December 26, 2007

An Atheist Jew On Christmas

Yom Kippur is supposed to be the date of intensive reflection for Jews. But the real time for that, at least for secular Jews, is Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

It really is the time of the year that Jews don't feel part of Western culture. It doesn't last long tough. I remember as a kid feeling like an outcast of sorts during Christmas. The majority of kids seemed to have something on me. It caused an empty feeling, though I had the same feelings after summer holidays when my Jewish friends came back from Jew camp (I never went to Jew camp. I never got to experience a Jewish campfire where Kosher marshmallows were roasted and eaten, and then washed down with the blood of gentile babies).

As I grew older, company Christmas parties at first made me feel like I was some sort of alien observer, but after a couple of drinks, the thought disappeared. I've since rationalized that Christmas parties are all about a free buffet and getting hammered, something that can be enjoyed by all faiths and the faithless.

But even today, going to my Christmas celebrating neighbour's homes for a Christmas visit, makes me feel like Mork from Ork. I just don't belong. And I have a paranoid feeling that my hosts don't feel I belong either.

This year was really good for reflections because my wife volunteered to work on Christmas day, leaving me in solitary confinement.

Now for my 2007 Christmas Day reflections:

1. Do most people who celebrate Christmas realize that even if the Jesus myth was even close to being accurate, Christmas could not have possibly be Jesus' birthday? Not that Jesus ever existed anyway.

2. I keep hearing about a War on Christmas, but I don't see any casualties. Christmas came and went like it does every year. Everyone who wanted to celebrate it, did so.

3. Why in the hell did I get married? What was I thinking? (Actually this reflection occurs a few times a day, not just at Christmas)

4. I spent some time on the Liberty Forums. Not only is the Forum filled with Islamic sympathizers, it also has many Jew haters, as well as moon landing deniers, 9/11 conspiracy theorists and creationists. Why can't most creationists who "debate" evolution on the internet just be honest? Why can't they admit that they have no science that backs up what they believe, and the best they can do is poke holes in real science? Why can't they say that they just don't accept evolution because it doesn't fit in with their literal interpretation of their little book of myths? Do they realize that they are being as dishonest as they really are?

5. Will my voice ever come back? It has been 9 months since my vocal cords apparently got abused to the point that they won't touch much anymore. I really don't want an operation to repair them where they have to go in through the neck. I'll wait until they perfect laser surgery in this field, or until my voice comes back to normal on its own.

6. Since this is all there is, why am I not having a multitude of extramarital affairs going on endlessly? What horrible innate genetic defect is giving me such high ethics and strong moral compass?

7. I'm running out of time to be really famous. I'll be 47 in a month.

8. Despite the emptiness and alienation Christmas brings to me, I think it is a fair trade off for not having to be compelled to shop and act like a phony. I'm sure Christmas is a stressful time of year for many.

9. Of course, I watched some TV. One type of commercial really bugs me. That is the one where they try to sell a TV screen that is supposed to be of higher quality (I know they are of higher quality), but they show you their screen as if I'm supposed to say "Wow, look at the quality of that picture I'm looking at right now (on my inferior TV), I'm going to get one, the quality of that picture was amazing."
I just find that commercial to be a complete insult to my intelligence.

10. Why do I feel compelled to finish this with a number 10? Forget it, not going to happen.

Thanks to my Communist blog buddy Renegade Eye for alerting me to this video (How can anyone be a Communist? Really?):


  1. Communist? I can’t remember who said it but a quote that I find interesting is, “Anyone who is a communist and/or an atheist past the age of 30 is also an idiot.”

  2. In todays age of scientific revelation, anyone who isn't an agnostic or atheist past age 30 is in denial or severely brainwashed.
    If God exists, where is the evidence?...any evidence?
    As far as Communism goes, it is an ideology that totally restricts human beings. Anyone with this ideology isn't thinking things through very much.

  3. Here’s my opinion on a couple of your questions”

    6) Humans for many thousands of years have found that the family unit provided greater safety then solo existence did. Many mates and jealously doesn’t allow for the family unit. So monogamous long term relationships have become both a somewhat innate and learned behavior, lifestyle. You can justify dropping religion but fighting your genes desire to replicate is another story.

    7) Colonel Sanders didn’t open his first KFC until he was 66 I believe. So you have some time left to make it big if that’s really a goal you are working toward. I read something with a lengthy list of people that made their mark later in life, can’t remember what or I’d dig it up. Might have been Think and grow rich.

    9) Doesn’t matter how high a quality picture they have. The programs except for the NFL don’t make turning the thing on worth the effort to pick up the remote most of the time.

    Merry boxing day.

  4. I used to point out logical inconsistencies in various religions, and note how they were constructed by flawed humans, and abused by even more flawed humans. But there have been a few good things, and whether Jesus was one individual or a historical amalgam, someone promoted the meme of love thy neighbor. My point is that it is fine to highlight the negatives that religion has brought (the repression, violence, marginalization...), but one should also lift up the good. I am curious what you think of my post on Christmas.

    -eyesopen (Science Sense)

  5. Communism and Nazism were indeed religion-like in their hold on people, but they were completely secular movements and doctrines. Moreover, communism was violently anti-religious, and Nazism affirmed pre-Christian -- what we tend to call "pagan" -- values and beliefs.

    In fact, the emergence of communism and Nazism in an increasingly secular Europe is one of the most powerful arguments for the need for Judeo-Christian religions. Europe's two secular totalitarian systems perfectly illustrate what G.K. Chesterton predicted a hundred years ago: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything."

  6. Jhrhv, I really can't argue with you on any point.

    Eyesopen, I'm all for the social contract part of the writers who wrote Jesus' message.

    Geno, the nazis were not atheist. They believed they were doing God's work, and played on the Catholics beliefs while doing so.
    As for the prediction. Sweden and Norway are now more than half full with atheists/agnostics, and they aren't blowing things up to bits.

  7. 1. No one cares about Jesus' birthday/not Jesus' birthday, not even Christians. No one knows when he may or may not have been born; what's more, December has been a holiday time in almost every area of the world where it gets colder and darker in that season. Thus, why worry? It's so secularized now anyway.

    2. War on Christmas = dumb.

    4. They don't understand the scientific process, it wasn't taught to them when they were young enough to accept it. Thus they think science is flawed, because they don't understand it.

    6. It's called "humanity." I am a firm believer that human nature is not just about bad things, but good as well.

    As for Christmas... My boyfriend spent Christmas alone, in his apartment, for the past five years or so. He never did anything, his family didn't care. This year he came to my family party, and we do Christmas right-- no manger scene or Bible readings, just Santa, presents, a tree, good food, family, and games and fun. Yeah, we shop, but gifts are our way of proving that we know what the other person likes and what they will enjoy. They're not the most important part. And because we chose who we see this time of year, the phoniness is kept to a minimum. And my boyfriend finally understands why Christmas can be so wonderful and special to me when I am not Christian.

    My point is, we all need to find our own way to handle the holiday because we live in a country where Christmas is unavoidable. My sister's very Jewish friends have a big drinking party, for example. Celebrate... I dunno, Yule. Winter. A day off. Celebrate not being a Christian, or celebrate family, or friends, or whatever. It's snowy and cold; the year's about to end, and if nothing else, you are alive. Why not celebrate something?

  8. BEAJ, you're not the only one who asks himself why he got married. Funny, I've done it three times. I like the idea in theory but the practice sometimes leaves a bit to be desired.

  9. Interesting. I don't feel the "X-mas" alienation in any way shape or form and quite like X-mas parties. I like X-mas full stop and my kids sure enjoy it.

    As you say, it has nothing to do with Jesus and as atheists we should make the best of any festival we get.

    Actually one of my neibours put up a sign "Bring Christ back into Christmas". I was rather tempted to put up a sign "Happy Birthday, Jesus!", but just about managed to restrain myself.

  10. In todays age of scientific revelation, anyone who isn't an agnostic or atheist past age 30 is in denial or severely brainwashed.

    I'll happily say that I am in severe denial about being brainwashed.

  11. 2. The ‘War on Christmas’.

    I think that it’s funny, (and typically hypocritical), that the FOX "News" network insists on spreading and keeping the ‘War on Christmas and Christians’, myth going while simultaneously being voted by the Parents Television Council as, “the most anti-religious network”
    Who doesn’t love The Family Guy, The Simpsons and House? All they are missing is South Park.

  12. I'm not an atheist, but you've got a good point on the marriage thing.