Can someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of God also celebrate Christmas?
Christmas, ostensibly intended to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, has become far more than just a religious holiday. Cynics might even suggest it’s become the antithesis of a religious holiday.
Turn on the television set or visit a shopping mall during the week before Christmas and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Commercials enticing you to rush out and buy a brand new Lexus aren’t very Christ-like. The soccer mom in the mini-van who steals your parking spot isn’t thinking about Jesus, although his name probably comes up in some rather creative combinations of language.
It’s too bad really that the essential message of Christmas was hijacked a long time ago. Modern Christmas would likely be unrecognizable to those who envisioned its oldest traditions. It’s become the five human senses all pumped up on steroids. That’s both good and bad. Sure, everything tastes better and smells better. Many of us feel better. The sights and sounds of the holiday season are more beautiful than other times of the year. But sensory overload isn’t always synonymous with happiness. For many less fortunate people, this is a depressing time of year — and none of this has anything at all to do with faith or religion.
A Dinner Conversation with the Man Making Scientific Discoveries which Could Enable Us to Live Twice as Long, Who Founded the First Anti-Ayatollah Khomeini Movement in the United States, and Was at the Poker Table Where “Puggy” Pearson Once Did the Unthinkable
A few months ago, I was enjoying a quiet evening at home, watching television.
On screen was the popular PBS program called “NOVA.” The show is mostly about science and technology and often features cutting-edge breakthroughs in various fields of study.
Imagine my surprise to see someone I knew appearing on the program. I came to discover, he’s one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of genetic engineering. He spoke about scientific advances he and his university research team have achieved which could ultimately enable humans to live as long as 150 years.
That’s right – 150 years.
I’ll tell you more about this shortly.
Wouldn’t it suck to win the lottery right now?
Imagine pocketing the lump sum of $250 million. Your dream of a big house, fancy cars, and a trip around the world has just come true. You’ll never have to work another day in your life. Then, on the way to the bank, a giant fireball suddenly appears up in the sky.
There’s a potential Twilight Zone episode in there somewhere.
In case you missed it, the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. At least, that’s what some ancient Mayan calender predicts, which marks the final day of a 5,125-year cycle. Never mind these savages spent most of their lives running through jungles and commonly sacrificed virgins to the gods. Today, some people actually believe these tribesmen possessed unique insights into our future. Despite their civilization utterly vanishing without warning more than a thousand years ago, they have supposedly alerted us to the very day when life on earth will end. Now, that’s impressive. Hell, I can’t even figure out what time Monday Night Football comes on each week.
This is a lose-lose proposition for a shitload of people. First, we’re all pretty much screwed if the prophesy comes true. We can all agree on that. I don’t see a lot of upside in the entire world’s population being sucked into a deadly black hole — although I sure as hell will be applauding when it’s Kim Kardashian, Howard Lederer, and Donald Trump’s turn to enter the giant celestial vacuum cleaner. That’s almost worth hoping it will happen.
But if the prophesy is false, some people out there will have lots of explaining to do. There’s going to be enough egg on the faces of soothsayers to make the world’s largest omelette, assuming we all miraculously wake up on December 22nd, and there’s still an earth under out feet.
Christmas means war.
Let me explain why.
We’ve lived in “The Lakes” section of West Las Vegas for about ten years, now. When we first moved onto this street, it was a quiet neighborhood made up mostly of retired people. Now, younger families with kids have flooded into the area. Our street also has many different nationalities — including Canadians, Palestinians, Chinese, Russians, Mexicans, Egyptians, Persians, and Romanians. We even have a few Mormons. They’re from some weird place called Utah.
During those earlier years, a few of our neighbors put up decorations over the holidays. Usually, the lights and decorations were modest. A few strands of lights here and there. A lit up Christmas tree. Maybe a Santa Claus or a manger scene.
Moreover, decorating usually began during the first week in December. Thanksgiving was regarded as separate holiday. Imagine that. No one dared to put up lights at least until November had ended.
But something happened.
Like most people, I receive unsolicited credit card offers, on occasion.
Whether we like them nor not, credit cards have become a modern-day necessity. So, I try to maximize their purchasing power by using them to accumulate free airline mileage or bonus cash.
Just about every major retailer now offers either a Visa or MasterCard. I even received an offer from PetSmart, recently. PetSmart! I declined their generous offer. Sorry kitties, I’m not paying a 23 percent annual interest rate so you can stockpile a cabinet full of Pounce and Whiskas.
The most insulting credit card offers I’ve received are usually by the bottom feeders, which are banks that prey upon the financially insolvent. These are nothing more than seedy loan sharks masquerading as a major financial institutions. A typical offer includes a low credit line (sometimes as low as $500), a ridiculous interest rate (typically 29 percent), a preposterous number of penalties if you dare miss a payment or exceed the credit line, and a whopping annual fee. These dope dealers essentially prey upon the vulnerability of millions of desperate people — including millions of unemployed or under-employed Americans — taking advantage of those who are least able to afford bondage to the banking industry.
When I get these offers in the mail, I have a ritual. Here’s what I do.