need to sing or play silent night, join your church choir, attend christmas mass or whatever you call it at your brand of christianity. and it's not supposed to be a holiday, it's supposed to be a religious observance is it not...? true "christmas" that is... go to church and perform whatever necessary rituals at home. religious occasions should be private, not slopped all over the town square where it's meaning is weakened and cheapened - by it's own followers.
posted by t r a c y at 1:48 PM on December 16, 2004


"It's what tolerance looks like from the majority side: you, the majority, tolerate non-majoritarian perceptions."

Tolerance means if I see it in the school or on the street, I don't beat you with a stick or try to throw it out of everything I see by lawsuit or whatever means. Tolerance means I learn to accept your belief. I submit it is not tolerance to whitewash everything to the point that we live in a bland world where nothing but generic seasons are celebrated in the schools or what not. Speaking of which, I want my other solstice holiday... I'm getting gypped.
posted by Drylnn at 1:49 PM on December 16, 2004


As Krusty said, "Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a kwaaaaazy Kwansaa, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan."
posted by nicwolff at 1:50 PM on December 16, 2004


"if you need to sing or play silent night, join your church choir, attend christmas mass or whatever you call it at your brand of christianity"

I'm all for trying not to Christianize (for lack of a better term) the schools, but was there really someone who, upon hearing silent night with other holiday songs at a school performance (mind you, without lyrics because its a brass group), felt their head about to explode and was insulted that they felt it just HAD to be out of the school?
posted by Drylnn at 1:50 PM on December 16, 2004


"gypped"? That isn't very tolerant!
posted by neckro23 at 1:51 PM on December 16, 2004


Fuck Christians.

Christianity is by its nature exclusionary, rejecting millions of people as worthless.

Like most religions it is built upon hatred and intolerance, and it is a disease to modern society.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 1:52 PM on December 16, 2004


COBRA, spend some time at lileks.com and you'll see what I mean...

Don't be such an arrogant prick. Believe it or not, there are some people who've read lileks (he was an active member on this site for several years) who thinks he's not a "genius" but an overrated asshole blowhard.

Your favorite band blogger sucks.
posted by jpoulos at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2004


Like most religions it is built upon hatred and intolerance, and it is a disease to modern society.

Caaaaaannnn you feeeeel the looooove tonight?
posted by Drylnn at 1:54 PM on December 16, 2004


Everyone had their mouth on Lileks' genitalia before 9/11, the day he became unfashionable and everyone else amnesiac.
posted by dhoyt at 1:56 PM on December 16, 2004


Bah humbug!
posted by Juicylicious at 1:56 PM on December 16, 2004


While I am not into Lilek's essays, I find the Institute of Official Cheer to be sheer laugh till you fear you will pee genius.

Happy Saturnalia, everyone!
posted by ilsa at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2004


Let me see if I have this right. xtians, 76.5 % of the U. S. population (google), are being put upon by the remaining 23.5% of the population. Of which 13.5 % are secular and could care less about x.
That leaves just 10 % who are religionists of one ilk or another who MAY be competeing for the 13.5 % who have not committed to one spook or another.
Although I am a long, long time meta lurker, this is my first comment and obviously I am confused by the xtian concerns.
-Back to my lurking posture-
posted by notreally at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2004


I miss the good old days when Christians and pagans (Muslims, Jews etc) bitched about commercialism at Christmas time...let us get back to sheer commercialism and save our scared holidays.
posted by Postroad at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2004


...religious occasions should be private, not slopped all over the town square where it's meaning is weakened and cheapened - by it's own followers.

Granted that Christianity's own scriptures provide support for your argument; but you say that as if it's some sort of self-evident truth. But, for example, t r a c y, you live in Canada which is not, as is the US, a formally secular nation (your nominal head of state is also nominally the head of the state church). Very few places in the world, in fact, is it taken as a matter of custom and law that religious observances are a private and not public matter. The deep irony here is that the US is one of those places, supposedly, and yet it is the religionists that so strongly want to make religious observance public. But that makes a sort of sense, as they are moving contrary to US political history. (Not contray to US cultural history, which has de facto tolerated and encouraged a few particular varieties of public religiousity, which has, relatively recently, in the name of the rule of law and consistency, become frowned upon and so those Christians, naturally, are in revolt.)

"gypped"? That isn't very tolerant!

No, it's not. But we've had that argument.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2004


Lips that touch James Lileks' genitals will never touch mine.
posted by COBRA! at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2004


Boo hoo. I'm sorry if you poor Christians can't cope with the changing face of your country. Get a clue.
posted by fleener at 2:00 PM on December 16, 2004


happy zweibelmas everybody!!
posted by wbm$tr at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2004


It's impossible not to offend someone.

It's not really about "offending" people or not. It's about that whole separation of church and state thing. Jesus belongs in churches, not in schools.
posted by naomi at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2004


jpoulos, "arrogant prick"?

I simply made a suggestion that COBRA go beyond the essay to Institute of Official Cheer (thanks, Ilsa.)

Project much, maybe?
posted by 1016 at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2004


Christians whining about the waning of Christmas celebrations is like the KKK good ol' boys whining that they can't walk down their white street without seeing black people. Gee, what has your country come to? Guess what? It's our country too. Your Norman Rockwell fantasy is over. Deal.
posted by fleener at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2004


Taxpayer funded schools, anyway.
posted by naomi at 2:02 PM on December 16, 2004


"Boo hoo. I'm sorry if you poor Christians can't cope with the changing face of your country. Get a clue."

I'm sorry if you don't want to have a reasonable discussion on the topic. You know, like civilized sorts. What changing face would you like to discuss?
posted by Drylnn at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2004


Lest we forget: the Spirit of Christmas
posted by papercake at 2:04 PM on December 16, 2004


"It's not really about "offending" people or not. It's about that whole separation of church and state thing. Jesus belongs in churches, not in schools."

We can debate this if you like... I'd prefer not to because if I had to hazard a guess, I'd guess its probably been discussed many times on mefi, but according to various writings by the founding fathers, separation of Church and State in this manner was not what they intended. A few Supreme Court justices at one point in history constructed the "Wall" between Church and State as it is construed by many now. Whether that is correct or not for today's world, I would not be qualified to say. I happen to believe it is an incorrect interprettation. I don't believe the Founding Fathers intended for the schools to be devoid of the name "Christmas" by any stretch of the imagination. You may disagree, and since they're dead, and I lack a time machine, I can't go ask them.

"It's our country too. Your Norman Rockwell fantasy is over. Deal."

It's also my country too. Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean I can't share mine. I think you'd be surprised how many support mine (and I'd probably be surprised at how many support yours).
posted by Drylnn at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2004


It seems they're are awfully defensive about a holiday they stole from the pagans.

Falwell and other Christians have gotten behind the movie Christmas With The Kranks

Whenever I'm wondering what Christians think about movies, I turn to the CAP Movie Ministry [spoilers]:
Christmas with the Kranks is another Christmas film without Christ. Christmas is not Christmas without Christ who is the very Reason for the season. Christmas is Christan. "Well! Not everyone is Christian." Well! Christmas is Christian. As Christians, we do not have to--and should not--trash the Reason for the season for the sake of entertainment. So, this film is another Christmas movie, this time Christmas with the Kranks...but not with Christ.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2004


Arguing for exclusionary salutations is cleansed biggotry. Gee, when we say "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" we address everyone. Darn it. We should only be speaking to Christians. Screw all the non-Christian Americans. How Christ-like of you. Baby Jesus would be so proud.
posted by fleener at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2004


Oh man, anti-Semitism, faux Christian outrage, AND savaging Lileks? This is The Perfect Thread!

"I can't believe all these Jews getting all offended because we think they're inherently inferior! We can't help it if the Great Fag-Killing Messiah was born on this day and we wish to plunge into appalling levels of personal debt in order to commemorate the pretend birthday of our alien space god! And things USED TO BE SO GREAT! KILL THE IRAQIS!!! GO AMERICAN JESUS!!!!!"

lileks is the stain in your sheet that will not go away, no matter how many times you wash it

also, I would like another planet to live on, please, one far far away from these assholes
posted by solistrato at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2004


Drylnn, why are you looking for meaningful Christmas experiences at your school or town square? Is it really the task of those groups to give you the nice feeling of hearing Silent Night? I happen to love that song, and I find it extremely spiritual, which is part of its beauty. But it is not a spirituality shared by all, nor will it be as beautiful or meaningful, necessarily, to a non-Christian.

School and civic celebrations may feel bland to you now in comparison, but perhaps you are asking more of them than they can give. Perhaps you should seek out spiritual beauty in your chosen church or at home, and let secular holiday gatherings be simply about community, charity, and twinkly lights.

Is it really all that meaningful when a town puts a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn? Or is it merely a tradition that no longer speaks to the entire population? I don't think God is particularly bothered about it one way or another.
posted by emjaybee at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2004


There's no anti-Christmasism. I hope there is a strong anti-theocraticism. And I hope the Christian right knows it. (btw- I'm Christian.)
posted by Doohickie at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2004


But, for example, t r a c y, you live in Canada which is not, as is the US, a formally secular nation (your nominal head of state is also nominally the head of the state church).

Exsqueeze me? The "state church"? Since when have we had a state church in Canada?

Religious (and pretty much every other kind of) diversity is protected under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If you want to call the Queen our "nominal" head of state, then fine. But here in the real world, the monarchy and the Church of England are considered not much more than the quaint vestiges of empire.

Canada is a "formally secular nation" where it is "a matter of custom and law that religious observances are a private and not public matter."
posted by 327.ca at 2:14 PM on December 16, 2004


Jesus is the reason for the season....or so I was told today by the clerk at the gas station.....
posted by Gooney at 2:14 PM on December 16, 2004


I don't expect you to accept my belief that God is a tiny blue hedgehog that lives in my sock drawer, so why do you expect me to accept your belief that Christmas is somehow "under attack" in a nation that is three-quarters Christian?
posted by naomi at 2:15 PM on December 16, 2004


No, he lives in my sock drawer, dammit!
posted by 327.ca at 2:16 PM on December 16, 2004


"Drylnn, why are you looking for meaningful Christmas experiences at your school or town square? Is it really the task of those groups to give you the nice feeling of hearing Silent Night? I happen to love that song, and I find it extremely spiritual, which is part of its beauty. But it is not a spirituality shared by all, nor will it be as beautiful or meaningful, necessarily, to a non-Christian."

I'm not really thinking I'll see the meaning of the season (if any such thing exists) in some playing by a brass group at a school. However, it boggles my mind that somewhere, someone is offended by this, so we'll eliminate it all in the name of tolerance. Where does that stop? Someone can ALWAYS be offended at something... the quest to offend no-one is a fruitless quest. The quest should be (IMO) to allow kids not to have their heads explode when exposed to the beliefs of another. I had no issue in my town when I saw a menorah at the town celebration (and in my town in PA, we didn't exactly have a ton of Jewish people)... my head didn't explode. I didn't think to go sue people to get it pulled down. I just ask the same... that we teach tolerance for others and not whitewash everything down to nothing. I would rather be ALL inclusive by including what people want to add than all exclusive by elimination.

"School and civic celebrations may feel bland to you now in comparison, but perhaps you are asking more of them than they can give. Perhaps you should seek out spiritual beauty in your chosen church or at home, and let secular holiday gatherings be simply about community, charity, and twinkly lights. "

When I was younger (again, I realize some will think I'm living in a Norman Rockwell drawing), we could combine both and the holiday didn't die.

"Is it really all that meaningful when a town puts a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn?"

My problem is that I don't think it was all that painful for those who aren't Christian. For a truly "tolerant" society, you'd think people could walk by a nativity scene by town hall (I can't wait until I get the comparison to a KKK burning cross) and not be so threatened by it that they need to eliminate it. This message just keeps getting passed along and the situation only grows worse, and I'm not just talking about for Christians. People are making tolerance into something its not, and THAT'S why I'm upset.

"I don't think God is particularly bothered about it one way or another."

As I said, I'm not going to drop dead because people ban Christmas carols in the name of tolerance. I'm just saddened that people think that its some kind of just desserts for Christian (the ironic thing is that I'm not really Christian, as friends on mefi can verify... I'm sort of Deist... it's complicated to explain... I'm just angered by the attitude I see).
posted by Drylnn at 2:21 PM on December 16, 2004


The problem is that a clearly religious holiday was made into a federal holiday, and so it's become secular. Everyone gets Christmas Day off from work, everything is closed, and so people who aren't Christian also see it as a holiday now. The federalization of the religious holiday has made it into something quite a bit less religious. If they want to save Christmas, then they should demand that it no longer be a federal holiday. We don't get all the days of Hanuka off from work now do we (or any other non-Christian holiday for that matter), and it seems to me that Hanuka isn't as commercialized as Christmas is.
posted by Orb at 2:28 PM on December 16, 2004


But here in the real world, the monarchy and the Church of England are considered not much more than the quaint vestiges of empire.

But still with the force of law. And if you think that Canada is in its history an inherently secular nation comparable to the US, then your history is deficient. I won't argue that in practice and culturally Canada isn't a more secular nation than is the US. This is true for most of the European countries, as well, particularly the Scandinavian countries which each (IIRC) have State Churches. I think you'll find that official, state-sanctioned recognition of explicitly religious (read: Christian) public traditions is common throughout Europe and Canada.

Also, Canada has taxpayer supported Christian schools but not, at least ten years ago, taxpayer supported Muslim schools. Or Jewish schools, for that matter.

All this is to say that the notion that in the US, but particularly pretty much anywhere else, that religious observances are historically or presently by law and custom inherently private and not public is, in a word, absurd. It's completely untrue.

That this seems counter to many people's view of things is a tribute to how secularized most Western nations have become, in practice in the last sixty years. But the US is exceptional in that in its founding documents and core ethics it was supposedly a secular state.

This is a paradox of modern times, I suppose. I guess one way of analyzing it is to see the founding of the US as a very radical and progressive historical moment that, in a way, overreached and encouraged within the US a reactionary counter-trend while, in contrast, the European nations without such a radical step have quietly and with less resistence become more and more secularized as a matter of practice, though not so much of law.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:28 PM on December 16, 2004


was there really someone who, upon hearing silent night ..... felt their head about to explode and was insulted that they felt it just HAD to be out of the school?

not in my experience. it's a pretty song and can be quite moving on a purely musical level if sung by the right person... say mahalia jackson. brass band tho', that would insult my senses.

my comment is regarding christians whose heads might explode because they can't act out in public. the season should be generic in public, those that want to get holy have their churches, and homes. if that's not enough for them, then they have bigger problems than xmas being "attacked".

you say that as if it's some sort of self-evident truth

it's the truth alright, and if it's not "self evident" that's only because religious people have buried their faith under so much bullshit they no longer recognize it for what it is. i don't see any reason to make excuses for people like this.
posted by t r a c y at 2:29 PM on December 16, 2004


"I don't expect you to accept my belief that God is a tiny blue hedgehog that lives in my sock drawer, so why do you expect me to accept your belief that Christmas is somehow "under attack" in a nation that is three-quarters Christian?"

I don't know if this was referenced to me, but I'll answer as I have been: I'll tolerate your belief that God is a tiny blue hedgehog that lives in my sock drawer, and if you want to talk about it in a school or whatever, I won't go suing you to stop you. My friend, who is athiest, said it was just as likely there was a Giant Purple Toad diety as the Christian diety. I agreed, but I added that it's not what I believe. I also said if he wanted to believe in the Toad, I would support his right to do so and express it. That is tolerance.... not me trying to stop him from talking about it in school. I'm sorry that there are a lot of Christians who would burn my friend at the stake... they're just as wrong wrong wrong to me.

I just want real "tolerance", not what we use today.
posted by Drylnn at 2:29 PM on December 16, 2004


was there really someone who, upon hearing silent night with other holiday songs at a school performance (mind you, without lyrics because its a brass group), felt their head about to explode

yes. there are a lot of "secular christmas" songs that have nothing at all to do with the mother and child, jesus, god, glory, heaven and the saviour that are more appropriate for school secular christmas celebrations, if you believe in such a thing. The seasons may be generic but -- at least in the US -- we all agree on them and they belong to all of us. When I see a nativity scene on the town hall lawn I think "gee, that seems to me like my town is officially celebrating a Christian holiday. I'm not Christian. Maybe I don't fit in in my town as much as I thought...." I can get over it and I sure don't sic the ACLU on people, but there's really a big difference between trying to get people to tolerate and celebrate [or even understand and accept] diversity and getting them to tolerate and celebrate a religious majority. I don't get to choose what goes up on the town commons, the selectmen do. They chose to celebrate their own religion, not all religions, not no religions. That sends a message, whether or not I feel that it's innocuous or not is immaterial. No one cares if the church puts up a nativity scene, or if you put a big praise jesus sign on your house, but the town common belongs to everyone and I don't want a creche there any more than I'd want a BUSH FOR PRESIDENT sign there or a KERRY FOR PRESIDENT sign.
posted by jessamyn at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2004


I am afraid I am part of this shameful War on Christianity, for when I send out Christmas cards, I dare to send ones that say "Happy Holidays" or something like that, nothing with a nativity scene or anything like that. I don't assume everyone celebrates Christmas, but many people do celebrate some sort of holiday around this time. Or they make up their own. : ) But hey, I'm Jewish...how dare I think that others might not celebrate Christmas. ; )

When do we get to perform the Feats of Strength?
posted by SisterHavana at 2:32 PM on December 16, 2004


My problem is that I don't think it was all that painful for those who aren't Christian.

But how did you reach that conclusion?

See, I think the problem with all-inclusion is that all-exclusion is about a million times simpler. Because if you include your "Silent Night" in the upcoming Metafilter holiday concert, wouldn't you also have to include my inarticulate rendition of "Burn, Motherfucker, Burn" on the electric accordion?
posted by naomi at 2:36 PM on December 16, 2004


(I've been told it's very spiritually uplifting.)
posted by naomi at 2:37 PM on December 16, 2004


for this christian, christmas is just so much compelled speech. i don't really understand the christian-compulsion to be continually pulled in 2 directions by it. given a tall enough soap-box, i would love to encourage such folk to walk away from this holiday entirely: no more plastic trees, no more silly mall decorations, no more dumb songs about anachronistic kings, no more propping up retail's next quarter. contrary to the owners of vdare.com and their ilk, i think it would make a far more powerful statement if christians moved in precisely the other direction and decided to stop pretending about christmas. what if christians admitted that, as a a religious holiday, christmas has little or no bearing on their spiritual lives? imagine.
posted by RockyChrysler at 2:37 PM on December 16, 2004


the right has done an incredible job tailoring their language so that people that follow them believe they are under constant and never ending attack.
Victimhood is what it is all about.
posted by mathowie at 3:32 PM CST on December 16


Hmm.

Just from this thread alone... where might they be getting this idea???

I plan to buy baby Jesus a big wheel of cheese for his whining, perspectiveless minions. Who wants to chip in?
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:33 PM CST on December 16

--------------------------
Christians whining about the waning of Christmas celebrations is like the KKK good ol' boys whining that they can't walk down their white street without seeing black people. Gee, what has your country come to? Guess what? It's our country too. Your Norman Rockwell fantasy is over. Deal.
posted by fleener at 4:02 PM CST on December 16

----------------------------
Fuck Christians.
Christianity is by its nature exclusionary, rejecting millions of people as worthless.
Like most religions it is built upon hatred and intolerance, and it is a disease to modern society.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 3:52 PM CST on December 16



Tolerance, eh? Your understanding of tolerance is as poor as your sense of irony.

How many times do we have to have the "bash Christians' thread? I think everyone has had there chance to make their opinion know that Christians are evil. Thanks for sharing. I'm just confused as why we need to hammer this point home all the time?

With new memberships open, why do we need to continually insult an entire group of people (who, incidentally, makes up an enormous section of the world)? Why do I have the feeling that if people were on here constantly berating fat people, or blacks, or Jewish people, or Muslims, or gay people, or women or any other group that suddenly the outrage would be inverted? Why do we permit this animus against one group? This is clearly discriminatory or bigoted based on someone's beliefs, correct? And that is tolerance? Enlightened? Are we not interested in getting a varied group of opinions?
posted by Seth at 2:38 PM on December 16, 2004


EB i wasn't looking at this as a purely american issue, and missed where everyone else apparently did. christmas is public all over the place and yes people have pretty much always slopped their religious crap all over the town square... i'm not disputing this, i'm just saying it's inappropriate, unnecessary, and when you get right down to it, it's sacrilegious.
posted by t r a c y at 2:39 PM on December 16, 2004


"When I see a nativity scene on the town hall lawn I think 'gee, that seems to me like my town is officially celebrating a Christian holiday. I'm not Christian. Maybe I don't fit in in my town as much as I thought....'"

Bwa? Let me ask you this. When your neighbors go to a Christian church, do you feel you don't fit into your town? I mean, say your neighbors were like... 75% Christian and mostly went to church, would you feel you don't fit in? My point in asking is that I'm trying to figure out if the nativity offends you, or rather if its the ostracism of not being in the majority? Because those people are still going to be going to church, and you'll still feel left out. Maybe that's the fault of the Christians in your area if they did make you feel left out... I don't know. When I lived around mostly Jewish people, when they all put up the menorahs, I didn't feel like I was "not fitting into my community"... I just chalked it up to the spice of life and saw it as (insert lame analogy here) the bright and diverse tapestry of life. I'm not saying your feelings are invalid.... in all seriousness, I'm not. I'm just trying to get a feel for how it is. Maybe the nativity does bother you as you say for no reason more than what it is. I'm sorry for that, but that still doesn't change my opinion on tolerance.

I'm sad that I have to leave work soon, I've had fun listening to this discussion.
posted by Drylnn at 2:41 PM on December 16, 2004


"My problem is that I don't think it was all that painful for those who aren't Christian.

But how did you reach that conclusion?"


My friends are mostly athiest/agnostic. Their heads didn't explode, we had discussions on religion, nothing bad happened. And these are REALLY opinionated people, so I usually find them a good barometer for life.

I am willing to accept though that they could be wrong/not the norm for our society.
posted by Drylnn at 2:44 PM on December 16, 2004


Why are kids celebrating anything in schools, whether it be Christmas, the solstice, or anything else? Don't they have math and grammar to learn?
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:46 PM on December 16, 2004


I'm pretty happy to completely boycott christmas this year and for every following year, unless things change significantly.

The republicans chose to make religion an issue and apparently christianity to them is homophobic, anti-environment and full of mid-east hatred, so fine, I am on whatever the non-christian side is, and I will vote with my dollar and I also refuse to participate in any ceremony or ritual that is christian in nature or intent.

I don't object to christanity as a social institution in any way, but now that it has become a political organization, it needs to be treated as one. The holier-than-thou crowd should not be allowed to use the government to impose their conservative beliefs on others.
posted by milovoo at 2:58 PM on December 16, 2004


DryInn, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with your paean to lost caroling. Are you mourning the loss of civic celebrations of a Christian holiday? As others have pointed out, using public resources for religious purposes brings up constitutional issues. And, with all due respect to your revisionist take on the principle of separation between church and state, the U.S. has always been and was always meant to be a secular nation.

Or are you noting -- as many have, for decades -- the season's disconnection from the principles of Christianity? That disconnection happened long ago and godless secularists with their droopy wishes for "Happy Holidays" had nothing to do with it. Christmas as we know it is an invention of Victorian culture and an industrialized economy. Now, our country's post-industrial fiscal operations rely on compulsive holiday -- sorry, Christmas -- gift-giving; many retail stores (including the one I ran for several years) take in 30% or more of their annual income in the month before Christmas.

Or -- be honest now -- are you moping around, wishing for lost days of innocence? Perfectly understandable but not the best basis for civic policy.
posted by vetiver at 2:59 PM on December 16, 2004


Consistency and hopgoblins and all that, I guess. But as I've gotten older and been an atheist (with no doubts in my head or heart on that score) my entire adult life, I've become more and more alienated from Christmas. I find myself pointing out to people, the occasional years I've not spent it with family, that it's not my holiday. The secular appropriation of the holiday seems, well, insincere to me. It's still nominally all about Christ. If we called it Winter Solstice Celebration and it coincided with Christmas, that'd be different. But as secularized as it has become, it's still a religious holiday at its core (and it's not really that secularized anyway). That being the case, this whole celebrating the birth of Christ without, er, celebrating the bith of Christ thing really rubs me the wrong way.

And so for that reason, I'd oddly sympathetic to the "take back Christmas from the secularists" crowd if only because I find the hypocrisy of it more troubling than I do the religiousity. As an atheist, my own religious viewpoints represent a tiny minority of people in this country (US) and so accomodating the simple reality of the majority culture is a fact of life. So, in that context, that private citizens get together and celebrate Christmas in public, either in their stores or in lights and carolling, or whatever, doesn't bother me. I do think there's darn good reasons that the there's the whole "seperation of church and state" thing in the US Constitution and so I am pretty strongly a secularist where that's concerned.

But, anyway, repeating what I've already said: I'm more comfortable with Christians quite obviously celebrating Christmas as a religious holidy than I am with this weird secular-but-not-secular version that is dominant. Thus, why I, an atheist, think that if we're going to celebrate Christmas (particularly with people, my family, who are, in fact, all at least nominally Christians) then we should, for example, listen to that Cockburn song and reflect upon the whole point of the thing. Not to mention that this portion of the final verse:

"There are others who know about this miracle birth / The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth / For it isn't to the palace that the Christ child comes / But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums..."

...is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly I agree with, even though I don't share the faith.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:00 PM on December 16, 2004


mathowie: Because everyone loves the story of victims triumphing over evil...It's the american underdog story that I fall for all the time, but I tend to think of actual minority opinions/holders to be the underdog...

And you know that the Hannuka story is that kind of story too, right? And it really happened, and nobody really disputes it, and there wasn't any divine interference involved, or anything. Maybe that's why your friend didn't think the Hannuka Harry joke was funny...he probably feels he's done you a favor all these years by not poking more fun at your silly holiday.

Christmas is, on its own, pretty harmless. Everybody wants to go around being nice to each other and buying each other presents. I can understand that to see powerful institutions that have traditionally endorsed the holiday suddenly (or even gradually) stop acknowledging it might seem depressing.

But you know...and it's a bit ironic that I'm even saying this, since I'm actually pretty secular, and theologically agnostic...growing up as a Jew in the midwest, I got the sense that 'my' religion was something that existed completely separate from school or government. When I spent the day at synogogue for Yom Kippur, I noticed that public school held classes anyway. Sure, there were some Jewish-oriented songs thrown into the choir mix, and other such concessions. But in general, growing up in that situation taught me a secular idea that has stayed with me: it is not the goverment's job, nor is it the supermarket's job, to help you promote your religion. In fact, both can be regularly counted on to marginalize if not ignore it. Religion is something you do on your own time, with your own money, with no expectation that you are going to get holidays off school or work, or that the beliefs you were raised with will be cheerfully reinforced by displays at the mall. Non-Christians in the U.S. get used to this idea pretty quickly (unless they're Jews who live in New York or Los Angeles, of course).

It might be upsetting for some Christians to imagine a world in which their religion is reduced to the status of a cult, but that's what it is, and I think that what we're seeing is an America that is coming into an awareness that this is the case. I don't think that Dec. 25 should be a national holiday, and I don't think that Hannuka should be either (and not just because it doesn't start on the same date every year, on the Western calendar). I agree with DryInn that this is probably not what the founding fathers intended, but they were also dealing with a population of far fewer non-Christians, and they didn't have a 40-hour work week yet, either.
posted by bingo at 3:02 PM on December 16, 2004


Seth, your alleged "victims" own the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, the CIA. they have also successfully launched a "Crusade" (Bush's words, not mine) against Muslim infidels. their whining about "persecution" is beyond the pale for either its shamefulness (when done in bad faith) or its stupidity (good faith)

but thanks for your usual lecture
posted by matteo at 3:05 PM on December 16, 2004


My problem is that I don't think it was all that painful for those who aren't Christian.
It wasn't fun. As jessamyn and others said, you're actually shutting out and excluding all of us who aren't Christian, and what's worse--you're forcing all children to participate in one religion's traditions. We were required to participate in those Christmas pageants in elementary school in the bad old days, and it was very wrong. If you've ever been forced to sing about Allah being great and merciful, come and talk to us about how it made you feel.

And Seth, you poor, set-upon, beleaguered Christian, how horrible it must be here for you. Your continual animosity towards the rest of us does not speak well of your tolerance or enlightenment.

...it is not the goverment's job, nor is it the supermarket's job, to help you promote your religion. In fact, both can be regularly counted on to marginalize if not ignore it. Religion is something you do on your own time, with your own money, with no expectation that you are going to get holidays off school or work, or that the beliefs you were raised with will be cheerfully reinforced by displays at the mall.
Exactly.
posted by amberglow at 3:06 PM on December 16, 2004


Drylnn, I'll bite.

So let's say a few songs like Noel and Silent Night are dropped from the list of songs you can sing at school while making a glittery Santa with paste while eating cookies and talking to your school pals about the gifts you will get.

If some crazy school called it "the winter solstice holiday" (I've never heard of any public schools calling it anything but The Holidays), would kids be enjoying it less than having the word Christmas attached to it?

I would think kids will be kids and kids enjoy candy, family, and time off from school as much as adults. I think calling it "an attack on christmas" or making exaggerations about "political correctness run amok" is blowing something completely out of proportion.

I sang the dradel song in elementary school as a kid and wasn't offended, but I always though Noel was a little bit weird since it's so much more religious.
posted by mathowie at 3:14 PM on December 16, 2004


In our elementary school, they don't have a Christmas pageant. They have a talent show. When my kids attended, talent acts included some singing, dancing, etc. One kid did a Tae Kwon Do demonstration; another did a traditional Hindu dance in full regalia. Did I feel somehow threatened that my Christianity was being somehow taken from me? Hell no. Too many Christians are martyrs.
posted by Doohickie at 3:16 PM on December 16, 2004



I'm celebrating the miracle of letterjames.de this year.

As for the Web Institution Known as Lileks, have you noticed how all of his "genius" comes from republishing culturally obsolete crap from the past? He's a recycler, and I never listen to the opinions of the guy who runs the "RePlanet" kiosk in the Ralphs parkinglot either.
posted by wendell at 3:16 PM on December 16, 2004


With new memberships open, why do we need to continually insult an entire group of people (who, incidentally, makes up an enormous section of the world)? Why do I have the feeling that if people were on here constantly berating fat people, or blacks, or Jewish people, or Muslims, or gay people, or women or any other group that suddenly the outrage would be inverted?

what does new memberships have to do with posting about the fucked-up shit that people do? no one is berating Christians. some might be berating the assjacks who think there's a "war on christmas," but if you equate that with hatred toward all Christians, you must have some sort of persecution complex.

there's really a big difference between trying to get people to tolerate and celebrate [or even understand and accept] diversity and getting them to tolerate and celebrate a religious majority.

very well said, jessamyn. and i'll be darned if i don't agree with EB and RockyChrysler.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:20 PM on December 16, 2004


DryInn, I think you're approaching things from exactly the wrong direction.

You ask, would non-Christians' heads explode if there's a creche at town hall?

Well, of course not.

But, on the other hand, would Christians' heads explode if there weren't?

Well, of course not.

So, it having been established that no one's head is going to explode either way, why should I have to be preached at in the supposedly secular, taxpayer-funded school I was forced by law to attend?

Because I can give you lots of good answers to why I *shouldn't* have to be preached at, as has our government and courts for generations. So I think the burden of proof is rather on you.

Incidentally, I don't particularly care what our Founding Fathers (many of whom were not Christians but Dieists anyway) thought. A number of them also thought slavery should be legal. Governments and moralities evolve. What's appropriate now?

I'm not "offended". Your religion simply has no place in a public school. If I am interested in sharing the beauties of your religion, I will come to your church, or to someone's house if invited, or shop in a privately owned mall or eat in a privately owned restaurant or hang out in one of the five hundred billion other spaces in this country where Christians have every right to practice their religion as much as they want to, and do. Which makes me believe that this "Christmas" which is under attack must be some other Christmas from the one which I hear about darn near everywhere from the day after Thanksgiving until the end of December.
posted by kyrademon at 3:20 PM on December 16, 2004


My friends are mostly athiest/agnostic.

Which is actually, Drylnn, a remarkably different thing than being Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Taoist or any number of other non-Christian religions.

As amberglow also said.
posted by naomi at 3:22 PM on December 16, 2004


DryInn, I strongly doubt any non-christians out there are honestly offended by "christian" songs, signs etc. It's probably just a case of run-away cultural paranoia. People thinking they have to remove anything that might be considered offensive to a minority, without actually asking that minority if they are offended or not. I'm a hellbound goddamn athiest, but it doesn't bother me at all if people say "merry christmas" to me. Indeed, I'm glad the "happy holidays" and "seasons greetings" memes haven't spread around Australia as much as they apparently have in the US, because they both sound kind of lame. My Iranian muslim friend sent me a Christmas card this week. The Korean restaurant I ate at last week had a "Merry Christmas" sign hanging above a statue of the buddha.

On the other hand, I strongly doubt that christmas is under any kind of real attack. It'll survive. On one level, economics and capitalism will make it so, an one another level, honest christians will make an effort to proceed with their own traditions.

It just shows the danger, as others have said, of turning a religious festival into a state holiday. You run into all kinds of problems.
posted by Jimbob at 3:26 PM on December 16, 2004


And you know that the Hannuka story is that kind of story too, right?

i'll admit i'm not an expert at all, but i always thought the "bad guys" won at the Temple Mount. at least that's what my radical jewish friends tell me ... re-establishment of God over nature, etc. i'd love to be pointed in the right direction for alternative info about Chanukah.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:29 PM on December 16, 2004


milovoo, Right on! Got space for another? And another? And another?

I don't buy into the Christmas farce anymore than any other cynical agnostics out there.

BUT, one of my favorite traditions was when my entire home town would come out in the middle of a northern New England winter to re-enact the Birth of Christ through the town.

I hated the religiousity of it all but truly loved the community coming together aspect. I take the community aspect, savor that, and forget all about the religious framework that the holiday is framed within.
posted by fenriq at 3:41 PM on December 16, 2004


Lileks is a cultural commentator, among other things. It's not that he recycles old pictures, etc., it's his astonishingly clever commentary that is marvelous.

He's also an extremely gifted writer. Not a half-bad photographer, too. He's kind of like what Paul Auster would be if he lived in Minnesota.

For the record, I do not know Lileks, have never met him, or corresponded with him. I just think he's a well-nigh genius.

Just because you don't like his politics does not change that.

And it doesn't make me an "arrogant prick" for saying so.
posted by 1016 at 3:43 PM on December 16, 2004


I think the country probably would be better off if everyone were "secular" and "progressive." It amazes me that anyone can possibly label a group of people progressive and then say that they're doing bad things.
posted by borkingchikapa at 3:52 PM on December 16, 2004


Hey, look, apparently Mary Rosh got a MeFi account.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:06 PM on December 16, 2004


I think DryInn and Seth are forgetting the point of this thread, from the original post, which is that the Usual Rightwing Crew are all up in arms yet again about Another Bad Thing The Secularists Are Doing to Destroy America. And as usual, the Usual Rightwing Crew have the usual, near zero, amount of truth in what the've written and said.
posted by billsaysthis at 4:08 PM on December 16, 2004


I've got to answer these in a multipost

"Which is actually, Drylnn, a remarkably different thing than being Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Taoist or any number of other non-Christian religions."

As stated in a previous post on a related issue, the next biggest subgroup in my friends are: Muslim, then probably Buddhist tied with Christian/Deist... some of them are mum on the subject, so its possible the Christian amount is equal to the Muslim, but I tend to doubt it.

"And, with all due respect to your revisionist take on the principle of separation between church and state, the U.S. has always been and was always meant to be a secular nation."

I don't want to get into this (because then we'll never keep this discussion contained to a limited scope). The United States was indeed founded as a secular nation with no official state religion, like a Church of England. It's a far different cry to say that the founding fathers intended the total whitewash of religion being mentioned in schools and such, in fact their writings from the Continental Congress clearly show this was not their intent (as always, I'm sure someone can find an exception... it wouldn't be that hard with a number of people in the CC)

"Seth, your alleged "victims" own the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, the CIA. they have also successfully launched a "Crusade" (Bush's words, not mine) against Muslim infidels."

Sadly, this is what I was referring to about the attitude. It's okay to kick the Christians... either a) they've been kicking us for hundreds of years b) they've been in power for a long time. As the saying goes, two wrongs don't make a right, (but three lefts do!)

But, on the other hand, would Christians' heads explode if there weren't?

Well, of course not.

So, it having been established that no one's head is going to explode either way, why should I have to be preached at in the supposedly secular, taxpayer-funded school I was forced by law to attend?


With all due respect, there is a large difference between having the teacher preach at you and having a brass group play something like "Silent Night". At least to myself, and to others of non Christian beliefs in my area of Orlando, that has been the case. To you and yours, perhaps you disagree that there is a difference. This is a fundamental split in this debate that there is no resolution to. I would only like to state, in response to:

"I'm not "offended". Your religion simply has no place in a public school.

... that there are differences in degree. I agree, the preaching of a religion by a teacher is crossing the line. Having a group on stage at a holiday event in a school play Silent Night, or a Hanakkah song and being unable to deal with it so much so that you feel the need to sue is a different thing to me. It's not tolerance. To me (and this is an opinion I know), you're teaching people that you need no internal strength of mind and heart.

At this point, I have like 10 people responding to my messages, and it's becoming a progressive grouping that I'll not have the time to respond to... sorry. I'm not trying to ignore your opinion as "unworthy" to respond to.

I just ask that people look at what tolerance is. I know there are many cultures (having travelled to, at last count, 39 countries) and many religions. I just respectfully submit (as a broken record), it is not tolerance to water down/whitewash things to try and insult no one. There will ALWAYS be someone who is offended by something, and if you keep looking for what I and others call "The Lowest Common Denominator Theory", you're not helping anyone.
posted by Drylnn at 4:18 PM on December 16, 2004


mrgrimm:
i'll admit i'm not an expert at all, but i always thought the "bad guys" won at the Temple Mount. at least that's what my radical jewish friends tell me ... re-establishment of God over nature, etc. i'd love to be pointed in the right direction for alternative info about Chanukah.


Honestly, and I'm not being snarky...I have no idea what you're talking about. Re-establishment of God over nature?! And the page you linked to tells the traditional (if not buffered for children) happy-ending version of the story.
posted by bingo at 4:21 PM on December 16, 2004


when they all put up the menorahs, I didn't feel like I was "not fitting into my community"... I just chalked it up to the spice of life and saw it as (insert lame analogy here) the bright and diverse tapestry of life.

Hello? hellLOOO? Can you hear me now?

Someone puts menorahs in their windows and you don't feel oppressed? BIG GOLD (CHRISTIAN) STAR for you!
posted by vetiver at 4:27 PM on December 16, 2004


How many times do we have to have the "bash Christians' thread?

Until you stop banishing everyone to Hell for simply not believing in magical powers.
posted by orange clock at 4:31 PM on December 16, 2004


I hate Christmas, Xmas, whatever.

Humbug etc.

Compliments of the season to you all.
posted by bdave at 4:38 PM on December 16, 2004


I don't know, I think the iPod and Look-at-this-Auction eBay threads have a pretty solid lead over the Christian Bashing threads.

But I'm not really keeping a close count.
posted by fenriq at 4:39 PM on December 16, 2004


I thought this was perhaps the most egregious and misdirected anger on the part of Xmas Xtians I've seen yet:

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Voters in a school district that removed a Nativity scene from an elementary school play have rejected two school bond issues.

The funds were to a) build a new elementary school and b) fund school transportation. Suffer the little children, indeed.
posted by ltracey at 4:49 PM on December 16, 2004


Only God has the power to throw into Hell, orange clock.
posted by konolia at 4:51 PM on December 16, 2004


If you really want to bash Christians, try going here. [free registration required] There are lots of people on both sides, and they don't mind rehashing again and again and again.
posted by Doohickie at 4:52 PM on December 16, 2004


it's spelled A-T-H-E-I-S-T. Learn it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:05 PM on December 16, 2004


Tolerance, eh? Your understanding of tolerance is as poor as your sense of irony.

Tolerance and respect are two completely different things that do not require each other to exist. Don't conflate them.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:09 PM on December 16, 2004


Only God has the power to throw into Hell, orange clock.

Ah, yes, but whose God is this? Not my tiny blue hedgehog; she sends everyone to heaven no matter how wicked they are.

But I don't know much about 327.ca's tiny blue hedgehog yet, so perhaps he is the jealous angry type like yours.
posted by naomi at 5:17 PM on December 16, 2004


Only Christians have the power to throw you into Hell, orange clock.
posted by konolia at 4:51 PM PST on December 16


Exactly.
posted by orange clock at 5:24 PM on December 16, 2004


But, konolia, setting aside the blue hedgehog issue, don't you believe that he intends to throw us into hell if we don't accept his son as our savior?
posted by bingo at 5:29 PM on December 16, 2004


But, konolia, setting aside the blue hedgehog issue, don't you believe that he intends to throw us into hell if we don't believe in spooky magical powers?
posted by bingo at 5:29 PM PST on December 16


Exactly.
posted by orange clock at 5:37 PM on December 16, 2004


Honestly, and I'm not being snarky...I have no idea what you're talking about.

honestly, i'll throw it back at you and say i don't know what i'm talking about either. i just know that i have two ((seemingly) very intelligent and unrelated) friends who say that the "wrong" group prevailed at the Temple Mount.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:48 PM on December 16, 2004


I thought this was perhaps the most egregious and misdirected anger on the part of Xmas Xtians I've seen yet

that was my third link, dude.

in post above that's "jewish" friends, if it makes a difference ...

posted by mrgrimm at 5:50 PM on December 16, 2004


I think people say it was the wrong group because the Maccabees weren't descended from Levites. The Hasmoneans claimed not only the throne of Judah, but also the post of High Priest. This assertion of religious authority conflicted with the tradition of the priests coming from the descendants of Moses' brother Aaron and the tribe of Levi.
posted by amberglow at 5:57 PM on December 16, 2004


But I don't know much about 327.ca's tiny blue hedgehog yet, so perhaps he is the jealous angry type like yours.

I was joking around, naomi. I don't have a tiny blue hedgehog. But if I did, my hedgehog would be a ruminant, content to think about things, smell the breeze, and sleep on his feet... ;-)
posted by 327.ca at 6:02 PM on December 16, 2004


mrgimm: that's fine, but the story your friends are telling must not be the same story that you linked to. Either that, or they wish that the Jews hadn't won.

That said, your friends might mean that the victory at the Temple Mount was not significant in the greater scheme of things; i.e. it was not a political victory so much as a victory indicating their right to worship (exclusively) as Jews in one particular place.

It might also be what amberglow said (I had a longer explanation, but have now deleted it upon preview).
posted by bingo at 6:10 PM on December 16, 2004


...still, that Levite/Maccabbee argument, if that's the argument mrgrimm's friends are making, would be pretty thin.

orange clock: You changed what I said, and posted it with a date and time as if you had copied and pasted it directly. Not cool.
posted by bingo at 6:18 PM on December 16, 2004


But, konolia, setting aside the blue hedgehog issue, don't you believe that he intends to throw us into hell if we don't accept his son as our savior?

But, if you don't believe in the dude, then why does her believing this bother you? It doesn't bother me. If anything, it bothers me that she has to think such an unpleasant thing.

Our worldviews have consequences and while usually not so draconian, we non-Christians have beliefs about other people and their lives and actions that are quite, shall we say, "damning" of them. My belief that konolia is but an ephemeral existence in a universe that takes no notice of her and, more to the point, has no ultimate "purpose" is, from her point of view no doubt, just as "hellish" a view about her as her view that you and I are going to her literal hell is about us.

The real objection here, I guess, is that the implication of her belief is that you and I are in some moral sense evil and that's why we're going to hell. In that context, that konolia thinks we're going to hell is an implicit condemnation of us as human beings, as people, that we're "bad" even in the sense that you and I think of "bad". Because in her view, the things that you and I agree are "bad" are a product of the driving force of evil that has influenced us in our non-belief. So, while I am arguing symmetry to a certain degree, I'm also trying to explain to konolia and her fellow-believers why her belief that you and I are going to hell does bother us. It doesn't bother us directly (at least, it doesn't bother me directly), but it indirectly bothers me because it implicitly is claiming that I'm an evil person even by my own standards. In contrast, what I believe about konolia and her existence in this universe does not necessarily imply anything about what I think of her as a moral human being. It should be said, however, that other non-Christians and atheists do, occasionally, connect Christian belief (or other theisms) to similar moral condemnation. But I don't, and it's not implicit in the viewpoint. But it is implicit in konolia's (that there's something wrong with us as people even in the sense that you and I think of "wrong", not just in the sense that she thinks it).

So I don't really think that it's her belief that we're going to hell so much that's objectionable that what that belief implies about how she views us as moral human beings. That is to say, that we're evil. That's objectionable.

But it doesn't bother me very much because I completely reject her assumption that ties all these things together. In my view, her belief that ties what seems to me to be some arbitrary rules about my behavior (say, possibly, that I need to be physically immersed in water to be baptized a Christian) and me being supposedly hellbound are just so, well, arbitary and absurd that I can't take them seriously enough to consider them to be truly an indictment of me as a moral human being. So, that she believes that I'm going to hell itself bothers me not in the least because I know I'm not. That she thinks this implies I'm a "bad" person bother me slightly, but not very much because it seems like such a silly thing to believe that I can't really take it seriously in the sense that I feel imperiled by it. I do take it seriously in the sense that most people alive and historically believe something of this sort and that I can't rule out that there might be laws governing the moral universe that are, in a word, absurd and that, regardless, many people of great intellect and good-intentions believe such a thing so it's not necessarily by normative terms a lunacy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:22 PM on December 16, 2004


yeah, not cool at all.

that Levite/Maccabbee argument, if that's the argument mrgrimm's friends are making, would be pretty thin.

that's the argument, all right. i've been searching for a while, but i can't possibly see how the Macabees were the bad guys. i'm still looking.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:27 PM on December 16, 2004


they were fundamentalists too, mrgrimm--not a fun bunch, apparently.

EB: you're right. Moral judgements about us and our characters/souls/worth/etc are both implicit and explicit in those statements.
posted by amberglow at 6:40 PM on December 16, 2004


Just FYI mrgrimm, I may be butch but I'm no dude.
posted by ltracey at 7:04 PM on December 16, 2004


EB: It doesn't bother us directly (at least, it doesn't bother me directly), but it indirectly bothers me because it implicitly is claiming that I'm an evil person even by my own standards.

I respect what you're saying (or, rather, the three-sentence equivalent of what you're saying), but it bothers me for different reasons. I have had a lot of dealings with people who believe that I am going to hell because I'm not a Christian. They don't think I'm evil, they think I'm 'lost,' and that it's their duty as Christians to help 'save me.' I get invited to prayer meetings, bible study sessions, and Christian social organizations. It has come up (in Kansas) with employers. It has come up with friends. I've been accosted by zealots on the street. I'm not talking about people who are sitting in their own homes, beating themselves up about what they perceive to be my own lack of awareness. I'm talking about people who deliberately attempt to push Christianity into my life.

I don't know if konolia is pushy that way or not. But even if she isn't, the dogma itself naturally breeds prostletization. If I believed that all my friends would go to hell unless I dragged them to church with me, I suppose that I would try to get them to church. And as long as many Christians believe that non-Christians are going to hell when they die, then those who do not partake in the instutionally-endorsed Christmas holiday are, in effect, marking themselves for the same kind of ridiculous harassment.

Re. the Maccabees: They were not a fun bunch. But it would be even harder for me to sympathize with their opponents, who smeared their temple in pig's blood and hauled in a statue of Zeus.
posted by bingo at 7:08 PM on December 16, 2004


If I believed that all my friends would go to hell unless I dragged them to church with me, I suppose that I would try to get them to church.

But I don't have a problem with that, either. There's a whole slew of things that I believe that many people are mistaken about and that their being mistaken dimishes both the quality of their own life and the lives of others. I don't think there's anything wrong with proselytizing for what one believes is morally correct.

In this sense I am deeply out-of-step with contemporary liberalism, with its emphasis on moral relativism as being the primary ethic. I see the impulse towards relativism, and the tolerance (in the "accept what would otherwise be intolerable") it encourages, as a wise practical default position, not as an end unto itself.

More succinctly, I could not possibly care less that some people have personal, cultural, and religious beliefs that lead them to believe that, for example, slavery or FGM is acceptable. I'll enforce my opposing beliefs on them one way or another because, simply, I'm certain they're wrong.

I can't really begrudge, in principle, anyone else's similar judgments. Unless I'm a hypocrite, which I try very hard not to be.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:17 PM on December 16, 2004


orange clock: You changed what I said, and posted it with a date and time to make a point of inference. Awesome.
posted by bingo at 6:18 PM PST on December 16


Thanks.
posted by orange clock at 7:17 PM on December 16, 2004


...I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and, in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this?...

--Thomas Paine
posted by semmi at 7:22 PM on December 16, 2004


Correction: "I could not possibly care less..." was so much of an overstatement that it's essentially a falsehood. My point is that I do factor in and care about the relativeness of moral judgments and I certainly do care about cultural differences. So that's why I think this sort of relativism is a good habit to cultivate. But it's not at all my primary ethic and I strongly object to the elevation of it into the primary, perhaps the only, ethic as many people do these days. So I care that those folks have cultural traditions that find those things acceptable...but not enough to diminish my desire to eradicate those things against their wishes, if necessary.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:23 PM on December 16, 2004



Is that what real christians want? To associate their faith more closely with rock bottom savings, a $29 DVD player, and an All Doors Open at 8AM Super Sale?


Oddly enough, I am always a teeny bit offended by how the stores "celebrate" Abraham Lincoln's birthday with their white sales.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:27 PM on December 16, 2004


update: either the entire creche has been swiped from the town commons, or they decided to remove it. maybe there is a Santa after all.

Let me ask you this. When your neighbors go to a Christian church, do you feel you don't fit into your town?

Nope, because I am welcome to go and I choose not to. The church is also not public space like the town commons is. We go to the church breakfasts often, it's a pretty small town. As I said, a big I Love God sign on your lawn, or on the church's lawn doesn't bug me at all because neither of those places is supposed to be partly mine and is clearly representing the opinions of the people who own the space. However if the space is owned by and supported by the town [that's my tax dollars etc.] I'd like it to reflect every single one of us and the creche-on-the-commons sends, at best, a mixed message, similarly to Silent Night in the school review.
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 PM on December 16, 2004


Is that what real christians want? To associate their faith more closely with rock bottom savings, a $29 DVD player, and an All Doors Open at 8AM Super Sale?

I don't see why any of these things should be anathema to christians. Ideally the christian faith should illuminate all facets of the daily life of a christian. There should be a complete and total orientation towards God. The fact that one would see some dichotomy between such things and spiritual matters speaks to a deeply seated dualistic mindset. Such misguided bifurcation leads either to hedonism or asceticism. Jesus was no Essene despite the fact that the most conspicuous spiritual prophets of the time were severe ascetics; including his own cousin. He partied with the best of them. One can buy a cheap DVD player without being a slave to greed and consumerism. JC wasn't some dour extremist who wen't around with a slavish adherence to moral prohibitions and as the parable of the talents attests he was quite the savvy investor. If he were around today he would probably clip coupons.
posted by Endymion at 8:12 PM on December 16, 2004


EB: I don't think there's anything wrong with proselytizing for what one believes is morally correct.

Okay, that's where we differ. To me (and, dare I say, to a great many Jews and other non-Christians) prostletization is probably the single most offensive characteristic of Christianity.

orange clock: see you in MetaTalk.
posted by bingo at 8:15 PM on December 16, 2004


EIther that, or they wish that the Jews hadn't won

yeah, after a fair amount of research, i think the latter is true. non-story.

bring on the feats of strength!
posted by mrgrimm at 8:48 PM on December 16, 2004


Seth: How many times do we have to have the "bash Christians' thread? I think everyone has had there chance to make their opinion know that Christians are evil. Thanks for sharing. I'm just confused as why we need to hammer this point home all the time?

Did I call Christianity evil, or just say that its followers need to take a deep breath and get some perspective on how "persecuted" they aren't?

With new memberships open, why do we need to continually insult an entire group of people (who, incidentally, makes up an enormous section of the world)?

So because I'm a "newbie" my opinion is less valid than yours?

Nuts to you and your nutty ilk, Seth. You and your religion make this holiday into a sham, you know it, and everyone with half a lick of common sense knows it.

When you Christians start behaving like your holy leader then I'll pay attention to you.

Talk to someone who's really been persecuted. Like GLBTs whose Christian families disown them, like the Muslims and immigrants who disappear into the US prison system, like poor people whose only route out of poverty is enlisting in a war so that churchgoers can fill up the gas tanks in their Lincoln Town Cars with the "Jesus is my Co-Pilot" license plates.

Until you fundy nutballs get some fucking perspective, you're all just full of hot air when it comes to persecution in the real world.

The Roman Empire was 2000 years ago. Get with the times.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:08 PM on December 16, 2004


When you Christians start behaving like your holy leader then I'll pay attention to you.

Talk to someone who's really been persecuted.


Thanks for proving my point about how some believe that two wrongs somehow make a right. That somehow, you're entititled to persecute a person because someone else persecutes. That you're somehow justified. I suppose if I wanted to pick and choose from history, I could say Christians are justified because they were fed to lions or something crazy like that. I'm sorry you feel slighted by Christianity. There are a lot of wrongs in the world, some justified by Christians, some not. Your examples in some cases are specious, in some cases are just way off base.
posted by Drylnn at 9:18 PM on December 16, 2004


I'm sorry you feel slighted by Christianity.

I'm not slighted by Christianity. So you have nothing to apologize for in that respect.

I am slighted, however, by Christians with persecution complexes being incorrigible, unrepentant assholes and expecting the rest of us to buy the bullshit. Feel free to apologize for that if you want. Do you think you're being persecuted, when you're not?

And if you're going to call my examples specious, then explain how. Because I live in a reality-based world, not a faith-based world, and so when I collect a lot of data from various sources, it helps when you nuts qualify your factual disagreements with fact, not faith.

Thanks so very much.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:47 PM on December 16, 2004


Conservatives confuse me, the same people who've complained about us not having Conservative writers discounted, or displayed prominently enough because we're not being "balanced" complain because the store message says happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

And as someone who has worked in retail far too long, if a cashier gives you a blank stare, it's because they're thinking about how much of an idiot you are, or mentally ticking off places to send a resume too, not because they're working out ways to oppress Christians.
posted by drezdn at 9:53 PM on December 16, 2004


Get ready. If religion comes out into the public square - it's got to be fair for all religions. Just let it be known that my family worships Kali, the Black Earth Mother of Hindu mythology. She wears a necklace of skulls and a skirt of human arms. She's covered in blood and ashes from mortuaries. My family has been worshipping her for as long as anyone can remember, it's a legitimate religious practice.

Part of Kali worship was to strangle travellers and sacrifice them to her. Ever heard of the thuggees?

Try to get my daughter to worship Christ in a public school and I'll raise holy hell until I've got your kids worshipping Kali. We'll see which God has more appeal to the kids playing Grand Theft Auto and watching MTV.
posted by rks404 at 10:26 PM on December 16, 2004


DryInn -

You seem to believe that religion in publically-owned spaces should be judged as a matter of degree; this seems to be because you think the problem is one of how offensive they are. So, in your view, if the religious matter doesn't have a particularly high degree of offensiveness, it should be allowed to stay.

The problem is, it isn't a matter of offensiveness. It's a matter of basic principles and rights. And I take issue with my basic rights being violated even to a "small degree".

Christians (and members of all other faiths, for that matter) can worship as they please in their non-publically-owned churches, houses, cars, businesses, shopping malls, boats, tree forts, whatever. They can also, as individuals and not as representatives of the state, excercise their freedoms of speech and religion in public schools, parks, streets, whatever. No one objects to prayer in schools - it's state-sponsored prayer that's the problem.

Because land and time funded by the state belongs to all of use. So it's wrong for the state to priviledge one religion over another in that space - it would neither be fair or just. And since there are pretty much an infinite number of religions, it's impossible to give them all an equal amount of state-funded time, so the only possible solution is to give none of them any of it. Declare it's simply not the place for it.

And honestly, aren't the billions of other places you get, and the broad freedoms you can still excercise even on the public land, enough? Why do you want to take away the space we can all share without our religions being a possible issue?

Do you even understand why this is a problem? Do you get that, if I was in a band class and they made me play Silent Night, that's forcing me to make the motions of worship towards a god I don't believe in? That it's in essence the same as forcing you to bow towards Mecca? That it's a violation of my basic religious freedoms?
posted by kyrademon at 10:29 PM on December 16, 2004


(Apologies for the spelling errors. It's late.)
posted by kyrademon at 10:29 PM on December 16, 2004


I think Christians are sometimes nostalgic for the days in which they were actually persecuted. I wonder why it's important for people to feel victimized?
posted by quadog at 4:21 PM EST on December 16


A friend of mine's doing her dissertation on the everprevalent "victimhood and persecution" motif in Christianity (specifically, Catholicism), especially with regard to the Female Saint as Victim (you know--the virginal body being defiled by violence and potential rape as analogous to the pure Catholic soul being assaulted and threatened by pagan infiltration)--Agnes and Dymphna and Maria Goretti and Teresa of Avila and all of that. It's a somewhat hot topic right now.
posted by ifjuly at 10:59 PM on December 16, 2004


rks404: Get ready. If religion comes out into the public square - it's got to be fair for all religions.

I propose a bicameral system of religious representation. Courthouse walls will be decorated with equally sized representations of the various religions of the community. Firehouse lawns will be decorated by a proportional system. For example a 80 foot tall Nativity scene and a 12 inch high Hindu statue to the deity Kali. If such scales become structurally unsound a proportional volume can be used instead.
posted by Endymion at 11:01 PM on December 16, 2004


Central to the fundamentalist Christian mythology/psychology is the concept of persecution. As sharktatoo said far up thread, if you are worried that some random other people aren't taking your religious holiday seriously enough, and worried that doing so could destroy your faith, well, you have larger issues with your belief system.
posted by Freen at 11:18 PM on December 16, 2004


Endyminion - i like your idea, although I want more than just some iconography. For us worshippers of Kali, works are more important than words. Perhaps we can just even it out by allowing religious followers to act out their faith's devotions in a proportional manner as you suggest. So for every thousand or so nativity scenes in public areas, devotees of Kali should get to strangle a traveller. The traveller needn't be Christian as we wouldn't want Christians to feel persecuted - the victim can be of any religion. Kali is not picky.
posted by rks404 at 11:22 PM on December 16, 2004


I like this Kali.

Is it Kal as in CALifornia, or Kal as in CALl me any time?
posted by bingo at 11:30 PM on December 16, 2004


Kali is a real object of worship for millions of people in India. My family has a small temple to her. She is as real as Jesus Christ and should get exactly as much reverence in the public square. Perhaps our non-secular future will lead us to the Roman practice of building a temple to every god, including one for any gods that were inadvertently left out.



Kali is represented as a Black woman with four arms; in one hand she has a sword, in another the head of the demon she has slain, with the other two she is encouraging her worshippers. For earrings she has two dead bodies and wears a necklace of skulls ; her only clothing is a girdle made of dead men's hands, and her tongue protrudes from her mouth. Her eyes are red, and her face and breasts are besmeared with blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the breast of her husband.


posted by rks404 at 11:49 PM on December 16, 2004


I think this editorial explains part of my feelings (and I realize the author will incite some flames here)

Link to Wash Post editorial

I don't know how many more posts I can make on this issue, we're starting to beat a dead horse now.

Feel free to apologize for that if you want. Do you think you're being persecuted, when you're not?

I'm not Christian. I'm just trying to stop a trend I see happening. Why does defending Christians have to mean *I* am Christian. If anything, I'm a Deist with some tendancies towards Christianity, but not in the way you might think. I know this is nebulous, but my belief is complex.

And if you're going to call my examples specious, then explain how.

I could make a massive post on this, but essentially, you're condemning an entire religion for the sins of the fundies. And then you use the example of Muslims, when a lot of people in the United States are taking great pains to not round up every single Muslim and slam them into a detention center because they don't want to condemn the whole religion for the sins of their "fundies." Pot... kettle. Kettle... pot. Your examples are extreme examples, and yet you feel this justifies harping on the whole religion. I'm sorry, I just view this as wrong. I guess you have a different opinion. As for your call to action about "facts", at best your examples are not "facts" for the Christian community as a whole, yet you felt no need to offer up "proof" that this is the case for the majority. You're putting up opinion as fact.

"Try to get my daughter to worship Christ in a public school and I'll raise holy hell until I've got your kids worshipping Kali. "

It's a sad sad day in this country when one person believes that a song = trying to get my daughter to worship Christ. I suppose you believe that "In God We Trust" on the coins is an evil attempt to convert your child as well.

"Do you even understand why this is a problem? Do you get that, if I was in a band class and they made me play Silent Night, that's forcing me to make the motions of worship towards a god I don't believe in? That it's in essence the same as forcing you to bow towards Mecca? That it's a violation of my basic religious freedoms?"

You are now trying to morph the argument into something it wasn't. The original thing: Students at a school have volunteered to be in a brass group have been playing Silent Night among other traditional songs in a school even (they also played secular and Hanukkah songs). This wasn't a "They were forced to play!" issue.

"So, in your view, if the religious matter doesn't have a particularly high degree of offensiveness, it should be allowed to stay."

I'm saying that if someone is so thin-skinned that they think a Christmas carol in a school is an attempt to convert them, then we have some real issues in America, because this is only going to get worse. This thin-skin is a perfect example of the symptom of the problem.

No one objects to prayer in schools - it's state-sponsored prayer that's the problem.

Really? No one objects to prayers in schools? Even if I accept that idea (and I don't), explain to me why they accept prayer in the school, but they don't accept a group volunteering to play a carol in a holiday event. I *REALLY* don't understand that one.

Christians (and members of all other faiths, for that matter) can worship as they please in their non-publically-owned churches, houses, cars, businesses, shopping malls, boats, tree forts, whatever.

And everytime they do in their malls or whatever, even non-publicly owned, someone feels threatened, calls the mall and threeatens to sue. The mall, not wanting a lawsuit, stops it from happening there. Repeat this process over and over. This is EXACTLY my point.

Look, I'm getting off topic now by being drawn into this religious discussion. I'm not trying to dismiss other people's claims, and I know I've irked some people. My original point was that I do see an attack on Christmas, and I see it as a larger move away from tolerance as not having one's head explode when they see something and feeling the need to sue it out of existance to tolerance as "Let's ban it all everywhere.... and then when we get that ban, we'll move on to the next location, and we'll get it banned there too." Threats of endless lawsuits are becoming essentially a ban. I guarantee, if I were to go sing carols in a mall as a performance, even with mall permission, some person would call the mall and threaten to sue because they're offended, and I'd be yanked really quickly. I've already seen it happen in Orlando and Pittsburgh. That is NOT tolerance.

I don't really have much else to say. Clearly, people on mefi have one opinion, I have another. I thank those of you who have discussed this with me in a civil tone.
posted by Drylnn at 12:11 AM on December 17, 2004


ugh.. this is what happens when I post at 3 am... my grammar goes down the drain.
posted by Drylnn at 12:16 AM on December 17, 2004


It's a sad sad day in this country when one person believes that a song = trying to get my daughter to worship Christ. I suppose you believe that "In God We Trust" on the coins is an evil attempt to convert your child as well.

Who said anything about singing a song? I'm talking about the nativity scenes in elementary school play in the third link of the fpp. Sorry but a nativity scene with all of its religious imagery being shown to a group of young children in a coercive social setting is absolutely religious indoctrination.

As I've said before, my freedom from your religion is your freedom from my religion. If my child is exposed to a nativity scene as part of a public school education, I will do my damndest to make sure every kid there gets a good dose of my religion, which to Western eyes is indistinguishable from demon-worship.
posted by rks404 at 1:23 AM on December 17, 2004


which to Western eyes is indistinguishable from demon-worship

I'm from the West and I can tell the difference.
posted by Drylnn at 4:57 AM on December 17, 2004


And carols are not just songs--they're expressions of religion in the same way that hymns are. The shame of it is that they were ever allowed in public schools to begin with. And they weren't voluntary when i was in elementary school--the whole class had to participate.

A mall is a private space, and the mall management decides what's allowed there. If they realize that explicitly religious songs would hurt sales, that's their right. They would do the same about any religious songs. Alternatively, they could decide to allow Christian music if they chose, and let the chips fall where they may. It's different in public schools, and government buildings--there are no choices like there are when it comes to shopping.

rks is right--all religions get represented or none do. Let's see a reenactment of Mohammed's life and deeds, or Ganesh or Kali's deeds. Let's see whirling dervishes and flagellants, and native American spirits. Those things are just as important than your Christian symbols and songs and myths.

Throwing in the dreidel song--a non-religious, recently invented, song about a toy that doesn't even explain its meaning, as opposed to Silent Night, or Oh Holy Night, or Little Drummer Boy, etc--is not enough, or comparable.
posted by amberglow at 5:14 AM on December 17, 2004


I could make a massive post on this, but essentially, you're condemning an entire religion for the sins of the fundies.

No, I'm condemning the acts of evil Christians. It just happens to be what the majority has agreed upon. You seem pretty happy to defend a religion you don't believe in, for example.

When Bush calls the war a Crusade, and his generals line up to call the campaign a "war on Satan", then its just business as usual. When a majority of people get manipulated into being religious and then reject their gay kids because the good book tells them to, then its business as usual. When Muslims are rounded up during wartime for being Muslim, then its business as usual.

I can write a long post on the subject, but that's how this country now operates.

Fundynuts own the system, so don't cry to me about how Christians are being persecuted for being Christian, because it is absolute and utter nonsense.

Talk to people who really get nailed by the system. Get some perspective and grow up. Seriously.
posted by AlexReynolds at 5:44 AM on December 17, 2004


Hey, look, apparently Mary Rosh got a MeFi account.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:06 PM PST on December 16


Same thought I had. A former member coming back and posting about how great "John Lott" is.
posted by nofundy at 5:57 AM on December 17, 2004


A mall is a private space, and the mall management decides what's allowed there....

My point in discussing this was that someone said "Well, Christians have everywhere else..." and I just wanted to point out that no, that isn't the case at all, because the same things happen at each of these locations as well. It's not restricted to publicly owned government buildings.

his generals line up to call the campaign a "war on Satan"

Last I heard, this was one general. As Kirk said in the Trek episode (slightly modified)... "I was unaware... that one Klingon constitutes a swarm..."

When a majority of people get manipulated into being religious and then reject their gay kids because the good book tells them to

It's nice that you've distilled it down to one reason, but there are actually several reasons. And some Christians don't do it. And some non-Christians ostracize their gay kids for their own reasons. Don't you dare try to tell me Christians are the only ones.

When Muslims are rounded up during wartime for being Muslim, then its business as usual.

Again, I would bet MOST Christians don't believe in doing anything of the sort, and this country has taken great pains not to lock up every Muslim. I'll have to get some perspective by visiting my Muslim friends who are in Detention Camp Beta... oh wait.. .they're NOT in a detention camp, and they're practicing their religion freely and openly. Maybe I should be helping the Christians to round them up, as you put it, since that's apparently what Christians are doing.

This is what I mean by extreme examples. You're taking examples of a small subsection of a group and applying it to the group as a whole. Anyone can do that with any group and find nutjobs. That doesn't mean the MAJORITY of that group is like that. That applies to Christians or Muslims or whatever.

I can write a long post on the subject, but that's how this country now operates.

In some cases, what you say is true. In some cases, what you say is guilty of many outside of Christianity. That's generally how half-truths and opinions work.

Talk to people who really get nailed by the system.

I have. Most of them aren't as bent out of shape as you are.

Get some perspective and grow up. Seriously.
Ah yes, grow up. I openly admit there's flaws. You try to solely pin these things on Christianity. Explain how your perspective isn't warped and mine is?

No, wait, I take that back. Don't bother to explain.
posted by Drylnn at 6:04 AM on December 17, 2004


Most of them aren't as bent out of shape as you are.

For a self-described non-Christian you seem to do a lot of apologizing for Christians.

Happy holidays; I'm not going to bother pointing out the obvious to you for a third time.

Thanks--
posted by AlexReynolds at 6:19 AM on December 17, 2004


Generalizing is the root of most social problems.

We are people. People in general can be stubborn, arrogant, and have their own unique hubris, their own personal goals. Grossly generalizing of course.

It seems to be our nature to find isolated problems and make them seem like they're close to home. For myself I'm going to enjoy the holidays regardless. Don't have to say whether I call it Christmas or X-mas or a happy holidays. It's one of those things that brings happiness and is no one's business but my family's and those that don't get riled up by all the things other people are doing. I actually have a word for that behavior....bordom :P
posted by samsara at 7:26 AM on December 17, 2004


I'd made a coherent post further explicating my views, but the computer ate it. So you know what? Screw it. This whole argument is ridiculous. Even if there were some mythical War Against Christmas, then Christmas has WON. It's won so hard that the enemy is routed and dead and nonexistent and Christmas is sipping champagne in Babylon wondering if its heirs are going to start fighting over the empire when it dies.

They've got A Christmas Carol playing on 90 channels and in every theater in town. They've got the national holiday and the days off and everything closing, and despite these numerous nonexistent lawsuits in every store I go to they've got the Christmas Music and the Christmas Displays and the Christmas Sales and I have to hear about Christmas at work even though it's a state university for crying out loud I can't even turn on the TeeVee without creepy Old Navy people telling me that I should wear pyjamas to the bowling alley because it's Christmas for some reason and they've even got the schools in spite of everything.

The Christians have won, for that matter. They've got "under god" in the pledge and you can't elect a president who doesn't blather about Jesus and they've got the billboards and eighty percent of the population and I don't know what all.

One of the current crusaders for the Holidays blamed the War Against Christmas on the Jews, because we love the anal sex more than the baby Jesus (I paraphrase, but I'm not making that up.) Well, you know what? It's true. I do love anal sex more than the baby Jesys. But that might be because at this time of year the thought of my girlfriend with a strap-on is the only thing that can DRIVE THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC OUT OF MY HEAD.
posted by kyrademon at 7:47 AM on December 17, 2004


kyrademon would you consider putting an email addie in your profile...? if you don't want to use your regular email acct i could send you a gmail invite that you could use instead. use the addie in my profile if you'd like one.
posted by t r a c y at 8:13 AM on December 17, 2004


For a self-described non-Christian you seem to do a lot of apologizing for Christians.

I'm fighting for a principle: tolerance. On other days, I'll champion other people. Fighting for an ideal means sometimes supporting the minority, sometimes the majority, depending on what you think is right.

I'm not going to bother pointing out the obvious to you for a third time.

It's so obvious, its even a bone of contention outside of Christianity. Forgive me for thinking that must mean that it isn't obvious.

Alright, we're down to snarky comments (I'm as much at fault as anyone else), so there's not much left to debate.
posted by Drylnn at 8:48 AM on December 17, 2004


kyra--excellently said. Christians really don't get that it's in our faces all the time, and not just during the holidays. Here's the Jews=anal sex/hollywood thing--from that Bill Donahue ass--Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.  It‘s not a secret, OK?  And I‘m not afraid to say it.  That‘s why they hate this movie.  It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth.  It‘s about the messiah. 
Hollywood likes anal sex.  They like to see the public square without nativity scenes.  I like families.  I like children.  They like abortions.  I believe in traditional values and restraint.  They believe in libertinism.  We have nothing in common.  But you know what?  The culture war has been ongoing for a long time.  Their side has lost. 


This thread has got me wondering how it would be if all kids had to sing Dayenu in schools. "If you had just slain their firstborn, it would have been enough" ; >
posted by amberglow at 8:55 AM on December 17, 2004


It's a sad sad day in this country when one person believes that a song = trying to get my daughter to worship Christ.

You mean Jesus, right? The rest of us non-Christians don't use the word 'Christ' much, at least not as a title for Jesus, because it means 'savior,' and, well...you know.

Anyway, count me firmly in the camp that believes that Christmas songs in public school are part of an effort (albeit long-standing and not even really interesting anymore) to get your daughter to worship Jesus. I think you know that if rks404 got his/her way and Kali songs were introduced into public schools, many parents would have a fit, and that would be because they believed that their children were being introduced to the idea that worshipping Kali might be a viable option, and unless the song was something as abstract as 'dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,' they would be right. The fact that Christmas songs don't seem threatening this way only shows how institutionalized they already are. And amberglow is right on about the kinds of Jewish songs that do make it into public schools. Not that Jews, in any case I've ever heard of, are trying to get the more overtly religious songs into the public-school canon.

I suppose you believe that "In God We Trust" on the coins is an evil attempt to convert your child as well.

Just so you know how much mileage your analogy is getting...I'm not saying that there is 'evil' involved. And the logo on coins is pretty innocuous in the greater scheme of things. But it does bother me. But you don't have to say it out loud to make a purchase, so it probably won't become a serious issue for a long time, if ever.
posted by bingo at 9:34 AM on December 17, 2004


I'm fighting for a principle: tolerance. On other days, I'll champion other people. Fighting for an ideal means sometimes supporting the minority, sometimes the majority, depending on what you think is right.

Your ideals are noble but you're falling for the fallacy of equivalence.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:47 AM on December 17, 2004


Part of Kali worship was to strangle travellers and sacrifice them to her. Ever heard of the thuggees?

Try to get my daughter to worship Christ in a public school and I'll raise holy hell until I've got your kids worshipping Kali. We'll see which God has more appeal to the kids playing Grand Theft Auto and watching MTV.


If they play Soul Calibur, they'll have already run into a character who fights with a magic rod weapon known as Kali-Yuga, which may be connected.
posted by dagnyscott at 3:15 PM on December 17, 2004


Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes.

I want to see anal sex in the public square.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:19 PM on December 17, 2004


Your ideals are noble but you're falling for the fallacy of equivalence.

There's a pretty scary equivalence between you, though, (not to mention many others in this thread), and the Christian right itself -- that which pretty much says "we're on the right side so it doesn't matter whether or not we listen to anybody else or how we treat their obviously inferior ideas."

I know, I can hear you thinking "But I *am* right. It's obvious. My ideas really *are* better than those other people." My question is -- what kind of blank check does that give you for behavior?

There are a lot of things that you may not believe in -- ideas that you may consider inferior -- that if you don't defend, the larger idea of America itself is dead. This includes at a minimum stuff you may call "hate speech" as well Hollywood's right to make movies that some religious folks may hate. At a higher level, it's the kind of tolerance DryInn is talking about.

A lot of the Christian right doesn't understand this, and apparently a large part of the antitheist crowd doesn't get it as well.
posted by namespan at 5:37 AM on December 18, 2004


Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes.

I actually have to respect that this guy seems to be pretty much telling it like it is in terms of what the controversy is actually about. He is right. Hollywood likes anal sex, and they like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I don't think many people on either side would dispute that.
posted by bingo at 9:09 AM on December 18, 2004


There's a pretty scary equivalence between you, though, (not to mention many others in this thread), and the Christian right itself -- that which pretty much says "we're on the right side so it doesn't matter whether or not we listen to anybody else or how we treat their obviously inferior ideas."

I know, I can hear you thinking "But I *am* right. It's obvious. My ideas really *are* better than those other people." My question is -- what kind of blank check does that give you for behavior?


Namespan, you are not reading very carefully at all.

There are a lot of things that you may not believe in -- ideas that you may consider inferior -- that if you don't defend, the larger idea of America itself is dead. This includes at a minimum stuff you may call "hate speech" as well Hollywood's right to make movies that some religious folks may hate. At a higher level, it's the kind of tolerance DryInn is talking about.

A lot of the Christian right doesn't understand this, and apparently a large part of the antitheist crowd doesn't get it as well.


This is absolute nonsense, more of the same "atheists are bad because they don't believe in Santa Claus" garbage.

Atheists aren't the ones advocating a "war against Satan". They aren't throwing their family members out for being gay in any reasonably comparable measure. They aren't going door to door and shoving their beliefs in everyone's faces.

Equivocating atheism with antitheism is a typical Christian tactic.

Just stop preaching your garbage already. That's all. Just stop with the melodramatic bullshit.

None of you are being tortured for being Christians. It's just not happening folks. Talk to people who are really being persecuted by the government. Talk to people who will continue to be persecuted by the government.

Grow up and face reality. None of you Christians deal with any hardships for believing in your deity. None of you. Not one of you. For nothing.

Just stop.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:55 AM on December 18, 2004


I'm having a hard time reading any of AlexReynolds's comments because they are so unecessarily hostile. "None of you Christians deal with any hardships for believing in your deity." Though overstatement, I'd agree with this in spirit in as it regards NA and European Christians. Elsewhere? It's quite false.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2004


I actually have to respect that this guy seems to be pretty much telling it like it is in terms of what the controversy is actually about. He is right. Hollywood likes anal sex, and they like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I don't think many people on either side would dispute that.
Sure--I loved that episode of Everyone loves Raymond all about backdoor action. And that Spongebob too. And I hear Tom Cruise is starring in a new blockbuster about a crime-solving proctologist. And of course there are no Christmas movies made every year at all, or special Christmas episodes of tv shows, or Christmas specials shown on TV, or Christmas albums from stars of music and tv...public square no--but certainly our public airwaves are full of Christmas.

More from from the lovely folks at FOX and their friends: From the December 16 edition of FOX News Live: MAT STAVER: This case, really, talks about the essence of Christmas. Christmas is still constitutional. What happened in this case, it appears, is that the mayor had absolute hostility toward the religious, specifically the Christian, viewpoint of the nativity scene. In this case, the mayor was persistent over several months. The city council cancelled meetings, walked out when this issue came up, in fact, the mayor--
BRIGITTE QUINN (anchor): Mat, why was he hostile?
STAVER: Well, the mayor is apparently Jewish. Unfortunately, this looks like the mayor's particular vendetta against the nativity scene.

posted by amberglow at 12:29 PM on December 18, 2004


I'm having a hard time reading any of AlexReynolds's comments because they are so unnecessarily hostile. "None of you Christians deal with any hardships for believing in your deity." Though overstatement, I'd agree with this in spirit in as it regards NA and European Christians. Elsewhere? It's quite false.

Proselytizing in countries that are getting bombed for being Muslim? Don't be surprised your missionaries get attacked.

Grow up and face reality.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:30 PM on December 18, 2004


Huh, being an atheist, I don't have any missionaries I'm aware of. But try "China", many African countries, sport. And fuck off.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:46 PM on December 18, 2004


This is absolute nonsense, more of the same "atheists are bad because they don't believe in Santa Claus" garbage.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Look AlexReynolds, you make absolutely no sense, and you are totally out of your mental league if you really took that away, and frankly, that wouldn't surprise me, since I saw your whole performance over in the "some axioms are better than others" thread, and when it's obvious that you couldn't pass a basic philosophy or mathematics by anything other than the grace of the professor because the way you tend to use both logic and logical terms doesn't have any meaning. Shape up and stop being sloppy. I don't care whether you are anyone else believes in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, The Man, Noam Chomsky, or things some people have more reverence for like Allah or Christ or Yahweh. What I care about is how you treat -- and to some extent, how you talk to -- people who do. And I didn't imply anything otherwise.

Equivocating atheism with antitheism is a typical Christian tactic.

I am not equating them. I know a number of athiests who aren't antithiests, and a number of them show up right here on metafilter and in this thread. They don't believe in God, they don't accept "faith-based" arguments in policy discussion, they may even think it's pretty silly, but they don't feel any particular antipathy towards believers or their culture.

It comes down to this: do you believe in that statement of defending to the death the right of someone else to say something you disagree with? Or are you interested, much like the misguided Christian right, in creating that society, where finally, "those people" are forever silenced?

That's what I'm equating. Tell me how your vision for society is different.

And you know what? Tell me, while you're at it, how a "fuck christmas/christians" attitude isn't going to simply give the misguided christian right more fuel for their particular favorite fire, rather than accomplishing whatever your goals may be.

Or perhaps you really are for a war on theists and Christians.
posted by namespan at 2:52 PM on December 18, 2004


Since I saw your whole performance over in the "some axioms are better than others" thread, and when it's obvious that you couldn't pass a basic philosophy or mathematics by anything other than the grace of the professor because the way you tend to use both logic and logical terms doesn't have any meaning.

I won't bother to tell you what degrees and grades I earned or where I got them. It would conflict with your invented strawman.

Some people really need to learn how logic works, by the way. If you hold a set of axioms that conflict with the real world, you could believe in them, I suppose, in some rhetorical way, but then there's not much use, other than to maintain a deliberately contradictory worldview.

And as I've said the only people who benefit from holding deliberately obtuse and contradictory worldviews are politicians and preachers.

That kind of thinking allows a sloppy hold on truth that can be bent in all directions, for whatever purpose.

But go ahead and insult your strawman. As for me I'm through with that argument.

Or perhaps you really are for a war on theists and Christians.

If that means that you nuts get some perspective about suffering, interprete it however you like.

But your attitude is that I'm trying to "silence" you.

You know what? You nuts act like a bunch of children who can't get what they want when people don't agree with you.

So good luck to you.

Huh, being an atheist, I don't have any missionaries I'm aware of. But try "China", many African countries, sport. And fuck off.

EB, try China nailing everyone for having any other worldview than China, including atheism. So bad fucking example, "sport".

And those African countries you refer to include Muslim countries, "sport", which was my point.

So fuck you too, "sport".
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:13 PM on December 18, 2004


Guess who else is Anti-Christmas?
Good morning, and happy holidays to you all.
... I wish everybody -- truly wish everybody
a happy holidays.
... All right, happy holidays.

posted by amberglow at 5:10 PM on December 20, 2004


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