Posted by: Jim | December 8, 2008

Oh Come All Ye Unfaithful

santa05Welcome to the Christmas Season. Ever since my deconversion, my mood during this time of year has gotten as dark as the days are short. I admit this as a personal flaw, since the season really is what you make it.

 

I wish I could be filled with holiday cheer. Year after year I’ve tried, but failed at attaining the rosy-cheeked optimism that is implied by this season.

 

Aligning yourself with a religion has so many advantages. You gain answers, a community, camaraderie, a garage door to throw the tennis ball of life against, and … the greatest gift of all: happiness. However, to quote George Bernard Shaw: “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.”

 

I am not bringing this up in an attempt to sway anyone to my point of view (not this time, anyway). Rather, I would love to hear comments from other non-believers about how you cope with the holiday season.

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Responses

  1. I hate Christmas, I hate everything about it.

    I hate other people demanding that you share their enthusiasm.

    When did people ever share my enthusiasm?

    Ok, when everybody finds a deep pleasure in being quiet and reading the works of Thomas Bernhard and Samuel Beckett for two months of the year, or, even better, when everybody does this ANYWAY, despite not enjoying it, but, wait, because little children enjoy it, THEN, and only then, might I consider returning the favor and climbing on to the Christmas bandwagon.

    (But I still won’t).

    It’s Christmas, It’s Jesus, It’s $$$, It’s Family…

    It’s everything I can do without!

    Roll on Chinese New Year

  2. I enjoy Christmas, even as a non-believer. Other than the church services my Christmases were pretty much secular with my family growing up and it’s most definitely secular with my in-laws.

    The commercialism bothers me to a degree, but I figure I don’t have to bother with it myself if I don’t have to.

    Plus, getting two days off work and being able to vegetate at home is fun for me.

  3. Good stuff happens at Christmastime. I’m a believer, so sorry for jumping in, but I thought it necessary. Religion aside, I recall as a kid starting to get excited two weeks prior for the trip to Fresno (imagine that!) to see the grand and great-grandparents. All the cousins played together and the decorations around town made me feel happy, although I don’t know why. I never cared.

    Of course as kids, presents are always fun. Santa imagery always made me smile, and I was born to love the snow. Who doesn’t like the claymation series? Come on now!

    For those of you non-believers with kids, how to do you stay upbeat around them so as not to cast a shadow on this holiday? It is a double-edged sword. If you are how you truly feel, your kids must be miserable. If you put on a happy face, you’re lying to them.

    Christmas is a happy time, for me at least.

  4. I am a believer, so I’d appreciate you not using the term “non-believer” in my direction. I just don’t believe in a Christian God and I don’t believe the effect of Christianity on Western civilisation is beneficial any longer (on balance).

    I also don’t have any children, so am not subject to any dilemmas there.

  5. Todd, anything that can make a person excited to go to Fresno is inherently evil.

    (I have family in Fresno and will be there for Christmas. I love my family, but I loathe Fresno.)

    I’m a spiritual kind of gal, so I don’t consider myself a non-believer. My feelings re: the holiday season are mixed (kinda feeling Scroogy at the moment), but that has more to do with family issues than religion.

    But when I do feel upbeat about this season, it’s because I go back to celebrating a certain joyousness that I remember as a child. Also, I believe that Jesus actually lived (even though research points to him actually having been born in April – like me!) and was an important teacher, so I am honoring his teachings – Christmas is like Martin Luther King Day for me, even if the name of the holiday is a misnomer. I do NOT believe he was Our Lord and Saviour – hence he was not Christ. Which is why I am not a Christian. But I’ve got strong pagan leanings, so yea for decorated trees!

    I have no children, so there’s no conflict there. But should I ever have children, I’ll probably celebrate the season as the winter solstice.

  6. I dig the pretty lights.

  7. Regardless of your faith or beliefs, I feel that it is important to have JOY! Real joy and peace. Maybe that isn’t a priority for some people, but it is for me.

    I find peace and joy with this season. The cool weather (I live in San Diego), the fireplace, the lights, the Christmas trees, ice skating (yes, even in San Diego)…

    If you have real friends that you love, then spending time with them and exchanging gifts is a joyous occasion. The world seems to slow down, even in the commercialism. People talk to strangers and exchange greetings of Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. People feel charitable and are usually willing to lend a hand or say a kind word.

    I have children, so we spend even more time together (they get Christmas vacation from school) and we have quality time enjoying laughs and stories and making warm childhood memories that they can remember in their adulthood.

    It is a great responsibility to provide a safe and loving home for your children. If they are respected and loved and taught well they have a better chance of becoming a well rounded compassionate adult.

    I have had friends who have been abused and neglected and essentially torn apart emotionally from their parents. Not a good way to start a life.

    It seems that a lot of people like to complain about Christmas or complain about commercialism or complain about this and that. I never understood complainers who seem to be so upset about life and people and who find anybody but themselves annoying. Anyone watch Survivor Gabon? Randy and Karin were examples of this.

    If there are people celebrating Hanukah or Kwanzaa or Christmas or the winter solstice, what does it really matter to you? At least they are celebrating! They are being happy. Life is hard enough, let them live their life the way that they see fit and right.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

    I hope this new year gives you freedom and joy in whatever form that comes in for you.

  8. ” to quote George Bernard Shaw: “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.”

    Well, lets say that the earth is a complete accident and that the universe, planets, Nebulae, supernovas, black holes, mountains, oceans, weather, cells, genes, organs, organisms, plants, trees, fish, mammals, humans… are all a big OOPS!

    Why doesn’t it make sense to follow something that makes you happy? All things should be acceptable and we should be able to live for our own pleasures. There would be no definition of good or bad, all things would just simply exist.

    Better yet, why on earth would you want to squash that happiness from others?


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