23 December 2008

Happy Holidays

I've had a couple friends ask me what they should say to me this time of year; "Happy Holidays?" "Merry Christmas?" "Happy Festivus?" "Happy Solstice?" "Happy Christmahanakwanzika?" "You're going to burn in hell, you heathen." (On a side note, when I wished my friends a happy Solstice the other day, it was only because it happened to be the Winter Solstice; I wasn't trying to make some kind of politically correct statement.) Any of the above will do just fine, thank you. And I've had some people get offended when I say "Happy Holidays," as if I'm trying to undermine their Christian beliefs or mock them. Though I don't understand how recognizing that there are those who don't celebrate Christmas and being sensitive to that fact can be offensive.

I don't mind if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. In fact, I'll return the sentiment, just as I would if someone were to wish me a Happy Kwanzaa (I must admit to being a little offended that no one has wished me a Happy Kwanzaa yet...)

As far as Christmas goes, I do look forward to the time with the family and the Christmas songs (I've been avoiding them thus far -- the songs, not the family) I go to church with the family as part of our annual tradition, (At great personal risk, as I expect to burst into flames one of these years.) and I sing along with the Christmas songs; I actually prefer the Christian Christmas songs more than the annoying secular carols.

Christmas, to me, is a time to get together with the family, give each other gifts, eat good food and just enjoy life. I understand that it means something different to Christians and that's fine. By saying "Happy Holidays," I'm not trying to impugn upon that. Christmas is included in those holidays.

Happy Holidays!


Lorraine said...

you've written the exact sentiments i'm always expressing to people (they're probably tired of hearing it!). i run into that a lot in the retail industry too, me wishing my customers a happy holiday (as they really all do fall together this year, don't they?), and them returning a forceful "MERRY CHRISTMAS," to which i have to bite my tongue to keep from spurting back an equally forceful "HAPPY HANUKKAH," since it was technically hanukkah and xmas was days away, and besides that i actually celebrate it...
anyway, i luv me the sacred xmas songs WAY better too. give me coventry carol, this little babe, and i wander as i wonder over that jingle rudolph sleigh ride crap any day of the year!
so yeah, i guess what i'm trying to say is... me too!

Anonymous said...

I guess I wonder why folks who aren't Christian care at all what they are wished.

For instance, I'm not Jewish, but I don't care a flying fig if someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah. I'm not offended nor concerned.

I get wished a Happy Golden Week by many of my peers in Asia. That's cool.

Christmas just flys in the face of everyone for some reason.

My personal opinion is that everyone is scared that if they are wrong about Jesus....then what??????

I mean if you are a believer and are correct...then....cool. If you are wrong....then whatever.

If you are a non believer and are wrong??? uh oh..

Toby said...

I think you missed the point of my post. The point I was trying to make was that I am not offended when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. Others are offended when I wish them Happy Holidays.

As far as "what if I'm wrong?" That's a classic application of Pascal's Wager. Two comments on that:
1) What if you're wrong about Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Pastafarianism, etc.? What happens to you, as an unbeliever, if those religions are right and not yours? As Dawkins likes to say, "We're both atheists. I just take it one god further."
2) Jefferson wrote, "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must approve the homage of reason than of blindfolded fear." That is, if there is a god, he probably likes people to use the brains he gave us, rather than blindly following something without evidence.

Anonymous said...

Just an observation:

You post quite often about NOT believing. I don't spend a lot of time even thinking about what I DON'T believe in.

My thought is that you are running away from something that you claim DOESN'T EVEN EXIST.

Toby said...

Yes, I do spend a lot of time thinking and posting about my unbelief. Thanks for noticing.

And rather than "running away" from god, I see it more as confronting challenges from people with whom I disagree, albeit civilly and with the knowledge that I don't have all the answers. Most religious people I know think they DO have all the answers and that if I come up with different answers or question theirs', I am somehow immoral or to be pitied.

Anonymous said...

You must hang around with a lot of Catholics. You talk a lot about God's wrath (ie burning up if you go into a church, being judged as immoral or just in general).

The only pity I feel for you is that you have SUCH a skewed view of Christianity. It's all rules and judgement to you.

That is Catholicism.

Fire and Brimstone
blah, blah, blah


and I don't blame anyone for running from it because it's impossible to live under that kind of expection.....as an immoral human....which is what we ALL are.

Toby said...

Some of my friends are Catholic, but I have never spoken religion with them, so that's not where I get my image of Christianity. I get it from organizations like Focus on the Family and New Life Church, both of which are almost literally in my backyard. That's mainstream Christianity in the US. (Now's the time to explain how you're not like them. No one is, apparently.)

Hell, damnation, etc are not exclusive to Catholicism. Some of my friends, who happen to be Evangelical Christians, and family have informed me that I am going to hell. I have never had a Catholic tell me that, though I'm sure they would, if given the opportunity.

Don't believe me? Check out this video and resulting conversation. No one participating, as far as I know, is Catholic.

Jared said...

Toby, I happen to know a Catholic, and I'm sure they think you're going to hell. Hell, they probably think I'm going to hell too.

The burning up for going into a church is a joke for us atheists - obviously, we don't believe that it could happen, or ever has. It's a fun way to point out that there really are people who honestly believe this and the other myths perpetuated by religion.

If my and Toby's views of Christianity are skewed, feel free to explain how it is we should view Christianity...

Anonymous said...

It's hard to answer your posts because they kind of jump all over the place as far as your ideas.

Here are the points I will answer:

YOU said: (Now's the time to explain how you're not like them. No one is, apparently.)

I am not like them because I prefer to tell the side of hope. Christianity is about HOPE.

Christianity is about NOT having to follow the rules and NOT being judged. Jesus paid the price for our sin. ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS BELIEVE.

Now....as a teacher.....do you focus your students on the fact that if they don't study they will FAIL!! And if they FAIL all of their classes....they will FAIL IN LIFE!!


I would assume you focus on giving them every opportunity to succeed.

Christians who give you the "YOU WILL BURN IN HELL!" are giving you the truth....

But it's NOT a motivator. I agree.

It's unfortunate that you've only heard the negative side.

It's a colosial mistake Evangelical Christians make. I'd steer clear of them as well.

Toby said...

So your message is still the same, though. You just don't emphasize the 'hell' part of it. But it's still there. The point is, according to Christianity, no matter which version of it you subscribe to, sends the message that if you don't declare blind allegiance to something for which there is no proof you're going to burn in hell for all eternity.

Does it really matter that you only talk about the positives, rather than emphasizing the negatives?

You said, "Christianity is about NOT having to follow the rules and NOT being judged. Jesus paid the price for our sin. ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS BELIEVE."

1) Christianity is all about following rules. Or are the Ten Commandments just guidelines?

2) If Christianity is not about being judged, what does St. Peter do for a living?

3) If someone kills 6,000,000 people tomorrow. And on Friday, they're really, truly sorry; they get into heaven. But little old me, who simply doesn't believe a bronze age story, at the detriment to no one, goes to hell. No thanks. I'll take my heathen immorality over that.

Anonymous said...

1. The 10 commandments are the old law. "Old Testament" They are the rules you MUST follow to get into heaven....ON YOUR OWN!! No one can do it! It's the reason Jesus had to come.

2. St Peter???? Are you kidding me??? CATHOLIC!!

3. If someones kills 6M people today....I'd question their motives.

I'm surprised by your response. I thought you knew a lot more about what you DON'T believe in.

St Peter....ha ha ha ha...

Toby said...

1) So, "Thou shouldn't kill," but if you really believe and accept Christ, he'll turn a blind eye.

2)Ok. The Catholics are wrong in a different way. You're still judged at some point to determine whether or not you're going to heaven or hell.

3)That's your response? You'd question their motives? You're not judging them. That's for God, right? But as long as this person has accepted Christ as their lord and savior, God has no issue with them going to heaven.

Details aside, regardless of what brand of Christianity you subscribe to, do you see why I, and so many others have an issue with religion? It's a skewed, outdated morality system.

Anonymous said...

No...He doesn't "turn a blind eye". It's called forgiveness.....however.....

There ARE folks out there who "claim" to be Christian who do all kinds of otrosities....even in the NAME of God. The judging is not up to me. God will judge the heart.

Being a Christian is not about "going to church every Sunday" or saying "I believe in God". It's about accepting Christ and living a life that honors His death. I mean...a man DIED for me....in a horrific way. Why wouldn't I WANT to honor that??

So....back to if someone kills 6M people....I would question their motives. How is killing 6M people honoring Christ?? God won't be fooled by the "...but I'm a Christian" excuse.

And no...I don't see why it's so hard to beleive in God. You believe in a lot of other stuff that has never been proven or has even been disproven.

For instance...your "belief" that there isn't a God is based on YOUR opinion and the opinion of others who agree with you. To the best of my knowledge...no one has proven that God does NOT exist.

By the way...I'm curious is you believe Jesus actually existed. And who was he?

Outdated morality system?? That's your excuse for whatever you're doing that YOU think is immoral.

Jared said...

no one has proven that God does NOT exist.

That's a logical fallacy - specifically, the Negative proof fallacy.

Imagine you believe there is life on other planets, and I do not. To prove that there is no life other than us (the negative), I would have to check every planet in our infinite universe. Obviously, if something's infinite, you can never finish checking. It is impossible to prove that there is no other life in the entire universe, but it only takes one other example to prove there is. (Nitpick: this is assuming we go with planetary life, and ignore other possible types of life.)

The burden of proof falls on you to show me that your god does, in fact, exist.


You believe in a lot of other stuff that has never been proven or has even been disproven.

For example.... what?


I'm curious is you believe Jesus actually existed. And who was he?

Obviously you believe Jesus existed. What proof do you have he did existed?


Earlier you said, "The 10 commandments are the old law. 'Old Testament' They are the rules you MUST follow ... No one can do it! It's the reason Jesus had to come."

What about the 10 commandments can't you follow!?

1. Believe in no other God but me
2. No idol worship
3. No swearing with my name
4. Sunday is holy
5. Honor your mother and father
6. Don't murder
7. Don't commit adultery
8. Don't steal
9. Don't lie
10. Don't envy

How were you not able to follow those simple rules without Jesus' help!? I follow the 5-10, and I'm not even Christian!

Of course, those aren't the true 10 commandments... You can find the actual 10 commandments from god in Exodus 34:14-27.


And finally, Anonymous, what's your problem with Catholics? You've railed against them in almost every response. They're Christians too, and follow the Bible, just like you (well, except you pick and choose the parts you want to follow, and the others are just "too hard to do alone").

Your god seems so loving, knowing that he's sending 99% of the people on the planet to hell.

Anonymous said...

ok...so you've read a lot of books on how to argue with a Christian.

Proving a false positive...a false negative...a negative negative.
I don't know how to argue back...so you got me.

If you were to stand in a dark room and someone switched on a light....but you closed your eyes and covered them with your hands....then you would not see the light. That's your choice.

Seeing God is the same thing. I see God All THE TIME!

We are given free will. You can choose to accept it or not.

If you lovely new wife were forced to love you....would that be satisfying to you. I would guess not. I would think that you love that she chooses to love you.

As for the existence of Jesus. I was just asking a simple question. Was he an actual man who walked on earth. Regardless of whether or not he was God. I just wanted to know.

As for following all or some of the 10 Commandments on a daily basis:

The point is that you cannot possibly and that is the reason Jesus had to pay the price for us to get into heaven.

1. Believe in no other God but me - THE POPE!!
2. No idol worship - MONEY!!
3. No swearing with my name - OMG!!
4. Sunday is holy - It's not just Sunday...it's any day you choose.
5. Honor your mother and father
6. Don't murder - ever think awful thoughts about someone....same as murder in Gods eyes.
7. Don't commit adultery - ever heard of lust? same thing
8. Don't steal - ever call in sick to work .... when you weren't sick
9. Don't lie - Surprise party??
10. Don't envy - Toby has cool stuff!!

Point being...God is PERFECT. No one enters HIS kingdome with ANY sin. Jesus paid the price for ALL OF IT. Past, Current and Future sins. It was the reason God Foresake Him while He was on the Cross. God cannot look at Sin. He turned his back on his ONLY son.

My problem with the Catholic Religion is that they make you beleive that you can do something to get into heaven. It's the reason Toby through the 10 Commandments into this conversation. It's the reason you feel judged by Christians. It's the reason Christians judge.

It's NOT the ONLY reason....but it's an issue for me.

And finally....Jared....do you have any friends who endanger themselves on a daily basis?? Smoke? Eat crap and are overweight?

Can you stop them from this abuse...or do they have free will to choose this action?

Do they know that they can help themselves? That there is an answer?

If you cannot convince them to stop...then what kind of friend are you?

Again...it's called free will.

Accept the gift or not. It's up to you.

I know....what if that person in Africa has never heard of God or Jesus.....GO ahead and ask. This blog is too long.

Toby said...

FIrst, let me say that I know for a fact Jared hasn't read any "how to argue with Christians" books. His calling out of your logical fallacy is the product of a solid grounding in science. Don't dismiss his argument as some half-cocked idea.

Most of what you said is completely based on scripture. Obviously, Jared and I don't believe scripture is true, so it has no bearing on this discussion.

You and the Catholics are not as different as you like to think. You both believe that if someone does not accept Jesus as their personal lord and savior, they're going to suffer for all eternity. Again, you just don't like to talk about that part. But, your objection to the Catholics is so noted. I'm not a fan of Catholicism either.

Aunt Ruthie said...

It's grounded in a solid grounding in a Science that he chooses to believe.

You're right...you choose NOT to believe Scripture.

and..Just like smokers don't like to think about the idea that smoking causes cancer. Ok...that's ok. Believe what you will. The TRUTH is the TRUTH whether or not you want to accept it.