Atheism through the holidays, part 4: How to deal with religious relatives

I know this is late - the holidays are now over - but I don't really have all that much experience with this one, having only been an atheist for a few years, and I wanted to let another holiday season go by before addressing it.When it comes to dealing with religious relatives during the holidays, my biggest strategy is simply keeping my mouth shut. First of all, some of my relatives know I'm an atheist while others don't, which makes things complicated and makes keeping my own counsel … [Read more...]

Atheism through the holidays, part 3: Family, generosity, and the true meaning of Christmas

Most Christians want Christmas to focus on the birth of their savior. Mass marketing, on the other hand, forwards the idea that Christmas is about getting stuff. Children come into contact with all sorts of ideas about holidays, but it is a child's parents that set the tone for the holiday celebration at home. So as a parent, I ask myself, what do I want Christmas to be about for my children? What meaning for the holiday do I want to convey to them? I think that every parent should ask this … [Read more...]

Atheism through the holidays, part 2: What to do about baby Jesus

My parents homeschooled me in part to "shelter" me - to keep me from what they considered "bad influences." They carefully monitored what movies we watched, who we were friends with, what we read and learned, and where we went or what we saw. The goal was to raise us to share their beliefs, unadulterated by potential corruption from ideas and beliefs they considered "wrong."Having been raised this way, I have to avoid falling into the same pattern. Sometimes it's tempting to think that I … [Read more...]

Atheism through the holidays, part 1: Santa Claus

When people ask, "but how can you do Christmas without Jesus?" it makes me want to laugh. The other week Sally and I walked through our local mall, and she gave the following monologue:  "Look, Christmas lights! Christmas tree! Look, snow! Presents! Look, more Christmas lights! Look, horse! Look, SANTA CLAUS!!!"  The truth is, the Santa Claus myth, complete with reindeer, elves, and presents, provides a ready go-to for non-religious parents who want the holidays to … [Read more...]

Parenting, Belief, and Expectations

Today I watched this video. It is a talk at a Secular Student Alliance conference by high school student Jessica Ahlquist.┬áIt's weird, if I had watched this video even five or ten years ago, I would have looked at her and seen myself; I would have seen Jessica on the level of a peer. Today, I look at her and see my daughter; I see Jessica as part of a younger generation. And so, watching Jessica, I thought of my daughter and my parenting. Jessica has reminded me that even though I no longer … [Read more...]