Most Christian theologians have retreated from all the things that their religion supposedly asserts; they take a much more ‘modern’ view than the average believer. But by the time you’ve ‘modernised’ something like Christianity - starting off with ‘Genesis was all just poetry’ and ending up with ‘Well, of course there’s no such thing as a personal God’ - there’s not much point pretending that there’s anything religious left. You might as well come clean and admit that you’re an atheist with certain values, which are historical, cultural, biological, and personal in origin, and have nothing to do with anything called God.
For the Puritans — in England and in the New England colonies — Christmas was a, well, un-Christian imposition on what should be a perfectly normal December 25th, thank you very much. Sure, the Sabbath was holy, Puritans believed, but there was no scriptural basis for celebrating or resting on Christmas Day. It wasn’t a real religious holiday.
Here’s why. Increase Mather, who was the Puritan Michael Jordan of hating Christmas, grumbled in 1687 :
The early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.
Pagan holidays are pretty fun, and Saturnalia was an absolute bonanza of revelry. So you can see why Western society was keen on keeping it around by aligning a celebration of the birth of Jesus with the existing winter feast. But not Increase.
Particularly upsetting to Increase Mather was the tradition of inversion associated with the holiday. Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle For Christmas goes into this in much more detail, but essentially, English Christmas at the time was all about class inversion, as was the pagan Saturnalia festival. Children served as bishops, servants as masters, that sort of thing. That inversion carried over into the exchange of goods (presents) from the rich to the poor, as a much more aggressive prototype of what we might recognize as charitable giving — think drunk, adult, trick-or-treating. And of course, there was feasting and drinking. It was fun, different from the everyday, and could get a little bit scary. In a way, Increase and his ilk were right: the rituals of Christmas had little to do in particular with Christianity.
While some in America are gearing up for another battle in the imaginary “war on Christmas,” it is important to remind ourselves of what real religious intolerance looks like. If you want to see ho…
Time for some of that Original Content naw meannnn?
Seriously though what the fuck is up with this. -.-
Unpopular opinion from a different moderator: I really really dislike the title and focus of this article.
11 of the 13 countries listed in this article have laws/societal norms that target all non-Muslims; the other 2 don’t explicitly declare that, but they heavily imply it. That means that these countries target the non-religious AND religious communities. I know atheist blogs tend to poke fun at religious people with irrational victim complexes (e.g. the Christians raging about the “war on Christmas”), but you can be certain there are Christians in these countries suffering more than any atheist living in America. To ignore that is to erase the suffering of those individuals for the sake of furthering our own movement.
So, this is a Cientific Sagan-Tumblr or a Atheist anti-religion attackers? I mean, It's good post something about that, but every day? starts to be annoying at some point...
Yeah. So does having our government aka “every-day-life” manipulated by decision-makers who are highly influenced by religious fundamentalism which throttles the evolution and innovation of humankind toward those little things in life. You know, like educating today/tomorrow’s generation, transitioning to sustainable resources/energy production, curing cancers/disease, sexism/racism, distinguishing the boundaries of church and state insanity and reality, extinguishing stereotypes/nationalism, embracing human/animal rights, funding STEM fields and replacing the lawyers/lobbyists/government/electorates with genuine leaders who embody a true understanding of our place on earth and in space…
…just to name a few. Apologies for the anti-CIENTIFIC(?) propaganda.
I dig it. As much as I’m not a fan of labels, it seems fitting to have something like this created as a way to transcend the human condition as an all-inclusive humanistic approach to bridge the gap between any religions or groups that have monopolized holidays and particular days of celebration. Every day and moment should be celebrated as we continue to further understand ourselves, life on this planet, our place in space, and someday, life on other planets as well. I would much rather be associated with the humanists rather than atheists due in part to the forward-thinking goals of those at the American Humanist Association.
I’m just as guilty of being obstructive to the process of inclusion as anyone. We could all learn much of ourselves from the perspective of humanism as well as the cosmic perspective, as as it’s better becoming known, The Overview Effect.
Carl aptly suggested that "science is a candle in the dark," and HumanLight embodies this approach to understanding the world and assisting in the psychological evolution of the human species via scientific literacy and equality, unchained from bias and barriers which may impede our common goal: unity, cooperation and the preservation of life in all its forms. Any way you look at it, ‘movements’ like this are steps in the right direction for humanity and ultimately, for present and future life on Earth.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Since I recently learned of this newly created celebration, let me share with everyone what HumanLight is. The below are excerpts from Patrick Colucci, a volunteer activist in the humanist movement, member of the New Jersey Humanist Network and vice-chair of the HumanLight Committee. The editorial is titled “HumanLight: A Holiday For Humanists” and you can read it all HERE.
HumanLight is a secular holiday, on December 23rd, celebrated around the world since 2001. Celebrating HumanLight can be an occasion for many who are non-religious, freethinkers, atheists, and humanists to create their own meaningful traditions and to help express the positive human values, hopes, and ideals that we share.
HumanLight was created by leaders of the New Jersey Humanist Network in the period of 2000-2001. The first celebration was held in 2001, and word has been spreading around since then. In 2010, there were about 30 cities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. where public celebrations were held and in addition, many families and individuals celebrate privately at home.
HumanLight is designed to celebrate and express the positive, secular human values of reason, compassion, humanity and hope. HumanLight illuminates a positive, secular vision of a happy, just and peaceful future for our world, a future which humanity can build by working together, drawing on the best of our capacities. It’s very important to know that the holiday is not intended to be negative or critical towards religious people or other holidays. It’s not about trying to re-interpret or secularize Christmas. It’s not offensive to Christians who practice Christmas, so it cannot be dragged into the so-called “war on Christmas” media hype. It’s not about criticizing what we don’t believe in. Instead, it’s about celebrating and expressing what we do believe in.
Celebrating HumanLight also helps shine a light on an important fact for our friends, families and the general public: You don’t need supernatural religious beliefs in order to live a good, ethical and meaningful life. You can be good, and do good, without god.
The name HumanLight was chosen to indicate that it’s about humanity, not any supernatural beings, and ‘Light’, to indicate the light of human reason, as the proverbial “candle in the dark.”
HumanLight day is December 23rd and it’s celebrated on or around that day (most people use the weekend prior to the 23rd when holding a public event). This day was chosen so it would NOT conflict with other holidays that people may be celebrating around that time.
It’s true that some non-religious people feel alienated from the rest of society during the December holidays. They cannot honestly participate in religion-based activities. They may be unaware that like-minded humanist and secular groups exist. A public HumanLight celebration helps reach out to these people and helps them find a shared community, so they know they’re not alone. For humanist-oriented families with children, it’s very important for children to understand that the family is part of a larger, supportive community of people with shared values.
Because humanists and free-thinkers tend to avoid dogma and rigid rituals, the specific activities involved in any HumanLight celebration are open to invention and creativity, and will differ from place to place.
No matter how one chooses to celebrate, either at home or in a public event, it is strongly recommended that celebrations should express our values in a positive way, while avoiding negative criticism of religion and religious holidays. That’s a central concept of HumanLight.
HumanLight is an upbeat, festive holiday, with a vibrant, positive and authentic meaning for the non-religious community. Happy HumanLight!
“The chief deficiency I see in the skeptical movement is its polarization: Us vs. Them — the sense that we have a monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you’re sensible, you’ll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you. This is nonconstructive. It does not get our message across. It condemns us to permanent minority status.”
“If you think that it would be impossible to improve upon the Ten Commandments as a statement of morality, you really owe it to yourself to read some other scriptures. Once again, we need look no further than the Jains: Mahavira, the Jain patriarch, surpassed the morality of the Bible with a single sentence: “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.” Imagine how different our world might be if the Bible contained this as its central precept. Christians have abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tormented, tortured, and killed people in the name of God for centuries, on the basis of a theologically defensible reading of the Bible.”—
^THIS. If you think the bible is in any way the most superior moral document, you really owe it to yourself to read some other scriptures. Non violence, forgiveness, charity: none of these concepts originated in the bible and only pure ignorance of other traditions would have you think so. Morality is a human project.
Hope you don't mind a huge fan asking, but do you celebrate Christmas?
Yeah, like this…
….ok, ok. Well. Since my family is uber-religious, when i was younger I went with them to the Christmas Eve candle-lighting service where the traditional Christian songs were sung and the service revolved around the virgin birth, Jesus, etc. etc. Since I outed myself and expressed how I felt about it all, I haven’t attended and have no interest in putting myself amongst that circus.
When did I officially “out” myself? I think when my son was around 3 or so. I attended their church every once in a while, but as I became older and affirmed my skepticism and seeing through what the sermons were really about and how backwards it was, I realized that I’d been going only to keep my parents off of my back. That’s when everything pretty much surfaced in my life and I understood how much I’d been manipulatedindoctrinated influenced throughout my formidable years and dissuaded from well…living my life. I never struggled with my faith as a young kid. I was always skeptical and couldn’t stand going to church. It was creepy. The people there were creepy and plastic and…yeah.
I intend on writing a full post on this at some point. It’s taken quite a toll on me mentally and it still does, as my family, especially my parents, interpret Biblical text literally without the slightest notion of what they are actually saying and giving up in terms of rational thought and inquiry of their lives. It’s like a formal, socially acceptable way to live your life in denial and dishonesty about reality. I can’t discuss or share any of what I share on here with them, because as soon as it steps on the toes of “what they believe” it’s all over. My dad gets loud, argumentative, they both become very passive aggressive, I’m looked at as being disrespectful…yet I’m the one who goes to therapy.
You, all of you, do not realize how much you mean to me on Tumblr.
When I was training to run a half marathon 2 years ago, my mother and I were out running together and she criticized me for sharing what I have with them (you know, life science, space, the world, reality…) and I told her I didn’t know how to honestly take this kind of criticism because I was simply sharing facts about the world with them.
Her response: “Well, your facts are cutting our religion.”
This is the life I live, everyone.
As far as how I celebrate Christmasthe holiday this time of year…just like any other time. I enjoy the lights people put up, how kind and unselfish some people become, snow, cold/quiet winter nights outside with my telescope, ignoring the repetitive and customary Christian-themed music my parents play, decorating the tree, becoming nostalgic of childhood memories around this time, spending time with my son by curling up inside or playing/exploring outside, reading, drinking tea (to which I am an advocate/amateur connoisseur) and when applicable, enjoying time with a female companion with whom I actually can share the world and all I learn about it with.
“We look at the ancient Greeks with their gods on a mountaintop throwing lightning bolts and say, “Those ancient Greeks. They were so silly. So primitive and naive. Not like our religions. We have burning bushes talking to people and guys walking on water. We’re… sophisticated.”—