November 25, 2013 by Labrys
Season of Light Christmas approaches, and with it rhetoric that makes almost any rational person want to beat their head against a desk. Why, you ask? Well, the cannons are being oiled and polished for the annual “war on Christmas” and me, I am just weary of the endless drivel. If I suddenly loudly screamed that there was a war on Solstice celebrating, everyone would laugh, right? (Even though that is surely closer to truth than any war on Christmas.) And that IS what everyone should do when the “war on Christmas” is mentioned.
Nobody is declaring war on celebrating Christmas. What war IS and SHOULD be energetically pursued upon is the presumed right of Christmas celebrants to make EVERYone else celebrate in exactly THEIR way. I’m (not really) sorry, Christians; you don’t have a patent on festive mid-winter celebrations. In fact, if you all bothered to know as much about your Christian history as you think you know about pagan history, you would know it was your own Puritans who wanted to banish Christmas; not the secular humanists, thank you very much.
At this time of year, I often wish I could master the patter of the professional auctioneer, so I could belt out “Merry Bodhi, Soyal, Dongzhi, Solstice, Yule, Kwanzaa, Malkh, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solis Invicti, Saturnalia, Yalda, Hogmanay, New Year’s!” without it taking me five minutes to say it. I hear the “defend Christmas” crowd go on about how it is our “culture” to be defended, but you know what? America doesn’t have a culture. Not really. Capitalism is not cultured, religious bigotry is not cultured, consumerism and materialism are not cultured….but enough of my humanism, right? IF Americans doing the loudest screaming had ANY bloody concept of “culture” they would know what all those holidays up there ARE, for starters…and then maybe we could have a rational talk about their ill-mannered insistence that nobody ever say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas!”
As it is, I have in the past tried to get through the screaming season with a “Your book says to judge by the fruits of a faith, right?” The trouble with this is, that judging by the “fruits” of religious bigotry and persecution, as it is actually practiced BY certain Christians in this nation…is that THEY get more “fruit” by being jerks. So whatever spiritual wealth all those other holidays bring, in America being a religious dickwad pays off better. So, philosophically, I detour into Utilitarianism searching for succor for tolerance. But no…because that looks for the most happiness/satisfaction for the most people and as long as any brand of Christian can be lumped in the general pile, the hot-headed screamers can claim that they ARE getting the most good for the most people.
So, as I often do, I fall back to my wall of ethical surety: Immanuel Kant. Yes, “Oh come, oh come
E Immanuel!” indeed! If the action you are taking cannot be universalized…in other words done by EVERY person on the planet in the same instance in which you find yourself? Then full stop, it is an immoral, unethical thing you are preparing to do…so fucking STOP it. As critics of Kant rightly point out, it doesn’t always work — if you can never tell a lie, you can’t lie to the Nazi at the door about the Jews in the basement, eh? But that is when a thoughtful (or cultured?) person could use a bit of pragmatism or utilitarianism to plan-b themselves out of the Kantian quandary: better a lie than to be party to genocide. So, hey, if the Christians do not want to be forced to say “Happy Hanukkah and Blessed Yule …blah, blah, blah,” you would think they could stop insisting other folks ONLY verbalize about Christmas, no?
Likewise, one would think that thoughtful, free, cultured people could recognize that a spiritual life SHOULD/COULD be a font of inspiration, a source of joy not merely a mental power-tool to frighten mental adolescents into obedience through fear. Many religions use a metaphor of their deity as parent. About that, as one who had a pathological pair of parents…should not a normal parent WANT the children to grow up to be free thinking, fully functional, self-motivating, self-responsible ADULTS, right? If a human parent insisted on terrorizing, infantilizing, and beating down human children any sane society would remove the children for their own health and safety. If I were Jesus, for instance, I wouldn’t be getting dear old Dad a Father’s Day gift…cause DAMN; could you imagine what would happen to the human father who decided to nail HIS son to a cross to atone for ANYthing someone else did?
**And if someone wants to tell me it is separate rules for gods, so sacrificing the grown Baby Jesus was just ok with him? Well, then that deity is a tyrant and it is NOT ok at all. And those special rules would have to be for gods, NOT for humans!
So, then, if a deity seems to follow such pathological pathways, should that not also be considered cause for a severing of ways? But of course, IS it the purported deity so misbehaving, or is it the human ministers building racks and bonfires for witches, heretics, and any other unfortunate? Allah is not stepping down upon the green earth to stone women or chop off the hands of thieves, is he? Did Odin come down in Uppsala to hang men and beasts from a tree of sacrifice? So, really, were/are the gods pathological? Or was it always the priests? Humans presuming to “know” the minds of gods/goddesses seems to be the larger problem — after all, we all bloody well know human behavior is a cock-up in the best of times, don’t we?
I’d like to be merely a pantheist, for whom the tides of nature and endless splendor of the cosmos is inspiration and rapture-inducement enough. I am, however, a somewhat displeased panentheist, with reason sufficient to me to think that there IS ‘something’ else at work. But I do NOT presume to do more than scarcely divine more than the slightest bit of what that means. Those possible Beings would HAVE to be so different, so foreign to what we are (whether by their Nature, or their possible Ascendance from human form) that we cannot but err to commit the atrocities we commit in the names of gods!
So, to avoid the error, I fall back again to another “wall”: the wall of separation of church and state. I won’t make anyone wish me a Blessed Yule, and I won’t by thunder, be induced to obediently say “Merry Christmas” either. A spiritual tradition should bring one hope and light for life in the here and now. It should enable one to see past societal/cultural/religious/racial/political/gender boundaries to embrace the humanity we all share. If your path does not do that? You should step outside the lines and search for something else – OR accept “nothing” in contentment, and NOBODY should tell you not to do that. And me? I don’t bank on pie in the sky, either, nor hellfire below. We make enough hell right here, and I bake my own pies whenever the mood and sufficient butter for crust-making beckons!
May it be so for you!