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What do atheists do at Christmas?


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Showing 1-25 of 290 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 24, 2012 6:37:08 AM PST
Rubedo says:
If you believe that Jesus actually existed but is not divine there is still probably some justification to celebrate with family in some ways just as Christians might do it to celebrate Presidents Day or 4th of July.

But some here have stated that Jesus is total myth, didn't even exist. What do you do at Christmas? Excuse yourself from family celebrations? Use it as an opportunity to "educate" others? Get into arguments? Or just go along with it all in a soulless sort of way?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 6:57:06 AM PST
Probably pretty much the same as everyone else except that the *going to church* bit might be a slightly rarer. But even then, the boy singing Once in Royal David's City is sublime, if not divine.

Don't know it? Google it and look for the version from Kings College, Cambridge, UK.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 6:59:37 AM PST
Fatman says:
I got me a PS3 and my love will make tartar espadon for us two...pink champagne.
Then we'll play.
All night long, a-ha!

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 7:00:41 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 7:03:54 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:
The "American Christmas" is as much a secular holiday as it is a religious one. That's why it's so hard to figure out whether or not Christmas should be done in public schools.

As an American holiday, Christmas is a time when all peoples of all faiths and non-faiths are a little nicer to one another and come together as family; to celebrate the beauty of winter with food, and song. For the more devout, it's the celebration of the birth of Christ; as Christ is the light in the darkness; as he is the one who calmed the storm; turned water into wine; made the blind see and the lame walk; and taught love, and forgiveness; in a world where it seems so easy to for us to hate one another.

Of course, there is so much overlap, between the "American Christmas" and the "Religious Christmas" that it makes it tough to sort it out.

As I understand it, however, it's the more "American Christmas" that came first. In post-revolutionary times, Christmas was more along the lines of St. Patrick's Day; an excuse to drink, eat and make a big party. Prudent folks did not celebrate. Indeed, George Washington barley mentioned Christmas in his diary. I think that as more and more Americans found Christmas hard to resist (especially in the wake of Christmas-celebrating German and Irish immigrants during the middle of the 19th century); the clergy found ways to give it religious significance.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 7:03:33 AM PST
It's on as we speak:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0127m4j

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 7:08:16 AM PST
Macheath says:
Normal atheists celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Militant atheists celebrate it with lawsuits and spiteful billboards. ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 7:20:11 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 8:33:17 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:
Good one, MacHeath. As a nation we want to be fair to all kinds of people of different faiths and non-faiths. At the same time, I think that it a mistake to sanitize or legislate away all of our culture and traditions.

We are what we remember; and the traditions preserve our history.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 7:20:11 AM PST
Joe W says:
We are going to get up (or be gotten up by the kids), open presents, eat breakfast, call relatives/friends, play with the kids, take a nap, play with our presents, eat lunch, take a walk, take a nap, avoid dishes by going to our favorite Indian Restaurant, play some more, nap some more, watch the Doctor Who Christmas special, chill out.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 8:29:00 AM PST
Rubedo,

This nontheist will enjoy time with the love of his life, his wonderful wife. I'll spend time talking with siblings and relatives on the phone. I'll be happy for any good news in their lives. I will, hopefully, be getting a particular book that I asked for. If that is the case, I will start reading it. We will listen to both secular and religious Christmas music, and we will watch "The Bishop's Wife" tonight, starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, James Gleason, and Elsa Lancaster. My Christmas is not to "educate others" as you suggest. Rather, it is about loving my friends and family. Our family is not contentious. We don't "get into arguments." In fact, our family is very diverse in viewpoints, but love, not religion, is the glue that cements our relationships. That was the case even when I was an evangelical. They put up with me. Rubedo, I hope you have a very nice Christmas and find in it all the meaning you desire.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 8:51:15 AM PST
Snowblind says:
hang out n watch the NBA games. Since there is no hockey games to watch.N enjoy my family

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 9:25:25 AM PST
atheists decorate a tree and give gifts like the pagans used to do for the winter holiday before the pope stole their day from them and declared it christmas

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 9:41:14 AM PST
Joe Anthony says:
@ "horse"

I say:

How does one "steal" a day?

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 11:09:03 AM PST
Rubedo says:
Thanks, Epistem. Sounds like some pretty good relaxing plans.

Some aspect of "American Christmas" have certainly gone astray.
Celebrations of family and love, expressions of concern for others certainly enrich any life.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 11:13:55 AM PST
Lao Tzu says:
Hi Ruuuuubedoooooo!!!

I am a card carrying atheist and I LOVE Christmas. I love the singing, I have my santa hat, got presents for people. Love the spirit of the season.

Guess what, you can't HAVE Christmas to yourselves!!

Merry G/D Christmas! YAAAY !!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 11:40:29 AM PST
I am a Christian, but I do not attend church @ Christmas because my meditation group [that met yesterday] does not meet on Christmas.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 11:42:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 11:43:03 AM PST
Horse has a problem with the pope and Catholics in general. Not sure why, but he does. The vitriole makes no sense to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 1:17:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 1:25:35 PM PST
Kathleen M. Pelley,

You say, "Horse has a problem with the pope and Catholics in general. Not sure why, but he does. The vitriole makes no sense to me."

I find myself wondering if he has any Roman Catholic friends. When I was a staunch Calvinist, I disagreed with Roman Catholocism, but I didn't maintain that the RC friends I knew weren't saved, nor did I think they were bad people. Quite the opposite. My best friend years ago was RC and his mother was like a second mother to me. She was one of the finest Christians, and one of the finest human beings, I have ever known. We would talk about Jesus like we attended the same church. Religion can, but not always, keep people from finding out that others of different views are good people too.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 1:55:34 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 2:33:00 PM PST
Joe Anthony says:
@Episten Quest:

I remember the days where if you were Catholic, you'd be warned about playing with a neighborhood kid who was Protestant and vice verse. Now-a-days it doesn't seem to matter much.

I grew up nominally Catholic. While I was a kid, my parents paid next to no attention to it, and were often open scoffers at the Catholic church; albeit, my mother became much more devout in the years before she died. My father also became more religious, but also became quite taken with African-American Christianity and became a Southern Baptist for a few years before returning to the Catholic church.

My maternal grandmother took Catholicism quite seriously all her life, and she warned us grandchildren about the people in the neighborhood who were Protestant. Even so, my maternal grandmother was very kind to me and she was the first person who taught me how to pray.

Her husband, my paternal grandfather, lived and died, technically Catholic, but was as cynical as his wife was devout; he expressed an open dislike for Catholic clergy and admitted that in his younger days he enjoyed attending Methodist church because he said that he liked the "singing". He also used to talk a lot about being stationed in Algeria during World War II and how taken he was with the devotion and the brotherhood of the Muslims who he used to say, "would pray all at once, to Allah, five times per day." Even so, he once said after watching "Inherit the Wind" on TV with me that "there was a lot of truth in that movie." Along this line; probably, he was an agnostic.

My paternal grandparents switched from Catholic to Pentecostal while I was in my early twenties. It was driven more by my grandfather who seemed to go from a hard-drinking, chain-smoker who'd pick a fight with anyone who crossed him; to a Bible-reading, praying, kind old man; who wouldn't hurt a bug. Maybe religion, or old age, does that to people.

My paternal grandmother (who is the only grandparent left) remains along the lines of taking a very pragmatic approach. She's like me. She'll attend any church; doesn't understand why people make such a big deal out of details; and is quite devout without getting caught up in dogma.

My family is now about half Catholic and half Protestant. I married a Protestant and have been attending Protestant church ever since, but have never renounced Catholicism. I attend Catholic church on Good Friday because I enjoy the "stations of the cross". I also enjoy attending churches of various denominations.

I live in a heavily Catholic area and most of my friends are either Catholic or former Catholics who became quite embittered by the sex scandals of the 1990s and early 2000s. Maybe "horse" is one of those former Catholics who couldn't get over those scandals.

Through all of this, I worked side by side with a Jewish man during my teens who was and remains like an uncle to me. Through this "Jewish uncle that I never had"; I picked up quite a bit of Jewish spirituality.

On top of that, I went through a phase where I was heavily into reading Chinese philosophy and Buddhism.

I believe that we are what we remember; and however people categorize themselves, we carry, in some way, the beliefs and the richness of all the people who loved us and influenced us along the way, especially in youth; and this becomes the foundation for our spirituality, as well as, who we are.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 2:31:17 PM PST
Lao Tzu says:
Joe Anthony, your post indicates to me you are quite a "mild" Christian, so if surprises me a bit that you have not slipped into agnosticism, as many lapsed Catholics do.

I mean, what is there to keep you going to church, with all these examples of your family sampling from the menu?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 2:46:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 24, 2012 2:48:15 PM PST
Joe Anthony says:
Lao Tzu says:

"I mean, what is there to keep you going to church, with all these examples of your family sampling from the menu?"

I say:

"Sampling from the menu"...that's a good way to describe it. Sometimes I feel more like an agnostic than I do a Christian. Along this line, I believe that having honest doubt is better than having blind faith.

Indeed, I was quite taken with a line from "the Verdict"; where Paul Newman says "act as if ye have faith and faith will be given to you."

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 2:52:31 PM PST
Cliff Sedge says:
It's a family holiday. Time to be with loved ones.

Watching 'A Christmas Carol', 'Home Alone', 'The Grinch That Stole Christmas', 'It's a Wonderful Life'.

Eating and drinking.

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 3:10:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 25, 2012 5:30:47 AM PST
Joe Anthony,

Your post is very interesting and connects with my understanding of things in my mother's day. You say, "I remember the days where if you were Catholic, you'd be warned about playing with a neighborhood kid who was Protestant and vice verse. Now-a-days it doesn't seem to matter much." I remember my mother saying that when she was growing up, her Roman Catholic friends would say, "We can't go into your church. The devil is there." I'm glad I didn't experience that kind of mentality growing up. My grandfather was a RC and he married a "dirty" Protestant. He was horribly burned to death. If I remember correctly, the local parish priest was not going to have a Mass for him because of his mixed marriage. I think my grandfather's uncle was a priest, and may have overruled that parish priest. I can't say for sure, because all my uncles and aunts are gone, as well as my mother. But I think I got that story correct. In any event, the policeman who had to break the news to my grandmother was much more of a human being than that priest. He left five young children behind. That policeman wanted a neighbor to go in with him while he broke the news to my grandmother. I have really come to the point that I don't give a damn what a person's religion is. The important thing is the content of a person's character, as Dr. King said. My RC friend's mother, that I mentioned in my earlier post, who was like a second mother to me, well, the whole family was great. I was always welcome for dinner. I loved spending time with them at Christmas. I'm not sorry I left the Christian faith behind. It is people that are important, not dogma. In any event, I thank you for your post. It made me think about some of the wonderful people I have been privileged to know, and who are now gone. Nice memories. Thanks. Merrry Christmas!

Oh, one other thing, you mentioned a Jewish man who is like an uncle to you. I worked at a company for a few years when I was much younger. It was a predominately Jewish organization, with a fair amount of RC employees. I guess you could say I was a token WASP. In any event, that was the best job I ever had in terms of enjoying my coworkers, both RC and Jewish. The Jewish people I had the privilege of working with, and it was a wonderful privilege, were warm, caring, and a joy to know. They were so generous and good to me. To this day, I can't understand the venom that some people have for Jewish people. When the owner of that company died, I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. He was a wonderful human being. Once again, Merry Christmas to you!

Posted on Dec 24, 2012 3:18:10 PM PST
jpl says:
My brother's ex thinks I bring demons into their home, so I haven't been allowed there since my brother was killed by a drunk driver. Her two sons, my blood nephews, are both unscrupulous and immoral, so I have severed relationships with them.

To answer the question, on Christmas I read, get on the internet, and watch TV.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 3:20:01 PM PST
Rubedo says:
Lao Tzu says:

Hi Ruuuuubedoooooo!!!

I am a card carrying atheist and I LOVE Christmas. I love the singing, I have my santa hat, got presents for people. Love the spirit of the season.

Guess what, you can't HAVE Christmas to yourselves!!

Merry G/D Christmas! YAAAY !!

Rubedo:
And there's more where that came from.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2012 3:23:08 PM PST
Epistem Quest,

There are gentle ways to go back to the church if you are of a mind to do so. You may have to walk out of a few that are too aggressive for you and don't respect your current journey and that you have in fact reach a higher plane in some regards. If you attempt to re-enter Catholicism, check out the different ones: Christian Brothers years ago appear to have encouraged learning about other religions, the Franciscans have always been open (as I've experienced them from the outside). The Unitarian might allow you to get your feet under you before you seek out more "structure". The United Methodist has had an ad running that they accept you wherever you are in your walk, but I would believe that that might mean you need to see how progressive a particular parish is! Of course, a study in judaism would give you insight into the OLD testament. Don't give up your quest, even if you have to limit it to reading books for a while.

Like you said, it is the gathered community that is what makes a faith really meaningful. I wish you Peace and Hope on your journey wherever it leads you.

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull
But That I Can't Believe
Your God Is Too Small
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Discussion in:  Christianity forum
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Initial post:  Dec 24, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 29, 2012

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