|—||Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check (via atheismfuckyeah)|
- What are the Christmas Wars?:In his infamous tract “The International Jew,” Henry Ford wrote “The whole record of the Jewish opposition to Christmas, Easter and other Christian festivals, and their opposition to certain patriotic songs, shows the venom and directness of [their] attack.” The John Birch Society complained that the “Godless UN” was conspiring against Christmas. Today, conservatives claim that secularists and liberals are trying to replace Christmas. The enemy changes, but it’s still the same conspiracy story.
- ‘Happy Holidays’ is an Anti-Christian Statement:It is claimed that use of Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas excludes Christmas and is anti-Christian. This is nonsense. People use Happy Holidays to cover all holidays during the season, including Christmas. Christians who get upset over this aren’t seeking tolerance or respect, they are seeking privilege and status. They want others to make them feel better about themselves by treating Christianity as special and more important than other religions.
- Why Not Just Say Merry Christmas?:If you say Merry Christmas, you assume that the other person celebrates Christmas - often a fair bet, but not as guaranteed as it once was. As the religious pluralism of America increases, so must the sensitivity of its citizens. The fewer traditional Christians there are around, the less people can assume that everyone is celebrating the usual Christian holidays and doing the usual Christian things. It’s impolite to make assumptions about people you don’t know.
- Christmas: Religious or Secular Holiday?:Many Christians complain that Christmas is a religious holiday, but is treated in an inappropriately secular way in contemporary America. This has some merit, but it’s not the result of any conspiracy. Christians have been transforming it into a secular holiday by moving it out of churches and into the public, secular sphere. Pagan elements of Christmas have come to dominate its public celebration and Christian meaning has been lost.
- Christmas as a Political Statement:Many reactions to the decreasing importance of Christianity and Christmas are more tribal than religious. Some are turning the phrase Merry Christmas into a fetish, something done for its own sake instead of using it as a sincere greeting. It’s an aggressive statement about one’s own identity that is thrown in the face of others as a challenge or even an insult. It’s not about defending religious meaning in Christmas, but defending a religious identity and a set of traditional privileges.
- Religious Pluralism in America:There is no plot among atheists and liberals to take Christ out of Christmas or to eliminate Christianity from the holiday season. The truth is that the growth of religious pluralism is behind the decline in importance of Christianity and, by extension, the religious aspects of Christmas. Fewer people, including Christians, see Christmas as a time for religious observance. The current status of Christmas is a natural outgrowth of how people (mostly Christians) behave.
- Commercial Interests and Christmas as a Commercial Enterprise:Christmas has become more of a commercial enterprise than a religious observance - the responsibility for which lies with Christians and the free market (which conservatives usually defend). Retailers must cater to a broad public, not just Christians, which means that exclusively Christian elements of the holiday season fade into the background while aspects which appeal to everyone (usually pagan or recent elements) grow in importance. Christmas is more about Santa than Jesus today.
- Secularization vs. De-Christianization:Complaints about the the status of Christmas in America often focus on the secularization of America and Christmas, and it’s true that both have occurred. Lost in the rhetoric, however, is the fact that much of what is seen as secularization is really de-Christianization. The holiday season remains religious with many religions taking part, but it no longer exclusively Christian. It sounds better, though, to complain about secularization than about the loss of Christian privilege.
- Christmas Wars and the Loss of Christian Privilege:Conservatives’ anger is due more to the fact that Christianity no longer dominates American culture; Christmas is simply an egregious example of this trend. The “right” they say they are losing is the “right” to dominate discourse, culture, government, and society. The loss of Christmas as the focus of the holiday season and the loss of public acknowledgment of the religious elements of Christmas represent the loss of Christian privilege occurring throughout American culture.
- What is the Real Meaning of the Christmas Season?:The most important issue behind the debates over Christmas is what the “meaning” of Christmas is or should be. Conservatives want to return to a Golden Age when the meaning of Christmas was wholly religious, uncorrupted by pagan, commercial, or secular elements. What they seek is an illusion. There are traditional meanings and religious meanings, but no “real meaning.” The meaning of Christmas is whatever people celebrating decide to give to it.
Modern Christmas celebrations have little or nothing to do with Jesus, the Feast of the Nativity, or the Incarnation. Consider some popular Christmas traditions: erecting and decorating a tree, hanging wreaths, sending cards, drinking eggnog, giving presents, hanging mistletoe…where is Christ in all of this?
If people give it a religious meaning, it will be a religious holiday for them. If they fill the day with other meanings (gifts, family, etc.), then it will have those instead. Because the meaning of Christmas depends upon what people do with it, the only way for Christians to reclaim a religious meaning for Christmas is to personally eschew secular, pagan, and consumer activities in favor of religious ones. Give to the poor instead of to Wal-Mart. Go to church instead of a mall. Pray instead of gathering around a lit-up tree.
What they cannot do is insist that the wider culture endorse this and also shed pagan, commercial, or secular aspects of the season. They can’t turn the tide of commercialization and secularization. They might convince individual Christians to turn away from it all and focus on religious aspects of a holy day, however. If enough Christians change, perhaps the culture will as well, but the focus should be on what Christians do as individuals.
Trying to force the culture to change by attacking greetings like Happy Holidays is silly. There is something profoundly wrong with the behavior of Christians using Christmas in their Culture War against modernity.
Personally, I ADORE Christmas, as anyone who follows my personal blog can attest. And I’m pretty sure y’all know how strictly atheist I am, and from a strictly atheist family, too.
The way Christmas is being turned into a political thing, the way the religious right are attempting to use it to play the martyrs and so, it’s just ridiculously pathetic, as well as annoying.
Who wants to commit acts of heresy and sacrilege with me?!
Ooo, ooo, ooo! I know! Let’s promote federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and force all places of worhsip to pay their due property taxes! We can even legalize gay marriage! Oooo, and then we can talk about evolution and as a one-up, let’s ban creation from being taught in public schools!
Let’s get real fiendish, people!
Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters band mates on Friday counter protested the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which had targeted the band’s Kansas City show at the Sprint Center.
“You have no proper thoughts of the God that created you, but we’ll be there to make sure you don’t forget when you haul your rebellious carcasses into the Sprint Center to watch God-hating fools do their shtick,” the group said in announcing their protest. ”God hates fag enablers.”
The band pulled up to the protesters in a modified truck dressed in fake facial hair, long wigs and cowboys outfits to serenade the group with a rendition of Keep It Clean, which includes the lyrics, “Driving all night, got a hankering for something. Think I’m in the mood for some hot-man muffins.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, God bless America,” Grohl said between sets. ”Land of the free, home of the brave, it takes all kinds. I don’t care if you’re black or white or purple or green. Whether you’re Pennsylvanian or Transylvanian, Lady Gaga or Lady Antebellum. It takes all kinds.”
“Men loving women and women loving men and men loving men and women loving women – you know we all like to watch that.”
“What I would like to say: God bless America, y’all,” he added.
(I’m not back yet - my computer will undoubtedly die at any moment - but this was too good for me to simply NOT try to get it up on tumblr for you guys to see!)
|—||Greta Christina (via atheismfuckyeah)|
The Norway Murders, Christianity, Darwin, and tolerance
As predictable as the sunrise, creationists are launching another round of the disgusting practice of trying to tie every mass murderer to Darwin and evolution, self-consistency and logic be damned. This time it’s about Brevik, the bomber and shooter in last Friday’s killings. We saw this at Uncommon Descent on Sunday (“Norway shooter a Darwinian terrorist?”) – itself relying on an article from the fundamentalist WorldNetDaily (“Terrorist proclaimed himself ‘Darwinian,’ not ‘Christian’”), and today from alleged scholar John West at the Discovery Institute (“Fundamentalist Christian or Deranged Social Darwinist?”).
West does the usual thing, word-searching Brevik’s 1500-page screed for the few references to Darwin, and brazenly playing down the hundreds of references to Christianity and God and the Templars and Christian holy war against Islam. These are just brushed off by West. West pretends that Brevik calls himself a “Christian atheist” through pretty optimistic (optimistic from West’s perspective) readings of some Brevik passages, which completely ignores the various quite direct references that Brevik makes towards his own belief in God. Here’s West:
Although he adds that he has not yet actually prayed to God for strength, he expects that he may do so when he goes on his murderous rampage: “If praying will act as an additional mental boost/soothing it is the pragmatical thing to do. I guess I will find out… If there is a God I will be allowed to enter heaven as all other martyrs for the Church in the past.” (p. 1345) Note the “if” in his statement about whether God exists. Breivik himself doesn’t even appear to believe in God. He frequently identifies himself as a “cultural Christian,” a term which he defines at one point as the same thing as a “Christian atheist.” (p. 1360)
About the last sentence – it’s pretty clear that while Brevik thinks you can be a cultural Christian without being a practicing Christian, he doesn’t see the categories as mutually exclusive. Practicing Christians would be a subset of cultural Christians in his view. I think Brevik sees himself as a cultural Christian who definitely believes in God, but doesn’t practice much (undoubtedly quite a common position in the general public, by the way).
West also draws the dubious conclusion that Brevik doesn’t believe in God, based on “optimistic” readings of a Brevik passage on prayer and a use of the word “if”. This is ignoring direct contradictory evidence. Here is a section from Brevik’s journal from June where he discusses his praying with God. I include the surrounding passages about bomb-making, which Brevik was in the midst of.
From page 1459 (italics added):
Friday June 10 - Day 40: Continued synthesizing 4 and 5 of 10 batches picric acid and placing the finished compound to dry. I placed 50g of my best batch in the oven to prepare for testing and to use it for DDNP manufacturing. Potent PA should burn when lit with flame.
To my great disappointment, nothing happened when I did the fire test…! What the hell, how is that possible, it was completely dry and that particular batch was manufactured perfectly according to specifications!? I did everything according to specifications… Could the compound I have manufactured be inert???? Unfortunate circumstances rams cock in arse once again…! I started to have serious doubts and my morale and motivation started to shatter…
I concluded that given the recent events, I would now have to move forward with operation B, at least continue to complete all preparations for this as the primary operation seemed to wither away.
Saturday June 11 - Day 41: As I was doing research on the net, a thunder storm approached, but it was still very far away. I have never had any problems with electrical overcharges the last 15 years because I always use specialty electrical outputs with gas cylinder electrical overcharge protection. Suddenly my PC made a relatively large bang, and the electricity went out. Once electricity was back on I noticed that my PC was dead. FFS, not again… As it was in the evening, I couldn’t fix it until Monday…
I prayed for the first time in a very long time today. I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamic alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail. He must ensure that I succeed with my mission and as such; contribute to inspire thousands of other revolutionary conservatives/nationalists; anti- Communists and anti-Islamists throughout the European world.
Sunday June 12 - Day 42: Although highly demoralized, I decided to do one last test of the PA compound. I decided to create a batch of DDNP using my best batch of picric acid. This was to be my last attempt to move ahead with operation A. I didn’t have much faith in creating such a difficult compound as DDNP when I couldn’t even manage to create a decent batch of PA… I spent most of the day preparing that batch of DDNP, then drying it in the oven for 4 hours.
Monday June 13 - Day 43: I prepared a test device today and drove off to a very isolated site. The test bomb was composed of a 3g DDNP primary and a 30g PA secondary. If this test would fail, I would abandon operation A and move forward with the non-spectacular operation B.
I lit the fuse, went out of range and waited. It was probably the longest 10 seconds I have ever endured…
BOOM! The detonation was successful!!!:-) I quickly drove away to avoid any potential unwanted attention, from people in the vicinity. I would have to come back a few hours later to investigate the blast hole, to see if both compounds had detonated.
A few hours later, after returning from a restaurant in the southern town to celebrate this success, I went back to the blast site to evaluate the detonation. The DDNP primary detonated successfully but the dry picric acid booster did not detonate at all. So I confirmed that the PA was not inert, just of a very low purity grade. This could be sorted as I would now move forward with purification after completion of the last PA batches. Today was a very good day as I really needed this success.
Tuesday June 14 - Day 44: Continued synthesizing picric acid and placing the finished compound to dry.
There are a lot of disturbing things about this passage, ranging from Brevik’s use of smiley-faces while building a bomb (as if his journal entries were goddamn facebook updates), to the fact that Brevik’s bomb-making efforts were experiencing setbacks, reversals, bad luck, etc. – until he prayed to God, at which point it appears that things started working.
West goes on to claim that “Social Darwinism” and “eugenics” are Brevik’s recommendation for the future. Well, there might be a little of that in Brevik’s plan, he does give a few brief references to eugenics – but what’s Brevik’s main idea? Well, it’s holy war! Holy war against the cultural Marxists and multiculturalists, and once they are out, deportation of all the Muslims from Europe, never to return again. There’s actually not a heck of a lot left for eugenics to do, even theoretically, if Brevik’s holy-war-and-deportation agenda were ever carried out, anyhow!
And what is Brevik’s inspiration for and defense of using violence, both in his future envisioned holy war, and in his planned July attacks, which he sees as the first strike in that war?
Continue to read this article at Pandas Thumb
This is a pretty exhaustive and in depth article. Of course, the American Right are attempting to distance themselves from this man - using every slight of hand trick they can think of - but it’s not going to work. The usual fall-back is ‘Darwinism’ - as in, Eugenics based on superiority of race/genes/etc. Which, in this case, is an absolute pile of twaddle.
The man identifies as Christian and he is a terrorist. He is also socially conservative and anti-Islamic. He may not be a ‘Christian Fundamentalist’ in that he believes in the inerrant word of the Bible - but he is fundamentalist in that he would rather commit acts of terrorism than politics. The Christian Right need to stop playing games with this and just accept that a Christian man committed some atrocious acts, they are doing no-one any favors by continuing to deny the links.
Anyway - it’s a fascinating read, I recommend it.
A very beautiful response from Tracie Harris [ Atheist Experience show #693 ] - part 2/2
Tracie Harris takes a call and basically obliterates his every point.
We tried to tell them, but they just didn’t listen. I probably should have pointed out that the Kepler telescope uses the transit method to find planets, which means it can’t see the planet until it is “eclipsing” its star. In order for that to happen, it has to be at the perfect angle between us and its star. This means that Kepler is only capable of seeing a TINY fraction of the planets that are near us. That, too, greatly adds to the numbers of planets we can safely assume are out there. Ouch, Creationists…ouch.
Showing that our planet really is not as unique as Creationists would have us believe.
I’m re-blogging a lot of FYA today it seems.
The Thinking Atheist takes on the story of Noah’s Ark.