Democrats & Liberals Archives

'Tis the season

For all of those who’ve become numbed to the commercialization of Christmas, here comes the next wave: the politicization of Christmas. Some background: I’m Jewish, and do not celebrate Christmas. But I grew up with Christmas, and most of my family are very into it. Until a couple of years ago, it never occurred to me to be offended if someone wished me Merry Christmas - any more than I would be offended if someone mistakenly but sincerely wished me a happy birthday on the wrong day.

Now, of course, the world is different. For those of us that read the papers, we know that saying "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" to a real conservative is like waving a red flag (or would that be a blue flag?) in front of a bull. And likewise, "Merry Christmas" can, with a little practise, be delivered to your liberal co-workers with a clearly audible subtext of "get thee behind me, you America-hating gay-marriage-supporting communistic Satanic Kerry supporter!"

If you don't believe things have gotten so bad, check this out: Tom Tomorrow is proposing a campaign in which liberals inundate Bill O'Reilly with "Happy Holiday" cards, in retaliation for a proposal by some "wingnuts" to send the ACLU Christmas cards. And of course George Junior himself has been under fire for sending out non-religious generic holiday cards instead of Christmas cards. Yes, folks, you would be naive indeed to suspect that you could safely wish anyone either "Happy Holidays", "Season's Greetings", "Merry Christmas", or any thing like that without detailed demographic data at least, and preferably a Zogby-style poll.

In response to this pressing problem, I propose the following solution. From now to December 25 (which this year is, coincidentally, also the first night of Hannukah) when you depart, just smile and use the traditional and universally appropriate phrase "See you at the mall!" And to welcome your friends and co-workers, just give them with a cheerful smile and the non-partisan, non-confrontational greeting "Go Steelers!"

Posted by William Cohen at December 11, 2005 11:31 AM
Comments
Comment #101192

These are pure diversionary tactics. At a time when Congress is constantly being given the choice to act in the interest of the nation and majority of Americans in the nation, or act on behalf of campaign donors, lobbyists, and special interests, and legislation favors the latter group more than the former, Merry Xmas in America is a diversion to help American voters avert their eyes from what is really going on. Our Government is broken, and anything that will divert attention from that fact is great news for the incumbents who have the most to lose if Americans hold them responsible for broken government.

And they are responsible! Want to make next Christmas a better one than this one? Vote those incumbents out next November and make them aware that we KNOW government is broke, and since they won’t take responsibility for fixing it, we will - by removing their Ho! Ho! Ho! asses from the Senate and House of Representatives.

May enlightenment come to all of our nation’s new and future Representatives!

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 11, 2005 12:30 PM
Comment #101194

Holy crow
as a steeler fan(lifelong) sounds like a great idea ,however ever seen the results of telling a dallas cowboys fan GO STEELERS that could get ya punched in the nose …heheheh…either way Merry christmas to all and GOOOOOO STEELERS

Posted by: rylee at December 11, 2005 12:36 PM
Comment #101196

I personally believe that the entire issue of the preferred way to recognize Christmas is now thought to be a “Happy Holidays” type of greeting or announcement only to appease a relatively small number of people who believe that to say “Merry Christmas” is a forced statement of faith.

How long will it be before we have accusations that Santa Claus is some type of subversive or possibly even a pedophile. (A main party one at that)

I am a christian who grew up with Christmas as a part of my life. It has remained that way for 63 years. I don’t envision the day or season to be an opportunity to discuss Christianity or impose my beliefs on anyone else.

If you stop and think about it, how sad is it that we christians take the two most important days in the life of our saviour, his birth and his death/resurrection and observe them by exchanging gifts and hunting for Easter eggs.

I submit that there are far more important issues before us than to argue about the pros and cons of how we refer to December 25th and the short “season” that surrounds it.

Posted by: steve smith at December 11, 2005 12:44 PM
Comment #101220

I think that too many people think that because there is a certain majortiy, especially if they are in it, that they can be exclusive. The normalization of intolerance for minorities is increasing because people are not caring to be inclusive, citing the ridiculousness of the ‘PC’ agenda of crazy liberals.

I don’t think it is funny to see office holiday parties being made fun of, saying they have to watch out for dieters, lactose intolerant people, alcoholics, etc. I don’t see why it is wrong to be sensitive and inclusive.

This issue with ‘happy holidays’ is like asking a woman what her husband’s name is, both assuming that she is married, and is heterosexual. Just because most people are straight doens’t make it OK. Just ask if she is seeing anyone, what her partner’s name is, etc. All that is not assuming she is gay, but it is being inclusive for those who are. it includes straight and gay. And that’s wrong?

“Happy holidays” is the same thing. It reaches a wider audience without alienating. What if you were christian and celebrated christmas, and someone wished you a happy Channukah? Would you think it was strange? Find the right way to tell them you do not observe that holiday, probably even say ‘I’m not jewish’?

Those who enjoy being in the majority do not understand such things. Especially in America.

Posted by: JS at December 11, 2005 1:23 PM
Comment #101224

It’s interesting to note that the Fundies are up in arms over Bush’s “happy holidays” card despite the fact that it INCLUDED A BIBLICAL VERSE IN IT. I think that, more than anything else, underlines how far these people have to stretch the truth to make it look as though Christmas and Christianity are under attack.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 11, 2005 1:32 PM
Comment #101248

When someone wishes me a happy anything, I am grateful. If someone is happy about something and they want to share it, I accept. When I lived in other countries, the locals sometimes wished me a happy or whatever for some of their holidays. I was flattered that they included me. I often didn’t know much about what they were talking about. It didn’t matter.

People who are offended by a merry Christmas are bigoted. Get over it, babies.

Posted by: Jack at December 11, 2005 2:38 PM
Comment #101254

Jack, another occasion upon which we agree entirely. I too feel included and flattered, though a Buddhist, when others wish me Happy Hanukkah, Merry Xmas, or even, Have a Nice Day!!! It’s a pleasure to return the greeting as well as a courtesy and sign of civility and connection to my fellow human beings.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 11, 2005 3:24 PM
Comment #101263

William:

As a Christian I would like to apologize to you. Christ taught that our purpose should be to think of others before ourself. He also taught that we are to be change from the inside (our heart) instead of from the outside. Applying any pressure politically is exactly the opposite of what Christ stood for.

Jesus also clearly taught that our perpose is it reach out to those less fortunate especially children. “When you do it unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it also to me.”

The true message of Christmas is for each of us to put the needs of others before ourselves. I believe it is impossible to change a person’s heart through political force of will. Because Christians are trying to do that, I am deeply sorry.

As I read what Jesus actually taught, I believe He is far more concerned about our self centered and “me” first attitudes, that what we call a particular day.

I wish you all the best in this holiday season,

Craig

Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 11, 2005 3:47 PM
Comment #101282

I agree with Craig on this one. Politicizing the various holidays defeats their purpose. Whether it’s Christmas, Hannukah or Rammadan, the original intent was giving, not selfishness.

*I don’t mention Kwanzaa out of ignorance on this one, so if anyone can tell me more than “they light candles” I’d appreciate it.

I’ve had the pleasure of joining in Hannukah celebrations and it was cool! I have no problem wishing or being wished a Happy Hannukah or any other variation. It’s the generous nature in people that’s supposed to come out during this time of year, not hard line stances.

Posted by: Stephanie at December 11, 2005 5:58 PM
Comment #101283

David,

Do Buddhists have a specific winter solstice celebration? If they do, I’d love to hear about it!

Posted by: Stephanie at December 11, 2005 6:00 PM
Comment #101287

Actually, the ‘attack on christmas’ is one invented by the christian community. There is no attack other than the one imagined by them so that they can further their political/religious agenda.

Please show me anywhere where someone is being told they ‘can’t’ say Christmas. If a community chooses to say happy holidays instead of christmas, shouldn’t that be their CHOICE?

Oh yeah, choice, a concept alien to the religious right…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 11, 2005 6:14 PM
Comment #101293

The only war ever waged on the fairy tale that is Christmas is over and the dollar won!

Have a HAPPY WINTER SHOPPING SEASON!

Posted by: expatUSA_Indonesia at December 11, 2005 7:02 PM
Comment #101299
When someone wishes me a happy anything, I am grateful. If someone is happy about something and they want to share it, I accept.

I agree. Who wouldn’t?

There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive and courteous to all people and not making erroneous assumptions. But, being offended by a greeting is just silly.

But, for those that do get overly upset about a greeting, make a mental note. It may be important later. This person is indirectly telling you something significant about their character; that they are intolerant, controlling, wallow in minutiae, and seek to be a victim of everything, no matter how slight, innocent, or well-intentioned.

And, then some may be upset because they perceive that their religion is losing prominence, and they don’t like this new sense polite consideration for others. So, they seek to blame someone. So, they need a villain. They then try to appear to have been victimized, and try to characterize it as secularism gone amuck. It’s those evil secularists (never mind that some of those secularists are also Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc). They seek to encourage all to begin again to use religious greetings (that is, their greetings of their faith). They proclaim, “Oh my, what is the world coming to? You can’t even say Merry Christmas anymore.”

That’s silly. At any rate, more tolerance of others’ religions would reduce this friction. And, there’s no need to become deliberate or childish about it, and also insist we eliminate references to God or any religion from all money, existing documents, art work, etc. I don’t know who’s pushing their agenda the most, but who ever it is should realize that the harder they push, the harder the other side pushes. So, if they quit pushing, there won’t be anything for the other side to push against. This isn’t like there’s a prize or reward to win. The whole battle is futile, and dangerous. So, it’s understandable when secularists (many religious people themselves) get nervous when religious intolerence shows its ugly head. History is littered with religious intolerance and deadly conflicts. Fortunately, this appears to be one lesson that most Americans have finally learned. Let’s not forget that lesson.

Also, consider the true meaning and wisdom of the 1st Constitutional Amendment, without trying to twist it to suit some purpose.
____________
Amendment I (Year: 1791): Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
____________

Now, take Tom Coburn (Senator of OK). He’s pretty responsible when it comes to not voting for pork-barrel. But, he wants a law to allow organized prayer in public schools. He’s not the only one. Several politicians believe the same way.

Well, if I read the 1st Amendment correctly (above), Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Thus, he (and some others) want a law to allow prayer.
So, he doesn’t get it.
He either doesn’t understand the 1st Amendment, or disagrees with it.
Either way, it’s a bit disturbing.

Also, there’s nothing in the 1st Amendment that prevents any person from practicing their religion. That’s because no law can prohibit the free exercise thereof.

So, perhaps it is worthwhile to simply re-read the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.

Do you agree with it? Or not?

Posted by: d.a.n at December 11, 2005 7:43 PM
Comment #101301

Rhinehold,

“Please show me anywhere where someone is being told they ‘can’t’ say Christmas.”

There are examples if you look. They are not even difficult to find. I particularly like this one.

Posted by: Stephanie at December 11, 2005 7:53 PM
Comment #101302

Stephanie.

These ‘examples’ are backup my point.

No one said that they couldn’t say Christmas. In your first ‘example’ the Christmas tree was changed to be called the ‘Holiday tree’. This was done by majority CHOICE. What’s wrong with that? And if they change it back to Christmas, ok, again, what’s the issue?

Your second ‘example’ states that the school in question tries to stike a balance. Sounds reasonable to me.

I fail to see anyone anywhere in your examples trying to ‘eliminate christmas’.

Please try a little harder?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 11, 2005 8:08 PM
Comment #101304

Oh, as for your third example, it even states that they are going to call it a Christmas tree anyway and no one is saying that they can’t.

????

Where is the ‘war on christmas’?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 11, 2005 8:11 PM
Comment #101307
But mostly, I think, this attempt to fade Christmas into a nondenominational winter holiday stems from a twisted notion of courtesy n from the idea that tolerance and respect for minorities require intolerance and disrespect for the majority.

Actually, it’s more of a response, IMO, of about 15 years ago when people were claiming that we were ‘COMMERCIALIZING CHRISTMAS’ too much. Many people starting using the term ‘Holidays’ then to avoid the charge made by the religious zealots that are in the majority in this country (for some unknown reason, you’d think that by now people who have more sense than to believe in invisible people).

Now we aren’t commercializing it enough?

Nice….

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 11, 2005 8:14 PM
Comment #101311

austrialia
any one happen to see the riots they had today ?would not be surprized to see a lot more of this type behavior ,perhaps in the us if were attacked again.linktext

Posted by: rylee at December 11, 2005 8:43 PM
Comment #101312

look here.

Posted by: rylee at December 11, 2005 8:45 PM
Comment #101316

This is the dumbest debate I’ve ever seen. No one is prohibited by law from wishing someone a Merry Christmas. Just because some stores or organizations wish to be more inclusive by saying Happy Holidays should not be a reason to get one’s nose out of joint.
I’m a white, christian, liberal democrat. If someone wished me “Happy Kwanzaa” or “Happy Hannukah”, I’d assume that they meant that they were wishing me the good things that go with their holiday and their beliefs, and I would be thankful for the thought.
If I, or another christian, wishes someone “Merry Christmas”, who is not a christian, I am wishing them the happiness and good spirit of MY holiday. I am also wishing them happiness (or merriment) on that day.

I am not surprised that a douchebag like Bill O’Reilly has taken up this cause. He’s the biggest idiot on this planet. It’s rare that one sees someone who is so completely moronic in their views, statements, and actions.

Let’s all forget this issue and get on with our lives; … . please.

Posted by: Cole at December 11, 2005 9:08 PM
Comment #101317

There’s no doubt about extremes on both sides.

Yes, Stephanie, there are some trying to discourage “Happy Christmas”. No doubt about it.
There are some trying (too hard) to promote it too.

The zealots on all sides have gone too far.

The zealots on both sides are trying to seduce others into the bickering. Perhaps they should be ignored?

Posted by: d.a.n at December 11, 2005 9:11 PM
Comment #101380

“Happy Holidays”, “Season’s Greetings” and “Merry Christmas” have been around since I was a child growing up in the late 1950s. They don’t offend me now and, I suppose, they never will.

What’s happened in the US over the past 20 years has been a steady increase in the thinning of our skins. I wish we could all just grow up and accept each other as we are; Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc. AND our cultural/religious differences.

The governement and the lawyers need to stay out of our lives; however, as long as there’s a buck to be made (because it all comes down to money), I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Anyway:

A very Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah and Ramadan!

Posted by: mac6115cd at December 12, 2005 7:50 AM
Comment #101383

All

First to answer Rhinehold,Wal Mart instructed its employees to say Happy Holidays and not Merry Christmas.

A customer called to complain and someone in their PR department said Christmas was originially a pagan holiday marking the winter soltice (that is probabally correct by the way but who knows)this sent off a furor nationially.

The Christian right’s view,is that Christmas is a nationial Holiday duly recognized as such by the government and to prohibit someone from saying Merry Christmas while working is crossing the line.

Target and Sears quickly followed suit which led to the Gibson/O”Reilly thing.

Truth be told,the pope is right.Christmas is stressful and commercial.We all lost sight of what the message should be.

Here is my question though:

Can a true liberal be Catholic?

Can a true liberal who promotes gay marriage and pro-choice and divorce really adhere to the tenants of Roman Catholicism?

As a non-practising Catholic (divorced)my view has always been pretty much that if you don’t like the rules going in,well leave.The Church has been rigid on those rules for centuries.

Liberalism has little tolerance for traditionial religious thought and this issue dwarfs issues like government corruption,Iraq and the ecomomy.

I have written that what is going on in Iraq is the beginning of the Islamic Revolution.

I think the Christian Revoultion is nearing a round two point.

Do liberals pray?And to what God?A God that condones abortion,and gay marriages?

Just asking.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 12, 2005 8:01 AM
Comment #101398

Eagle:

A true liberal can be a Catholic, but would most likely be a Catholic who did not follow all the tenets of the Catholic Church. The Church officially says that abortion is a sin and is wrong, but true liberal thought is at odds with that.

Some would say that the Church needs to modify its position. I’ve always looked at organizations and felt they have the right to set the bar where they see fit, and then ask people to rise to meet the bar.

Can you imagine an Olympic games where a high jumper said, “Wait, the bar is too high for me to clear—-I need it lowered just for me.” I don’t think the Church should change its bar simply because its hard to attain.

No one reaches the bar, of course. Only Jesus did, in my opinion. But that is no reason for lowering the goal.

Eagle, of course liberals pray, and of course they can pray to God, or whomever. That remark was a bit incendiary, and I’m not sure of the purpose. What was the purpose of that?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 12, 2005 9:11 AM
Comment #101399

As a non-practicing Jew, I am of two minds about this. On an intellectual level, I agree that there is nothing wrong with someone telling me “Merry Christmas”. On an emotional level, it does feel a bit alienating. I’ll put it this way: if someone was trying to sell me a car, it would probably be better for them not to say “Merry Christmas”. If they said it had a big trunk for “Christmas shopping”, that would definitely be a black mark. This is not about being vindictive, just reacting in a natural way. If that seems unfair to a Christian, think about how you would react if a salesman assumed that you were Muslim, or didn’t like Bush (and you do), etc.

As to the major point, I do agree that this is a ridiculous political issue!!!

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 12, 2005 9:16 AM
Comment #101400

sicilian eagle wrote:

Can a true liberal be Catholic?

Can a true liberal who promotes gay marriage and pro-choice and divorce really adhere to the tenants of Roman Catholicism?

As a non-practising Catholic (divorced)my view has always been pretty much that if you don’t like the rules going in,well leave.The Church has been rigid on those rules for centuries.

Liberalism has little tolerance for traditionial religious thought and this issue dwarfs issues like government corruption,Iraq and the ecomomy.

I have written that what is going on in Iraq is the beginning of the Islamic Revolution.

I think the Christian Revoultion is nearing a round two point.

Do liberals pray?And to what God?A God that condones abortion,and gay marriages?

Respectfully, the issues you’ve mentioned have very long histories within the Catholic tradition. Any effort to claim that there has been unanimity of opinion within Catholicism, or to question the faith of those Catholics who have had different views, would itself be entirely un-Catholic.

Take for instance a little known Catholic teaching known as “informed conscience.” The teaching states that if you disagree with a teaching, you are required to immerse yourself in a study of the issue, the Church’s teaching on the issue, etc. But if in the end you still disagree (and have met the criteria for an “informed conscience”), you are REQUIRED to maintain a belief in disagreement with the formal teaching of the church. Not “allowed,” but REQUIRED.

We could go into examples on all of the issues you’ve mentioned, but suffice it to say that many prominent Catholic theologians have had profound disagreements with the Magisterium over the issues you’ve mentioned.

For those who are interested, there’s a good book on the topic called “Why you CAN disagree and be a good Catholic.” I forget the author’s name right now, but would be happy to look it up if anyone’s interested.

Oh, and OF COURSE liberals can (and do) pray to God, go to Church, etc. They simply interpret their religious traditions differently from how you might.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 12, 2005 9:23 AM
Comment #101402

joebagodonuts wrote:

Some would say that the Church needs to modify its position. I’ve always looked at organizations and felt they have the right to set the bar where they see fit, and then ask people to rise to meet the bar.

Can you imagine an Olympic games where a high jumper said, “Wait, the bar is too high for me to clear—-I need it lowered just for me.” I don’t think the Church should change its bar simply because its hard to attain.

I think I understand your point. But lets keep in mind that people of good conscience might disagree on what constitutes a “higher bar.” For instance, “true liberals” might feel that disallowing gay marriage constitutes a very “low bar” insofar as a societal pursuit of justice and equality is concerned.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 12, 2005 9:32 AM
Comment #101404

My apologies to those who might be confused by my last post. I attempted unsuccesfully to place joebagodonuts’ statements in blockquotes. The two paragraphs under his name were from his post (12/12/05 @ 9:11 a.m.). The final paragraph was my response.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 12, 2005 9:34 AM
Comment #101408

So, I’m in line at the local Marshalls buying my son another new pair of sneakers(outgrown and actually worn-out this time). The lady behind me says to him “If your father really loved you he’d buy you that Santa.” The “Santa” being a $500 5 foot tall statue.
When I shook my head with a “what was that for?” smile, she apologized, saying she was “sure I had other ideas of what to buy him.” When I tried to make light and explained to her that this was simply the wrong holiday she got all agitated and appologized even more and profusely, explaining how “sorry” she was and how she “didn’t mean to insult me.” As a Jew who is not in the least intimidated by others beliefs, who enjoys a good Xmas gift unwrapping party at my in-laws , and is confused by why so many other people seem to think this PC stuff is so important that it broaches no mistakes, I defused the situation by telling her no appology was needed and that it was simply “a good excuse” not to buy it.

My point; How many of you understood that I was amazed that in her mind the purchase of some stupid doll was how my son could gauge my love for him? This season is no longer about peace, love, and brotherhood, it’s become about malls, profit margins, and political capital.

Oh well, Happerry Chanumas-anzadan to all and may the sauce on the great spaghetti god be like manna…

Posted by: Dave at December 12, 2005 9:55 AM
Comment #101411

Another thought - aren’t the stores who don’t say “Merry Christmas” actually being respectful of Christianity by not using Jesus to further their commercial agenda?

Posted by: Woody Mena at December 12, 2005 10:02 AM
Comment #101412
First to answer Rhinehold,Wal Mart instructed its employees to say Happy Holidays and not Merry Christmas.

A customer called to complain and someone in their PR department said Christmas was originially a pagan holiday marking the winter soltice (that is probabally correct by the way but who knows)this sent off a furor nationially.

The Christian right’s view,is that Christmas is a nationial Holiday duly recognized as such by the government and to prohibit someone from saying Merry Christmas while working is crossing the line.

Target and Sears quickly followed suit which led to the Gibson/O”Reilly thing.

And? A company made a decision on how to run it’s business. Did they prevent any customer from saying Merry Christmas? Did they try to enact legislation preventing it? Did they fire anyone who worked for them for saying Merry Christmas? Or did they instruct their employee to say ‘XXX’ just as if they told them to say ‘Welcome to Walmart’ instead of ‘Hello’.

The company most likely wanted to be more inclusive, being as they cater to more than just Christians.

How is this an attack on Christmas?

And yeah, the guy is right, Christmas is an originally pagan holiday. Jesus was born in the spring sometime, not the Winter Solstice. Newly Christian Rome adopted this date to celebrate Jesus’ birthday because they were trying to ‘co-opt’ many of the pagan holidays.

HTH.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2005 10:04 AM
Comment #101430

SE,
I remember calling into a republican radio show and told them that I was an independent liberal, the talk show host asked, “Are you pro-choice or pro-life?” I said pro life. He promptly replied, “Then why aren’t you a republican?”

What a stupid, stupid man. There is more than one issue. Just like many republicans are pro-choice, many liberals are also pro-lifers. Either way, what gives you the right to question the religious convictions of someone just based on their political views? If you remove the abortion thing, I personally find the republicans to be by far the least christ-like of any political parties in it’s belief. Does that mean that just because I disagree on one issue that I have embrace a stance that I find morally abhorrent on every other issue?

I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again. Demonizing people that don’t agree with you (those durn libruls!), while easier for you is just silly and downright childish. It’d be like me saying: Do republicans pray? And to which God? Which God condones torture, war, corruption, religious hypocrisy, destroying the environment, and leaving the poor, sick, and needy to fend for themselves? You wouldn’t stand for that, likewise don’t expect people to stand for your silly little attack.

Posted by: chantico at December 12, 2005 10:50 AM
Comment #101439

Steve:

Excellent point about the location of the bar. It makes it difficult when one person might see the bar as being low (due to a particular Church rule) and someone else might see it as high.

Not to get into the homosexuality issue, but it provides a good example of this kind of thought. Some say that the Church ought to be inclusive of homosexuals and be tolerant of their behavior—i.e.; that would be raising the bar. Others would say it would be lowering the bar since the Church feels homosexuality is wrong. The bottom line ends up often as a result of how we see things, as opposed to how they actually are.

Rhinehold:

Below is an excerpt from a well written article. I think Mr. Davis does a good job of explaining the differences found in the “Should we say Merry Christmas or not” issue. The full article can be found at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-12_7_05_MD.html

A Christmas quiz: What is the difference between these two events? 1. A clerk at a department store tells shoppers “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

2. A store renames Christmas trees, calling them “holiday trees.”

Answer: Event No. 1 is a reasonable and praiseworthy attempt at inclusiveness, since the clerk does not know which shoppers celebrate Christmas and which do not.

Event No. 2, however, is a gutless and ridiculous dodge of the obvious, buying into a new level of politically correct absurdity.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 12, 2005 11:01 AM
Comment #101451

JBOD

For once I didn’t mean to be inflamatory to liberals by asking that question,really.

I was wondering,how a liberal,who has views differing from the beaic tenants of Catholicism ,can call himself a Catholic…or better still,does he want to?

Probably more Chrtistian than Catholic,I assume.

Steve Westby

I am a product of Jesuit,Augustinain and Fransiciasn training so I look at things from three perspectrives:

The Augustinians,perhaps the most liberal of the three,are much more acceptian than other demoniations.The Confessions of Saint Augustine is the theology of that order and forgiveness ina basic tenant.

The Jesuit outlook is much more cerbral.They are the soldiers of Jesus..the intellectual shock troops so to speak.

The Franciscians the most conservative.Purity at its essence.

None,however would espouse the view of informed conscience dogma.No offense but there is no wiggle room.If what you say is truly dogma,then we wouln’t be having this converstaion.

Chantico
Cool it…I came with a white flag today.This isn’t a discussion about the war,which I will be happy to spar with you on,rather theology.

This Christmas thing goes far deeper than Wal-Mart…actually it should give us all pause for thought about our own theology.

I agree that the radio host question was dumb…and being pro-choice or pro-life should be dispositive on your politics either…those things are personal philosophicial decisions…yet carrying that one step further…guys like Alito are getting crucified on that one issue alone.

Question:Pick one:Most important issue:1.Pro-choice 2.environment 3.economy 4.the war.

Truthfulkly,religion is a consumer issue.A 501-C3 Internal Revenue Issue.
Maybe we need an American Cathoilic Church that espouses those differing views….

Another question:Is the term Catholic Church trade-marked?Maybe we are on to something.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 12, 2005 11:58 AM
Comment #101452

Diversity of beliefs is an essential element in a democracy. With diversity is a guarantee that the ideology of the majority won’t become the tyranny of the majority. The framers were well aware of this when they contemplated the American experiment and inserted the establishment clause in the Constitution. I’m an agnostic but appreciate as well anytime someone wishes me a merry anything. Christmas is a holiday with no one “true” meaning having itself evolved into a juggernaut of commercialism. Saying “Merry Christmas” deoesn’t align me with Christianity any more than saying “Happy Arbor Day” makes me a tree. It’s like jousting with the wind. Happy everyting!

Posted by: stevesmigs at December 12, 2005 12:03 PM
Comment #101456

Nobody takes this seriously, do they? I mean, I sure as heck don’t. The only reason that some of the most meaningless topics get some of the most passionate posts. Hey, it’s a way to hear ideas from people that you don’t normally get to connect with. Anyway, I’m going to name a list of my Holiday traditions. Let me know which one is under attack.

1. I get off of work on December 26th, as does my wife and every member of my family.
2. There was an abundant supply of 7 foot tall evergreen trees for me to pick from at a nearby Tree Farm.
3. The local malls were having sales in November and December.
4. My church is having mass on both December 24 and December 25.
5. All members of my family plan to exchange gifts with one another.
6. A few strands of our lights were burned out, but there was an abundant supply of them readily available and on sale at my local stores.
7. Decorations were available at my local stores as well, as were wrapping paper and cards.
8. We’re having a gift exchange at my office’s annual party.
Now, there are probably some that I’ve forgotten, and please, by all means, don’t be afraid to add to this list. Also, if you can think of any of your traditions which are actually under attack, I’d like to hear them as well. I’m not sure how changing the official name of a “Christmas Tree” to a “Holiday Tree” affects anything. You can still call it whatever you like. Ooh, I just thought of one.

1. Some songs at my local Public School’s Christmas concert were omitted based on a 50/50 compromise.

There must be some others, right?

Posted by: Mike at December 12, 2005 12:07 PM
Comment #101467

sicilianeagle,

If you’re talking about pro choice, are you talking about for yourself or for others? I don’t want to condemn someone else for having a grain of sand in their eye when I have a log in my own.

As far as my being pro choice for my wife, we recently had a miscarriage. They said that they couldn’t hear the heart beating. She had been 8 weeks pregnant, and in the room with us, there was a chart that said that you can first hear the heartbeat at 12 weeks. The Doctor told us that the fetus would come out on its own in 10 days, otherwise, it would be considered to be a “missed abortion,” and we would need to have it removed. The longer it stayed in, the higher the health risks to my wife. It did not come out within the 10 days, so we had the operation to have it removed on the 11th.

I understand that you probably do not consider this to be an abortion, but I fear that some people would. Who cares if they couldn’t hear a heartbeat, the chart says you’re not supposed to be able to anyway? If it were dead, wouldn’t it have come alive within 10 days?

We had another child born 10 months later. She is 4 months old and doing fine. My wife is perfectly able to have more children. Everything turned out okay, if you exclude the fact that we had a procedure that contained the word “abortion.” I mean, we’re probably going to hell for that one, right, I mean it is your call, isn’t it?

Okay, neocons, now I’ve opened myself up. Time to bragg about how you can’t understand what I’m saying. Time to say that I had an abortion. Time to call me a murderer. Time for some potshots that I haven’t even thought of yet. Anything to win the argument. Isn’t that what it means to be pro-life? Doesn’t that mean that you get to judge someone else?

Posted by: mike at December 12, 2005 12:29 PM
Comment #101479

Mike,

We had the same basic events before our second child, does that make me a killer too?

Congrats on the baby!

Posted by: Dave at December 12, 2005 12:52 PM
Comment #101485

SE,
Ergo, you see why I’m an independent. I vote as my moral convictions drive me. Both parties often do things I cannot agree with. Woe is me!

But I agree that Christmas is a time for theological introspection. I just find this imaginary war silly. Someone tells me Happy Holidays, I say thanks! It doesn’t detract from my christmas at all.

To me God lives in us and not in society (you know, that whole render unto Ceasar bit). So the world can do what it wants as for me and my family, our Christmas will be very Christ centered. Thankfully we live in a country where we’re free to worship as we please, and I know that if ever non-christians should outnumber the christians I’ll still have that right.

Posted by: chantico at December 12, 2005 1:08 PM
Comment #101488

Mike:

First of all, congrats on the kid.

Second, you’ve fallen a bit into a trap of taking an argument further than logic would dictate. Most people consider the health of the mother to be a factor in abortion. Now, some look at the word “health” and use it in terms of a severe risk to the mother, while others use it to justify nearly any abortion.

In your situation, your wife’s health became paramount. Technically, if the baby wasn’t dead when it was removed, I guess it qualifies as an abortion. Realistically, a huge majority of Americans would support your choice in that decision. So don’t take the argument to its furthest reach, in hopes of making it stronger.

By the way, I’ve been in the same situation—our baby died in the womb and was delivered naturally with the help of Pitosin. I’m not in favor of abortion on demand, but in the case of severe trauma potential to the mother, or in the case of rape/incest, I support the option of choice.

Lastly, anyone who would call you a ‘murderer’ would be failing in their duty to love one another. Its unfair to act as if that would be the norm—it would be reserved for a few wackos at the fringe. It would be no more normal than to expect a pro-choice person to cheer the fact that your wife had an ‘abortion’.

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at December 12, 2005 1:12 PM
Comment #101495

sic.eag wrote:

The Christian right’s view, is that Christmas is a national Holiday duly recognized as such by the government and to prohibit someone from saying Merry Christmas while working is crossing the line


Hmmmm…How many of these critics are part of the Christian-Right that continually fight against a “National Holiday, duly recognized as such by the government” called Halloween? If being “a national holiday duly recognized by the government” is the criteria, then how does Halloween NOT fit into the same category?
Look, although I choose not to discuss my religious / spiritual beliefs and practices on this forum, I have always celebrated Christmas and am in no way offended by someone who says “Merry Christmas” to me. I say Merry Christmas to others too. I also say “Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings” and any other greeting that may come to mind.

I think the issue fails to recognize another important point, I (you, and EVERY other citizen) am a natural-born citizen. I was raised in the US and I have observed all the traditional American holidays for forty-something (HA! a girl still has to keep SOME secrets!). Over the years I have seen the “over-commercialization” of the holiday by those in the retail business (and other businesses too). They now also specifically market to individuals that DO NOT NECESSARILY celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, but still encourage them to buy, buy, buy. If one of the large store chains (someone mentioned Wal-Mart) decides they prefer “Happy Holidays” rather than Merry Christmas in an effort to include “customers” who practice different customs and traditions, SO BE IT!! They are free to require their employees to do so.

Although I still celebrate Christmas, it has been approximately 15 0r 16 years since I stopped putting up a tree. I stopped not because of any belief, religious or other, but simply because I had no kids at home, and because I NEVER, EVER get to spend the Holidays at my own home anyway (always spend the holidays at both my parents home and HIS parent’s home). After a couple years of NOT putting up a tree, friends began to hound me about it. These were ALWAYS friends who consider themselves practicing Christians. I would defend my choice by saying something like, “Why do I need a tree, something which lives outdoors to be brought indoors decorated with all sorts of artificial lights and ornaments to prove to someone else I am in the Christmas spirit?” Some friends understood, others didn’t. One well meaning friend came over one year with a car load of decorations including a tree and said she couldn’t stand the thought of me NOT having a tree. I allowed her to continue since it meant something to her. I did ask her if she was coming back over to take it all down once Christmas was over, and we had a good laugh. (She did not come to take it down, of course).


Yesterday in our local Newspaper, I read an editorial by Samuel R. Moore, a practicing Christian who says he is personally offended by anyone who says “Xmas” instead of Christmas.

link to article: http://herald-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051211/OPINION/512110312/1034/ARCHIVE He also went on to add he feels it is ridiculous to get fired up over the phrase “Holiday Tree,” when the bible clearly says cutting a tree, decorating and adorning it is the work of the “vain Heathen,” and is not part of the original Christian celebration of the holiday anyway.


link to Biblical text: http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=KjvJere.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=10&division=div1

Being unfamiliar of the actual origin of this custom, I did some research of my own. I am actually surprised by the findings and why someone who is truly a Christian would argue the sacredness of the “Christmas Tree” custom. I did find a really good site written by a Pastor Richard Butcher. He explains his findings on the actual origins of the customs, and then dispels some of the myths associated with the custom. But, IMO he gives the A-OK for Christians to continue to practice the custom by rationalizing, “it is ok BECAUSE it is NOT the same thing as Jeremiah specifically condemns.”

http://users.rcn.com/tlclcms/chrtree.htm


I think it is important to remember, THIS IS AMERICA! and while we are all entitled to practice the religion of our choice, we are also free NOT to practice the religion of YOUR choice.

Greetings, and Merry Holidays to you all during this Christmas season,
sassyliberal

Posted by: sassyliberal at December 12, 2005 1:32 PM
Comment #101531


All

I will respond in a minute,but first this just in from Iraq:

A U.S. Marine squad was marching north of Basra when they came upon an Iraqi terrorist, badly injured and unconscious. On the opposite
side of the road was an American Marine in similar but less serious state.

The Marine was conscious and alert and as first aid was given to both men, the squad leader asked the injured Marine what had happened.

The Marine reported, “I was heavily armed and moving north along the highway here, and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent. We saw
each other and both took cover in the ditches along the road.

I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein is a miserable, lowlife, scumbag, and he yelled back that Senator Ted Kennedy is good-for-nothing, fat, left wing liberal drunk. So I said that Osama Bin Ladin dresses and acts like a frigid, mean spirited woman! He retaliated by yelling, “Oh yeah? Well so does Hillary Clinton!”

“And, there we were, standing in the middle of the road, shaking
hands, when a truck hit us.”

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 12, 2005 2:29 PM
Comment #101543

Mike

Of course not.And I am happy that things went well for you.Bravo.I just became a grandfather(yes,I know,,,the Eagle is so young..but) and I in wonder over the creation of a new life.

I do,however,object when abortion is used as a birth control method.My feelings,anyway.

sassy
You hide your age well!Merry holidays too!

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 12, 2005 2:40 PM
Comment #101550

Sicilian Eagle,

You asked “Do liberals pray? And to what God? A God that condones abortions and gay marriage?”

Well yeah Eagle, but only amongst Sicilians.

I am not religious as I find the concept of God crazy. The thought of our God getting up to make a sandwich scares me.

Christianity is nuts, it originally believed in heaven falling down from the sky, people (even after decades/centuries of decomposition) coming back from to life and weirdest of all the rapture where Jesus pulls people out of their clothes and lifts them up into the sky to sit beside Jesus and watch the events of a hell on earth. These things are absolutely bonkers. Especially creationism, that would include a God that is of the nuttiest confabulations including the fall of Eden as to why women menstruate.

Prayer is nuts too. Is there a prayer central command somewhere in the sky like a post office? Where God hears all prayers after perhaps some sort of filtering after all those “Oh God” sentiments mid orgasm and those people who give a “Jesus Christ!!!” to anything that goes wrong.

This religion is nuts!!!! Especially with all the evidence Jesus probably never existed.

Can I make up a messiah? My messiah’s name is Todd, Todd Christ. He can turn wine into cola or sprite or any fountain beverage really. It’s bonkers. So a holiday cheer of “Merry Christmas” Either let’s me know you are nuts or haven’t given alot of thought to theology or popular tradition.

Posted by: Elephant wrestler at December 12, 2005 2:50 PM
Comment #101554

Can Christians please reabsorb Santa, he’s getting creepier. I was at Clause.com last night and their Christmas carrols include a promotion of their own site and their own elf characters. Please reconsider Santa as a Christian icon again, so what if his name scrambed spells ‘Satan’. Secular Santa is freakin’ me out.

Posted by: Elephant wrestler at December 12, 2005 2:59 PM
Comment #101572

When Christians pray what are they looking up at?

Posted by: Elephant wrestler at December 12, 2005 3:29 PM
Comment #101573

Sicilian Eagle wrote:

I am a product of Jesuit,Augustinain and Fransiciasn training so I look at things from three perspectrives:

The Augustinians,perhaps the most liberal of the three,are much more acceptian than other demoniations.The Confessions of Saint Augustine is the theology of that order and forgiveness ina basic tenant.

The Jesuit outlook is much more cerbral.They are the soldiers of Jesus..the intellectual shock troops so to speak.

The Franciscians the most conservative.Purity at its essence.

None,however would espouse the view of informed conscience dogma.No offense but there is no wiggle room.If what you say is truly dogma,then we wouln’t be having this converstaion.

Sorry, SE, but I’m afraid in this you are either uninformed or misinformed. This is basic Catholic theology. I urge you to look it up. It relates to the theological issue of probabilism and the formation of individual conscience, and how individuals should make choices of belief when the Church has not spoken infallibly (e.g., when there is a strong diversity of viewpoints within the body of the Church). There are VERY few issues where the church has done so (e.g., through ex-cathedra).

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 12, 2005 3:30 PM
Comment #101581

Steve Westby

Hey I have been called worse than uniformed or misinformed…that’s why the Eagle has feathers…rolls right off.

Last I looke the Catholic Church had adopted the fifth commandment,…thou shalt not kill..no?

Where does that fit into you theory?

I don’t buy the papal infallability thing either to tell you the truth…Pius XII (?)(I am going from memory here) created that concept in the early 50’s didn’t he?

On the marriage thing too..weren’t the apostles married?I think yes.

Clearly the killing thing is against dogma.

Elephant Man

Yikes.

Eating too many peanuts?

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 12, 2005 3:42 PM
Comment #101583

What do hand positions have to do with prayer? Together, clasped or ‘up and out in front of them?

Does God count Roman Catholics candles for inventory? Six would be considered an easy day and so on…

How do Eucharist wafers get so stale? And can you buy wafer snack packs? What if you prefer a topping on your wafer? Why would anyone yell at you for that?

Why is the church pipe organ considered melodic?

Why is there a congressional chaplain, are they doing that much screwing up that they need it daily in advance no less?

Posted by: Elephant wrestler at December 12, 2005 3:45 PM
Comment #101586

SE,

Papal Infallibility has a long history, but it wasn’t formalized until 1870. Wikipedia

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 12, 2005 3:49 PM
Comment #101597

Sicilian Eagle wrote:

Last I looke the Catholic Church had adopted the fifth commandment,…thou shalt not kill..no?

Where does that fit into you theory?

and

On the marriage thing too..weren’t the apostles married?I think yes.

First of all, let me make clear that it is not my intent to argue in favor of abortion. My point is to argue that diversity of opinion occurs within Catholicism — and that such diversity is valid.

As to the issue of “killing,” it is certainly true that this is one of the Biblical commandments. It is also true that the Church teaches that there is no reason to justify the deliberate taking of innocent human life. But understand, this is a complex issue with a complex history. For instance, some prominent earlier theologians in the Catholic church (like Aquinas) didn’t believe a body was given a soul (or “ensouled”) until the end of the second trimester. This was affirmed by some ecumenical councils in the 14th and 16th centuries. So there has been a diversity of opinion on when a fetus would be considered a “human life.”

As for the issue of gay marriage, there is a significant debate among Catholic theologians on this issue that involves a critical examination of the historical context behind various biblical pronouncements. For instance, some of the teachings that appear to denounce homosexual sex were apparently written in the context of denouncing soldiers for the forcible rape of male children. There is certainly also disagreement within theological circles over the theological basis behind the Magisterium’s denunciation of homosexual sex as “disordered.” This is most certainly an issue without consensus in the church Body as a whole, and has never been a teaching given ex-cathedra.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 12, 2005 4:10 PM
Comment #101617

Bah! Humbug.

Posted by: Bill at December 12, 2005 5:03 PM
Comment #101620

Elephant:

You do seem a bit out of sorts regarding religion. By the way, if your “god” is Todd Christ, then perhaps you should be wishing everyone a ‘Merry Toddmas’. But in all seriousness, I don’t think anyone named ‘Todd’ could really be in charge of anything as important as the universe. Perhaps social hour at the frat house…but not much more :)

You say creationism is a farce, but allow me to ask a question. If we truly evolved from a primordial soup, which evolved from the Big Bang, then where did the materials that went “BOOOOM” come from? From my rudimentary science, I remember that something must come from something, so where did the something come from?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 12, 2005 5:05 PM
Comment #101630
From my rudimentary science, I remember that something must come from something, so where did the something come from?

Not when you’re dealing with Quantum Physics, which is the understanding of the Big Bang.

Then again, should we really go on that tangent?

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 12, 2005 5:19 PM
Comment #101647
so where did the something come from?

I don’t think we know for sure yet. We didn’t know a lot of things at one time but that didn’t make them not true.

OF course, the same holds true for religion. Where did this ‘god’ come from? As you say, something must come from something…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2005 6:10 PM
Comment #101655

Fight terrorism - go shopping.


SANTA - the ultimate operative. Go Santa! Hooah!

Posted by: tony at December 12, 2005 6:40 PM
Comment #101658

Todd says a binary chemical reaction of magnetic resonance creating all matter of sustainable quark matter existent on various bandwidths that we call space, but what does he know. I’ll ask his Dad he’d know.

Merry Todd-mas to all! Father, son and holy kegpump!

Posted by: Elephant wrestler at December 12, 2005 6:44 PM
Comment #101659
so where did the something come from?

I don’t think we know for sure yet. We didn’t know a lot of things at one time but that didn’t make them not true.

OF course, the same holds true for religion. Where did this ‘god’ come from? As you say, something must come from something…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2005 6:48 PM
Comment #101664

Rhinehold wrote:

I don’t think we know for sure yet. We didn’t know a lot of things at one time but that didn’t make them not true.

OF course, the same holds true for religion. Where did this ‘god’ come from? As you say, something must come from something…

Just to be clear about the argument involved… from the perspective being advocated, things have to come from other things. But ultimately there must have been a “prime mover” — a thing that was first, that was not created but that started creating other things. Without a “prime mover,” there could never have been ANYTHING. That’s the argument.

Of course, proving the existence of a “prime mover” is very different from demonstrating the existence of a benevolent divine being. But that’s the argument. Basically, most religious traditions equate the “prime mover” with God.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 12, 2005 7:01 PM
Comment #101702

Hmm, but where did that ‘prime mover’ come from?

Do you see the dilema?

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2005 9:49 PM
Comment #101703
Basically, most religious traditions equate the “prime mover” with God.

Actually, no, they give human characteristics to the ‘prime mover’ with no reason to suggest there is one and then go further to say that the ‘prime mover’ wants you to live a certain way…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2005 9:50 PM
Comment #101724

does anyone else find the idea of christianity feeling bullied hillarious?
i cant believe that you guys take this seriously. there are way more important issues than weather or not there is or ever was a big dude in the sky
Katrina
Iraq
president stupid and vice president scrooge
and so much more

Posted by: laughing at December 12, 2005 10:59 PM
Comment #101849

Its virtually impossible to prove the existence of God, and its equally impossible to disprove his existence. While there is much evidence in the Bible and other historical books, the end result is that faith is required to believe in God. You simply cannot arrive at a belief in God by facts alone.

Personally, I think God wanted it that way, because faith is more difficult, and therefore more important than facts. Consider a dating someone and informing them that the scientific data shows they are genetically viable, their finances show an upward trend, their history deems them suitable etc. Compare that to simply saying, “I love you. I know we are different, have different backgrounds and it may not make sense. But I love you”.

Which has more power inherent in it—-the facts or the emotion. And faith is an emotional force.

Rhinehold:

I believe God is omnipotent. As such, he does not fall into the finite laws of nature that we do. If he truly is omnipotent, then he could have always been there, with no beginning or end. Yes, this requires faith more than mere fact. But it requires a different type of faith to believe in the ‘religion’ of science, which has yet been able to resolve the intricacies and questions of our existence.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 13, 2005 8:05 AM
Comment #101851

Stephanie, closest holiday to Christmas for Buddhists is

Bodhi Day (Enlightenment Day)

Bodhi Day honours the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama — the Buddha. Buddhists observe the importance of this event by celebrating Bodhi Day usually on the eighth of December. The day is observed in many ways, including prayer, meditation and teachings.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 13, 2005 8:11 AM
Comment #101857

David:

On the 8th of December, you and I engaged in a discussion (Iraq War: Reflections) that was less than enlightened. I fear our conversation might not have been in keeping with Bodhi Day, as neither of our posts were uplifting, meditative, or prayerful.

My apologies for my part in taking any enlightenment out of your Bodhi Day. I wish you a Bodacious Bodhi day, a bountiful Bodhi season, and the hopes for higher knowledge, peacefulness and enlightenment in your future.

Also, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year :)

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 13, 2005 8:32 AM
Comment #101859

While there is much evidence in the Bible and other historical books, the end result is that faith is required to believe in God.
Posted by joebagodonuts at December 13, 2005 08:05 AM
============================================
Jbod,
There is no “evidence” in the bible. “Evidence” is a noun, a physical thing. But, you are absolutely correct when you say “faith” is required. Without faith, there is no God.

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 8:46 AM
Comment #101860

Dave:

I disagree with your definition. We have historical proof as well. For instance, there is no DNA proof that Charlemagne lived, or that Genghis Khan lived, but we know they did because we employ historical proofs for such things.

One part of the method is to look for eyewitnesses, and especially eyewitnesses from varying viewpoints. For instance, if 25 people of different races, genders, socioeconomic levels etc see a car accident, and they describe it similarly, we can make the presumption that the car crash happened, even if the physical evidence is removed.

If we rely only on evidence as you defined it, then how would we ever be able to believe in any kind of historical event?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 13, 2005 8:50 AM
Comment #101861

JBOD,
You said “in the bible”:
Is there a substantial ammount of contemporaneous third party cooberation of what is in the bible?
Is there archeological evidence that events described occured?
Is this evidence from main stream science or from biased sources?
Charlemagne and Khan and the car accident meet those criteria.

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 8:57 AM
Comment #101871

Dave,

While I am not a ‘believer’ in the divinity of Jesus, there is little doubt that he did exist and some of the events did occur. Roman history writers detailed some of the events, Roman logs exist from that time, etc.

There are many things that are conjecture or interpretation, but a favorite exercise of mine has been to examine the history of the period outside of the bible and it is quite interesting.

Of course, knowing more history of the time period just calls many of the things mentioned (and not mentioned) in the bible into question and you start to see how mis-interpretations of what the original texts say came into being.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 13, 2005 9:23 AM
Comment #101874

Oh, and it must be said that the amount of what is written in the bible that is either contradictory or outright wrong calls into question the other parts of the bible that has no historical or factual evidence, such as the existence of a god, how the earth began, etc.

For example, the word ‘virgin’ used during the time period did not mean the same thing that it means today…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 13, 2005 9:25 AM
Comment #101875

Thanks Rhinehold, I will take a deep breath now :-)
I wasn’t questioning the existence of an historical figure; it’s just the “evidence in the bible” theme I can’t support. The bible is just one book (re)written with the personal agendas of the authors in play.

What did “virgin” mean “back then”?

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 9:32 AM
Comment #101892

Virgin meant a woman who was unmarried and was with child or that she had not had sexual relations at all.

So a ‘virgin birth’ could easily have meant that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations resulting in a child but had not gotten married yet.

In fact, this is the most likely scenario.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 13, 2005 10:21 AM
Comment #101894

Rhinehold wrote:

Hmm, but where did that ‘prime mover’ come from?

Do you see the dilema?

Ah, but don’t you see? The whole point of the argument is that, ultimately, some being that wasn’t “created” had to start it all off.

Actually, no, they give human characteristics to the ‘prime mover’ with no reason to suggest there is one and then go further to say that the ‘prime mover’ wants you to live a certain way…

I’m afraid this doesn’t quite follow. Historically, faith in a divine being came first. Philosophical arguments to support the existence of a divine being came later, likely in response to other movements within philosophy during the middle ages.

Ultimately, I’d agree that it isn’t possible to “prove” the existence of a benevolent divine being with logic. But then, logic is neither the source of all truth (think art, music, poetry) — nor is it the source of most people’s religious beliefs.

The great Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel wrote that in attending to the world we can notice it’s power, its beauty, and/or its grandeur. Much of science comes from observations about power (how things influence each other), much of art stems from observing its beauty — and religious belief (in his view) stems from an awareness of grandeur in the world.

These areas of awareness are largely independent. It isn’t possible to logically “prove” that an object is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. Similarly, I don’t think it makes sense to use logic to doubt the religious faith of others.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 13, 2005 10:27 AM
Comment #101912
Hmm, but where did that ‘prime mover’ come from?

Do you see the dilema?

Ah, but don’t you see? The whole point of the argument is that, ultimately, some being that wasn’t “created” had to start it all off.

Why? We have established that something has to come from something else, why would we break with that with which we agree just to say that an intelligent being must have been there first and violate the very law that is being used to support it?

You say that something has to come from something and therefore a prime mover must exist, coming from nothing, invalidating the whole argument.

Historically, faith in a divine being came first.

As did the thought that the sun revolved around the earth and the moon was made of cheese. That doesn’t make them RIGHT.

I don’t doubt the religious faith of others. I doubt that it is based in reality. It is a tool used to help them get over areas that they are unable or unwilling to cope with, failings in their own personalities or in understanding the universe and their standing (or lack thereof) in it.

The problem is when people use this tool that may be helpful for themselves to dicate how someone ELSE should live, how someone ELSE should think and ultimately use political force to enact those views on someone else. Even worse, start wars over them.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 13, 2005 11:05 AM
Comment #101925

Steve,

Faith is not logical, so there is no arguing logically about someones faith. It’s the other way around that causes trouble.
For example; when people try to argue faith based fake-science like ID to “prove” God. For people with real scientific background it’s either a load of crap or a tool to fool the non-scientific.

Let’s extend this to beauty. Some tribe thinks making their necks 18 inches long with rings makes the woman more beautiful. Some people think large obese women are beautiful, some like elfen; and desirable features change over even short periods of time. Can you show a universal constant for beauty? With the exception of the golden ratio and Fibonacci sequence, I’m not sure anyone has.

Religion and grandeur I think is new. religion started as way for people who had just reached sentinence to explain what they could not understand. It has developed into a way to excuse empire and war.

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 11:41 AM
Comment #101934

Rhinehold wrote:

Why? We have established that something has to come from something else, why would we break with that with which we agree just to say that an intelligent being must have been there first and violate the very law that is being used to support it?

You say that something has to come from something and therefore a prime mover must exist, coming from nothing, invalidating the whole argument.

Why? Because of the marvelous fact that there IS anything at all. Look, if A creates B and B creates C and C creates D — ultimately, something had to created “A” right? If it didn’t, then A would never exist. But why is there ANYTHING? Why is there “something” rather than “nothing”? Why is there an existence to ponder? Because something must have started the process. If there was no first step, there could be no second, third, or fourth. There would be nothing. So (as far as this argument is concerned) there must have been a creator that was not created.

Believe it or not, I don’t think we disagree as much as you might assume. I don’t think this argument proves the existence of a “loving God” — just some force that got the whole ball of wax rolling. But it is an argument that’s been used to support the existence of God — or at least a “creator.”

As did the thought that the sun revolved around the earth and the moon was made of cheese. That doesn’t make them RIGHT.

I don’t doubt the religious faith of others. I doubt that it is based in reality. It is a tool used to help them get over areas that they are unable or unwilling to cope with, failings in their own personalities or in understanding the universe and their standing (or lack thereof) in it.

The problem is when people use this tool that may be helpful for themselves to dicate how someone ELSE should live, how someone ELSE should think and ultimately use political force to enact those views on someone else. Even worse, start wars over them.

Ah, but what “reality” do you mean? If people experience a sense of grandeur and feel that there MUST be something beyond the observable world — is that somehow “not real”? Can you really prove that this is a defensive denial of reality? If it was, you’d suspect that people who believed such ideas most strongly were weak emotionally and psychologically right? Yet the truly great figures of religion were powerful human beings, strong leaders, extremely accomplished. And they would say that they were strong BECAUSE of their faith, not despite of it.

On the other hand, I would agree that religious beliefs can be misused — particularly when people try to “force” them on others, start or justify wars, etc. Faith should inspire compassion and goodness — should warn people against the very actions you’ve rightly described as objectionable.

But don’t make the mistake of looking at the extreme right-wing religious idiots out there and assuming that they typify religious belief — or its effect on people. That’s as ignorant as what you accuse the religious of doing.

Dave wrote:

Religion and grandeur I think is new. religion started as way for people who had just reached sentinence to explain what they could not understand. It has developed into a way to excuse empire and war.

And I would say that a sense of grandeur is the starting point of all religions. The use of such an experience to explain the unexplained came second, and has often been in error.

In other words, there is an experiential component behind religious belief. It couldn’t have survived this long without one.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 13, 2005 12:11 PM
Comment #101942

Dave:

Hold the Bible to the same standards that you would hold any other historical work, and you will find it stacks up well simply as a historical work. That still doesn’t prove the existence of God, but it does show that the Bible has lots of ‘evidence’ in it. Or, you can do as so many do, and simply assume it has no historical factual basis and disregard all of it. I’ll hope you take the higher road, do a little research on your own, and reach your own conclusions.

Is there a substantial ammount of contemporaneous third party cooberation of what is in the bible?
Yes
Is there archeological evidence that events described occured?
Yes
Is this evidence from main stream science or from biased sources?

Both

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 13, 2005 12:26 PM
Comment #101943

Maybe I’m just too cynical, Steve, but the reason religion still exists is the same for any beurocracy. They were started in order to fill a need. They continue simply because they now serve themselves.
Early man didn’t feel “grandeur,” there was no time. They felt fear at being low on the food chain and they had curiosity and drive as to how to be the predator, not the prey. Part of controlling the environment was ritual, e.g. sacrifices. But there had to be someone to sacrifice to and over time we got gods.

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 12:26 PM
Comment #101953

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season’s Greeting (and Oh!!! Happy New Year!)

First, Saying Happy Holidays is perfectly acceptable. After all it comes from Happy Holy Days.

Second, No one has mentioned the fact that the word ‘catholic’ actually means “universal” So I suppose that even Protestants are in effect “catholic” It must be Capitalized to reflect the notion of Roman Catholic..
Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive: “The 100-odd pages of formulas and constants are surely the most catholic to be found” (Scientific American).
Including or concerning all humankind; universal: “what was of catholic rather than national interest” (J.A. Froude).
Catholic
Of or involving the Roman Catholic Church.
Of or relating to the universal Christian church.
Of or relating to the ancient undivided Christian church.
Of or relating to those churches that have claimed to be representatives of the ancient undivided church.
NOUN:
Catholic
A member of a Catholic church, especially a Roman Catholic.

————————————————————————————————————————

ETYMOLOGY:
Middle English catholik , universally accepted, from Old French catholic, from Latin catholicus, universal, from Greek katholikos, from katholou, in general : kat-, kata-, down, along, according to ; see cata- + holou (from neuter genitive of holos, whole; see sol- in Indo-European roots)
————————————————————————-
Third, I am probably more liberal than conservative, and I have no problem praying. You see my Higher Power Gave me the right to of choice. I assume He did that because He didn’t want a robot Christian. No where in the Bible does it discuss many of the issues mentioned into todays’ posts. I doubt my Higher Power honestly cares what I call the date of His son’s birth, in fact I sincerely doubt He cares whether I celebrate it. I believe that following the IDEAS of the Bible, trying to follow in the steps of His Son is far more important than any name I could call any DAY!

Many of the issues of today can not be solved by reading the Bible, they must be discussed and studied and decided along with one’s beliefs, not crammed down someone’s throat.

Four, I believe my Higher Power has one great sense of humor. After all this entire blog is rather amusing if one stops and actually reads the whole thing.
Linda H.


Posted by: Linda H. at December 13, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #101959

JBOD,

I had a phase many years ago where I studied religions.
First; I determined that religion and God are two seperate things.
Second; “bibles” are 20% allegorical lessons on life, 20% prejudicial prefernces of the authors, with the rest a sales pitch to join the team.
Third; I realized I am an abraxal-pantheist with agnostic leanings towards a “divine being.”
Fourth; That human beings are not remotely capable of understanding what a “god” would be like, much less what a “god” would want.
Fifth; Any religion that prosylitizes and claims sole rights to knowing what “god wants” is full of itself.
Recently: I’ve come to the realization there is proof only if you have faith in the first place. Your “proof/evidence” is my “yah, sure”. Your parting of the seas is my pre-tsunami back flow. Throw in a little godly wrath, and there you have it, a genuwhine mirahcle.

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 12:39 PM
Comment #101967

Dave wrote:

Early man didn’t feel “grandeur,” there was no time. They felt fear at being low on the food chain and they had curiosity and drive as to how to be the predator, not the prey. Part of controlling the environment was ritual, e.g. sacrifices. But there had to be someone to sacrifice to and over time we got gods.

Early man didn’t feel grandeur?! That idea would go against much evidence to the contrary. Look at the Psalms. Look at Genesis. Look at the writings of Buddha. I would contend that the capacity to experience grandeur is a universal human experience — enjoyed as much by our ancient forefathers as we do today.

Fifth; Any religion that prosylitizes and claims sole rights to knowing what “god wants” is full of itself.

I agree completely.

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 13, 2005 12:53 PM
Comment #101971

Oh, and by the way, it occurs to me that much of your unhappiness is with religious institutions — not with religious belief, per-se. Any fair reading of history would have to concur that institutionalized religion has often resulted in cruelty (witness the Crusades).

Posted by: Steve Westby at December 13, 2005 12:55 PM
Comment #101993

it occurs to me that much of your unhappiness is with religious institutions — not with religious belief, per-se. Posted by Steve Westby at December 13, 2005 12:55 PM
=========================================
I wouldn’t exactly call it “unhappiness,” but yes. My problem is with the self-serving organizations that promote their religions.

Just for clarification; By early man I meant pre-historic, not “civilized.”

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 1:27 PM
Comment #102027

DAVID REMER,

I am surely conviced you worship the devil.

Posted by: Pope Benedict, the Vatican at December 13, 2005 2:17 PM
Comment #102037

Davew:

If you have, in fact, done the studying you claim, then surely you understand how to look at a book from a historical perspective. I didn’t suggest that you study religion—-I specified that you should do some research on the history of the Bible. You asked whether there was proof—I’ve told you there is. It is far to voluminous to discuss here, but for example, do historical research (not religious) on whether a man named Jesus Christ lived and was crucified for claiming to be the Son of God. Don’t look in the Bible—-look in history books for your verification. When you find it, then…and only then…you can look at the Bible to see how it compares to the historical record. Then you will have your answers—there is no faith involved, other than the same faith required to believe history books.

I’ve never understood the problem with believing that my thoughts on religion are correct. I believe in one God—-therefore I find that those beleiveing in no God or multiple Gods to be inconsistent with my belief. I also believe 1+1=2, and if anyone comes up with a different answer, I’d be comfortable telling them they were wrong.

I do hold it open that its possible that I am the one who is wrong. I don’t think I am, since if I thought myself wrong, I’d change my beliefs. Why in the world would anyone build a belief structure that they felt was wrong? Dont make sense to me.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at December 13, 2005 2:40 PM
Comment #102077

JBOD,

What I said before was: “wasn’t questioning the existence of an historical figure”
Posted by Dave at December 13, 2005 09:32 AM
==============================================
It’s simply: no bible proves the basis of it’s faith in God(s). There is no historical or archeologic evidence that proves what the adhearents of a religion believe in on faith. You have faith, or not. That’s it.

Posted by: Dave at December 13, 2005 3:42 PM
Comment #102088
Pope Benedict the Vatican wrote: DAVID REMER, I am surely conviced you worship the devil.

Wow. What brought that on? Is that a joke?
I can’t see anything David Remer wrote that would justify anyone to say such a thing.

I don’t know if government or anyone is trying to be distracting with any of this, but it wouldn’t surprise me, and there is no doubt that government is always cooking up diversions to distract the people from what is truly important. The media too is bad about this.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 13, 2005 4:07 PM
Comment #102202

Hey William, and anybody else on the left who likes to laugh, check this out:
Sam Sedar and Bob Knight on CNN. The topic - the “War on Christmas”.
Scroll about halfway down the page to find the video.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 13, 2005 9:31 PM
Comment #102242

Rhinehold,

The examples were to demonstrate that people are feeling alienated, even if it is mostly hearsay. That is the “attack” against Christmas, feelings like this do not depend on logic, just like being offended by being wished a Merry Christmas doesn’t depend on logic.

Personally, I’m much more interested in the difficulty in buying children’s snow boots in the middle of December in Wisconsin, than in what people call things. Hey I’ll call them hotdogs, as long as they keep my kids’ feet warm and dry in the snow. Language, by it’s very nature, is flexible. I mean, who could have predicted “phat”?

Christmas, i.e. a winter solstice celebration involving gift-giving, evergreens and the birth of a god, beginning as a pagan holiday is well established. Though, it has evolved to be more symbolic of Christianity. Christmas, as a spiritual thing, is another matter entirely. Also, what I know of the historical “facts,” which I do not have the access to verify (as it involves being able to read and interpret ancient Roman documents) the Magi could not have reached Jesus until he was about two to five years old.

But, as for the pagan holiday, (again, this is something I lack the resources to thoroughly verify) began with a god called Mithra, who was worshipped by the ancient Aryans. This religion was popular with Roman soldiers. Mithra was the god of heavenly light, and was worshipped by the Romans as a son god (Sol Invictus Mithra). Mithraism was a popular competitor of Christianity during the Roman times and the Mithrans celebrated the birth of their god on December 25th, in alignment with the winter solstice, because it is the shortest day of the year. They used evergreens and gave presents, feasted and partied; much like Christians do now for Christmas. As Christianity grew, they took on the holiday of their competitor and made it their own, which presumably made it easier for Mithrans to convert.

Now, the part of Christmas that is “…good will unto men.” is more Christian than Mithran, but it’s also not nearly as widely practiced as Christians, imo, should make it.

As I’ve said, I have no problem with other religions and politizing a religious holiday, IMO, defeats its purpose.

Posted by: Stephanie at December 14, 2005 12:29 AM
Comment #102247

David,

“Bodhi Day honours the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama — the Buddha. Buddhists observe the importance of this event by celebrating Bodhi Day usually on the eighth of December. The day is observed in many ways, including prayer, meditation and teachings.”

Then, I’ll wish you a belatedly quiet and transcendent Bodhi Day! And if you tell me whether it’s dee or deye, I’ll even have fun saying it!

Is it connected to bodhi-sattva, which my translation says means someone who rejects nirvana to assist those who suffer?

Posted by: Stephanie at December 14, 2005 12:53 AM
Comment #102421

I doubt very much that most Conservitives that wishes a Liberial a Merry Christmas is infering that they hate America or are in anyother way trying to put them down William. I don’t think that any resonable Conservitive would be offend by being wished Happy Holidays, or Seasons Greetings. I also don’t think any resonable Liberial would take offence to being wished a Merry Christmas. But there are those frindge looneys on both sides.
Beleive or not I know some Christians that take offence to any kind of seasonal greetings. They don’t believe in Christmas. They claim that celibrating it isn’t scriptural.

Anyway MERRY CHRISTMAS - HAPPY HOLIDAYS - SEASONS GREETING - and HAPPY HUNIKAH !


Hope I spelled that right. If I didn’t my apoligies. And please give me the correct spelling.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 14, 2005 2:53 PM
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