Saturday, December 22, 2007

Baptist declares War on (Dawkins') Christmas

I'm way behind the curve on this one -- PZ and Greg Laden already got in their licks -- but I think I finally figured out just why Albert Mohler has a bug up his butt about Dawkins' celebration of Christmas as a cultural tradition. It's not that Mohler is a "bible-thumping Grinch"(Greg) or has a "smug, ignorant heart"(PZ) (well, not only that).

Basically, it's projection, and an ex-fundy like Your Humble Narrator should remember this. There's a prevalent attitude among fundamentalist Christians that all one's diversions and entertainments should be theologically-correct: they must support (or at least, not contradict) your Christian faith. It comes in varying degrees of course, and not every devout Christian is terminally anal-retentive, but this is where you get the banning and boycotting of Harry Potter (for sorcery) or Pullman (for anti-theism), or any number of other books, movies and TV shows. Ditto Dungeons & Dragons, certain (arbitrarily-chosen) musical genres, and so on. It's also the source of a lot of Christian-themed kitsch -- ordinary knick-knacks sanctified by slapping on a Jesus decal.

Where Mohler, I think, has a problem is in conceiving that there are people in this world who don't feel that way -- we just don't take ourselves and everything we do that neurotically seriously. We can sing songs whose lyrics we don't agree with, but whose melody and harmony we find beautiful (and speaking as a former chorister, I say that anyone -- atheist or Christian -- who tells me my unbelief means I'm forbidden to sing my favorite Christmas carols if I like, is hereby cordially invited to get stuffed), or put up a decorated tree (though we're all too lazy at my house), or observe any number of other little rituals (many of extra-Christian origin anyway) that have syncreted onto this time of year. My agnostic parents -- who, like Dawkins, were "culturally Christian" Brits -- did all that kind of stuff, and I learned my secular Christmas traditions from them, long before I first darkened the door of a church. (Come to think of it, I might even take in a Christmas church service if I damn well feel like it).

But Mohler, apparently, doesn't see any of that. Fine, screw 'im. While he's busy holding his theologically-correct festival, the rest of us are just going have some fun -- in whatever way, and aided by whatever spirit(s), seem best to us.

So: Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Really Super-Spiffy Solstice or....ah, hell: have a blast this coming week, with those you love most.


Curtis Forrester said...

Well said with the music point. I often find a Church tune rattling around my head even though I find myself more agnostic than not these days. While I enjoy the crashing sounds of the likes of Korn and Godsmack, I also enjoy Andrea Bocelli - including his Sacred Arias album. Music captures the sounds, feelings and thoughts of what it means to be human. I say let's join in with Frosty the Snowman as he sings Silent Night while decking the halls with Holly, who's standing under the mistletoe Dreaming of a White Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Hi EK,

As I read your post, I was reminded of this (believe it or not) WorldNetDaily article, where a stick-up-the-butt fundie was offended that the pre-game prayer at a high school he was visiting was offered by (horrors!) a Buddhist priest. Surprisingly, he suggested that maybe it would be better to have no pre-game prayers. Unfortunately, he came to the right conclusion for the wrong reason - he simply didn't want to be offended by having to witness non-christian prayers. When this article first surfaced, I remember wondering if this guy lives such an insular life that he never is invited to friends'/co-workers'/neighbours' non-christian weddings, funerals, etc. Would it kill him to, for example, wish his Jewish acquaintances a 'Happy Hanukkah', just to be considerate and respectful?

Happy Solstice!

Eamon Knight said...

bPer: Yeah, that WingNutDaily guy is almost there, but not quite. He just needs to loosen up and realize that Satan is not going to steal his soul if he should happen to hear a non-Christian prayer, and standing politely is not to be construed as participation.

Quote seen on t.o one time: A Mormon in Utah, or a Baptist in Alabama don't really see the point of church-state separation. But make those guys trade places, and they get the point PDQ.

Anonymous said...

{grin} Good quote. I think there's a TV show that exploits that kind of scenario.

I, an atheist, will be politely bowing my head while my religious families (mine and my wife's) say grace to God on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have no fear of being re-indoctrinated, and feel no affront from being passively included in the rite.