Don’t you just love this time of year? When atheists sue cities over Nativity scenes and atheist parents complain to prevent mentions of the Gospel via Charlie Brown. Just something about all this suing that warms the cockles of my heart. You have to warm heart cockles because it is really hard to find them otherwise.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With atheist’s lawyers suing
And everyone telling you “Don’t spread that cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the most litigious season of all
This is not going to be a “War on Christmas” post.
The Madeline Marray O’Hare style of making friends via court actions is a rising trend among the so-called new atheists. The micron-thin skin of the new atheist with a hair-trigger offended reaction to any sign of piety even of the commercial materialistic leftovers of Christmas. Survival of the fittest becomes survival of the offended. It is hard for me to understand this mindset. As an atheist I was quite happy with the trappings of Christmas even if I had not understanding of the theological underpinnings. Getting stuff was a fine enough reason for me for a holiday. Greed was good enough for me. If other people believed in some phony sky god, big deal as long as I got stuff. Sure other trappings of Christmas were fun and led to the atmosphere of this special season, even if I could not point out to you why it was special.
So while I can’t quite understand the mindset, I can appreciate perhaps some of what drives it. For the atheist that wants to live in a pure religion-free world Christmas is a horrible blot on an otherwise secularist society. You just can’t escape Christmas. Believers are upset by the commercialization of Christmas and atheists are upset that there was anything regarding it to be commercialized in the first place. Maybe one day we will reduce Christmas to the contents of a Hallmark or ABC Family Channel Holiday movie and so even militant atheists will find nothing to get offended about. “Family is important and hey look – snow.”
The new atheists have become the new puritans and H.L. Menkens “A Puritan is a person who lives in the fear that someone, somewhere, may be having a good time.” can easily have the word puritan substituted.
It is interesting that Christians have tried to accommodate non-Christians which we see with the elevation of Hanukkah. Heck we even accepted Kwanzaa, a holiday invented by a felon who tortured women. I like a generous reaction to those who don’t share your faith when it does not end in political correctness. Trying to make others comfortable with all the attention on a Christian holiday can be a fine thing. Yet what have we done to make the militant atheist comfortable? Where is the fake holiday they can celebrate? Sure there is the Jerry Seinfeld “Festivus”, but it is hard to celebrate satire.
When atheists successfully sue cities so that they can get their own display up on public land, the displays run towards mockery of Christianity and not any kind of representation of their own positive beliefs. No nativity, just negativity so they must crush the creche and mangle the manger.
Really we need to create an atheist holiday that just so happens to occur during the Christmas season. Although “holiday” would have to be stripped because it really means “Holy Day.” What word do you use for “Excuse for a day off?” Certainly a winter solstice based commemoration with it’s appropriate calendar date and astronomical ties is a nice fit. A series of traditions that take off on Christmas traditions would help to unbaptize the commemoration.
What to call it though is difficult. I would be tempted to name it “Christless” since that is rather accurate even if not acceptable. Celebrating Christless and gathering around the Christless Tree to open Christless presents is an all to accurate depiction of what many Christians do. So maybe just call it “Solstice” if only it didn’t sound too much like soul-stice. Maybe just call it “Materialistic” as in have a “Merry Materialistic”, but alas again too many are already having a materialistic celebration. I would be really upset by atheists screwing up Christmas if we hadn’t screwed it up first.
Regardless whatever you call it some materialistic seasonal template around which to build atheist traditions can help them get through this painful period and reminder that theists still exist. Don’t say noel, just say no! Why is there no “Charlie’s Brown’s debunking of Christmas”? Or is that on the History channel? Why can ‘t the Grinch have a happy ending by actually stealing Christmas? Why shouldn’t the hero in “Miracle on 42nd Street” be the atheist mother? Instead of Andy Williams, Bill Maher singing “Oh come all ye faithless”.
Now while as usual I am jesting it is also a reminder concerning St. Augustine’s “Our hears are restless until they rest in thee” and to remember our atheist brothers and sisters as we celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation. While are mangers remain empty until Christmas Eve, their mangers remain empty and the attempt is made to fill them with anything other than Christ. I can only speak of my joy at the Incarnation and my being saved from my sins and that now I can actually celebrate Christmas and not my own vices.