December 19, 2015

LOL He’s Doomed

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 11:07 pm

In another fun edition of “weird shit in Christmas songs” let’s have a look at the old carol Personent Hodie, also known as “On This Day, Earth Shall Ring”.

Second verse starts off like this: “His the doom, ours the mirth, when he came down to earth.”

Mirth! We’re supposed to be mirthful that Jesus showed up as all human and stuff and bled out on the cross? I get that the idea was that he did all that for our sake for some convoluted reason, but it seems to be more than a little dickish to be mirthful about it.

I mean, I can see it being “how wonderful, he saved us!” But this makes it sound more like “Hahaha, he’s going to get crucified!”

Which, if anything, seems to render the crucifixion pointless.

December 14, 2015

Unchecked Power

Ever notice how our world seems to give unchecked power so much benefit of the doubt? Or, well, I suppose that’s true by definition as, if it weren’t given benefit of the doubt, then it wouldn’t be unchecked.

Look at some of the reactions in cases of police brutality. “Oh, well, he must have done something wrong for the police to have gone after him in the first place. They wouldn’t beat him up or shoot him for no reason.” You know, because apparently if a police officer so much as looks at you, it just makes sense to these people that you might as well kiss your ass goodbye, rather than, you know, saying “hey, this is wrong!” like any decent person would.

There’s also child abuse. Parents have near limitless power over their children, which very much allows for abuse, and abuse is very much rampant, but when it happens, you get reactions like “oh, well, the kids are probably exaggerating or outright lying, just ungrateful brats who probably deserved it, all parents love their children!” Ignoring that, for one, no they fucking don’t, and that they have no actual reason to believe the kids are lying, or to know for sure either way for that matter. But what is known is that parents who want to commit unspeakable crimes against their children could do so very easily, and pretending they just don’t or wouldn’t is very dangerous.

Then there’s war crimes. A hospital or school or the like gets bombed, killing a bunch of innocent civilians. And what’s the response? “Oh, well, that’s war for you. Sometimes civilians get killed. In fact, they probably weren’t so innocent and were likely hiding the bad guys so they probably deserved it.” Based on absolutely nothing. Just more of avoiding the necessary task of calling out what’s horribly wrong and instead trying to justify it.

Know what else? God! If an omnipotent God allows all of the above and more and worse to happen, who’s telling him to knock that shit off? It’s always “God works in mysterious ways! Everything happens for a reason! God loves us!” Yeah, meanwhile, somewhere in the world, a four-year-old girl just died of an infection caused by a ritual genital mutilation, but sure, yeah, loving omnipotent God we should continue worshiping.

True, a lot of this comes from feeling helpless, seeing many of these forces not as always right but as all-powerful and therefore there’s no choice but to assume rightness. And just plain not knowing how to change anything and finding it easier to tell the victims that they were the ones who were wrong, to give the illusion that we have more control over our fates than we actually do. But we can understand that tendency and still acknowledge it’s wrong. I mean, you don’t need to know exactly how to make a certain change in order to speak up about what’s wrong. Shit, if you had to, about 90% of those protesting or raising awareness about just about anything would be out of work! But there’s bad things happening. Acknowledge that they are bad and quit making excuses for them.

January 8, 2015

That Takes Religion

Filed under: The Occasional Godliness,What the hell? — Katrina @ 10:09 pm

You’ve probably heard the line that goes something like “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” And as I’ve mentioned before, it’s full of shit. In that those doing evil things aren’t somehow not evil just because they claim it’s because of religion.

But I think I’d like to amend it a bit. Let’s try it this way.

“With or without religion, you would have smart people saying smart things and stupid people saying stupid things. But for smart people to say stupid things, that takes religion.”

Sound about right?

It works both ways, too. One might think of people who, despite smartness, have some religious belief or affiliation, something that the Very Smart anti-theist types, ironically, just can’t wrap their heads around. Or just plain a smart religious person turning an inexplicable blind eye to or defending troublesome or even abusive religious practices. But it’s for the atheists, too. In that, yeah, they are very smart, until the topic turns to religion and in beating the religion-is-evil drum, some of them start saying some astoundingly stupid things.

We’re of course seeing a lot of examples of both with this Charlie Hebdo attack.

You’ve got the otherwise-intelligent religious participating in some good old fashioned victim blaming, with the “they shouldn’t have been killed, but they shouldn’t have attacked people’s sacred beliefs either”. Ugh. And we’ve got the anti-theist “religion is for idiots” crowd saying “see? see? proof positive that religion is evil, atheists never do anything wrong!” Ugh (if, in all fairness, less so than the former!).

The problem with the first one is hopefully obvious. With the second one, while this attack was without a doubt religiously motivated, it defies and violates basic statistics horrendously to imply such a thing is representative of all 1 billion plus who identify as Muslim, let alone all the billions who identify with some religion. Now, is religion statistically and historically the most likely reason for any given terrorist attack? Absolutely. But it rarely acts alone, in that cultural superiority and good old fashioned power hunger have helped it in those attacks just about every step of the way, and if you remove religion from the equation (and, you know, actually learn something about the people and situations involved and find out how complex it all is, like a smart person might do), very little will have changed.

But I’ll get into all that in more detail in another post. The point is, when religion comes up, whether for or against, people have a way of losing their damn minds, whether it’s the anti-theist pegging anyone who sets foot inside a church as a potential violent fanatic when otherwise completely against any such blanket pigeonholing, or it’s the observant Jew who fiercely defends infant circumcision as some kind of cherished holy tradition despite being opposed to such violations of bodily autonomy in literally every other scenario.

Although, come to think of it, my amended quote has the exact same problem as the original. In that, no, these supposedly smart people really aren’t all that smart if they’re spouting this crap. 🙄

Or maybe they are. Varies by individual. It is just one topic after all, as opposed committing acts of evil for whatever chosen reason. But we all have those friends who are typically very thoughtful and logical on a wide variety of topics, while there’s one or two that they just start on and they sound like their brains fell out and all you can do is sigh and say “ugh, here we go with this shit again…” It’s just that this topic is usually religion.

December 30, 2014

Leelah Alcorn

What happened to Leelah Alcorn is tragic and infuriating.

She was transgender but stuck with super fundamentalist religious parents who told her that she’s really a boy and that she’s going through a phase. When she wouldn’t relent in wanting to transition, her parents pulled her out of school and removed her from social media and friends, completely isolating her for months. Finally, after leaving her suicide note on Tumblr, she committed suicide.

Why didn’t her parents accept her? Because she brought shame to them. Because they wanted to maintain for themselves an image of Good Christians. In their minds, she stood in the way of that. In their minds, she had to be removed.

So they did. They removed her from school and from public pretty much. They tortured her with religious pseudo-therapy. Did they think they would “cure” her? Or keep her out of “sin” long enough for her to outgrow this supposed phase?

Any way you look at it, they wanted Leelah gone. They might have preferred that she simply stopped being LGBT or maybe not. They wanted everything that Leelah was to be gone, out of their life, out of sight, so that she would no longer sully their image, their honor.

So now that she’s dead… problem solved! It may be more extreme than her parents intended, or maybe not. They saw her as a problem that needed to be removed, so she removed herself for them. In fact, given the treatment of her leading up to it, clearly this is exactly what they were hoping would happen.

They couldn’t kill her themselves without going to prison or – gasp! – tarnishing their image as Good Christians, so they drove her to do it herself, not only to keep their hands clean but to ensure, in their minds, that she goes to hell where she belongs. They wanted an honor killing, and they got one.

And, as a youth rights supporter, I must ask the very important question here. Why in the hell were her parents even able to put her through all this shit in the first place? She should have been able to transition whether they wanted her to or not. She should have been able to stay in school and stay in contact with everyone regardless of how her stupid parents feel about her. She should still be fucking ALIVE and happy!

But they had power over all of this. Because just like they cared more for their image than her life, our society cares more about their “parental right” to control her (even to death) than for her life. And that right there speaks volumes.

December 29, 2014

Tyson the Christmas Troll

On Christmas Day, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted the following:

On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642

Hehehe. Cute. I shared it. Why not? 🙂

Then, as I should have expected, a bunch of idiots complained that this was offensive to Christians. Tyson tweeted a bunch of tweets on Christmas, all of them a little snarky, yet somehow this is the one that pissed people off so much.

How the hell is this even news? Is anyone that surprised?

Well, actually, I’m a little surprised. This Newton tweet was just a clever play on words. I can’t even find anything in it that would even be offensive to Christians.

If anything, it’s some of the other tweets they should take issue with. Like this one:

Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).

Two problems with this one.

One, Pagan IS Religious. It’s so often that the non-religious calling out Christian hypocrisies talk about paganism as if it’s some other thing entirely, forgetting that pagans are also religious, just not members of an Abrahamic religion. This sort of statement implies that only the Abrahamic religions are truly considered “religions” and that those that aren’t are just something else. Which is, needless to say, rather disrespectful and othering.

Two, yeah, the USA is not even close to the only country that spent the past month in a shopping frenzy. Come the fuck on! 😆

But aside from that, well played, Tyson. Well played.

December 26, 2014

Not a Christian Holiday

I hereby decree…

Christmas is not a Christian holiday.

Well, it’s not.

Yeah, “Christ” is right there in the name, and I find switching the name “Christmas” out with “Solstice” or “Yule” to be really fucking obnoxious. But Christmas is not a Christian holiday. And it shouldn’t be.

There are Christian aspects of it, and that’s how it got its name (in certain languages anyway). There’s the nativity story and the midnight masses. But that’s about it. And that’s far from all there is to the holiday.

I see people getting all up in arms, that they feel being wished a Merry Christmas somehow excludes them because they are not Christian. Which is fucking stupid. Christmas is not a religious holiday. It’s a holiday of lots of stories and symbols of varying degrees of association to the winter solstice. It’s everything this very awesome Cracked article talks about.

What do we do for Christmas? It varies. I go to the late night Christmas Eve church service, but that’s about the extent of any explicitly Christian activities for the holiday. Other than the Christmas carols whose subject is the nativity, but those are just telling stories, right alongside the other songs telling about glowing fog-light noses or sentient snowmen or a man playing the cello while Sarajevo gets bombed. Other than that, it’s a lot of twinkling lights, fuzzy garland, sparkly pine trees, candy and cookies, and of course gift exchange. Much of it is derived from other religions’ winter solstice traditions, but other than that, there’s nothing Christian or otherwise religious here (well, unless you want there to be, but it’s up to the individual on that one). Some aspects are specific to certain cultures or regions, but as a whole, it’s just a worldwide human thing.

So that’s why I don’t get why people think they’re being excluded. They’re human and part of the world, aren’t they?

December 23, 2014

Three Ships Too Far

Yay, Christmas songs are fun! 😀

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there
On Christmas Day in the mor-

*massive earthquake*

*reality itself seems to split at the seams*

Whoa! What’s happening?

“OVERLOAD! OVERLOAD!”

Huh? What? What’s overloaded?

“THERE IS TOO MUCH SHIT IN THE NATIVITY SCENE!”

There is? How so?

“HOW SO?! THINK ABOUT IT. IT’S FAR BEYOND JUST MARY, JOSEPH, JESUS, AND THE STAR. THERE ARE SHEPHERDS. THERE ARE THREE WISE MEN. THERE ARE A CRAPLOAD OF FARM ANIMALS. THERE’S THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY. AND NOW… FUCKING SHIPS!”

I didn’t write that song. I was just singing it. Besides, what’s wrong with ships?

“THERE ARE NO BODIES OF WATER CLOSE ENOUGH TO BETHLEHEM FOR SHIPS TO MAKE ANY DAMN SENSE!”

What if they’re flying ships?

“WHY THE FUCK WOULD THERE BE FLYING SHIPS? HONESTLY!”

For the same reason there’s a baby born from a virgin impregnated by God, under a conveniently placed star. Why the hell not flying ships?

“ONE SUPERNATURAL THING AT A TIME!”

Speaking of supernatural, what the hell are you supposed to be?

“NEVER YOU MIND.”

How about repairing reality? Whatever you are, you sure pitch a fit when the nativity scene gets out of whack. Wait, does this mean you’re…?

“EVERYTHING NORMAL!”

*reality restores itself*

Huh. That was weird.

December 17, 2014

Coventry Carol 2

A couple years ago I wrote about Coventry Carol and what I realized about the lyrics.

About a tiny child, presumably Jesus, being referred to as a youngling.

And that Jesus, therefore, is a Jedi.

But just recently I learned some more about the song, in that said tiny child actually isn’t Jesus. The song is about the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. When Herod went looking for Jesus in order to kill him and ended up ordering all first born boys under age two to be killed.

The song is a mother singing to her soon-to-be murdered baby.

Oh.

Well, this doesn’t change anything. It just means that the Bible forgot the part where Obi-Wan shows up and walks among the slain sadly, saying “Not even the younglings survived.”

December 16, 2014

Secular Spirit

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Here's To You!,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 11:02 pm

Now for a non-theistic, festive edition of…

Here’s to You!!!!

So I raise my glass and say, “Here’s to you, non-religious people who love Christmas!”

Yeah, that speaks for itself. People who aren’t religious but still love Christmas are a special breed as far as I’m concerned.

I think first of my former coworker. First work day after Thanksgiving, she and I were both putting up our respective tiny Christmas trees in our office space, which we both took down at the same time after Epiphany. She had been raised Catholic and remained one into adulthood, but after a while had enough of it. She wanted nothing more to do with religion, but she sure kept Christmas.

You can so easily have the Christmas without the Christianity. Either remove the Jesus element entirely or, better yet, treat it like just another Christmas legend, with the miracle virgin birth in the manger under the star right there alongside the snowman who comes to life when a magic hat is on his head.

I sort of wandered away from Christianity several years ago (as the progression of posts in the Occasional Godliness category sure demonstrate!) but I still go to my old church on Christmas Eve night. And you know what? I’ve always loved Silent Night and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and other classic carols, but I think I’ve come to appreciate them more since I pulled away from the mindset that one must believe these stories actually took place. I mean, who cares if it’s real or not? It most likely isn’t, but there’s no reason that should diminish the holiday at all. If anything, it just takes the pressure off!

And this shout out is to those who adore this holiday season without the “It’s all about Jesus!” junk. This shout out is for those who aren’t hung up on the idea that not being Christian means not having a place in the festivities. And those who gladly celebrate and don’t waste energy whining about traditions being “stolen” from other religious celebrations (which, being non-religious, they don’t believe in anyway).

And even in secular form, still calling it “Christmas” because, hey, why the fuck not?

May 7, 2014

It’s Not for Believing In

Filed under: Decrees!,Science,The Occasional Godliness,What the hell? — Katrina @ 9:59 pm

I hereby decree…

Anyone who says they “believe in science” needs to be slapped.

Let me explain.

Specifically, I’m referring to when people declare this belief in place of a religious belief. Such as when asked what their religious beliefs are or to describe their secular humanism, they might say something like, “No, I don’t believe in any all-powerful gods. I believe in science.”

And it’s annoying because this person who thinks they’re affirming science so strongly is actually greatly misunderstanding a most basic thing about it. Which is… science isn’t something you “believe” in. Science just is. It is fact. It’s like saying you believe in the existence of Canada or horses or diabetes. You just sound silly saying you believe in something that’s pretty undeniably real. As if a diabetic Canadian equestrian were standing right in front of you.

Furthermore, when reducing science to a mere “belief”, you’re playing the ignorant religious fundamentalists’ game and slightly validating their beliefs in unprovable divine things (or disproved things they stubbornly cling to), allowing them to deliberately deny real scientifically proven things as just some other belief they personally don’t hold, or to just insist their actual beliefs should be given the same credence.
(more…)

December 27, 2013

Themnal

Since the family is moving out of Grandma’s house this weekend (which has eaten up my time and made the daily posting here rather difficult but whatever), I have been occasionally just claiming items around the house I feel like keeping that no one else cares about anyway. One item I snatched last week was Grandma’s 1982 hymnal.

When I went home that night, I looked through the Christmas songs in it. Some I never heard of anywhere else, while others were very familiar and were sung on Tuesday night, as well as ones not done then but heard of nonetheless.

One song was Good Christian Men Rejoice. Only the lyrics didn’t say that. It said “Good Christian Friends Rejoice”. Huh.

Then Christmas Eve night, at the service, singing some of the very familiar songs out of copies of the same hymnal, I noticed some of the slight variations to the lyrics from more popular versions. In the second verse of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, where it’s usually “Pleased as man with men to dwell”, it instead read “Pleased as man with us to dwell”. And in the third verse, where it’s usually “born that men no more may die” it was “born that we no more may die”, and then where it’s usually “born to raise the sons of earth” it was instead “born to raise us from the earth” or something like that. Plus a few other little alterations like that, which never occurred to me much before. Until I saw the “Good Christian Friends” thing and put it all together…

The hymnal… is gender neutral. 😮

MIND = BLOWN

December 20, 2013

Said the Little Lamb

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 8:44 pm

Alright, everyone. Time again to sing!

*taps conductor stick thingy*

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?”

Ah, the wind is bored and feels like playing I Spy.

“Way up in the sky, little lamb.
Do you see what I see?”

I’m sure the small ovine appreciates the hint.

“A star, a star, dancing in the night,
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.”

Oh, sure, give it away before the lamb has a chance to guess.

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear?”

And the shepherd replied with “holy shit, a talking lamb!”

“Ringing through the night, shepherd boy.
Do you hear what I hear?”

Is it just that night wind playing I Spy with other random critters?

“A song, a song, higher than the trees
With a voice as big as the sea.
With a voice as big as the sea.”

This simile is silly to me.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
“Do you know what I know?”

Translation: Boy skips into the palace all chanting “I know something you don’t know! I know something you don’t know!”

“In your palace, oh, mighty king.
Do you know what I know?”

If this king is supposed to be Herod, then shepherd boy you’ve got a lot of blood on your hands.

“A child, a child, shivers in the cold.
Let us bring him silver and gold.
Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Or a coat or a blanket or something of immediate need for cold people.

Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!”

Pfft. Everyone thinks their own words are so important. Get a Twitter account!

“Pray for peace, people everywhere.
Listen to what I say!”

What a useless statement.

“A child, a child, sleeping in the night.
He will bring us goodness and light.
He will bring us goodness and light.”

In 33 years, all we have to do is stick nails into him until he dies. Praise the Lord!

December 12, 2013

In Sin and Error Pining

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 7:58 pm

Alright, it’s not Christmas Eve yet, but let’s sing!

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining

Sounds lovely.

It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

Huh. Seem to know a lot about someone who was apparently only just born. What if he doesn’t want to be a Savior? What if he wants to be a ballroom dancer?

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Poor world. :(

Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth

Soul feeling worth is needed, but does it have to rely on him? And can it still feel worth if he does go the ballroom dancing route?

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Yay! It’s a new day! 🙂

Fall on your knees

Ouch! That’ll mess up the new day if your knees are sore.

Oh hear the angel voices

It must just be some drunks in a nearby tavern. Same diff.

Oh night divine, oh night
When Christ was born

Oh, that’s who you’ve been talking about!

Oh night, oh holy night
Oh night divine!

Still, ballroom dancing is probably a lot less excruciating than being crucified. Probably.

Second verse!
(more…)

June 6, 2013

How to Be Religious

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,The Occasional Godliness,Think About It! — Katrina @ 7:37 pm

I reject the notion that religion is inherently evil and causes all the Bad Stuff in the world. For one, that view is incredibly simplistic. Yes, many horrible acts are committed in the name of religion, but then again, so are many good ones. And while, yes, the good ones don’t require religion to be done, neither do the bad ones, really.

So by all means be religious if that’s what you want. Just please be the good kind. How can you do that? Well, here’s a handy guide to the Good and the Bad of faith-based actions!

So if your religion inspires you to…

-Donate food, clothing, and other items to the needy? Good!

-Volunteer for some sort of disaster relief effort, such as rebuilding houses? Good!

-Visit people in hospitals or nursing homes? Good!

-Take someone into your home when they’ve fallen on bad times? Good!

-Sing in your congregation’s choir? Good.

-Fight oppression? Good!

-Spread peace and love? Good!
(more…)

December 17, 2012

Coventry Carol

Ever heard of Coventry Carol? Yeah, didn’t think so. It’s an obscure Christmas carol, existing pretty much only in choirs and whatnot.

Anyway, check it out:

Lullay, thou little tiny child
By by lully lullay
Lullay thou little tiny child
By by lully lullay

Yeah, yeah… lots to, um, think about there. That’s, um, some deep stuff.

Anyway, second verse:

O sisters too how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we sing
By by lully lullay

Wait… what was that?!

This poor youngling for whom we sing

You know what this means?!

youngling

Of course! It’s so obvious!

JESUS WAS A JEDI!!!

December 15, 2012

Say Your Prayers

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness,Think About It! — Katrina @ 2:30 pm

Or not.

Because… why? What good would it do?

I’ve mentioned before that praying accomplishes nothing. God is going to do whatever. God ignores prayers all the time.

When a tragedy occurs, whether what happened yesterday or someone’s relative just got diagnosed with something nasty, you often get “please keep me/us/them in your thoughts and prayers!”

Or maybe someone should do something useful. I mean, is there perhaps some real tangible action someone could take? Bring you food? Send a card?

Wait, why did I say “send a card”? What good does that do someone who just found out they’ve got pancreatic cancer? Well, not much. But the difference between that and saying a prayer is a card involves actually informing the person in question of your well-wishes, which can sometimes improve their mood while going through this. It’s miniscule but more than a damn prayer.

A few years back, I visited my aunt who has been having lots of health problems. I mentioned that Grandma had had her name put into the Prayers for the People list at our church. And, holy crap, was she grateful and excited about that! But, again, what improved her mood was hearing about this. Had I not told her, it would have made no difference whatsoever. The prayers alone had no power.

And then, around this time of year in particular, you often hear “Pray for Peace!”

Now this one is interesting, because, in a way, it can work. If you’re getting people to pray for peace, then they aren’t fighting at that moment! Well, either that, or stopping to pray allows for the enemy to finish them off. Or maybe they can pray and fight at the same time. Multitasking!

December 4, 2012

Somethingmas

So I’m checking out some Christmas songs on YouTube. As a general habit, I click the Show More on the video description, not to read more of it but to hide the top comments. But sometimes I still see them. And my brain cells suffer for it.

Without fail, for a number of Christmas songs, the top most-liked comment will be something along the lines of “What a beautiful song! Let’s keep the CHRIST in CHRISTmas!” It might elaborate more than that, perhaps going into the commenter’s deep deep faith and how happy they are that the artist performing the song chose to step away from their usual music to honor Jesus at Christmas or something (even though many singers and bands who do Christmas songs, even the nativity ones, aren’t necessarily Christian).

*sigh* *hangs head* *removes glasses* *pinches bridge of nose*

Are these people for real? Yeah, yeah, I know. YouTube commenters. I should be glad they weren’t plugging Ron Paul or calling the uploader or singer any number of homophobic slurs. But it of course goes well beyond YouTube. It’s old fashioned Christian self-righteousness, with extra insecurity!

It’s really obnoxious. It’s a seemingly innocent comment that’s obviously meant to say “fuck you, non-Christians! don’t get your filth all over our holiday!” Though it’s not meant necessarily for the non-Christians (who tear apart that sentiment handily). It’s said to score points with their fellow Christians with the same obsessive clinging. And it works.

Let’s proselytize by telling people they aren’t celebrating this holiday exactly the way we want them to, because we think we own it, and that means they are wrong wrong wrong!

And then I realize how sad it is. Because most of the people who express sentiment like this are so cloistered within their congregation or community. They’ve probably never actually met a non-Christian (outside of online flame wars, that is). Now, to be sure, this is NOT an “all Christians” thing. Not by a long shot. Plenty of Christians are perfectly intelligent. And they aren’t the ones I’m talking about here.

No, these are people who, when they express sentiment like this, are probably hoping this makes Grandma proud. Or would if she hadn’t died 60 years ago. In any case, it’s pride in that they’re pushing that they’re doing Christmas “correctly” (somehow). They’re probably waiting for a gold star and a cookie. Or, being Christmas, a star-shaped sugar cookie with yellow crystals. Or is that somehow not Jesus-enough?

Because what exactly entails “keeping the Christ in Christmas”, no one really knows, not even the people saying it. What would they have anyone do? Do nothing at Christmas except go to church and maybe have a nice meal? Boring. Are they worried that the nativity story might be forgotten? Yeah, not happening. It’s already in there pretty solidly. Hell, the story of Rudolph was invented by Montgomery Ward less than a century ago, and even that I would doubt anyone would forget anytime soon, so why on earth do they think anyone would forget the story of Jesus’s birth?

Well, the answer to that is paranoia. They have been conditioned to believe everyone is out to take away their crosses or something. There are countries where this would be a realistic fear, but chances are these people are in the United States, where this is not a realistic fear, being a country where a politician who states proudly that he is a creationist remains viable while an atheist barely stands a chance.

Or maybe they really aren’t even thinking that deeply about it. It might just be nothing more than, well, wanting that star-shaped cookie. Because they remembered Jesus and that makes them better than you. And that’s what Christmas is all about! 😛

December 6, 2011

Supernatural Before It’s Natural

If you were to travel back 500 years and tell people then that we can light up a room by flipping a switch on a wall, what would they think? They’d probably think it’s magic. They’d probably try to burn you for being a witch. Or they’d probably think you’re lying, that it’s impossible. They’d probably think lighting a room by a simple switch on a wall rather than lighting a candle or lantern is just some supernatural, science fiction idea.

But now, we have long since harnessed electricity and made it light our rooms as well as do a zillion other things. It’s not some crazy supernatural idea anymore. It’s not something only perhaps some divine power can do. It’s something that through many discoveries we’ve found how to do ourselves, that such a power already exists in the natural world.

Then there’s the electromagnetic spectrum. We can only see visible light, but of course the spectrum is a hell of a lot bigger than that, with all the microwaves and infrared, and on the other side ultraviolet and ionizing radiation. But we have little to no way of knowing these invisible wavelengths are there without special technology. Before such a thing was known, if the idea of undetectable waves flying around were suggested, you’d seem crazy, like you’re believing in things you can’t prove. Although, as we now know, more accurately that statement would be “things you can’t prove YET”. Up until that point, the idea of such invisible energy was perhaps… a supernatural concept.

All that said, I do tire of religious people using “there’s so much in the universe we can’t explain” to essentially mean “so there must be a God!” Um, no shit there’s so much we can’t explain. Earth is the only part of the universe we know all that well and can live on (as of right now anyway), and even here on our own planet there’s so much undiscovered. Even as far as we’ve come, we’ve barely even left tiny scratches in the surface of all there is. But that doesn’t translate to “God did it”. It translates to “we just haven’t discovered it yet”.
(more…)

December 25, 2010

Frohe Weihnachten!

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness — Katrina @ 11:09 pm

“Just look at us now, part of it all. In spite of it all, we’re still around! So wake up the kids, put on some tea, let’s light up the tree. It’s Christmas Day!” -Neil Diamond, You Make It Feel Like Christmas

Here we are again. It is Christmas Day! Through another year since the last one, we have lasted. Yay!

As usual, yesterday was another run of Christmas Eve, the longest day of the year. The Christmas Eve runaround leading up to the relative lull that is Christmas Day. Started with waking up, running to work to change a temperature chart, back home, wrapping presents, watching specials, listening to Christmas music, etc. All the way until around 7pm when once again my family went to my mom’s Greek friend’s Christmas Eve party. Ate lots of delicious food as usual, then I went to the 11pm Christmas Eve service at church like always. Wearing my Santa hat.

And listened to the sermon, which was about It’s a Wonderful Life, which the priest admitted to only recently watching all the way through the first time (iknorite?!) even though the church had been doing some activity before then supposedly about the movie. So, in other words, the priest admitted to professing to know about something that he in fact knew little about. Bizarre! :cute:

Well, part of surviving a church service when one has ideologically pulled away from Christianity like I have is to look at the whole thing as just some story everyone there is making a celebration of. Pretend nobody actually takes this seriously but that this is all just for fun. Hey, for most of the people there, that may actually be the case!

Once more, after communion, we all held candles, turned out the lights, and sang Silent Night. With joy.

And once more, upon the choir walking back down the aisle, we all sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Which I felt tempted to finish with a loud cheerful “Hell yeah!” But I resisted. Sorry. 😛

Then I talked to the priest, who’s known me for a while. I told him my realization about O Come All Ye Faithful.

Then I thanked him for not being Fred Phelps, and he took that as a compliment. 😆

Went home and prepared last few gifts.

And the NYRA website, which had been down for several horrible days, had at last come back. Just in time for Christmas! Christmas miracle.

Then went upstairs to my living room, on which I had put my colored lights. I gazed out at the divine night sky, watching for Santa…

And off in the distance, under a tower with one of them blinking red lights…

I saw a star.

I think. A star there in the night sky on Christmas Eve…

Or, no, it was actually the big electric star that on a tower that some nearby company puts up every year.

Hmmm… what a time to first notice I’m able to see it from my house! 🙂

So I unplug the lights for the night and go to bed.

And in the morning…

It’s snowing.

Ever so lightly. No real accumulation. I wondered just what does and doesn’t qualify as a White Christmas. Do Christmas morning flurries count? Does it count if it’s leftover snow from several days ago? Does it count if it doesn’t snow until later in the day?

In any case, I drove to my family’s house with the tiny Christmas snowflakes whirling around me, and arrived at the house to my very excited little brother, who got a fancy new train set, and is right now running that train round and round and round and round…

And has been using the new saucer sled he got from Santa as a flying saucer full of aliens attacking the train!

And we had our feast, our feast of roast beast.

What does Christmas have in common with the United States?

They’re both crazy mixtures of stuff from a crapload of different cultures… yet white Christian conservatives seem to think they belong only to them.

And the Dallas Cowboys lost. Sweet.

Christmas.

Yeah.

December 10, 2010

Old Songs Are Old

You know what’s cool about some Christmas carols? Like the super old ones, like Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing? They’ve been around a long ass time.

I was watching the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol this evening, and when Scrooge is with Christmas Present he’s watching his nephew and the Cratchits in church. Where everyone was singing O Come All Ye Faithful. And then I just got this feeling, that this movie from 1938, about a story written and taking place in like 1850 or so, features a church service where they are singing O Come All Ye Faithful. The very same O Come All Ye Faithful I’ll be singing at a church service on Christmas Eve here in 2010.

Times like this I understand more why people cling to their religions and/or traditions. Not so much necessarily any ideological reasons, but that belonging to some long-running chain of events, that makes one feel part of that something bigger, yet in a sense that each one of us is significant in it. Something like that.

When I went to London last year, I visited Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which has been there for like over a millennium. Or, more accurately, since it was rebuilt after that big ass London fire in like 1666 or something, but in any case, that site has been used for religious purposes for that millennium or so. While I was there, they did a quick afternoon service and some choir was singing. And I thought while sitting there that here I was, witnessing yet another service in the countless number of them that had been going on there since so very many centuries ago. Neat.

Christmas songs are perhaps my favorite thing about the season, what with embodying all the traditions have been swept into the veritable Katamari that Christmas is, as well as the general joy. And music is fun anyway!

And I wonder that a century from now, two centuries from now, they’ll still be singing Silent Night and Angels We Have Heard on High, as well as the newer but just as fun and meaningful songs, and the even more Christmas songs that have yet to be composed. Now that’s what I call seeing Christmas Past, Present, and Future!

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