On the German radio, the Holiday ads are in full swing. I am surprised though when I think about it long enough I realize that I should not be. For one, Germany wouldn't celebrate American Thanksgiving. For two, when Germans get behind something they really get behind it. And when tribal Germans finally embraced Christianity with heart, mind & soul they also embraced it with all of the passion and skill that a craftsman approaches all things. So I should not be surprised that with the changing of the Sun's aspect Christmas season in Germany begins. Every ad I hear has Christmas music jingling in the background. That won't happen here in America.
Somewhere along the way (Ben Stein suggests it happened when Madelaine O'Hare wanted to take prayer out of school) America decided religion and everything had to be separated not just from Government. And as a result consumers and retailers are certain that they will offend to say "Merry Christmas". To say Merry Christmas offends the atheist. And they convinced us that it is offensive to Jews, Muslims and everyone else who isn't Christian to say it in any form. So now, just few days before Thanksgiving the arguments begin.
I do not know that I have discussed it here before. But I want to today. Christmas is a pagan holiday. Look up the history of the holiday and you will see that while it is attributed to Christ's birth that it was commandeered by the Roman Catholic church during the 3rd century Nicene council to attract as many more converts as possible. And as I said before... when people embrace something they embrace it with all that they are... that is the way human beings are. We are easily made fans of a thing by our own celebratory natures.
One has to wonder what the Atheist agenda is. And, just what they find so offensive. But personally, as an Agnostic myself, my question is "Why not turn a blind eye to it?" Atheists are typically Intellectuals with a pale view of humanity. Think Sheldon Cooper. In the surety of their own intellect it must be possible to turn a blind eye, a rigid back and a cold heart toward people who's frivolity you find offensive and inflamnatory. There is no law that says you must declare a religion in America. There is no law that says it is okay for those with religion to attack you. Yes, Atheists are proselytized just like the rest of the world. And like all who have made up their mind they find it annoying. And do you know what the rest of the world does when it is annoyed? It tosses tracts in the trash and moves along.
So what is it about an atheist that they can't move along and ignore the things that are not relevent to their life experience? Why do they have to try to ruin everything for everyone else? We had an event here in town this past week that dovetails with the topic. A portion of a Ecumenical salute to the Human struggle was omitted from the program because no one wanted to offend the soliers and vets in the audience. The Islamic call to prayer was banned. My Jewish friends applaud the choice. I am sad. It is a beautiful thing when you know what it means. It has a connotative meaning to be sure. But all prayers do depending how individuals within the faith use it. If the Pater Noster were used to launch an assault from the Vatican on someone then yes, that would be offensive too. And certainly during the Crusades that had happened. However... for those who find comfort in reminding themselves that they are part of something greater than themselves when no other solace is to be found, well that is just cruel.
And if you are an Atheist or a Humanist and think that is a laughable weakness to be pitied well then pity those poor fools but leave them to their joy. Atheists feel religion is shoved down their throats at every turn and they used the American legal system to defend themselves from what they percieved was an annoyance. And others, having won that struggle, then decided to run with it and rescue people from their own stupidity. Take God out of shopping (which I think, given the Temple Table Incident, Jesus would approve), take God out of schools, take God out of the Moral code that Legal codes expand on. Go ahead. But what are you going to replace it with?
Cold hard logic? Sure... if you were a Vulcan who has mastered the practice of Kohlinar that would be fine. But... Vulcans aren't real. And you can not separate man from his motivations which are nearly all emotionally derived without damaging the man and then the society in which he lives. When Logic will not suffice will you replace Faith in something outside yourself with the ever popular wishful thinking at the heart of a pursuit of the Universal flow? That concept that thinking happy thought will protect you from the things that insurance adjusters use to tweak your premiums? That's great if you can win the lottery every time you have a bill due. But really it kinda just leaves you at the mercy of circumstance. And Circumstance is not terribly Merciful.
For me, if you take God out of the Holidays, Christ out of Christmas (which really, I think he would be okay with since he had a lot to say about the Apostles trying to deify him during his life. And from a purely human and selfish perspective... shouldn't he have his own holidya instead of one that belongs to a Babylonian God-child named Tammuz?) you have a wonderful holiday that lights up the darkest days of the year with hope and assurance that the darkness is not all consumming. You have a holiday that unites all men around the world (though obviously less so at the equator) in the struggle against darkness and the havoc it wreaks on the pysche. It is a celebration of light. It is finding joy in an otherwise joyless situation.
It is a celebration of craftsmanship and community. Does it matter where it came from? Does it matter if someone stuck a name on it? I'm not a practing person of faith at all. But I celebrate Christmas, German craftsmanship, family tradition. Do I like that as a single person there are no restraunts open for me to eat in on that day? No. Does it stab me a little that everyone has a place to be and I do not? Yes. But that has less to do with the Holiday and more to do with me when I am dissatisfied with life. Do I sometimes find the endless wishing of a Merry Christmas annoying? Yes. But that is because I know more about the holiday's origins than the average person and there is a lie involved that I find despicable. And because I tend to let my emotions get the better of me some years, I often wonder if I will, myself, be visited by three Ghosts. But that is me. That I am unhappy and uncomfortable is on me and it should not be legislated by law or public demonstration from someone else's life.
Atheism would take an element from people's lives that provides stability to many regardless of an Atheists approval. And an Atheist has nothing with which to replace those things that it would deny others. And therein lies the danger that Ben Stein's anonynous co-author is talking about in his article.
And let's not forget people... Jesus was Jewish. Just because I enjoy the lights and the glinting on glass ornaments, I say we smash Christmas and Hanukah together to make one insanely long Holiday season. Muslims have Ramadan for a whole month. We could stretch Christmas out in huge ways. After all... both are a Festival of Lights. It's just that the word Light is interpretted two different ways.