Merry FOXmas

Fanning the flames of their faithful fans. . .fa la la la. . .

Jesus Statue (Montana)

Why are Atheists Meddling with Christmas? (Bill-O)

“No, no, no, You listen to ME!”  (classic O-Rile-Up)

Christmas Tree Controversy in Providence (R.I and B.O.)

“The governor has declared this War on Christmas. . .” (say what?)

Probably the best and most effective way to handle the Fake War on Christmas and False Battle on Believers is to step aside and let them whine on and fight with the Great Satan Atheists in their minds.  The rest of us will go on enjoying the beauty of this season, avoiding the cultural madness euphemistically still called (for some odd reason) “Christmas,” lighting some candles in this dark time of year, giving a nod to the ancient Child lost in the wrinkled and krinkled wrappings of “His Church,” and doing good for others, grateful we live in a land of free choice and opinion.

Let B.O. and his FOXed up Warriors for God rage on with their righteous crusade (because, as we know, God is unable to fend for Godself); let them keep avoiding and denying their true intent (to make American=Christian from schools to courts to congress, with Jesus as President).

Meanwhile, those of us who don’t believe in their delusions of grandeur, grandstanding or god, will have to go on calmly taking them to court and countering their attacks on true Religious Freedoms and Reason itself as we write letters, blogs and books that balance the blustering.

Holding to the good in the season. . .

Oh, and Happy Holidays!  (Merry Christmas too)

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An Atheist Christmas Card

A Happy Atheist Christmas!

{Note:  I usually refer to myself as a Freethinker.  That doesn’t seem to cause much agitation.  And who wants to be identified as one of the ANTI people—always Against this or that?  But I’m a Nature-loving natural guy, and I don’t believe in the Super-Natural or even the Super-Duper Natural, so once in a while I might as well just say it: I’m an Atheist.  There, I said it.  Now, after this “confession of non-faith” you may be disgusted and not want to read this Christmas Message or anything else I’ve written.  I understand; that’s your choice.  Those of you who are still with me, you probably are fine that this is My Blog and I live in a Free Country with Freedom of Religion (I can freely choose to believe in any god I want to, or to not believe in any god on the “free” market). Yes, friends, I realize that Atheists are pretty much hated across the country (and in many states we could never be elected to public office), but since everyone’s an Atheist with one God or another, welcome to my world!  Besides, if you know me at all (personally or through my writings) hopefully you already know that not every non-believer is a big hairy, hungry beast out to eat up all the faith in the world (I have dear family and friends who have faith, and they are loved and respected).  So even though the whole world seems to scramble to make some of us believe, I don’t want to make you or anyone an Atheist.  I just want to be free to speak what’s on my mind.  And you can read it, or change the channel.  Ok?  Now, for the annual Christmas Baby message. . .}

I was born on December 25th and I became a minister because of that day and the lowly-lord of long ago who shared the birthday. As a church leader I assisted in many a Christmas Eve candlelight service.  As a chaplain, I led many a seasonal celebration with women and men who didn’t feel much like celebrating as they sat in jails and stood on the streets (those outsiders who find “no room in the inn” holyday after holyday, in homes or churches. . .I always found that strange, don’t you?).  I used to love the candles, the greenery, the presents and truthfully, I still do.  But mostly, as a chaplain, I very much enjoyed what I came to call “the present of being present.”  Being with people who were outsiders, who felt lonely, depressed and outcast especially in a faith-saturated culture, was a present to me as well, and became, frankly, the most meaningful part of the holidays.

I’ve written about all this before:  My Address is a River; Life After Faith; Jesus and John Muir, and a pile of essays.  Nothing new here.  Yet, there’s always going to be more to say when it comes to the meaning of this season.  Some say I’m angry; others say I’m hurt; still others say I’m bitter and just want to be a critic of faith and religion and god.  There is a chestnut of truth to that.  I usually respond that I am mostly disappointed, with all those things.  It was disappointing to find that I could dedicate my life to serving the people Jesus was most concerned about and discover that “His People” (The Church) didn’t, for the most part, share my dedication. It was very disturbing to find out that the more I associated and identified with the most outcast and marginalized among us the more I was personally and professionally marginalized by those who were supposedly my “community,” sisters and brothers in my “family of faith.”  It was disheartening to have to struggle to pay rent on a lowly chaplain’s salary while pastors were making $100,000 plus a Christmas bonus to shepherd their warm and comfortable flocks.  Finally, it was very disillusioning for me to discover, to learn, to grow to realize, that the divine Friend and Companion and Ruler of the Universe wasn’t really there after all.  Wow, can that be a shocker!  In fact, it was quite painful.  Like a parent you thought loved you and promised to be there forever gradually fades away, disappearing without a trace, with no word, no warning.  Stunning and kind of sickening really.  When I lost my parents a rabbi friend said to me, “You’re an orphan now,” and when I lost my god it felt the same.

So, yes, I’m still a bit pained and bewildered by that.  You can, as some do, judge me for the way I express my bereavement (which of course serves to drive in the knife a little more, thank you).  But the point is the same:  I live without God but not without Good!  I’m doing pretty well, staying fairly positive, learning more every day and hopefully becoming a better person (even at my age).  I am a survivor of faith and really good with that.  I don’t seem to need a 12-step religious addiction recovery program (yet. . .but I may start one).  I don’t wear that on my sleeve.  In fact, many I work with on a regular basis have no idea, no clue, that I have these thoughts and feelings.  I just keep doing what I have always done, faith or no faith:  try to help people be happy, healthy and feel a sense of belonging.  Faith never guarantees any of these things, so I simply continue to act in the only way I know is best, and that’s to show some compassion, to listen and try to help.  My life story.  Period.

The other truth to say is that, thank Goodness, it’s not all about me!  As a child I thought it was—Christmas Day that is.  But as I grew up I found out that I wasn’t the only one born on that day, or in that season, and there were billions of people who didn’t care one way or the other, one day or another.  They could enjoy the season without chopping down a tree or chopping the head off a fat bird.  And I realized that I could too.  In a way one could say I found a big oddly-shaped present under the (living) tree, that didn’t fit in any box:  I unwrapped the enduring perennial gift of Nature’s intrinsic, amazing goodness.  Not always pretty, but beautiful nonetheless.

So, in this season of light and hope and laughing children (at least in some places, on some faces), I am not interested in taking the jingle, the jolliness or the joy away from anyone.  Though I have no faith and feel no need to participate in the pageantry of something nostalgically called “Christmas,” I choose to enjoy the true beauty of this season in the waterfalls and migrating birds and greening rains and warm greetings given and received.

Though I am a Christmas Baby, I don’t feel the need to honor that Other Christmas Kid in any way like we see year after year, season after season.  How good that is!  And what a relief.

Speaking of the child. . .you know, The Child.  I’m with Thomas Paine (you know, the Paine-in-the-backside guy who gave us Common Sense, The Age of Reason and the phrase “The United States of America”?!).  Yes, I’m with that Paine, who said he had no beef with Jesus, in fact admired the heck out of the guy.  There is no need to disparage the character of one of history’s most exemplary characters.  Without worshipping the man who was, legend tells us, born in a barn in a bundle of dirty hay, I can appreciate the man and his message, his “way” of peace and justice and basic human kindness.  In my mind, most of the Christian Church, those who call themselves by his name and claim to “follow” him, still can’t wait to get away from the dirty manger, to get out of the dark and dank barn, the dung-heaped stable, that is, to escape and deny the poor and humble origins, as quick as the donkey can waddle.  That is, they never really got the Christmas Story and, ironically, tragically, can’t seem to get the baby crucified fast enough–in barely three months (here comes Good Friday)!  As I have said for years in many forms in many writings and sermons and classes:  Jesus would never be welcomed in any of the places called “Church.”  Now, isn’t that disturbing?  A sad fact; a disappointing irony.  And now, as a former person of faith, I remain discouraged by this, and I’m reminded throughout the year, but especially at “Christmastime,” of the disconnect, the strange and odd and weird disconnect between “Christmas” and the birth of a poor Palestinian Jew 2000 years ago.  I don’t get it.  And yet, I do.

Here’s the toast for you to take into the season of lights.  Think of it as a kind of Atheist Christmas Card, a non-believer’s wish for comfort (seasoned with a pinch of dis-comfort) along with generous helpings of  joy and goodness and gratefulness:

Celebrate the Child, the real child of the story; reflect on the circumstances of poverty and injustice and religious/political oppression in which that child was born, and in which many children are born today.  Turn the celebration into compassionate collaboration.

Celebrate that the child grew to be the wise teacher Yeshua, Jesus, and that Jesus was a great and respectable figure in human history.  Find joy and courage in the fact that he can’t be owned or packaged by any philosophy or religion.

Celebrate with good tidings and good cheer that the homeless kid with a dark and shady past grew to be an amazing teacher with a message to light up the world.  Standing alongside Buddha and Socrates, Hypatia and Solomon, Lao Tzu and Confucius, Marcus Aurelius and Muhammad, Frances Wright, Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama and countless others, Jesus of Nazareth was a wonderful, inspiring human being who had no need to be God.  His humanity was divinity enough.

And remember to remember:  you don’t have to “do” Christmas, the holidays, the season.  Choose your own way of enjoying this time of year.  Start a new tradition, something no one has done (I climb a tree!).  See if there’s someone who needs a hand and offer yours.  Visit someone who’s alone and make them smile.  Keep it light!  Find a new trail to walk, a letter to write, a new movie to watch or meal to prepare and share.  Make the season a new kind of “holyday” for yourself, your family, your community.  Theist or no, it’s up to you, and always has been.

Merry Christmas (Happy Hanukkah and Solstice and Every Naturally-Blessed Day too)!

Why Atheists Love Christmas (American Thinker)

The War on “The War Against Christmas”

Ah, here we go again.

Ain’t the Christmas Season a Joy?

It’s never too early to fire up the Manger Militia and the Defenders of Freedom (to cut trees, slaughter millions of animals, waste loads of money and the freedom to deny everyone else the freedom to be left in peace and do something else. . .you know, THOSE folks).

The first shots fired by. . .you guessed it. . .FOX (“Atheist Move Halts Christmas. . .”)

Normally, would FOX and the FOXED UP FAITHFUL care a wit about California and esp. Santa Monica?!

No, but lock and load your bibles. . .bring it on, you Christmas Haters!

Give us a break, please.

Any rational person whose brain is up and functioning can see exactly what this “newstory” is up to:  stirring the Xmas fruitcake pudding (yes, that’s X-mas, and sorry to tell you this but Christ doesn’t belong to FOX or Christians or Americans or anyone. . .and, for the foxy-folk who never heard this, those of us who studied Greek know that “X” was an early symbol for Christ since “X” is “CHI” the first letter of XRISTOS. . .ok, got that?).

Here’s one of my favorite lines,

“If these church groups insist that these public spaces are going to be dominated by a Christian message, we’ll just get in the game — and that changes everything.”

Listen up folks:  millions of us who share this “free country” don’t believe in your idea of Santa God.  And even though I was born on Christmas Day and served as a Minister for many years, I may love some candles and cheer but I don’t Do your kind of holidays (I’ll take a walk in the forest or by the sea any day, any season over this “holyday”).  If you choose to try to force all the rest of us to “celebrate” your Christmas Pageant, I think you need to be prepared for a little push back wake up.  IS there a “War on Christmas” or is there a faked up, foxed up Battle to make everyone Believe exactly what YOU BELIEVE and demonize those who don’t agree with you?  By the way, how is THAT “faith,” or “Christian” or “American”?

By the way. . .or NOT SO by the way. . .in my view this whole fanning of the flames of faith does nothing but make Christianity look like a joke, to make Christians look like whiney and ignorant wimps, and (here’s the worst part):  wraps up, inflates and detonates the Great Distraction once again (and we know what a Great Distraction Xmas is).

What’s the Great Distraction?  While all the God-Protectors and Christmas-Commandos are firing at the Godless Atheists, somewhere out there a poor, homeless, dark-skinned baby and his family is shivering in the cold waiting for kindness, goodness, compassion, justice and simple humanity (sound familiar?).

You see, if that was what this season, any season, was all about, we might actually see Believers and Non-Believers, Christians and Atheists, Community after Community working together to do the good and right thing. . .together.

Now, there’s a Holiday I Could Celebrate!

{Have a Peaceful Season, and please, please, avoid the War on “The War”} 

More on the Fake War on Everything Christian (Americans United)