Pharyngula

That’s a good question. After all, how can someone get seriously upset when they’re wished “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? It’s been ridiculous from the get-go. Well, Max Blumenthal has traced the meme back in an article on who started the War on Christmas, and you probably won’t be too surprised: it originated in racist kooks who blamed foreigners and Jews for all of the nation’s ills. Notice that when people talk about the War on Christmas, they rarely mention who’s waging it. It’s unspoken but understood on the far right that this is a war with Jews and immigrants.

This is clearly Orcinus territory. Dave Neiwert has often made the argument that right-wing radio and TV exists to mainstream the worst ideas of racist extremists, and that the war on Christmas can migrate from the racist founder of the odious VDare website to a daily rant on Bill O’Reilly’s cable show is a perfect example of the phenomenon.

Comments

  1. #1 jeff
    December 13, 2008

    I hope I get a Jesus action figure with kung fu grip for christmas.

  2. #2 Insightful Ape
    December 13, 2008

    But Rupert Murdoch is both Jewish and foreign born?

  3. #3 Tim
    December 13, 2008

    Racism and xenophobia are great for defecting attention away from the 1%ers waging class warfare. And I don’t say “Happy holidays” to piss off fundies, just don’t want the bother of going through the entire list, and happy Newton-mass.

  4. #4 amira
    December 13, 2008

    I say Happy Holidays simply because there are multiple holidays. Even Christians celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. Besides, how am I supposed to know whether you’re celebrating Hannukah, Christmas, Festivus, or Kwanzaa? Unless, of course, you have a massive bumper sticker reading “Palin 2012″. Then I know I can wish you a Merry Christmas.

  5. #5 woody
    December 13, 2008

    Merry FestiChrisSolstiHannuKwanza?

    Just about covers the whole magilla!

  6. #6 SC, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Very interesting, and not at all surprising.

    By the way, I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on Stephen Colbert’s last show of the year the other night. I just saw it yesterday, and didn’t quite know what to make of it. He talks about the Seattle capitol thing, and then “The Word” shifts into this sort of challenge to God to provide evidence of his existence. He keeps saying, “I’m still going to believe in you,” but then makes several comments about how that’s increasingly difficult. I don’t think the audience knew quite how to respond, and I doubt his fellow Catholics will, either. I’d like to think it signals a shift in his thinking, but I recognize that’s not probable.

  7. #7 Doug Little
    December 13, 2008

    I wish to bid everyone a glorious Festivus.

  8. #8 Zeno
    December 13, 2008

    I’m enraged, of course, just like my right-wing father, that some people refuse to say “Merry Christmas” and instead inflict “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” on us. To deny Christmas is to deny the great economic engine that fills the pockets of our nation’s merchants and honors the central place of consumption in our American lives. Let us not forget that extravagant spending is the reason for the season and its various excesses and overwrought observances. (Baby Jesus will cry if we don’t go shopping!)

  9. #9 AnthonyK
    December 13, 2008

    Well, I’m waging a war on “christmas” because I’m a miserable athiest, hopeless in front of an uncaring universe, unsustained by love, and only constrained by the thought of prison from raping and murdering. I am jeslous of chritianists, jeslous that I can’t share in Jesus’ love, and the mindset that refuses to see the obvious truth of godly goodness is posioning my whole life.
    I hate “christmas” and the happiness that goes with it, and all that is left is a sullen desire to prevent others having fun.
    I know all here agree with me.
    Being a self-loathing athiest, the only thing that sustains me is the desire to keep the illusion of evilution alive, and the support of all my fellow pharyngulists. Here, and only here, can I wallow in my nihilistic misery with like minded lost souls.
    There, I’ve said it.
    And a happy sunreturn to all our readers.

  10. #10 amira
    December 13, 2008

    Maybe he’s a cultural Catholic. One who enjoys the Catholic mass for the tradition and pageantry of the service. There’s plenty of Catholics who go because they’ve always identified as a Catholic and find it to be a force of habit. Anyone can enjoy the incense, stained glass, candles, and decorations. That’s why there’s so many CEO Catholics (Christmas and Easter Only). However, most music in Catholic churches leaves something to be desired… I was also surprised by “The Word” in that episode.

  11. #11 SEF
    December 13, 2008

    the racist founder of the odious VDare website

    Is the suppression of the forename the result of the racist also being a misogynist? Or is it simply the standard desire to have a short name to type (while still avoiding just the initials!).

  12. #12 Fred Bacon
    December 13, 2008

    You know, the use of “Seasons Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” this time of year isn’t new. That’s what makes this whole thing absurd. I can distinctly remember the local television stations in Arkansas in the late 60’s and early 70’s using those phrases instead of “Merry Christmas” in their station identification messages.

  13. #13 John B. Sandlin
    December 13, 2008

    Ah! So, now the blathering and bloviating about the “War On Christmas” makes sense now. That is, it makes sense from the perspective that all these blathering and bloviating idiots are Xenophobic bigots. Now I understand, and am more committed than ever to “Happy Holidays” – because I include in my friendly greeting those people that also celebrate Thanksgiving and New Years, Chanukah, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa, and whatever one’s I’ve missed.

    It appears to me the people perpetrating the War on Christmas are the very ones decrying it. They also mostly seem to be Angry White Male Christians (or at least people who attach the word Christian to themselves… sometimes I wonder… I digress).

    Happy Holiday’s Y’all!

    JBS

  14. #14 'Tis Himself
    December 13, 2008

    Conservatives tend to be more racist that liberals? Who’d athunk it? Remember those strong anti-racists like Strom Thurmond and Jessie Helms fighting tooth and nail for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not to mention uber-conservative George Wallace protecting and defending Blacks in Alabama against Martin Luther King and his lynch mob.

  15. #15 Matt Heath
    December 13, 2008

    blockquote>But Rupert Murdoch is both Jewish and foreign born?No. Rupert Murdoch is not a Jew (except possibly in conspiracy land). His ancestors seem to be mostly Scottish and Irish.

  16. #16 mikespeir
    December 13, 2008

    I’m 53, and I’ve heard “Happy Holidays” all my life. There’s even an old Christmastime song of that name. I don’t remember anybody getting miffed until recently.

  17. #17 GodIsLove
    December 13, 2008

    SATAN started the WAR on Christmas

  18. #18 Lago
    December 13, 2008

    Can I ask a question?

    I know that they are all pissed because of the “Happy Holidays” bit, even though I have been saying that for my whole life. We say, “Happy Holidays,” to cover Christmas and New Years at one time…

    I also know there have always been separation of church and state people that are trying to, either, level the playing field for all religions when it comes to public displays, or remove public displays altogether because of the particular endorsements involved.

    But my question is, “Do you actually know any atheists that are against Christmas?” I know a few that do not celebrate it, but no one who is really against it as an atheist. I do, on the other hand, know many religious people that are against Christmas, especially JW and many Born Again types.

  19. #19 AnthonyK
    December 13, 2008

    God is Love
    Please don’t despair, Satan loves you.
    And he’d really really like to fuck you up the arse.
    Happy Christmas

  20. #20 John B. Sandlin
    December 13, 2008

    I have never figured out why people like “GodIsLove” love Satan so much. They lavish so much continuous praise on this imaginary figure about how much power and influence it has. They have attributed almost every event in human history to Satan, more, at least, than they do for their God. If that isn’t Love I don’t know what is.

    JBS.

  21. #21 Matt Heath
    December 13, 2008

    I live in country (Portugal) where people who don’t celebrate Christmas make up (I guess) considerably less than 1% of the population and the shops all have signs with the very secular “Boas Festas” (good parties) because there is New Year and Twelfth Night for celebrations as well as Christmas day.

    American conservatives making a fight out of this are just hilarious.

  22. #22 NoGood
    December 13, 2008

    Although being an almost millitant atheist, I have no problem whishing people a merry christmas because I know, that christmas has nothing to do with modern religion. And being
    nordic I enjoy the fact, that all the great religious pretenders (face it: that’s what they are) worship Yule – the sun god during this month.
    Yes, I’m an evil person….

  23. #23 RamblinDude
    December 13, 2008

    I can’t imaging Billo the clown being happy unless he’s at war with something. He’s just following his bliss.

    That Colbert “Word of the day” segment was a little more in-your-face than usual. For me, it was a little reminder that he’s not actually a Bill O’reilly clone.

  24. #24 Flerndip22
    December 13, 2008

    Why are we fighting a war on Christmas anyway?

    It seems to me that the first group to barge into government spaces and insist upon erecting monuments to their sectarian mythos is almost invariably the Christians. It’s rather obvious to me from whence the first shot is usually fired – evidence that they either fail to comprehend the establishment clause or willfully seek to overturn it by sheer force of stupidity.

    Why is it so surprising to see angry Christians shouting, “This is OUR holiday, not yours!” when they themselves stole it from pagans?

  25. #25 black wolf
    December 13, 2008

    I’m curious. Does anyone actually know if the whole ‘I’m Catholic, I teach sunday school’ theme isn’t just part of the persona Stephen plays on stage? As far as I know, he’s never disclosed which church he attends, or which sunday school it is. Okay, if he wants to keep that out of the public attention, that’s ok. But has he ever done or said anything on stage that can’t be faked by an agnostic atheist or deist?

    Could be that he’s gradually getting more and more fed up with parodying something that shows no tendency of getting less annoying and offensive.

  26. #26 Matt Heath
    December 13, 2008

    Does anyone actually know if the whole ‘I’m Catholic, I teach sunday school’ theme isn’t just part of the persona Stephen plays on stage?

    I believe he said that about Sunday school in an out-of-character interview when he was being asked if the “Stephen Colbert” character was making fun of devout Catholics.

  27. #27 MP2K
    December 13, 2008

    #17

    SATAN started the WAR on Christmas

    You’re defining Christians as Satan now?

  28. #28 davem
    December 13, 2008

    Here in the UK, everyone wishes ‘Merry Christmas’ – I’ve never seen or heard ‘Happy Holidays’. Quite often, ‘Merry Christmas’ gets you a ‘bah humbug’ back (guilty of that myself), That’s because it has become a time when kids drive their parents mad with demands, the TV has endless adverts for stuff you don’t need, shop-keepers are whinging about the lack of trade, and you’re about to visit your in-laws who you hate. Oh, and hardly any of us are religious; far fewer than the polls would suggest.

  29. #29 Lago
    December 13, 2008

    “I’m 53, and I’ve heard “Happy Holidays” all my life. There’s even an old Christmastime song of that name. I don’t remember anybody getting miffed until recently.”

    I have heard it all my life as well. No one had the time to say, “Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” all the time, so we would shorten it to a simple, “Happy Holidays.”

    I doubt seriously Mister O’Reilly does not know this, which makes his BS all the worse…

  30. #30 Satan
    December 13, 2008

    SATAN started the WAR on Christmas

    Oh, I did not. And everyone who’s anyone already knows I didn’t–I was in Vegas all that week. Ask Trump–he saw me.

    So, sweet a gig as it is, I just can’t take the credit on this one.

    Check with Loki, maybe. Sounds like his sorta thing.

  31. #31 Shaden Freud
    December 13, 2008

    Damn, this gives “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” some sinister overtones….

  32. #32 GodIsLove
    December 13, 2008

    I figured Satan would visit THIS blog.

  33. #33 Benjamin Geiger
    December 13, 2008

    AnthonyK @ #19:

    Wait, isn’t Satan Saddam Hussein’s bitch?

  34. #34 Cuttlefish, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Stuck in the dark, with the radio on,
    I heard the AM preachers;
    I never knew that atheists
    Were such appalling creatures!
    The godless have declared a war
    On all of god’s creations–
    This Christmas, we must all fight back
    (Oh, yes… and send donations.)

    my little salvo in the war is here:
    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-love-song-which-just-happens.html

  35. #35 Dust
    December 13, 2008

    One of my fellow atheist friends calls Dec. 25th, “Atheist gift giving day.”

    Yep, thay says it for me too!

  36. #36 A Mac
    December 13, 2008

    From Blumenthal’s article

    [i]“If you can get religion out,” Bill O’Reilly warned, “then you can pass secular progressive programs, like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage.”[/i]

    Fantastic, for the most part

  37. #37 Brownian, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Who knew that GIL and Satan would have the same tastes?

    But does it really surprise anyone that the people sputtering over their right to subtly remind Jews and non-Christians which group really runs the show are just the latest generation of torch-bearers for bigotry?

    I’m surprised that Bill hasn’t come out screeching that the fact that it’s generally not okay to call black people ‘Toby’ is all part of some liberal War on White Supremacy.

  38. #38 'Tis Himself
    December 13, 2008

    O’Reilly’s “war” is getting to be a Christmas tradition just like Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman and Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

  39. #39 A Mac
    December 13, 2008

    html fail above on my part

  40. #40 John B. Sandlin
    December 13, 2008

    #31 Posted by Shaden Freud on December 13, 2008 at 12:26 PM

    Damn, this gives “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” some sinister overtones….

    Just to check on that, the sinister overtones that might be hidden beneath the surface of “White Christmas.” It was written by Irving Berlin – a noted non-Christian (he was Jewish).

    So, probably no sinister overtones intended. They’re all in the mind of the beholder.

    LD&R

    JBS

  41. #41 Tim Fuller
    December 13, 2008

    I’m not going to war with anyone, but I will protest and belittle those I perceive as fools.

    Enjoy.

  42. #42 Santa
    December 13, 2008

    C’mon, everyone knows that Christmas is my birthday. A little transposition error, and y’all think it was Satan. Lumps of coal all around! (Ho ho ho!)

    Merry Christmas!

  43. #43 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008

    My problem has always been that–I’ll date myself here–the phrase “war on Christmas” always reminds me instantly of this.

  44. #44 Brownian, OM
    December 13, 2008

    O’Reilly’s “war” is getting to be a Christmas tradition just like Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman and Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

    I like to tell people that my favourite Christmas tradition is people whining about how we’ve lost the true spirit of Christmas. It’s like a modern version of caroling without all the references to ha’pennies, wassailing, geese, and other exotic beasts from Victorian England.

    I can barely wait for it each year: sitting around the Yule log burning on TV*, cheering when the disembodied arm appears to turn it; nearby the cat is dozing, a single serene strip of tinsel hanging out of it ass; and on the radio a ruddy-faced fat man is screaming at us about the liberal agenda to remove God from Christmas, in between commercial breaks for Wal-Mart.

    Gosh, that makes me nostalgic.I almost feel like calling up my dad to see if he’ll agree to getting drunk and angrily throwing dishes around, for old times’ sake.

  45. #45 Andreas Johansson
    December 13, 2008

    Over here in evil atheist Sweden, practically everyone says Merry Christmas (well, god jul), and the occasional brave soul who suggests this is somehow inappropriate or offensive to non-christians is dismissed as a fun-hating crank.

    It may be relevant that while we have an awful of unbelievers and new age types, the only organized religion with a significant following besides Christianity is Islam, whose festivals are on a lunar calendar.

  46. #46 Katharine
    December 13, 2008

    Perhaps it might help us all put this into perspective a little more if more of us recognize the fact that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and the rest are all just cults, albeit unfortunately widely socially accepted ones. And if you don’t agree, look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_checklist .

  47. #47 Dust
    December 13, 2008

    The most fun I’ve ever had at Xmas is the few times I’ve gone caroling on horseback. Now that was fun! People come out of their houses to enjoy the spectacle and I’ve seen people cry because of the emotions brought up.

    One time I driving a mini donkey who was wearing a Santa’s hat with the cart all decorated with tinsel, ect. An elderly gentleman held that donkey’s head and tearfully reminised about working with donkeys as a child.

    Oh, the carolers and our listeners sure enjoyed all carols, no-one complained when when we sang secular songs.

    It was fun, and the caroler group consisted of religionists, athiests, Jews and whatever. No one cared, and the horses and donkey sure didn’t.

    Fuck the War on Christmas.

  48. #48 MP2K
    December 13, 2008

    #42: You sir are a base charlatan. Santa is dead. Santa remains dead. And we have killed him. What was plumpest and jolliest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What eggnog is there for us to cleanse our palate? What festivals of the winter solstice, what reindeer games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become fat old men simply to appear worthy of it?

  49. #49 Matt Heath
    December 13, 2008

    Over here in evil atheist Sweden, practically everyone says Merry Christmas (well, god jul), and the occasional brave soul who suggests this is somehow inappropriate or offensive to non-christians is dismissed as a fun-hating crank.

    In fairness, the idea that “jul” is term specific to Christians is particularly daft compared to the equivalent in some other languages.

  50. #50 Tabby Lavalamp
    December 13, 2008

    I bet that arch-atheist Bing Crosby sure gets O’Reilly’s hackles up when he sings the song “Happy Holidays” in that liberal Hollywood film “Holiday Inn” made by all those hippies back in 1942.

  51. #51 God
    December 13, 2008

    Actually, I started the War on Christmas. Because if there’s one thing more amusing to Me than you glorified apes fighting each other, it’s you glorified apes fighting each other over the most pathetically trivial details imaginable.

    For My next trick, I’m tempted to inspire some religious leaders to make it a point of religious doctrine among Catholics to open eggs from the big end, and among Protestants to open eggs from the little end, and make it a capital crime for both of them to do it any other way.

    Glory to Me on high, Amen!

  52. #52 Brownian, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Dust, that sounds like a lot of fun.

    Oh, I forgot to fill in the footnote for my earlier comment.

    In case the tradition is a purely North American or even Canadian tradition: the Yule log channel is a television channel that shows a crackling fire in a fireplace all day long. And yes, I’ve been in pubs where it’s being shown and people will cheer when the production assistant’s arm appears to stoke the fire every hour or so.

    If you opt for the fancy extended cable packages, you can even choose between a homey little fireplace complete with stockings hanging from the mantel and a more majestic but austere grey stone hearth.

  53. #53 paul fauvet
    December 13, 2008

    The people who ought to wage war on Xmas are Christians, since the theological core of their religion has nothing to do with Christs’s birth and everything to do with his death and supposed resurrecton.

    I am always astonished at how little christian bigots know about their own holy book. Even the most cursory reading of the New Testament shows that the nativity stories are late additions.

    The earliest bits of the New Testment are Paul’s letters – and they say absolutely nothing about the circumstances of Christ’s birth. So we may legitimately suppose that when Paul was writing, the nativity myths had not yet been invented.

    Of the four Gospels only two, Matthew and Luke, mention the nativity. Mark’s gospel, which scholars believe to be the earliest, says nothing about Christ’s birth, and neither does John’s, the only gospel which may have been written by someone who actually knew Jesus.

    We have become used to a seamless story of the nativity, achieved by running the Matthew and Luke narratives together. In fact, the two gospels tell completely different stories. For instance, the most dramatic events – the magi following the star, the massacre of the innocents, the flight into Egypt – only occur in Matthew. Believers never ask why Luke does not mention something so shocking as a tyrant ordering the murder of all baby boys in Bethlehem.

    A reasonable supposition is that early christians desperately wanted a miraculous birth for their God, just as the pagan gods had miraculous births, and so a variety of contradictory myths were born that would eventually achieve literary form in Matthew and Luke.

    So if people like Bill O’Reilly want to return to true christianity they should excise the pious legends of the nativity from their Bibles.

  54. #54 Andreas Johansson
    December 13, 2008

    Perhaps it might help us all put this into perspective a little more if more of us recognize the fact that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and the rest are all just cults, albeit unfortunately widely socially accepted ones. And if you don’t agree, look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_checklist .

    Associating things one does not like with labels considered damning does not constitute perspective, it constitutes word games. Christianity is or is not a bad thing regardless whether we can find a definition of “cult” that includes it or not.

  55. #55 Tim H
    December 13, 2008

    O’Reilly’s “war” is getting to be a Christmas tradition just like Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman and Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

    Ok, so now I have this mental image of a Macy’s parade Bill O’Reilly balloon, complete with the words “War on Christmas” in balloon form coming from his mouth. This would be cool. We could cheer when it hits a lamppost and deflates. They wouldn’t even have to pay for helium for it- Bill the Blowhard could inflate it himself, and since he’s such a lightweight it would still float.

  56. #56 heddle
    December 13, 2008

    Flerndip22

    Why is it so surprising to see angry Christians shouting, “This is OUR holiday, not yours!” when they themselves stole it from pagans?

    Thank you, it would be soooo disappointing in a “war on Christmas” post if at least one person did not assume that 2+2=4 is a well-known fact that didn’t require yet another repetition.

    paul fauvet,

    I am always astonished at how little christian bigots know about their own holy book. Even the most cursory reading of the New Testament shows that the nativity stories are late additions.

    That statement is absurd. You can not demonstrate by a cursory reading (or a studious one) that the nativity stories are late additions. You can speculate, and there are biblical critics all over the map on these and any number of passages–but you cannot demonstrate what you just claimed. (I really don’t want to get into a link war, so if you want to link some scholar who claims they are redactions I won’t bother replying.)

    So we may legitimately suppose that when Paul was writing, the nativity myths had not yet been invented.

    No we may not. We may just as easily assume that in writing his epistles, Paul did not see a need to discuss the details of Christ’s birth. Instead he, correctly, concentrated on Christ’s death and resurrection.

    the only gospel which may have been written by someone who actually knew Jesus.

    You need to stop presenting speculation–of which, again, there is widespread disagreement, with fact. I gather you are not a scientist–at least you don’t write like one. Scientists are generally careful to qualify their claims.

    So if people like Bill O’Reilly want to return to true christianity they should excise the pious legends of the nativity from their Bibles.

    Sure, because your authority is more than convincing.

  57. #57 chocolatepie
    December 13, 2008

    The thesis of the “War on Christmas” should be, “Hey, Christians, your privilege is showing.” Anyone who was raised as a non-Christian will tell you that not celebrating Christmas makes December one of the most painful and lonely months of the year, because every store, every TV and radio station, every major city street is dripping with Jesus mania.

    It’s like white people who think they’re victims of employment discrimination based on the color of their skin. Oh, right.

  58. #58 Patricia, OM
    December 13, 2008

    God – It’s taken me two weeks to “guess who” you. Jeff? If it’s you, welcome, you belong here. Smart ass!

    Oh, and Heddle you’re full of shit. Christs birthday was settled in the fifth century by a Pope. I’m right, go look it up. The other guy is right too, one more pagan holy day stolen by the christians.

  59. #59 E.V.
    December 13, 2008

    Cuttlefish’s song is pure gold. Too bad no major star will record it for the season ( I’m betting not even jewish singers who have released Christmas albums).

  60. #60 Number8Dave
    December 13, 2008

    As in evil atheist Sweden (#45), no one in politely secular New Zealand gives a rat’s arse about people wishing each other Merry Christmas. From over here we have to wonder what all the fuss is about. Obsessing over the word “Christmas” just gives the Christians more credibility as far as I can see. For most people Christmas is no longer a Christian festival, and the fact that it still bears a name derived from Jesus Christ is no more relevant than the fact that “Easter” derives from the Celtic goddess Eostre.

  61. #61 JHS
    December 13, 2008

    This is what kills me. The jolly, god-stomping atheist (ie me), perfectly enjoys the holidays (I tend to go with a new year’s theme in place of the xmas stuff), while these clowns sputter, seethe, and rage just because someone wishes them (or *might* wish them) happy holidays instead of merry christmas. How awful must it be to go to a party with these people, with them walking around ready to punch anyone who dares assume that not *everyone* is a Christian? And that’s what it comes down to. In this country there are at least three other faiths that have holidays around the end of the year, and while I don’t really care for any of them, it’s absurd in this day and age to get worked up because your possibly Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim (or god-forbid atheist) acquaintance doesn’t indulge your religion. When you really think about it, it all comes down to squashing any degree of difference. You either fall into line come xmas time, or you’re some sort of grinch (or evil atheist).

    And do they wish me a merry squidmas? Nooo.

  62. #62 heddle
    December 13, 2008

    Patricia,

    1) I’m agreeing that the Christians stole Christmas from pagans. Please try to keep up.

    2) What nonsense you claiming about the pope and what does it have to do with the nativity stories being added?

  63. #63 mothra
    December 13, 2008

    Bored and Damned
    (sing to the tune of Zor and Zam)

    O’Reilly the bore, he called for a war,
    The Donnahue he answered.
    They sputtered and raved,dumb upon dumb,
    minds that were numb,
    The annual war upon Christmas had come!

    All through the month,their diatribes aired,
    calling for faith from the hateful.
    Free speech be banned,if it is not our brand,
    and we take this stand:
    only Christmas observances throughout this land!

    But there’s Hanuka, Quanza, a solstice there too,
    and Ramadan begins when the moon is New.
    Stonehenge predates the Catholic leagues pride,
    and Donnahue, snide,
    Poo’Reilly, the evidence, not on your side!

    They clambered on airways, like ferrets at bay.
    Promoting intolerance in every way.
    Most people much wiser than mad mustellids,
    and with wiser heads,
    extend ‘Season’s Greetings’ to family and friends.

    Two little fools, dripping with shame,
    fought Holidays Happy, but Seasons’ cheer came!

  64. #64 AnthonyK
    December 13, 2008

    We don’t care when Christmas “really” was.
    We don’t care about biblical inconsistencies.
    We don’t care about silly fairy tales.
    It’s all fiction, and all nonsense.
    Bit of a change to have a theologian, a real one I think, to “argue” with. So tell us, oh learned one, why is your god permitting a woman to be gang-raped. her husband butchered, her daughter raped, and her sons taken off to be child soldiers as I write this?
    Fascist.

  65. #65 Randall
    December 13, 2008

    I have to point out that Max Blumenthal’s accusations against VDare.com were filled with errors.

    Tom Piatak, the VDare writer to whom Blumenthal attributed anti-Jewish comments, has responded by showing the difference between what he wrote and what Blumenthal claimed he wrote:

    http://blog.vdare.com/archives/2008/12/10/blumenthal-misses-the-mark-tom-piatak-explains-how-badly/

    As atheists, we should be warying of buying into straw man arguments.

    I also notice that VDare now has the following blurb on their front page:

    “the internet’s leading anti-immigration web journal…” Max Blumenthal

    At least they have a sense of humor.

  66. #66 Patricia, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Heddle, Your wording doesn’t make it clear.

    You said you didn’t want links. So I offered you none. The nativity stories had been argued about for hundreds of years, so in the fifth century one of the popes put an end to it and made the date official.

    Which bible scholar’s besides yourself do you trust Heddle? I’m willing to read something by someone you think can prove me wrong.

  67. #67 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008

    Of course, the real reason that “Happy Holidays” is the more appropriate greeting is that many of us are celebrating the Feast of St. Stephen on Dec. 26.
    Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills
    One man gathers what another man spills

  68. #68 Rey Fox
    December 13, 2008

    “C’mon, everyone knows that Christmas is my birthday. A little transposition error, and y’all think it was Satan. Lumps of coal all around! (Ho ho ho!)

    Merry Christmas!”

    YAAAAAY SANTA!

    Really, is it any wonder that kids gravitate more towards the jolly, grandfatherly old gift-giver than the scruffy emaciated guy bleeding on a cross? Santa bless ‘em.

    I’ve heard of the yule log channels, but I don’t know if we have any locally or on the Dish network. I don’t have a TV anyway. So I’m going to have to curl up in front of my computer and maybe watch someone’s Youtube yule log in a 600 X 400 pixel window.

    Sure my folks live about ten blocks away, but it’s cold outside.

  69. #69 Rey Fox
    December 13, 2008

    Oh yes, and to AnthonyK: Jeslousy can consume a person. Don’t give yourself over to jeslousy.

  70. #70 E.V.
    December 13, 2008

    David Heddle’s game is to assert his authority as a physicist and then play peek-a-boo with logic and reason. Skip over his posts if you value your self respect, he obviously doesn’t.

  71. #71 heddle
    December 13, 2008

    Patricia,

    so in the fifth century one of the popes put an end to it and made the date official.

    That’s the date–who gives a rat’s ass about the date. The question was whether you (not you specifically) could demonstrate that the nativity stories were added to the bible. You can’t. Nobody can. Nor can anyone demonstrate that they weren’t.

  72. #72 AnthonyK
    December 13, 2008

    Actually my spelling of jeslousy is a typing impediment, And I’ll thsnk you not to make fun of it.

  73. #73 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008

    Well, I’m pretty sure that the nativity stories were added to the Bible, on account of they’re right here in my copy. When were they added? I don;t know either. But of course I know what you meant, and yes, Patricia’s muddling the issue.

  74. #74 SC, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Sven @ #67,

    Classic awesomeness.

  75. #75 Owlmirror
    December 13, 2008

    That’s the date–who gives a rat’s ass about the date.

    Well, to be pedantically accurate, every Christian who thinks Jesus was born on Dec. 25, including the bloviating pundits referred to in the original post.

    BTW, what’s the Calvinist position on the papacy? Originally authorized by God but at some point corrupted? Or never had any authority at all? Or genuinely Satan-deluded and demon-possessed from the very beginning?

    Just curious.

  76. #76 Wayne Robinson
    December 13, 2008

    Personally, I prefer the traditional greeting of “Merry Christmas, Bah Humbug”. “Happy Holidays, Bah Humbug” doesn’t quite have the same effect.

  77. #77 Nick Gotts
    December 13, 2008

    I really don’t want to get into a link war, so if you want to link some scholar who claims they are redactions I won’t bother replying. – heddle

    Translation:

    *Sticks fingers in ears*
    La-la-la-la! CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

  78. #78 AnthonyK
    December 13, 2008

    Reminds me of a BBC comedy show –
    Mary: Joseph, I’m expecting a baby!
    Joseph: A baby! When’s it due?
    Mary: Christmas

  79. #79 John M
    December 13, 2008

    Got my Yule log all ready – if I can lift it onto the fire is another story. Might decorate a tree with the odd fertility symbol, too, but will spend Dec 25 writing New Year cards – for all those people who strangely sent me cards bearing all manner of heretical greetings. You’d think my mates would know me better by now.

  80. #80 heddle
    December 13, 2008

    Nick Gotts,

    Translation:
    *Sticks fingers in ears*
    La-la-la-la! CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

    No Nick, here is the correct translation: any chowderhead, it’s not beyond even you although you probably would find it taxing, can Google for someone who supports whatever theory of the biblical canon they happen to champion. There is no point in engaging in dueling links.

    Sven,

    I am very, very nervous about tomorrow, and somehow I am sure there is a macroscopic quantum mechanical effect related to me actually observing the game. I think I cause the offensive line protection to collapse just by watching.

  81. #81 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 13, 2008

    MP2K (comment 48) for Molly.

  82. #82 John B. Sandlin
    December 13, 2008

    #71 Posted by heddle on December 13, 2008 at 3:38 PM

    That’s the date–who gives a rat’s ass about the date. The question was whether you (not you specifically) could demonstrate that the nativity stories were added to the bible. You can’t. Nobody can. Nor can anyone demonstrate that they weren’t.

    My thought, which no one asked for, is since the entire set is little more than a collected work of fiction, whether it is based on real events or not, who wrote what, and whether the nativity is historical or part of the added fiction – it’s all a fairy tale and the deep details don’t matter.

    December 25 just happens to be a good day to celebrate the beginning of the daylight hours getting longer. Which, whether you’re a deist, theist, pagan, or other, is a good thing.

    JBS

  83. #83 Patricia, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Oops, sorry to be muddling the issue Sven. I just understood what Heddle said from a different point of view.

    I haven’t finished ‘The End of Biblical Studies’ by Hector Avalos, but what I have read in it, he gives exhaustive research detail on when the gospels were written and forgeries.

    But since you no longer care about the date Heddle I’m not going to dig out twenty pounds of books to source for you.

  84. #84 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008

    Heddle, I hear you. Baltimore and Tennessee on the road is a tough couple of weeks. Hope Big Ben has his scrambling shoes on…
    But whatever happens, we can still point and laugh at Cleveland. My father sent me this this morning:

    The Ohio State Patrol is cracking down on speeders heading into Cleveland.
    For the first offense, they give you two Cleveland Browns tickets.
    If you get stopped a second time, they make you use them.

    Q. What do you call 47 millionaires around a TV watching the Super Bowl?
    A. The Cleveland Browns

    Q. What do the Cleveland Browns and Billy Graham have in common?
    A. They both can make 70,000 people stand up and yell ‘Jesus Christ’.

    Q. How do you keep a Cleveland Brown out of your yard?
    A. Put up a goal post.

    Q. Where do you go in Cleveland in case of a tornado?
    A. To Cleveland Browns Stadium-they never get a touchdown there!

    Q. What do you call a Cleveland Brown with a Super Bowl ring?
    A. A thief.

    Q. What’s the difference between the Cleveland Browns and a dollar bill?
    A. You can still get four quarters out of a dollar bill.

    Q. How many Cleveland Browns does it take to win a Super Bowl?
    A. Nobody knows and we may never find out!

    Q. What do the Cleveland Browns and a possums have in common?
    A. Both play dead at home and get killed on the road

    GO STEELERS!

  85. #85 Nick Gotts
    December 13, 2008

    There is no point in engaging in dueling links. – heddle

    Particularly when you know you’d lose.

  86. #86 Patricia, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Nick Gotts, Chowderhead, OM…atta boy Nick, that’s giving the BigDumbChimp a bit of competition!

  87. #87 withheld
    December 13, 2008

    My father-in-law just gave us all “It’s ok to say Merry Cristmas” buttons. It’s all I can do to not replace his with an “It’s ok for me to be a self-righteous ass and insist that you use the proper greeting for me at this time of year, even though you can’t possibly know which one I personally celebrate” button. I just don’t know if I could get it to fit.

  88. #88 John B. Sandlin
    December 13, 2008

    #87 Posted by withheld on December 13, 2008 at 4:31 PM

    My father-in-law just gave us all “It’s ok to say Merry Cristmas” buttons. It’s all I can do to not replace his with an “It’s ok for me to be a self-righteous ass and insist that you use the proper greeting for me at this time of year, even though you can’t possibly know which one I personally celebrate” button. I just don’t know if I could get it to fit.

    How about a button that just says:

    “It’s ok to say Happy Holidays”

    Or as a stretch:

    “Saying Happy Holidays didn’t kill Jesus”

    Happy Holidays!

    JBS

  89. #89 withheld
    December 13, 2008

    I was thinking of making 15 buttons for Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadon, Solstice, Yule, Festivus, Sturnalia, Squidmas, FSM Holiday, etc.

  90. #90 alison
    December 13, 2008

    As number8Dave says, we’re reasonably secular down here in NZ. Nonetheless, when a beer company well-known for its satirical billboards erected one saying “Let’s take a moment this Christmas to think about Christ – yeah, right” (http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/no-god-no-worries-yeah-right), the resultant outcry from various religious groups led fairly quickly to its removal. Which struck me as strange, since I would have thought the sign’s comment on the commercialisation of Christmas would have gone down quite well in those circles. Too subtle, perhaps?

  91. #91 Joe
    December 13, 2008

    Unfortunately, the Blumenthal piece was riddled with errors. The “odious” VDare has helpfully annotated Blumenthal’s piece:

    http://www.vdare.com/pb/081211_christmas.htm

  92. #92 Chowderhead, OM (aka Nick Gotts)
    December 13, 2008

    Patricia OM@86,

    Yes, I like “Chowderhead, OM” as a possible nym – thanks, and thanks to heddle for the original suggestion! In the UK, to be entitled to sign yourself with that moniker, you’d need to be Lord Chowderhead (only Lords sign with just one name, no initals), and to have been awarded the Order of Merit (which tends to get given to artists, scientists, philosophers etc., and is limited to 96 living recipients). Though it would be considered a bit infra dig to include it in your signature I suppose.

  93. #93 John Morales
    December 13, 2008

    Bah. Christmas is just another day, no different from any other except most people act excited.

    Since I was old enough to think about it, I’ve wondered why people want to celebrate particular days – to me holidays are days off work. I don’t partake of the card and present-exchanging ritual either, on Christmas day or on any day of the year. Nor do I understand what this thing with “celebrating” birthdays and anniversaries is all about.

    Of course, I know I’m not normal.

  94. #94 scooter
    December 13, 2008

    I know why I’m fighting a war on Christmas.

    Because I’ll be damn if I’m gonna let a bunch of religious tards ruin Santa Claus Day for my kids.

    fuck them, nail them to the cross they bled in on.

  95. #95 Number8Dave
    December 13, 2008

    Alison @ #90: Good point. Wanna come over for a piece of the Merry Squidmas cake we’re just in the process of icing?

  96. #96 heddle
    December 13, 2008

    Sven,

    Coolness–I know a handful of die-hard Browns fans–I am passing along your list.

  97. #97 Emmet Caulfield
    December 13, 2008

    #92 Nick Gotts, OM

    Hmmm… I thought the tradition was that peers signed with the name of the duchy/earldom (or whatever), so to sign “Chowderhead” you’d have to be Lord Someone of Chowderhead, and if you were Lord Chowderhead of Somewhere, you’d sign “Somewhere”, no? Maybe I got my wires crossed.

  98. #98 SC, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Unfortunately, the Blumenthal piece was riddled with errors. The “odious” VDare has helpfully annotated Blumenthal’s piece:

    Yes, that was very helpful in getting me to read through Blumenthal’s article more closely, and putting on display how shockingly moronic and fantastically vile you people are.

    “Riddled with errors.” Sure, it was.

  99. #99 Nick Gotts
    December 13, 2008

    I see we are being visited by some lying racist scum@92. A few trivial errors do not undermine Blumenthal’s central point: the “War on Christmas” is a right-wing invention, which has never had any reality except in the fetid imaginations of racists and Christofascists.

  100. #100 SC, OM
    December 13, 2008

    Oh, and HAPPY SOLSTICE!

    (she adds, militantly.)

  101. #101 Doug the Primate
    December 13, 2008

    A little OT, perhaps, but seasonal, and timely to fire this old blunderbuss again.

    The carol’s first line, “God rest ye merry gentlemen” admits of several interpretations. It is old. As a child I interpreted it to mean, let god make glad the gentlemen, for there is no cause for dismay. Centuries ago, there was no standard system of punctuation, and in any case, punctuation marks cost time for typesetters to place; it appears that pauses for reading a text aloud were inferred from context, as in the implied comma between the first two lines. The lack of punctuation in the original leads to much ambiguity.

    “God, rest ye merry, gentlemen” implies, “By God guys, quit worrying”

    “God, rest ye, merry gentlemen” implies, “By God, will you guys pipe down!”

    When I was in doctoral studies in Philosophy of Science we had to read extracts of a facsimile reproduction of Newton’s Principia. Newton’s typesetters used a single symbol, now translated as “ye”, that appears as a lower case “y” with a superscript “e”, and that in context decidedly does not mean “you”. It was a typesetter’s time saver to indicate the word “the”, as in faux olde English, “Ye Olde Cheese Shoppe”.

    We have now greater warrant for two latter interpretations:

    “God, rest the merry gentlemen” (addressed to the deity, “Can you please put those guys to sleep!?)

    and

    “God, rest the merry, gentlemen” (addressed to the rowdies, “Good grief, can you guys keep it to a dull roar?”)

    although I think the latter more probable, given the next lines:

    “Let nothing you dismay” (I mean you no harm), “[for] remember Christ was born this Christmas Day” (with emphasis on the past tense), so “remember the Day, good sirs, [so I can get my sleep - sotto voce]“.

    Lot’s of conjectural fun, but does anyone actually know anything that would settle interpretation? I would be especially interested in our European colleagues’ thoughts.

  102. #102 Nick Gotts
    December 13, 2008

    er… when I said @92, I meant @91.

  103. #103 natural cynic
    December 13, 2008

    Oh, come on Heddle. There are too many booboos in the Nativity Story for it not to be made up:
    Quirinius wasn’t the governor of Syria until much later.
    Shepherds wouldn’t keep their flocks in the hills at night in the winter.
    There never was an empire-wide tax/census.
    Matthew & Luke don’t agree on the slaughter/flight to Egypt.
    No record of the slaughter of innocents among the crimes of Herod and see the parallels with the Moses birth story.

    The story was invented to give Jesus credibility as the Messiah with the lineage of David and birth in Bethlehem.

    And the Gospel of John has been dated to 90-100 CE, so no chance of meeting Jesus.

    And Dennis the Short messed up when it might have taken place anyway since Herod died in 4 BC.

    And for a real Christmas winner, see Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, sooo bad that it’s good.

  104. #104 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008

    That “lower-case y” was supposed to be a thorn. The first line of that carol should actually be pronounced “God rest the merry gentlemen.”

  105. #105 Number8Dave
    December 13, 2008

    One other comment re Alison @ #90 about Christian responses to perceived challenges to Christmas in New Zealand. Back in 1994 some arty friends of ours wanted to put up a replica of Stonehenge made out of fridges as a comment about how celebration of the solstice had morphed (via Christmas) into a festival of mass consumerism. A local Christian community heard about it and got it into their heads we were going to be performing pagan rituals. Thirteen of them assembled on the roadside and sang half a verse of a hymn before realising how silly the whole thing was. We thanked them for coming and they left. So yes, there are a few people here who care about Christmas, but they’re a small minority. (The full story of Fridgehenge can be found at http://www.etete.com/torrie/Fridgehenge.html – this was the very first thing I ever posted on Usenet; it got reposted in several locations and is still hanging around 14 years later – spooky.)

  106. #106 SC, OM
    December 13, 2008

    er… when I said @92, I meant @91.

    er…lol :)!

  107. #107 Nick Gotts
    December 13, 2008

    Emmet Caulfield@97,

    Yes, quite right; I should have been clearer. So, I can still hope one day to be able to sign myself “Chowderhead” in all seriousness! Trouble is, peerages are frightfully expensive these days – the going rate is a 1m “loan” to the Labour Party, I believe. Then there would be the cost of bribing some village to rename itself “Chowderhead” – I think your title has to refer to a real place.

  108. #108 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008
  109. #109 Rey Fox
    December 13, 2008

    “Actually my spelling of jeslousy is a typing impediment, And I’ll thsnk you not to make fun of it.”

    Spologies sll sround.

  110. #110 SOCR-4735
    December 13, 2008

    This whole ‘war on Christmas’ thing seems rather incomprehensible to me. In fact, I’m sure I got it wrong. So could someone please clarify, what exactly is the war on Christmas, anyway?

  111. #111 Emmet Caulfield
    December 13, 2008

    Then there would be the cost of bribing some village to rename itself “Chowderhead” – I think your title has to refer to a real place.

    It might be cheaper than you think. The people of Shittington, Twatt, or a few other places might not take much convincing.

  112. #112 Conor H.
    December 13, 2008

    I wish I would have posted when this was still relevant but some posters seems to be acting as if Colbert’s entire persona and performance is not satire and caricature, when it clearly is. Doesn’t anyone remember the first couple episodes of The Report when he wasn’t playing up his whole right-wing schtick and was just a worse version of Jon Stewart? Don’t get me wrong, I love the show now, but those first couple episodes were he was the *real* Colbert sucked.

  113. #113 John Morales
    December 13, 2008

    SOCR-4735, AFAIK the “war on Christmas” is the contention by some Christians that Christmas should be exclusively a Christian holiday, and that no other terms should for the Christmas holidays.

  114. #114 Emmet Caulfield
    December 13, 2008

    Actually my spelling of jeslousy is a typing impediment, And I’ll thsnk you not to make fun of it.

    Was that due to a trauma suffered as a sboolboy?

  115. #115 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008

    what exactly is the war on Christmas, anyway?

    The War on Christmas is an annual frontline action against the Patrio-Christo-Oligarchy; the wedge by which we Progresso-Atheo-Anarcho-Communo-Degenerates plan to Take Over the World!!!!!! The plan: first, force everyone to stop saying “Merry Christmas.” From there, it’s a short step to marriage between humans and amphibians, mandatory euthanasia, random infanticide, socialized healthcare, and atonal music.
    Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!
    Oh, and Happy Holidays!

  116. #116 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 13, 2008

    War on Christmas? This is War on Christmas!!!

    (I am aware of… almost all Internet traditions.)

    Dennis the Short

    Not short. Tiny. Dionysius Exiguus.

  117. #117 SOCR-4735
    December 13, 2008

    SOCR-4735, AFAIK the “war on Christmas” is the contention by some Christians that Christmas should be exclusively a Christian holiday, and that no other terms should for the Christmas holidays.

    Well, that’s what I inferred from PZ’s posts and the comments, but I thought that was too ridiculous to be true.

    For a thought-experiment, let’s consider what would happen if the Christians would get their way.

    Would non-Christians stop getting the day off? If so, what would be the point of that?

    If not, what’s this all about then?

  118. #118 Sastra
    December 13, 2008

    The “War on Christmas” has two fronts.

    First, there is the view that Christianity is the default assumption because the majority believe it, and therefore any attempts to be “inclusive” and acknowledge the December holiday traditions of the minority is an attack on the majority. Christian values underpin all that is good in America, bind the country in harmony, and benefit even those who are not Christian, so Christianity needs to be recognized, acknowledged, and reinforced. Everyone should be wished a “Merry Christmas” — those few who don’t celebrate it should understand that they’re guests in someone else’s house, and accept their status graciously.

    The second front is the “Keep the Christ in Christmas” front. Celebrations of Christmas which secularize the holiday with Santa, trees, snowmen, and values which can be shared by everyone are insulting to those who know that the REAL meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus. So all Christmas displays and programs should have a primary religious focus. A nonchristian who accepts “Merry Christmas” as actually applying to him needs to be set straight. No Merry without Christ.

    The first front is basically fought against people in other religions. The second front is fought against atheists. But of course, there is overlap. In both cases, the person fighting the “war” frames it as an attack against their right to claim the holiday, and culture, for their own.

  119. #119 Malcolm
    December 13, 2008

    Alison@90
    I’d have been upset too, if I’d been a godbot.
    Who’d want to be associated with Tui’s? That stuff is vile!

  120. #120 SC, OM
    December 13, 2008

    wish I would have posted when this was still relevant but some posters seems to be acting as if Colbert’s entire persona and performance is not satire and caricature, when it clearly is.

    As I understand it, he’s a Catholic. [In fact, my mother recently met someone (OK, this is one of those "my cousin's veterinarian's sister" stories, but still) who had worked on the show and been surprised by his genuine religiosity.]

  121. #121 AnthonyK
    December 13, 2008

    Bstsrds

  122. #122 SOCR-4735
    December 13, 2008

    @118:
    I have little doubt that what you say is correct. But if I try to understand it, it feels like my brain is going to explode.

    Everyone should be wished a Merry Christmas, but atheists should reject it if it happens to them, but still wish it to others? That can’t be right…

    If I just summarize it as some nutty religious people trying to get others to affirm their (moral) superiority, and get the deference they feel they should have (for being morally superior). Just a holier-than-thou attitude, when it comes down to it, really?

    Now, I don’t live in the States, but wouldn’t it be best to just…ignore stuff like that?

  123. #123 Sastra
    December 13, 2008

    SOCR #117 wrote:

    For a thought-experiment, let’s consider what would happen if the Christians would get their way.
    Would non-Christians stop getting the day off?

    No. Non-christians would keep getting the day off, in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the Entire World (which would include any nonchristians honorable or thankful enough to perhaps someday honor Him with their belief.)

    What Christians want is for non-Christians to accept that Christmas is about Christ, and that, although the minority may still be counted as citizens, they are guests in the house of the American majority — and that means that, in America, we trust in God, and we say “Merry CHRISTmas” with an emphasis on the “Christ.”

    The want the illusion that Christianity is the expected norm, and there’s something kinda screwy about those who don’t share it.

  124. #124 Philip P.
    December 13, 2008

    People and peeps please. The War on Christmas is fought for two reasons:

    1) Oil. Gas prices are going down, but people still need to be distracted from the idea of developing alternative fuels. Mass consumption takes care of that nicely.

    2) Bush always wanted to show up his daddy. Bush Sr. knew better than go all the way into the state capitols and courthouses and Bush Jr., always stoking an Oedipus-complex, felt that the best way to show up his father was to occupy government property and make it all safe for Christmas. Unfortunately the provisional nativity scene has accomplished little due to civil war between Joseph and the wise men, and rumors persist that weapons and insurgents from Ramadan have been sneaking across the border, inciting riots and preventing stabilization of the manger.

    Not to neglect that the administration was unprepared for an extended occupation (ref. Rumsfeld’s “they’ll throw holly at our feet” gaffe), and that the war was being pushed by people in the administration as early as the mid-90’s. It’s well-documented that the White House used 9/11 to overstate the threat of secular government property. Read the truth, the cross found at Ground Zero was planted twelve days after the attacks (12 day of Christmas, coincidence?).

  125. #125 SOCR-4735
    December 13, 2008

    What Christians want is for non-Christians to accept that Christmas is about Christ, and that, although the minority may still be counted as citizens, they are guests in the house of the American majority — and that means that, in America, we trust in God, and we say “Merry CHRISTmas” with an emphasis on the “Christ.”

    Is it terribly nave of me if I just say “not gonna happen” to that?

  126. #126 SOCR-4735
    December 13, 2008

    Well, I’m going to sleep now, it’s kinda late here, so my final thoughts on the subject:

    I don’t know why a war on Christmas is being fought.
    Actually, I’m not sure you can say that it’s being ‘fought’ at all. It mainly seems to consist of some nuts yelling really loudly at people who really don’t care about what they’re yelling about.

    I also don’t quite understand why these nuts get so much attention, since it’s pretty obvious they’re spewing nonsense. I’m guessing it’s either because 1) they have a lot of money or 2) because your ‘respectable unbiased news-media’ are trying to entertain instead of inform. Or both, of course.

    Well, I’m going to sleep now, and I’ll no longer concern myself with the Ridiculous War Of Semantics. g’night, people.

  127. #127 amira
    December 13, 2008

    @112, I understand that his show is satire and the person he plays is simply his character. I don’t think that he’s actually a right wing fundamentalist :) I believe he’s a Catholic in “real life” though. I love his show and think he does a great job!

  128. #128 John Morales
    December 13, 2008

    SOCR-4735 @126,

    It [war on Christmas] mainly seems to consist of some nuts yelling really loudly at people who really don’t care about what they’re yelling about.

    Heh. That’s pretty much as I see it, too.

    Perhaps another slant is that these people are trying to uphold the fiction that Christianity is an up-and-coming religion that’s being persecuted and resisted by the establishment – i.e. that Christianity is the “underdog” and that Christians are being “opressed”.

  129. #129 Sastra
    December 13, 2008

    John Morales #128 wrote:

    Perhaps another slant is that these people are trying to uphold the fiction that Christianity is an up-and-coming religion that’s being persecuted and resisted by the establishment – i.e. that Christianity is the “underdog” and that Christians are being “opressed”.

    Yes — and, at the same time, Christmas is the established norm, everyone is happy with it, and that is why a few malcontents want to push and shove themselves forward, so they can ruin it for everyone else.

    They don’t have to be consistent.

  130. #130 scooter
    December 13, 2008

    Anybody else watching Hannibal [Lecter]on AMC?

    Great Christmas movie, just when he was disemboweling the guy before hanging him from a window at the Cathedral, some Carollers came to the door.

    Bah Humbug, I sent the kids out fend them off.

    The part where he feeds the guy his own brains is coming up, gotta go

    I love Xmas movies

  131. #131 Philip P.
    December 13, 2008

    @128 and @129

    In war, particularly direct combat, you are generally allowed to do whatever necessary to defend yourself and your comrades. This is taken to mean something like shooting to kill rather than wound. The threat is imminent, and protecting yourself is top priority.

    It is this type of thinking that people like O’Reilly want to use. If they can convince at least themselves that they are the underdog, that the threat is imminent, then they can excuse whatever actions and behavior because, hey, it’s about survival.

    The other argument, that Christianity is the dominant religion, does not, in their minds, present a contradiction. First, that America is a Christian nation or Judeo-Christian means you have tradition on your side. Second, saying that the majority of Americans are Christians means nothing when most of them are (here’s the right-wing view) powerless against institutional political correctness, against laws like affirmative action and the fairness doctrine. The minority holds the reins of power, and what can the masses do against this tyranny? Those poor working class people, they can’t buy their TV stations or publish their own newspapers, so that the truth can be told. It’s up to the brave souls like O’Reilly to fight on behalf of the people (that nebulous concept of majority=morality or majority=taste).

    Multiculturalism is being forced on our children, it’s dictating broadcasting standards and gagging those brave souls who won’t fall in line (please donate to the 700 Club right now so we can stay on the air for the rest of our broadcast day).

    You know Christians don’t get equal representation because other faiths are being represented. That’s their thinking.

    ***

    That kind of got away from me. I’m going to bed.

  132. #132 FactsDontMatter
    December 13, 2008

    On Thursday night of this week I was at a nice hotel in Buckhead, GA, and encountered a sign on a… um… holiday tree… that said, “Welcome to the Georgia GOP’s Holiday Party.” The party was just getting started nearby. I made a picture of it, and sent it to PZ. I do hope he sees it. I mean, this thing needs to be seen by Bill O’Reilly…

  133. #133 alison
    December 13, 2008

    @ Number8Dave (#95) – Squidmas cake sounds good but you might find your Significant Other wants to come over here – I’ve just made ensaimadas & there’s a Danish Julekage rising. And my goodness, does it smell yummy! Plus my Significant Other has come back from fishing & promises smoked kahawhai for later :-)

  134. #134 Epikt
    December 13, 2008

    Brownian, OM:

    nearby the cat is dozing, a single serene strip of tinsel hanging out of it ass;

    Ah. A feline starter cord.

    You know, pulling one of those can demonstrate just how expressive a cat’s face can be.

    (Yes, I know it can be dangerous to the little beasts; the only time I did it, I didn’t know where the other end actually was.)

  135. #135 Louise Van court
    December 13, 2008

    The so-called war on Christmas in America is ridiculous as PZ said. I have no doubt that some use it to generate controversy or traffic to certain programs or whatever.

    The real war on Christmas and Christians happens in places like Mosul in Iraq, Orissa in India, house churches in China and North Korea, and other places in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. People are imprisoned and killed for expressing their faith or just being from a Christian family. Check out persecution.com and scroll down to the recent news links.

    @Sastra #123

    What Christians want is for non-Christians to accept that Christmas is about Christ, and that, although the minority may still be counted as citizens, they are guests in the house of the American majority — and that means that, in America, we trust in God, and we say “Merry CHRISTmas” with an emphasis on the “Christ.”

    You do not know what I want nor do I think you can actually know what Christians as a group want because they/we are not all one and the same. Just as atheists are a diverse bunch so are Christians.

    Have you thought that perhaps when a person says “Merry Christmas” they might actually just mean have a very happy, festive, cheerful, enjoyable, gleeful, lighthearted, pleasant etc. holiday?

  136. #136 craig
    December 13, 2008

    “No we may not. We may just as easily assume that in writing his epistles, Paul did not see a need to discuss the details of Christ’s birth. Instead he, correctly, concentrated on Christ’s death and resurrection.”

    You’re assuming that some guy named Paul even wrote that shit, just because it says he did.

  137. #137 'Tis Himself
    December 13, 2008

    Have you thought that perhaps when a person says “Merry Christmas” they might actually just mean have a very happy, festive, cheerful, enjoyable, gleeful, lighthearted, pleasant etc. holiday?

    There’s no doubt that’s what’s meant when most people wish each other “Merry Christmas.” It’s the Religious Right, folks like O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Bill Donohue, that want to turn “Merry Christmas” into a threat and insult to non-Religious Right people.

  138. #138 John Morales
    December 13, 2008

    Louise @135,

    You do not know what I want nor do I think you can actually know what Christians as a group want because they/we are not all one and the same. Just as atheists are a diverse bunch so are Christians.

    Sastra is clearly using “Christians” to refer to that subset upon which the conversation was based, to wit, those claiming there’s a “war on Christmas”.

    I note that, since you acknowledge there’re umpteen versions of Christianity, yet you claim to be a Christian (implicitly, I know), you’re admitting the Christian message is ambiguous and that most self-professed Christians aren’t so.

    Internecine conflict between Christian denominations has a long history, indeed.

  139. #139 melior
    December 13, 2008

    People are imprisoned and killed for expressing their faith or just being from a Christian family.

    No one could have foreseen that slaughtering generations of “infidels” and “nonbelievers” would lead to hard feelings, eh?

  140. #140 Sven DiMilo
    December 13, 2008

    Have you thought that perhaps when a person says “Merry Christmas” they might actually just mean have a very happy, festive, cheerful, enjoyable, gleeful, lighthearted, pleasant etc. holiday?

    Of course. That’s what I mean when I say it, to family members and friends that I know celebrate that particular holiday. I do not say that to my students, however, a large proportion of whom I know to be Jewish or Muslim. And that’s why it’s so ridiculous for Blowhard O’Reilly and his ilk to be irate about commercial establishments using a more generic slogan; they (the stores etc.) are trying to broaden their customer base by being inclusive. You have to be a really paranoid Christian to see that as insulting or nontraditional or whatever it is they think.

  141. #141 Tim
    December 13, 2008

    Found a reminder of the American holiday spirit here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npSjdXk0tJk
    And by the way, will someone do something about Bill O’Reilly’s meds?

  142. #142 DebinOz
    December 13, 2008

    This post has nothing to do with this thread, but I had to let you all know that it is very happy day for us here is Victoria: Schools will have ‘religion’ classes taught by atheists!!!!!!

    < http://www.theage.com.au/national/religion-in-schools-to-go-godfree-20081213-6xxs.htm>

    Now if you help turn that link blue, I would be really happy.

  143. #143 Nerd of Redhead
    December 13, 2008

    Today I went to buy stamps for holiday cards. As normal politeness, I held the door open for various people who were entering/exiting the facility and who were more encumbered than I was with packages. If they wished me a merry christmas, as most of them did, I replied in kind. No need to spoil their day. Sastra calls this “dinner table politeness”. Then I went home and posted here. If I was required by law to acknowledge Xmas I would be much more inclined to respond negatively.

    My own opinion of the day is similar to John Morales #93. Whoopdeedoo. Let’s exchange the loot then get comfortable.

  144. #145 kamaka
    December 13, 2008

    “Schools will have ‘religion’ classes taught by atheists!!!!!!”

    Very, very cool. Except for the part where “Scientific Materialism” is a bit devoid of religion. How would I (experienced teacher) get past the “monotheists are irrational” bit?

    “Now class, belief in omnipotent godlike beings is so stupid your head could combust… since we don’t want your brain to burn up, I’m assigning Richard Dawkin’s book…”

  145. #146 GaryB
    December 13, 2008

    It is a Christian Nation after all and anything to do with Christianity should supersede any and all of those other obviously godless religions! If you want separation of church and state then get rid of all those other satanic churches and return Christianity to its proper place, as part of the State. The State and Christianity are one and the same./sarcasm

    This place really needs a roll eyes smiley.

  146. #147 mythago
    December 13, 2008

    Racism and xenophobia may be the roots of O’Reilly’s “war”, but it hasn’t crept far from its origins. I mean, the anti-Semitism is impossible to miss. Hmm, what OTHER group of people has a religious holiday in December and might not be excited about being wished a Merry Christmas?

  147. #148 Brandon P.
    December 13, 2008

    I like to tell people that my favourite Christmas tradition is people whining about how we’ve lost the true spirit of Christmas.

    I so know what you’re talking about. Last season at my high school, everyone had to go to this assembly in the gym, where they showed us a video comparing Santa Claus to Jesus. The basic message of the video was that Santa represented secular evils such as materialism (as if giving presents to people was a bad thing) whereas Jesus represented all sorts of good things. I came away feeling it was a blatant evangelical attempt to make us feel guilty about how we celebrate the holidays.

    I have no problem with Christians choosing to focus on the religious aspects of Christmas, but I am tired of all this “Jesus is the reason for the season” preaching. I think it’s actually a good thing that Christmas is now more about buying presents for your loved ones than celebrating the birth of some (possibly) fictional character in some obscure Southwest Asian town. It means to me that superstition is losing its power to love.

  148. #149 Matt, Sexual Jihadist
    December 13, 2008

    Racism and xenophobia may be the roots of O’Reilly’s “war”, but it hasn’t crept far from its origins. I mean, the anti-Semitism is impossible to miss. Hmm, what OTHER group of people has a religious holiday in December and might not be excited about being wished a Merry Christmas?

    Yeah, it always annoyed me that they couldn’t just be honest about it, though. My relatives used to go on about the evil war on Christmas. Followed by the hastily appended, “Not that we have anything against people of other faiths.” Right.

    This once happened immediately after they had been griping about Martin Luther King and the ‘terrible’ sixties. Not one ounce of shame, these people.

  149. #150 Patricia, OM
    December 14, 2008

    Ah, Nick, you make a lovely chowderhead! I think you should keep it.

    Heddle buzzed off while I went to peddle eggs. But I’m sure he’ll be back. *grin* Thanks to SC, OM I now know what kind of true christian Heddle is. Good.

  150. #151 John B. Sandlin
    December 14, 2008

    #135 Posted by Louise Van court on December 13, 2008 at 8:36 PMYou do not know what I want nor do I think you can actually know what Christians as a group want because they/we are not all one and the same. Just as atheists are a diverse bunch so are Christians.

    Then please speak up loudly that Bill O’Reilly doesn’t speak for you. Speak up loudly that “The Promise Keepers,” Bill Donohue, James Dobson, and all those other bigots don’t speak for you. Make your message heard loud and clear and public. Otherwise, we’re liable to think you agree.

    Have you thought that perhaps when a person says “Merry Christmas” they might actually just mean have a very happy, festive, cheerful, enjoyable, gleeful, lighthearted, pleasant etc. holiday?

    Yes, and that’s exactly what I mean when I say Happy Holidays. People really need to stand up to the bigots crying loud and clear that there is a War on Christmas. So far I don’t see many Christians doing so – mostly atheists and non-Christian theists. It needs to be made quite clear that the opinions of the “War On Christmas” Chicken Littles are minority opinions, even among Christians. Once such a thing is clear, then I will be happy to ignore the loud mouths.

    Meanwhile, don’t get upset with me if I don’t say Merry Christmas, but rather choose to use Happy Holidays. I can’t tell just by looking at a person if they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or other. And rather than be exclusive with my wish for a joyous holiday season, I prefer to be inclusive. Therefore:

    Happy Holidays!

    John B. Sandlin

  151. #152 Samantha Vimes
    December 14, 2008

    Damn, this gives “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” some sinister overtones…

    Sadly, yes. It wasn’t written that way, but the fucked-upedness of white supremacy groups has had many of them adopt this as a sort of movement holiday theme song.

  152. #153 Nick Gotts
    December 14, 2008

    Emmet@111,
    Thanks for that. I think I’ll make an offer to the residents of Pratt’s Bottom, since it’s quite near my birthplace (Orpington). Hang on though – maybe I won’t bother, and will just go ahead, pay Gordon my 1m (once I’ve acquired it) and become the Baron of Pratt’s Bottom! I’m pretty sure that title isn’t taken.

  153. #154 JayMagoo
    December 14, 2008

    I and my atheist friends celebrate the Winter Solstice, this year because it is on a Sunday, with a picnic and bonfire on Saturday, Dec 20. Join us at Markham Park, Sunrise, Fort Lauderdale. It feels natural, after all the tribes of Europe who were my progenitors celebrated the Solstice long before Christian missionaries arrived, so we do it quite naturally.

  154. #155 stephanie
    December 14, 2008

    why fight a war on christmas? because it’s a horrible holiday where people celebrate the idea that a sky fairy impregnated a 14 year old and that’s awesome.

  155. #156 dhonig
    December 14, 2008

    People are just figuring this out?!? I drew this cartoon three years ago- http://hypnocrites.blogspot.com/2005/12/some-people.html

  156. #157 catgirl
    December 15, 2008

    If someone is offended when I say “Happy Holidays”, I’ll tell them “Have a merry Christmas, but I hope your New Year sucks.”

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