Wishing you a happy secular Christmas…

THE Presbyterian Moderator almost sounded annoyed that “logically inconsistent” atheists (?) can enjoy Christmas while rejecting the Christian message. “It’s liking the packaging of the present without the present or liking the shell without the substance – it doesn’t add up to much… If you take the heart out of Christmas you haven’t got much left that makes sense.” I’m not sure that logic or trying to rationalise something as abstract as belief in the Christmas story (itself inconsistent in different Gospels) has much to do with Christianity. It’s easy to be cynical about the fake sentimentality, nostalgia wallowing and hypocrisy of the once-a-year churchgoer, but there are cultural and social aspects of Christmas that are common to and enjoyed by virtually all of us – the exchange of gifts, meeting up with family members after periods apart, going out with friends. Atheists might not end up at a church tomorrow, but they don’t need three wise men to tell them that taking Christ out of Christmas doesn’t make for a hollow experience.

  • circles

    Oh dear – don’t you hate it when christian holy men get all confused?
    They were the ones who put Jesus into Christmas in the first place! People were enjoying “christmas” for more than 2000 years before Jesus was even born!

  • Brian Walker

    As luck would have it, a guide to the Gospel variations of the birth of Jesus is available from the unlikely source of Fr Vincent Browne in today’s Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com

    /newspaper/opinion/2008/1224/1229728523398.html

    In one of his Christmas messages, the Archbishop of Canterbury is nowhere near so conventional.

    “Human beings, left to themselves, have imagined God in all sorts of shapes; but – although there were one or two instances, in Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, of gods being pictured as boys – it took Christianity to introduce the world to the idea of God in the form of a baby: in the form of complete dependence and fragility, without power or control. If you stop to think about it, it is still shocking. And it is also deeply challenging..

    Christians who recognise the infinite and all-powerful God in the vulnerability of a newborn baby have every reason to ask hard questions about the ways in which children come to be despised, exploited, even feared in our world. We all suspect that in a time of economic crisis worldwide, it will be the most vulnerable who are left to carry most of the human cost.”

    http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/2063

    As always, Rowan is a bit tortuous but I rather like him for it; its less like preaching than mental fight.

  • joeCanuck

    Naw boss. I’m not a Christian so I don’t need a day off with pay. I’ll be here tomorrow as usual.

  • Rory Carr

    Atheists themselves however are not immune from killjoy practices at Christmastime. That miserable old git, Richard Dawkins, was on BBC Radio4’s Today programme a few mornings ago cheerfully boasting of how he had effectively destroyed his playmates’ belief in Santa Claus at the age of six. We can forgive the child Dawkins, smarmy little toad even though he then was, for he was after all only a child, but I am less able to forgive the adult Dawkins for the cocky delight he takes in in retelling his nasty little tale.

    He could sit easily in the company of the Italian priest who a few days ago preached to his congregation on the evils of nurturing a belief in Santa Claus among their children. Maybe he thought that with the crackdown on being a “paedo” he might have a go at being a pain-in-the-arse pedant instead.

  • Harry Flashman

    Ok, it’s way past my bedtime and I almost certainly will not be overjoyed when I’m jumped on at 5am by the youngsters looking for their presents but as I finish off the last sup of my Christmas Eve drink and my missus is off to her bed wondering what in all tarnation is this damn Christmas thing that those people celebrate with their weird trees and jingly bells I have just been listening to Nat King Cole singing “Oh Holy Night” and when those joyless, piss blooded, lip pursing, dreary atheists can come up with anything matching that I’ll be willing to listen to what they have to say.

    In the meantime have a very happy Christmas one and all.

  • Dave

    I ‘get’ the secular festive season idea being a non-Christian who is married to a Christian, but I’d much rather that a bunch of low-rent media hacks who risibly imagine themselves to be (unqualified) polymaths kept their idiosyncratic agendas out of it.

  • Dave

    oh… and Nollaig shona, Harry. (Since it is the 25th where you are).

  • Mark McGregor

    We secularists have a magical, timeless, flying man to enjoy at Christmas. They have their own nonsense. Both sets of falsehoods are enough to excuse the indulgence and fun.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Agreed, Mark. At least with Santa everybody accepts that it’s made-up for the benefit of the kids. For many of the rest of us, it’s a time of stress and expense. I was in Abbeycentre at around 3pm, and I’ve never seen so many miserable, almost angry-looking people in one place in my life.

    At least Rowan Williams did not use the opportunity to attack and denigrate people of a different sexuality. My favourite part of his tome was this :

    Human beings, left to themselves, have imagined God in all sorts of shapes

    Absolutely right.

  • Pete

    Rory Carr,

    Oh, turn the page please! You have totally twisted the tone of the Radio 4 interview around to your strawman image of Richard Dawkins.

    Why don’t you tell everyone in your spiel that the interview was about how Dawkins actually enjoys the cultural festivities that surround Christmas, carols et al. He has called himself a “cultural Christian” many times. Furthermore his tale of blurting out that ‘Santa was actually Sam’ was a simple good-humoured recant of an old memory, and if anything was Dawkins taking the mick out of himself.

    I hate that people constantly bring up Richard Dawkins in basically every discussion of religion and/or secularism. Please note that there are millions of secularists in the UK and Ireland. Stop personifying issues because you can’t address the substance!

  • Well said Pete! And maybe we will use Christmas to reflect on where the celebration shortly after winter solstice actually originates. But then again that’s unlikely as the Sky Fairy followers desparately try to hijack history. Til then, whether an atheist, christian, muslim, hindi or Jew I wish you all a very happy restful holiday and together we can look forward to more happy Slugger discourse in 2009! Have a very metal Christmas and a headbanging new year 🙂

  • Llamedos

    Give my head piece Mr Moderator whoever you are.Surely all religions and tribes have had celebrations and festivals at this time of year. When much feasting and some general debauchery took place. Then the holy rollers came along and slotted their own festival into it as the dates suited their purpose. I know, like and respect people of all faiths Hindhu,Moslem,Sikh,Budhist,African Faiths and a few Christians as well. However people trying to sell me a product that I AM NOT INTERESTED IN really bores me to death. I respect their beliefs and can they respect mine. This judgemental gentleman is a sanctimonious, pompous bore, who should shut up PDQ.