By the looks of me and the things that I do, one would assume I’m a Christian believer.
Every year, I put up a Christmas tree and hang up pretty lights and decorations. I’ve committed most of the verses of popular Christmas songs to memory. I attend Christmas shows, even those held inside churches. I send out Christmas cards to friends and family. I buy presents. My heart is filled with joy. I even get sentimental.
Fact is, I am not a Christian. I’m an anti-theist. That means I’m opposed to theism. I don’t discriminate. I’m opposed to all religions. I actively seek to expunge religion’s deleterious influences on society, culture, politics, and economy. I speak out on the false notion of faith, its demands for blind obedience, and enslavement of the mind.
So, how can I be ideologically consistent and remain true to my beliefs while engaging in the practices of faiths that I do not share? How can I celebrate Christmas? That’s the basis of this essay, the second in a two-part series.
When it comes to celebrating Christmas, the secular humanist community is divided.
We aren’t Christians. To us, the Bible is nothing more than historical fiction. We don’t believe in the so-called “miracle” of a virgin birth which supposedly occurred 2,014 years ago on this very day under the Star of Bethlehem. We don’t bow our heads in prayer, because no one is listening. We certainly don’t adhere to ancient belief systems lacking tangible evidence, which were forged during the Bronze Age by ancestors prone to mass hysteria and superstition. In short, we believe the traditional version of Christmas is entirely bogus.
A few nights ago, a baseball player in the Bronx stepped up to home plate, took a mighty swing, and belted a curveball into right field, scoring the final run of an otherwise meaningless game.
The large metropolis filled with beautiful and powerful people where this astonishing moment took place erupted into a frenzy. Social media exploded into hysteria. The image of this man hitting a ball appeared on every local and national sports network and was replayed over and over again until just about everyone knew about it. The following morning, newspaper headlines glorified the amazing ballplayer with the most saintly of headlines. The player was frequently lauded by observers as a “hero.”
Derek Jeter, who happens to be playing his final game for the storied New York Yankees this weekend, seems like a nice enough fellow. He appears to be a wonderful role model and an ideal citizen. Mr. Jeter is many things to many people, perhaps most paramount the manifestation of millions of dreams. He embodies the noblest virtues of good sportsmanship. That said, Mr. Jeter is not a hero.
Indeed, “hero” is a word that gets tossed around much too loosely nowadays. And frankly, I’ve become sick of its overuse and misappropriation and now feel compelled to express such indignation.
Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky, Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same. There’s a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one, And they’re all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same.
— Peter Seeger (“Little Boxes” — 1962)
Several years ago, I gathered with a group of friends all visiting Las Vegas. At the time, each of us lived elsewhere, scattered in different parts of the country.
Someone within our group made what turned out to be an astute observation. He predicted that, give or take a few years, most of us would eventually end up settling down in Las Vegas. This made perfectly rational sense. Everyone among us enjoyed all the typical activities most commonly associated with Las Vegas — including playing poker, sports gambling, dining at good restaurants, plenty of cheap bars, relative affordability, and the around-the-clock lifestyle of the city. Hey, a man’s got to have his priorities straight.
What made the great State of Texas go so politically bat shit crazy?
Think about it. Texas used to produce maverick politicians. The nation’s second-most populous state gave our country real leaders who talked straight to us. They worked with elected officials from other regions and even the opposing party to improve the quality of life for all Americans.
Once upon a time, Texas produced political greatness.
Now, the state has become a national laughingstalk. But nothing is funny anymore. The joke’s on us.