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Xmas is OK

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I am often accused of being hypocritical when I celebrate Christmas when it is well known that I am an atheist and have little respect for Christian dogma and tradition. Yes, its true, I try to avoid taking part in any religious activities (and that’s not just Christian) but I don’t really see Christmas as being a Christian event any more.

Despite the name Christmas really isn’t a religious celebration. At least its not here in New Zealand (which is not a particularly religious country). I haven’t gone out of my way to look for religious aspects of Christmas but I haven’t tried to avoid them either. The only mentions of this I have seen are a facetious reference to the “reason for the season” being eating, drinking and buying lots of stuff, a short newspaper article describing church attendance, and a few traditional Christmas songs.

I did try at one point to wish people a “happy solstice” or “happy holidays” but I have since decided that “merry Christmas” is OK because very few people really see that as having any religious significance any more.

Another significant point is that its silly to deny that Christianity was (and still is to a lesser extent) an important part of our society. This says nothing about how true it is or even how relevant it is today but it certainly was the most important aspect of life in the western world in the past and that has significantly shaped our lives today. Trying to deny or ignore this fact just makes you look like an idiot!

So Xmas is OK with me. Any excuse to have a holiday from work, eat lots of nice stuff and drink lots of alcohol is good. And living in the southern hemisphere means I also get to enjoy summer (at least theoretically because the New Zealand weather is so unpredictable).

  1. shirhashirim
    December 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

    The fact that you’re being accused of hypocrisy is a remnant of Christian culture in itself. The idea that you should at all times act and speak according to your stated convictions is decidedly Calvinist. In most religious societies however, that idea is not just unthinkable, it’s simply not there.

  2. ojb42
    December 26, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    The idea that you should act and speak according to your convictions pre-dates Calvinism, surely. I’m sure that was a central tenet of various ancient Greek philosophies although I can’t remember which ones right now!

    I think most religious people are acting according to their convictions, the problem is they use various interpretations of their religious texts to create a set of convictions which suits what they want to do!

  3. shirhashirim
    December 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    O, the idea is older, sure. And it’s been invented more than once too. But in Europe (and culturaly that includes the (North) America’s, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) it became popular though Calvinism.

    I beg to differ. Hardly anyone acts according to their stated convictions (anywhere) and in most religions there’s a fair bit of leeway for those who don’t, to still be considered part of the club.

    As an Irish student once told me: If you’re born into a Catholic family in Ireland, but never do anything about it, the worst you’ll ever be considered as is a ‘bad Catholic’. I’ve seen the same attitude at work in Muslim countries.

  4. ojb42
    December 29, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Maybe you’re right. Its hard to say where cultural memes in their current forms originated. No doubt the idea has waxed and waned of over the centuries and Calvinism gave it a major boost.

    I think we actually agree on this but my point was that people are often hypocritical. They decide what they want to believe and do and fit their religious (and other) commitments to fit. I’ve seen the Bible interpreted in so many different ways and it usually gets back to supporting the political ideas the person wants to justify!

  5. shirhashirim
    December 29, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Oh yes, we do agree on this. Texts are hopelessly helpless and the older the texts are, the more helpless they get…

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