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Tom Flynn - The Trouble With Christmas
Posted: 28 November 2011 05:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Matty - 26 November 2011 11:16 PM

I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and therefore did not celebrate Christmas while I was growing up.  Witnesses consider Christmas an evil pagan festival, therefore have nothing to do with it.  I’m in the unusual position of only celebrating Christmas since I became an Atheist.  I love Christmas, so don’t take it away from me Mr Flynn, you grumpy old bugger! :D

  THIS!!!  Sir we are in your debt!

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Posted: 28 November 2011 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 27 November 2011 10:52 AM

Thanks for sharing a good story Matty.  Its refreshing to hear such a skeptical story.  smile  But do go easy on Tom people, he’s a good and amiable man.

On the other side though, the Puritans had something right, Christmas is not the birthday of Jesus, so it isn’t valid.  (Not that they got anything else right.)  The date is just competition for the Roman Saturnalia festival, a rockin’ good party from what I hear.  cool smile

I’m sure Tom’s a lovely chap - I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek there! smile  The Witnesses don’t celebrate Easter either for the same reasons - they are rather obsessed at the “pagan” origins of celebrations and holidays, although they seem to pick and choose what they condemn and what they don’t - for instance they exchange rings when they marry which has very clear pagan origins and is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

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Posted: 30 November 2011 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Matty - 28 November 2011 10:31 AM

The Witnesses don’t celebrate Easter either for the same reasons - they are rather obsessed at the “pagan” origins of celebrations and holidays, although they seem to pick and choose what they condemn and what they don’t - for instance they exchange rings when they marry which has very clear pagan origins and is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

No wedding rings in the Bible?  Good one Matty smile.  Yeah, religion is totally arbitrary when you get down to the details.  No-one really adheres to the Bible, that’s impossible to do:

1) The Bible is big and complex, filled with conflicting ideas, starting with the obvious conflict between a vengeful vicious racist sexist homophobe war-mongering egotistical tyrant god on-high (Yahweh), versus the mostly loving amiable benevolent inclusive profane god (Yeshua, Jesus).  Which one you choose is arbitrary, the Jewish god or the Christian one.  The complex layers of arbitrary choices would be impossible to unweave, if anyone ever tries to.

2) The trinity unites the main gods of Christianity into one, a clear violation of the laws of mathematics, along with all the other “miracles” that violate the rest of the laws of physics.  Then they ignore all the other gods, the angels and the demons would have been called gods at any other time in history, except in these Christian days.  And so the monotheism is arbitrary too.  How can anyone adhere to the math errors, the physical conflicts, all those gods and the conflicts between each of their ideas?

3) The early Christians had disagreements about the religion.  It started as an oral tradition and largely remains so today, most people learn about the religion by hearing the mass or lectures in school, not by reading the text.  The oral tradition is in flux, that flux is the same today as it has always been in the past, a long unbroken history of change.  Now who could possibly adhere to that changing system of laws with so many sources of change (Vatican, Anglican, Methodist, Quaker, Church of Latter Day Saints, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, etc.), so many conflicts, so many translation errors, honest mistakes, and intentional manipulations.  The early Christians had lots of ideas, polytheistic Christianity was popular, monotheism wasn’t the favorite among the people in ancient times, but monotheism was Emperor Constantine’s favorite, you know how that choice turned out.  The orthodoxy was an arbitrary choice.  The conflicts between oral and written Christian tradition continue, the oral is used to revise the text, and the text is used to revise the oral.  That feedback loop can amplify and promote any idea from the Bible to become the big idea of Christianity.  The conflict between monotheism and polytheism continues: are Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Yahweh, angels, demons, Mary (and her magical mother fertilized by an angel to birth the messiah), Methuselah (magically long lived), Archangel Michael, Archangel Lucifer, all the other Archangels, Pope John Paul II (did he really have divine powers of healing), the rest of the Saints, are they all the gods of Christianity, or just one of them?  There’s no way to tell which is right, mono or polytheism, the choice is arbitrary.  How can anyone adhere to all the muddy ideas about the variety of gods?

4) The only distinction I see between Pagan and Christian at the Christian roots is the math error of the holy Trinity, there’s nothing else.  Pagan examples older than Christianity for all the big Christian tenets exist:  there were messiah myths, there were creator gods, there were gods that make natural processes work, there was animal sacrifice, there was human sacrifice (Jesus is said to have been human, Abraham tried to sacrifice Issac), there were ceremonies, holy structures for ceremony, there were leaders and power struggles, it was all there before Christianity existed.  Then one tribe among many tribes in Arabia, each tribe had their own unique ideas and characteristics, one Israeli tribe look to Abraham and his god and said they were monotheist, this minor tribe was not popular then and still isn’t today.  Christianity and Islam are much more popular than the Jews, today.  The choice of tribes was arbitrary, there were lots of Pagan ideas to choose from in Arabia and in Rome.  Why not adhere to an African tribe, an American tribe, an Australian tribe, or an Asian culture?

It’s not just the little arbitrary ideas that are problematic, it’s the big ideas too, arbitrary is the rule in religion, not the exception.  The Witnesses are just being arbitrary when the take digs at the Pagans, the Witness have close Pagan ties too. 

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.  A fun holiday is a good thing.  smile

[ Edited: 30 November 2011 09:06 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 01 December 2011 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Matty - 28 November 2011 10:31 AM

...The Witnesses don’t celebrate Easter either for the same reasons - they are rather obsessed at the “pagan” origins of celebrations and holidays, although they seem to pick and choose what they condemn and what they don’t - for instance they exchange rings when they marry which has very clear pagan origins and is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

Thanks for this fact. I have a couple choice places to use it…

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They shepherd because they love wool and mutton.
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Posted: 01 December 2011 06:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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I haven’t listened to this podcast, but could swear I’ve heard one like it before… <shrug>

I like Christmas. I don’t care that it has roots in many religions. I’m not religious so why should I care? wink Although I do enjoy the history of how various holidays came to be. I enjoy putting crazy amounts of colored lights and decorations in our front yard. I enjoy seeking out those gifts that my children and wife will go all wide eyed at. I like Christmas music, even some of the religious stuff. I like a nicely decorated (and real because of the pine smell) tree in our front window. I like that we watch the Santa Clause every year on the 24th. I love seeing the looks on my children’s faces Christmas morning. I even embrace the unrealistic sentiment that people are a little kinder, a little more friendly, and a little more generous at that time of the year.

Actually regardless of my enjoyment of Christmas, you should all give up all holidays with the exception of one: MY birthday anniversary. (I’ll send you a list of ‘what I’m into’ to save you grief in your shopping.) cheese

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 02 December 2011 05:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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I celebrate the holidays I was raised celebrating because to me they are a time of fun and happiness with family, friends and loved ones. It is a time of good food, good talks, and the odd gift or two. I have never taken it seriously to mean anything other than a time to spend with those I love. I was raised in a religious house and rarely if ever did the whole “true reason for the season” thing get brought up. Frankly those who take such issue with it are entitled to their opinion, and don’t have to celebrate if they don’t wish to. Nothing is forced on them, unless you count the public displays which show a very unreasonably thin skin if that’s all it takes to annoy you. What other people do on their holidays and what they believe in is of little relevance to me. I honestly couldn’t care less were I dead. That would be the reason I don’t get all up in arms about something, what’s the point when I feel so arbitrarily about it.

One point I would like to point out though is this, when you link craziness like this to gays not blending in it gets a little rankling to those of us who are actually gay. To me the issues inherent with homosexuality and revealing said homosexuality to friends and loved ones are on an entirely different level to petty crap like whether or not it’s ok for an atheist to celebrate a silly holiday. Please think about how your words might come across to someone before you say such things. I hope you don’t think I am being antagonistic or rude, but that’s truly how it feels when someone says something like that.

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Posted: 09 December 2011 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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I live in Dawson City Yukon, in the far north of Canada. My husband and I are both atheists and celebrate Christmas only as an excuse to eat and drink for a week with our friends and family. The timing of Christmas for us couldn’t be better, December is dark all but three or four hours of the day and bitterly cold, often below -40*C. If there was ever a time to get drunk and overeat, the last week of December in the Yukon is certainly it.

Christmas aside, I take exception to the comments about celebrating the winter solstice. Although we do not celebrate the solstice with any ceremony or pagan tradition, we do often gather on the 21st to mark the beginning of the light returning. What could be more worth celebrating than the natural phenomenon of the days getting longer, after weeks of almost perpetual darkness? We have bonfires, paper lanterns, and often are treated to a display of northern lights, it is a wonderful excuse to gather and marvel at the natural world.

Life is short, celebrate often.

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Posted: 14 December 2011 12:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Celebrate the variety, if you want a party then why limit yourself!  Celebrate all the late December holidays Christmas, the Solstice, Human Light, Roman Saturnelia, Taiwan China has a national holiday, Christian Candlemas, Christian Epiphany, Germanic Yule, Hindu Pancha Ganapati, Jewish Hanukkah, Muslim Ramadan, Persian Yalda, Slavic Koleda, secular Festivus, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday, Freezingman, heh heh heh.

Tell us about the Northern Lights yukon.  smile

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Posted: 14 December 2011 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I love the holidays, any holiday for that matter. It ties us to the positive elements of our past and for a brief moment in time we drop our weapons and toast our fellow humans. It brings us together and allows us to hope that maybe we’ve got a chance to survive another day! We celebrate our families and the fact that we’re still alive and enjoying life at least for a day! Holidays are the pulsing heart of the calendar that we all look forward to from St. Patrick’s day to Christmas. Call it what you will, athiests can celebrate ANY holiday without restraint. I can drink a green beer to the Irish and decorate a christmas tree to my heart’s content and not worry about its pagan roots. Its my past, it’s traditions I grew up with and it reminds me of home.

Cap’t JAck

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Posted: 15 December 2011 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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thevillageathiest - 14 December 2011 08:48 AM

I love the holidays, any holiday for that matter. It ties us to the positive elements of our past and for a brief moment in time we drop our weapons and toast our fellow humans. It brings us together and allows us to hope that maybe we’ve got a chance to survive another day! We celebrate our families and the fact that we’re still alive and enjoying life at least for a day! Holidays are the pulsing heart of the calendar that we all look forward to from St. Patrick’s day to Christmas. Call it what you will, athiests can celebrate ANY holiday without restraint. I can drink a green beer to the Irish and decorate a christmas tree to my heart’s content and not worry about its pagan roots. Its my past, it’s traditions I grew up with and it reminds me of home.

Cap’t JAck

You said exactly what I have been feeling but wasn’t able to put into words. It annoys me to no end when people get uppity about this, because honestly it just seems like they are trying to destroy all of the fun and happiness just because they are insecure in their own beliefs and feel that other people celebrating such things will test them or in some way harm them.

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Posted: 16 December 2011 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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thevillageathiest - 14 December 2011 08:48 AM

I can drink a green beer to the Irish and decorate a christmas tree to my heart’s content and not worry about its pagan roots. Its my past, it’s traditions I grew up with and it reminds me of home.

Cheers, Capt’n. party0005.gif

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Posted: 16 December 2011 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Thanks Darron and cheers to us all! Have a happy one!!! grin


Cap’t JAck

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Posted: 24 December 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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HO HO HO oh ho oh no

MERRY CHRISTMOSIS Mr Grumpy!

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