Saturday, December 27, 2008

Meditations on the Christmas Myth

[Mithra slaying the sacred bull - from the British Museum, London]

You may think Christmas is over and enough's enough and let's move on. I agree, more or less, but Christmas isn't over on December 25, it begins then. In the Western tradition, Christmas begins on December 25 and runs until the Epiphany, on January 6.

So, what the heck. As long as we're only two days into the Christmas season, it is still appropriate to discuss the myth of the birth of Jesus.

And so far as that mythical birth goes, not even fundamentalist christianists believe their Jesus was born on December 25. That's because it is relatively simple to show that no one involved in the multiple forms of the Christian movement in the first few centuries had a clue as to Jesus' actual birth date.

Some Christian groups celebrated Jesus' birth on January 6, some on April 21, others on May 1 and many not at all. It wasn't until the 4th century that the "orthodox" Church, which, by that time had gained enough power to enforce its edicts over all the various Christ groups, proclaimed that Jesus' birth would be celebrated on December 25. It was a natural fit, for paganism had long celebrated the rebirth of the sun on that date, close to the winter solstice.

It was also a natural fit because of the many similarities between Christianity and paganism. Many godmen were born on December 25:

Horus - c. 3000 BCE, born of a virgin on December 25 in a cave/manger. His birth story includes a star, wise men, a father names "Seb" or "Joseph."

Osiris - c. 3000 BCE, born in a cave of a virgin before three shepherds.

Attis of Phrygia - c. 1400 BCE - Born December 25 of the Virgin Nana.

Krishna - 1400 BCE - Born of the Virgin Devaki on December 25.

Zoroaster/Zarathustra - c. 1000 BCE - Born of a 15-year old virgin.

Mithra of Persia - c. 600 BCE - Born of a virgin on December 25 in a cave, surrounded by shepherds bearing gifts.

Heracles - c. 800 BCE - Born on December 25 to a virgin.

Dionysus - c. 186 BCE - Born on December 25 to a virgin, and being a holy child, was placed in a manger.

Tammuz - c. 400 BCE - Born on December 25 to a virgin named Mylitta.

Adonis - c. 200 BCE - Born on December 25 to the Virgin Myrha.

Hermes - Born on December 25 to the virgin Maia.

Baccus - Born on December 25.

Prometheus - Born on December 25.

In their book, The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy note that all of these godly myths involved not only a "virgin" birth but the godman so derived also died (often by crucifixion) and was resurrected after which he ascended to the heavens.

In essence, these are the same myth with different names. "In Egypt he was Osiris, in Greece Dionysus, in Asia Minor Attis, in Syria Adonis, in Italy Bacchus, in Persia Mithras. Fundamentally all these godmen are the same mythical being."

In fact, by the third century BCE, many people had come to use the term Osiris-Dionysus "to denote his universal and composite nature, and his particular names when referring to a specific Mystery tradition."

Mithraism, a particular Mystery tradition, had specific connections to the Christian cult because they were so similar and existed side by side for several centuries. Prior to the ascension of Constantine, Mithraism had become a major cult in the Roman Empire. Perhaps its most important temple stood on the site of what is now the Vatican in Rome. "Here Pagan priests observed sacred ceremonies, which early Christians found so disturbing that they tried to erase all evidence of them ever having been practiced."

Freke and Gandy write, correctly, that quite often our Christian mentors have suggested these sacred Mithraic ceremonies were terrible, obscene orgies.

Actually, that was not the case. What the 3rd and 4th century Christian bishops and teachers feared most was that the faithful would discover the Christian cult had been modeled on the Mithra cult. In fact, when that charge was made by pagans, the bishops and teachers insisted it was the reverse - the Mithra cult had been modeled on the Christian cult. That was a difficult position to hold, of course, in that, as most scholars believe, the Mithra cult derived from Zoroastrianism and had begun to flourish in the first century BCE, thus existing for many years before Christianity came on the scene.

Central to Mithraism was the myth of how the god, Mithra, slew the Bull of Heaven to somehow attain the salvation of the world. The rites of Mithra included a ritual slaying of a bull in which initiates were showered with blood and thus "born again." A iconic tauroctony such as pictured was given the place of honor on Mithraic altars.

Here's what was going on in that Pagan temple in Rome where devotees of Mithra came together to worship on December 25: (It should be noted that December 24, the eve of the birth of Mithra, was a time of great joy and celebration in Rome with lights and songs and festive celebrations.)

Those who worshiped Mithra came to the temple to adore their godman who had been born on December 25 in a cave attended by three shepherds. They celebrated his miraculous birth - of a virgin. They praised him for slaying the heavenly bull for the salvation of the world; for ascending to heaven and for promising to return again at the end of time to judge mankind. "On the same spot where the Pope celebrates the Catholic mass, Pagan priests also celebrated a symbolic meal of bread and wine n memory of their savior who, just like Jesus, had declared:

"'He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made one with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation.'"

These things are not taught in Christian churches or Sunday Schools. With few exceptions, they are not taught in Christian colleges or seminaries. And when they are taught in seminaries, the similarities are played down, and the differences are magnified to make Christianity appear a clear winner in the battle of the gods.

One common misconception perpetuated by Christian professors and teachers is that the pagans were sexually profligate with neither morals nor ethics. This, also, is not true. Mithraism, for example, was a highly ethical religion and required its followers to live with humility and integrity. They were to live holy lives because when the world ended, Mithra would return to judge all humankind and the evil and the wicked would be banished to hell.

These are a few things upon which you may wish to meditate during this Christmas season. Or not. If you do though, all meditations cease on January 6.

Merry Christmas/Mithramass!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays from Weston, Florida

These images were taken on December 25, in the Town Center of Weston, Florida.

What I Want[ed] for Christmas (next year?)

The following is from Robert Ingersoll’s “What I Want For Christmas” (1897)

If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow the people to govern themselves.

I would have all the nobility crop their titles and give their lands back to the people.

I would have the Pope throw away his tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not acting for God, is not infallible, and is just an ordinary Italian.

I would have all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and clergymen admit that they know nothing about theology, nothing about hell or heaven, nothing about the destiny of the human race, nothing about devils or ghosts, gods or angels. I would have them tell all their “flocks” to think for themselves, to be manly men and womanly women, and to do all in their power to increase the sum of human happiness.

I would have all the professors in colleges, all the teachers in schools of every kind, including those in Sunday schools, agree that they would teach only what they know and not palm off guesses as demonstrated truths.

I would like to see all the politicians changed to statesmen:

  • Men who long to make their country great and free
  • Men who care more for public good than private gain
  • Men who long to be of use

I would like to see all the editors of papers and magazines agree to print the truth and nothing but the truth, to avoid all slander and misrepresentation, and to let the private affairs of the people alone.

I would like to see drunkenness and prohibition both abolished.

I would like to see corporal punishment done away with in every home, in every school, in every asylum, reformatory, and prison. Cruelty hardens and degrades, kindness reforms and ennobles.

I would like to see millionaires unite and form a trust for the public good.

I would like to see a fair division of profits between capital and labor, so that the toiler could save enough to mingle a little June with the December of his life.

I would like to see an international court established in which to settle disputes between nations, so that armies could be disbanded and the great navies allowed to rust and rot in perfect peace.

I would like to see the whole world free — free from injustice, and free from superstition.

This will do for next Christmas. The following Christmas, I may want more.

This post was brazenly "borrrowed" from Unreasonable Faith.

Happy Hanuka - with Andre Rieu & orchestra playing "Hava Nagila"

As the celebration of Hanuka winds down, here's a foot-tapping performance of "Hava Nagila" by Andre Rieu and the orchestra at London's Albert Hall.

And you thought symphony orchestras were all serious and stuff!

[With thanks to my good friend, Bob Poris)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

From our house to your house


"Sorry, Galileo," says the Pope, 400 years too late!

About 400 years ago, a scientist/astronomer by name of Galileo discovered by virtue of a telescope that the earth was not the center of the universe and the sun did not revolve around the earth. Then this upstart know-it-all scientist had the gall to publicize his findings.

You wonder what got into him. Church dogma clearly stated that the sun revolved around the earth and the earth was the center of everything because it was the center of God's creation. Galileo was no dummy. Naive maybe. But he must have known what the Church did to people who questioned its "truth."

Galileo was not burned at the stake. He got off easy. He was merely forced to recant his beliefs to avoid excommunication and an eternity in hell. Some say he recanted "tongue-in-cheek," knowing that the clergy were a bunch of ignorant dumbasses.

It took a few hundred years, but in 1992, Pope John Paul II apologized (to whom?) and said that the church's denunciation of Galileo was "a tragic error."

You betcha.

I wonder how many hundred of years it will be before some other Pope John or Paul or Pius or Leo or Benedict will apologize for other "tragic" errors? How long will it be before the Roman church says, "Oops, yeah, we were wrong about celibacy, women priests, homosexuality, gay marriage, contraception and condoms, abortion, and stem-cell research, among other things."

Too damn long!

When is a "virgin" birth not a virgin birth?

For many Christians, the "virgin" birth of Jesus is "gospel truth" and thus fundamental to their faith. If you knock out the virgin birth, you've cut down one of the pillars of Christianity.

This is not going to be a theological discourse on the subject, but I did want to make a couple of points.

There is no such thing as a "virgin" birth. And neither Matthew nor Luke (the only places where the story appears) write of a virgin birth. If you must think of Mary as a "virgin," the correct terminology would be that she experienced a "virginal" conception. While still a virgin, Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.

The earliest Christians could not have cared less about Jesus' so-called virgin birth. The virgin birth became important only after the passing of several hundred years when the "orthodox" Christians (as opposed to myriads of other Christian groups) began to see Mary, not as a teenage Jewish girl, but as the "Mother of God." The idea of Mother of God derives mostly from paganism; and Mary, the Mother of God would have to be a virgin. Not only so, she must remain a virgin. That's the reason the Roman Church to this day denies that the brothers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels were actually his blood brothers. More like cousins?

The notion of "Mother of God" led further to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which maintains that Mary was conceived without the "stain" of original sin.

Who cares? What does any of this have to do with anything? What difference does it make in one's day to day life? The stories of Jesus' birth are clearly mythological and have no basis in reality or history. They were created by two of the four Gospel writers to give Jesus "heavenly" significance. Mark's gospel, the earliest of the canonical works, fails to mention Jesus' birth and John, the latest gospel, turns Jesus into a Greek caricature - the "logos" or wisdom or "word" of God who is in fact, God.

There is nothing wrong with Christians celebrating the birth of the one they claim as savior; one who, according to the angels, came to bring peace and goodwill to all. Unfortunately, all that peace and goodwill gets lost in a mishmash of Christianized paganism dripping with sloppy sentimentality which too often results in turning the hard truth of what it might cost to truly celebrate the birth of Jesus into a ritual easily discarded on December 26.

And that's why there was so much uproar when Playboy pictured a "Maria" on the cover of its Mexican edition. Although the magazine insists the woman was not intended to represent the mother of Jesus, many saw it that way and took offense.

To become angry at Playboy for its insensitivity to Catholic (mostly) sensitivities is, of course, another method of avoiding walking the walk. In fact, according to one story in the Gospels, it is unlikely that Jesus would have been offended in the least by the Playboy cover: "Woman, what have you to do with me?"

Or, to put it another way, the "virgin" part of Jesus' birth tradition has no relevance to anything and, in fact, may be detrimental to real spirituality.

You'll find an interesting and provocative post on the virgin birth here.

A taxing situation at Christmas in German Churches

Let's say you belong to an exclusive club. You pay well for the privilege.On Christmas Eve, your club is planning a very special event with Santa and gifts and lots of good wine. All club members are excited and intend to attend looking forward to a wonderful evening with friends and family.

All of a sudden, your club is inundated with strangers and hangers-on who take all the good seats, and have the audacity to act as though they have a right to be there. They are not members of the club and thus never pay dues.

You'd probably get pretty damn angry and might even get a little "grinchy" on Christmas Eve.

In Germany, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches are still mostly funded by tithes, which are collected by the German government's tax office. Germans can opt out of paying these tithes, but they must then leave the church.

This creates a problem at Christmas, for all kinds of non-tithing Germans show up for Christmas services at Germany's Catholic and Protestant churches. That makes many good tithing Germans a bit angry and frustrated.

Some German politicos have suggested that "midnight mass on Christmas Eve should be reserved for people who have paid their church tax."

Spiegel Online reports that "Thomas Volk, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats in the southern state of Baden-Wurttemberg, said that many regular churchgoers were angry that they can't get a seat because of the onslaught on churches at Christmas."

Volk thinks that on December 24 (today), churches should admit only those people who have paid their church tax. Regular members would be given tickets to guarantee them a seat at services.

One problem remains unresolved, though. If this were to become policy, how would it be enforced.

Why not post soldiers at the doors to check tax returns?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Morning, Dec. 23, '08

Central Florida - Dec. 23

Palin's palaver - her biggest mistake

Sarah "Pitbull" Palin was not happy with the way the McCain campaign "handled" her. In spite of that, however, she continues to claim she just "loves" ol' John.

What the McCain campaign did wrong, says Sarah, was to keep her from talking to the media.

Yup! Though most of us thought, from the point of view of the viability of the McCain campaign, that was the one thing they did right.

Sarah, doesn't quite see it that way. She told John Gizzi of the right-wing Human Events' magazine that "The biggest mistake [in the campaign] was that I could have called more shots on this: the opportunities that were not seized to speak to more Americans via media. I was not allowed to do very many interviews, and the interviews that I did were not necessarily those I would have chosen."

Yes, this is the same Sarah Palin that denigrated and castigated the "liberal," "elite" media every chance she could while on the campaign trail!

[A further tidbit: She was over-controlled during the campaign, she says. She was a governor, for god's sake! She was not used to being "handled." She is "used to proving [her] abilities by calling the shots." And she noted that she relied on God's direction in all that she does - "that's good enough for me," she said, theologically.]

Right! Blame God! Sheesh!

This is all very funny. Throughout the campaign, Sarah condemned the MSM. And everytime she was interviewed by the MSM, she made a complete fool of herself. She became a laughing-stock to everyone but the intellectually- and ethically-challenged. "I can see Alaska from my house"? "I read all the newspapers"?

From the Democratic point of view, it really is too bad that she was kept hidden from the press. All that would have been necessary for an ever bigger Obama landslide was to let Palin prattle on!

"I can see the White House from my house!"

You betcha!

Pope Benedict speaks out on the "order of creation"

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican enforcer prior to his elevation to chief poohbah, is now known as Pope Benedict XVI. As Cardinal Ratzinger and now as Pope Benedict, this cleric has held to the Roman Church's line on homosexuality:

Homosexuality, in and of itself, is not a "sin." Homosexual actions are a "sin."

But, as another Vatican official said recently, homosexuality is "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound."

Benedict believes it is a contradiction of the order of creation!

Thus, yesterday, Benedict compared homosexuality to the destruction of the rainforest. It's just as important to save people from homosexual or transexual behavior as it is to save the rainforest from destruction.

Humans need to "listen to the language of creation" in order to truly understand the place of man and woman. Any sexual behavior other than heterosexual relations are "a destruction of God's work."

How would he know that? Well, he is God's vicar on earth and gets his information straight from the deity. And it is important that everyone understand the Roman Catholic Church has the right to "speak of human nature as man and woman, and ask that this order of creation be respected."

There is so much wrong with Benedict's statement it is hard to know where to start. Let it suffice to say that in God's "order of creation," homosexuality is prevalent among numerous species. It is not an aberration. And while the Roman church, aka Benedict, can speak about whatever it wants, it most certainly does NOT have the right to "ask that this order of creation be respected."

Maybe Benedict got his signals crossed and was talking to James Dobson when he thought he was connected to the Almighty.

U.S. Military plans to circumvent SOFA

[Sunday AM service at US base in Eastern Iraq. Too
many atheists in foxholes. Photo by Iason Athanasiadis]

Gareth Porter, no fan of G. W. Bush or his adventure in Iraq, writing in Asian Times online, claims that "United States military leaders and Pentagon officials ... plan to violate a central provision of the US-Iraqi withdrawal agreement requiring the complete pullout of all US combat troops from Iraqi cities by mid-2009..."

These "military leaders and Pentagon officials" will circumvent the agreement by "reclassifying combat troops as support troops."

Porter asserts that this "chicanery ... represents both open defiance of an agreement which the US military has never accepted and a way of blocking president-elect Barack Obama's proposed plan for withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of his taking office.

While he does not go so far as to accuse Bush of being involved in this deviousness, it is interesting to note that the Bush administration did a quick 180, moving from no timeline for withdrawal to a specific time-frame drawn up with Iraqi officials. Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but there is no way to trust Bush to be honest about anything; thus, we have to wonder why the roundabout. Is Bush, working with his generals, trying to put Obama in an impossible situation, where he will be forced to back off from his pledge?

Porter doesn't mention Bush, but he says "By redesignating tens of thousands of combat troops as support troops, those officials [military leaders and Pentagon poohbahs] apparently hope to make if difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to insist on getting all combat troops [out] of the country by mid-2010."

General David Petreaeus and General Ray Odierno, both opponents of Obama's plan "have drawn up their own alternative plan rejecting that timeline, as the New York Times reported on Thursday [Dec. 18]."

It is no secret that the Bush administration has long planned for a long-term military presence in Iraq. [To protect the oil wells?] The military is deeply ensconced in that country with multiple "permanent" bases, which are, in fact, US-style cities.

It is also no secret that the military exists to do military things. An Iraqi pullout might well change the configuration of the military in myriad ways, and affect the careers of numerous officers and enlisted men and women. What will they do if they can't "police" Iraq?

Hell, some of them might have to go fight in Afghanistan which has become more dangerous than Iraq.

Whatever, as Porter says, "The signals from Odierno of US military defiance of the withdrawal agreement suggest that the Pentagon and military leadership still do not take seriously the views of the Iraqi public as having any role in determining the matter of foreign troops in their country.

That, of course, has been true from day one, when George W. Bush, the absent without leave National Air Guard officer, sent troops into harm's way on a fool's mission in 2003.

Read Porter's entire article here.

Another take on U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq is here.

He who is without sin, cast the first stone

[Image from]

There's a story in the Gospel of John which tells the tale of a woman caught in adultery. The religious poohbahs bring the woman to Jesus to ask what should be done with her in order to trap Jesus into some kind of unorthodox recommendation.

According to the Law of Moses, the woman should be stoned to death.

Jesus is silent, then kneels and writes something in the earth.

He says, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."

The story is fictitious, and is less about the woman than it is about Jew hatred on the part of the author of John (unknown), who is, in this story, trying to show how the Jews were all about the evil "law" and Jesus was about "mercy and love."

Nevertheless, it's a great story to bring up when hypocrites raise their ugly, pointy, little heads.

Like in Mandarin, Florida, at Grace Community Church. Rebecca Hancock no longer attends Grace, largely because of the lack of grace she found there. She's divorced, and appears to have been living out-of-wedlock with a new boyfriend.

Ms. Hancock claims that when her christianist "friends" at Grace Community Church learned of her wicked ways they harassed her to the extent that she decided to worship elsewhere.

That should have been the end of the story. But, nooooo....

Hancock received a letter from Grace Church stating that because she had lived in sin and had refused to give up her boyfriend, "you leave us with no other choice but to carry out the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ ... In accordance with Matthew 18:17 we intend to 'tell it to the church.'"

Hancock said the loving christianists at Grace Church, on Jan. 4, plan to tell her sins "to the church, publicly, with my children sitting in the church and my friends."

The pastor of Grace Community Church, Dr. T. Scott Christmas [that's a bit of irony], told Channel 4 News in Jacksonville, he had no comment.

What's really sad is that Rebecca is now attending another church. She failed to learn a very important lesson.

Anti-Environmental Rightists

[Mountain top removal coal mine in the Alleghenies -]

It's always amazing to me that so often rightwing christianist fundies side with the corporate behemoths rather than with the people.

Pete Chagnon and Jody Brown, in an article titled, "Obama's energy team has its own 'inconvenient truths,' at the christianist onenewsnow, whine that Obama may actually try to protect the environment.

They quote various neanderthals at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a right-wing think tank, who suggest that Obama's choices for energy secretary (Steven Chu), and EPA administrator (Lisa Jackson) and "energy and climate czar" (Carol Browner) are "people who don't really care about the economic effects of their policies." Or so says one Iain Murray, a global warming critic!

Murray went on Faux News to complain that these choices "undercut his [Obama's] promise to bring a new voice to the debate on environmental issues."

You have to wonder what world Murray lives in. For eight long god-forsaken years, we have had an administration that has "undercut" every attempt to institute rational environmental policies!

The one thing Obama is doing is bringing "a new voice to the debate on environmental issues"!

Another CEI "expert," Myron Ebell, cries that Obama's environmental choices "are all committed ... to what president-elect Obama says is his agenda, which is to spend an awful lot of taxpayer money on creating so-called 'green jobs.'"

Green jobs, of course, are wonderful!

And Steven Chu's appointment is worrisome because Chu "is a big advocate for replacing coal."

Coal is the biggest pollutant around and an alternative must be found!

To summarize: These dingbats on the right want to continue the Bush policy of raping the environment to enrich the people who would destroy it! They deny global warming, fight environmental protections, and want to "drill, baby, drill!" and "dig, baby, dig" even though those are the very things which will bring us down in the long run.

It is wonderful to have them carping in the background for a change, rather than directing policies of environmental destruction from a back room of the White House.

That's a bit of good cheer in this holiday season!

The World of Wal-Mart

Fun facts and figures about Wal-Mart. The folks at the Cat in the Bag blog suggest Wal-Mart should be asked to bail out the auto industry. Here's why:

1. At Wal-Mart, Americans spend $36,000,000 every hour of every day.

2. That breaks down to $20,928 profit every minuted!

3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.

4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target + Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.

5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer. And most employees cannot speak English.

6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.

7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined. Remember, they have been selling food for only 15 years.

8. During this same 15 years, 31 supermarket chains have sought bankruptcy, including Winn-Dixie.

9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.

10. Wal-Mart has approximately 3,900 stores in the United States, 1,906 of which are Supercenters. This represents 1,000 more than Wal-Mart had five years ago.

11. This year, 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal-Mart store. (Consider that there are only 6.5 billion people in the entire world.)

12. 90% of all Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart.

[Kudos to "Zoey and Me" at Cat in the Bag.]

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Skirmishes in the War on Christmas

Skirmish 1:

Tony Woodlief at thinks the American public is stupid and castigates our citizens who have turned Christmas into "bacchanalia." He refers to SantaCon as an example; "a drunken party where attendees wear cheap red outfits reminiscent of Santa Claus. ... The purpose of SantaCon, depending on whom you ask, turns on making Christmas less ... something: less commerical, less traditional, less stuffy, less virginal, less sober."

Woodlief notes that Christmas derives from "a pagan winter celebration," which isn't so bad in and of itself, but "Christians appropriated the pagan winter celebrations the way a company might buy out a competitor, keeping the location to which everyone was accustomed but gradually getting folks to think of it as having different significance."

Ah, yes, the Christians screwed up. "We succeeded in supplanting the pagan holiday, but we didn't rid ourselves of the pagans. Instead, a good many of us joined in, gradually helping to associate Christmas with over-consumption, drunken revelry, and self-centered celebration."

What to do? Give it up! "...let's publically call this big event the 'Happy Holidays,' of 'Winter Festival,' or even 'Saturnalia,' and stop--for the love of God--calling it Christmas."

"Let's give it [Christmas] back to the pagans," says Woodlief.

Skirmish 2:

Gary McCullough, director of Christian Newswire, is pretty damn snotty. Christians stole the pagan holiday. Ha, ha! Christians also stole Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving. So, there, you atheists!

Mouthy McCullough says to "our atheist neighbors ... Yes -- we stole your pagan holidays. We have trashed most of your culture; and for good reason. Pagan culture celebrated rape, slavery, and murder."

Hmmm. Methinks there are good historical reasons to blame Christians for those things!

McCullough concludes that atheists should "go get your own holiday." Then, with a massive dose of chutzpah, says atheists already have their own holiday, April 1st.

That's not a very nice thing for a christianist to say during the Christmas season which is supposed to celebrate peace and goodwill to all! WWJD?

Skirmish 3:

Inhabiting the Utah State Legislature is a Sen. Chris Buttars. A Repugnican, naturally. Buttars, for some reason, has become a leader in the fight against the "war on Christmas." That means, naturally, that he is sponsoring a resolution suggesting that retailers use the word, "Christmas" in their advertising, rather than "Happy Holidays."

Buttars, an ignoramus, says "I'm sick of the Christmas wars -- we're a Christian nation and ought to use the word."

Well, Sen. Buttars, you're a butt-head. We're not a Christian nation. Go back to school!

Skirmish 4:

Patrick Mahoney is the director of the far-right, extremist christianist wingnut Christian Defense Coalition. He received permission to set up a nativity display in Times Square on December 6.

That's over, but it's part of an effort, dubbed "The Nativity Project," which "encourages individuals and groups to display Nativity scenes in public places across America."

This is, he says, to remind Americans and "Public religious freedom and speech must be protected and promoted."

Except for those he doesn't agree with; like atheists.

The birth of Christ, says Mahoney, "promises 'peace and goodwill' to all who seek Him."

And everyone else can go to hell, right Mahoney?

What a dirtbag!

Skirmish 5:

This is sorta peripheral to the war on Christmas, but it's related and it's funny. Joel Miller got upset one day when he found himself listening to cell phones ringing and suddenly realized that there were no Christian ringtones!


He said, "It seems that all around us now a days (sic), there are cell phones ringing ungodly, intrusive, or Satanic ring tones that misdirect people who are in need of hope and faith. Just look around and one can come to the realization that, Satan is taking over the world using cell phones."


What to do?

Well, "A cell phone in the hands of a good Christian is a powerful weapon against Satan." So Joel found a couple of nice ringtone sites where one can download "Christian" ringtones and fight Satan!

Get those ringtones, Christians, says Joel. "...anyone using their cell phone as a ministry to spread the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, can expect to be blessed."

Actually, if I'm in earshot of some dork getting blessed with a religious ringtone, I might just shove that cellphone where the sun don't shine!

Ringtones in public are a pain in the ass anytime, anywhere.

The Holy Land Experience at Yuletide

The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida is part and parcel of the Disneyesque landscape that pervades Central Florida. It's a christianist fantasy, a religious version of Disney World.

Every year visitors can share in a re-creation of Jerusalem at the time of Christ; Bethlehem, too!

"Witness the nativity through the eyes of the innkeeper in Holy Land's special holiday production, Come to the Manger - A Bethlehem Christmas. See the lights, bask in the songs, and re-live the incredible evening that Jesus Christ came to earth, not as a king, but as newborn child lying in a manger."

Stop laughing.

There's more:

"The true tale of St. Nicholas, told in a Kidventure ... (complete with a round sporting boxing gloves!).

"Ye Olde Christmas Carols celebrates the birth of Jesus with HLE's a capella carolers, dressed in the style of the day to charm and delight...

"The Tiny Little Town of Bethlehem is an amazing miniature display of Bethlehem on the magical night Jesus was born.

"HLE's Christmas Southern Gospel Quartet, The Fishers of Men, perform a very special Christmas concert ...

"The story of Hanukkah unfolds in Light the Lights" - what?

It truly is "magical," a fantastical version of the mythical birth of the legendary Jesus, put together by fundy christianists.

I have no idea how Hanukkah snuck in there.

Save your money.

Christmas - It's almost over

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The history of Hanukkah

[Hanukkah in Jerusalem by Lisa Katz]

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown. If you are unfamiliar with Hanukkah or need a brief refresher course, here are some links.

A brief history of Hanukkah here.

Historical summary and Hanukkah traditions here.

And more Hanukkah here.

Here is an informative and humorous piece on why Hanukkah is spelled so many different ways.

Barenaked Ladies - Hanukkah Blessings

Hanukkah song Texas style

Happy Hanukkah

Light up the world!