Confused Rhode Island Christianists sing secular song to defend Pagan symbol

I have long argued that perpetual offendedness leads to stupidity.

This stupidity is not innate. It is willful, voluntary and chosen. But it’s also extreme. Those who have become addicted to indignation wind up divorced from reality, interacting with it only sporadically when in search of some new pretext onto which they can project the pre-existing umbrage that has become their character, their identity and their reason for being. And when one only rarely interacts with reality — and even then only on one’s own terms — well, it makes one stupid.

Really stupid.

This was illustrated yet again yesterday, when a small cadre from the IndigNation interrupted a children’s choir to sing “O Christmas Tree.”

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee had upset these Christianists –

Wait, no, that’s not accurate. They were already upset. These people are always upset. “Upset” has been what they do for so long that now it’s just who they are. Let’s try that again.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee provided an opening for the latest display of Christianists’ perpetual indignation by referring to the large fir tree in the statehouse as a “holiday tree”:

The governor said [last month] that lawmakers upset with his decision to call the blue spruce erected in the Statehouse a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree should focus their energy on feeding the poor.

Calling the 17-foot-tall spruce a holiday tree is in keeping with Rhode Island’s founding in 1636 by religious dissident Roger Williams as a haven for tolerance, where government and religion were kept separate, independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee said.

“I would encourage all those engaged in this discussion – whatever their opinion on the matter – to use their energy and enthusiasm to make a positive difference in the lives of their fellow Rhode Islanders,” Chafee said, offering an initiative to feed the needy as a good place to start.

Hearing that, the good Christian people of Rhode Island realized that Chafee was right. Their Bibles, after all, don’t say anything at all about Christmas trees — a pre-Christian symbol from Pagan celebrations later adopted and syncretized into a Christian holiday — but those Bibles do have a great deal to say about feeding the needy. So …

No, I’m kidding. Of course that’s not what happened. Chafee’s “holiday tree” gave these Christianists an excuse to pretend they’re being persecuted and nothing delights them more than a chance to pretend they’re being persecuted.

So during the holiday tree lighting ceremony in the Statehouse, these proudly offended morons interrupted a performance by a children’s choir to strike a blow against pluralism:

After Chafee lit the “holiday” tree, a few dozen carolers interrupted a performance by a children’s chorus to sing “O Christmas Tree.” …

“He’s trying to put our religion down,” said Ken Schiano of Cranston, who came to the tree lighting after hearing about the controversy.

And what better way to defend “our religion,” he decided, than by singing, “O Christmas Tree” — a thoroughly secular holiday song that has as much to do with religion as “White Christmas” or “Merry Christmas Baby.”

So for these Christianists, the best way they could think of to promote their sectarian view was to sing a secular song in defense of a Pagan symbol.

As ridiculous as that is, it makes sense according to the internal logic of the hegemonic civil religion these folks practice. That religion is primarily tribal. It’s not about a set of shared beliefs or a set of shared practices — that’s why these folks were so angrily dismissive of Chafee’s suggestion that they help the poor. What it’s about is a set of shared symbols — totemic tribal gestures, buzz-words and commodities that can be used to keep track of which tribe is winning.

Such tribal symbols don’t have to have anything to do with the nominal Christian faith on which this tribal religion has been appended. The Bible may not say anything about Christmas trees, but then it doesn’t say anything about guns either. Or the American flag. But whenever anyone says anything that might be remotely construed as questioning the sacredness of those, such comments will be made into the focus for the next performance of IndigNation theater and the pre-existing offendedness of the tribal Christianists will be projected in that direction for a while.

Which brings us to the other inevitable consequence of perpetual offendedness: It leads to unhappiness.

That unhappiness is willful, voluntary and chosen. And it’s also extreme.

  • Ursula L

    I’m also constantly being told that no-one’s against it, which confuses me as clearly people are against it (you see it as part and parcel of an oppressive and obnoxious religious culture, for example). 

    No one is against someone who chooses to celebrate Christmas wishing “Merry Christmas” to another person whom they know also chooses to celebrate Christmas in a context where it is not done in a way to exclude others.

    People are against:

    1.  Wishing “Merry Christmas” when you do not know that the person or people you are wishing it to actually choose to celebrate Christmas.

    2.  Using “Merry Christmas” as a general mid-winter wish.

    3.  Wishing “Merry Christmas” when you know that the person you are speaking to or some of the people you are speaking to don’t celebrate Christmas.

    4.  Expecting other people to wish you “Merry Christmas” whether or not they choose to celebrate Christmas.

    5.  The use of “Merry Christmas” at government or public events which may be attended by people who do not choose to celebrate Christmas, and where the establishment of a specific religious context is inappropriate. 

    Basically, unless you know that you’re speaking to someone who chooses to celebrate a particular holiday, it’s problematic to offer them wishes related to that particular holiday.  

    Happily, we have alternative wishes – “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” – that are cheerful, inclusive and entirely appropriate.  

    I have yet to hear any good argument in favor of saying “Merry Christmas” in any context other than when you’re speaking to a person or a group of people all of whom you know actually celebrate Christmas.

  • WingedBeast

    Only Jeff Dunham has really put forth the actual argument.

    Walter (the grumpy old-man dummy) says “Okay, screw this, it’s Merry Christmas”.
    Jeff (the ventriloquist) “Walter, there are other religions.”
    Walter using a singsongy voice.  “But, they’re wro-ong.”

    Of course, Dunham’s audience gives a lot of applause to this, because they’re if not vocally at least silently offended by having to admit that other religions exist.  Jeff Dunham, actually a very witty comedian, but includes a lot of racism in his act that I’m sure he doesn’t even think of as racist.

    Still, that’s the argument, that Christianity is the one true religion and all others are wrong.  Once they can prove it, it’ll be a valid argument.  Until then, it’s just tribal arrogance.

  • Lori

     4.  Expecting other people to wish you “Merry Christmas” whether or not they choose to celebrate Christmas.   

    This is the one that really gets on my last good nerve and the reason I find the Christianists “don’t shop in any store that doesn’t say Merry Christmas” campaign so wrong. It’s bad enough for you to reflexively give others the greeting that focuses on your celebration, with no regard for the fact that they may not celebrate the same holiday. 

    It’s a whole other level of assholery to demand that people who may not celebrate Christmas still use “Marry Christmas” as a standard greeting because you simply can’t bear to hear anything else. And it’s perfectly reasonable to alienate everyone who isn’t Christian in order to prevent you from suffering the fate worse than death that is hearing a general holiday greeting. Because Christians, being the majority, own December bitches, and everyone else just better step aside.

    I think some folks are seriously failing to grasp this part of the US situation when they’re thinking that all this is much ado about nothing on the part of non-Christians. 

  • Tonio

    This!

    Items 1 through 4 perpetuate privilege for the adherents of the majority religion. While some of their defenders don’t explicitly argue for the religion being an official or unofficial state one, their arguments presume an unofficial state culture of which the religion would be a part. Almost like they see the US as a far larger version of an Amish enclave, with no relevant distinctions between state, religion and culture. The effect is to marginalize and otherize all other religions.

  • Tonio

    they’re if not vocally at least silently offended by having to admit that other religions exist

    Do you ever feel like telling them to fuck off? It’s not up to them to decide what religion you or anyone else should follow.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    One thing I’d like to know: These Christmas Warriors, do they want non-christians to wish them merry christmas, or do they imagine a legion of oppressed retail clerks who *want* to wish them a merry christmas, but are forbidden by EVIL MANAGEMENT? 

    Because “Fuck you, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, Hindu, etc, you WILL WISH ME A MERRY CHRISTMAS, Heathen!” seems extra special douchey.

  • vsm

    Sorry for the late reply. I had music library discourse to study and Chinese numerals to forget in the middle of a test.

    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little:

    Thus providing us with yet another datum supporting Team Oxford Comma (slogan: “It clears up confusion before it starts!”).

    I suspect I could have avoided the confusion better by including a parenthetical comment on Yule. The Oxford comma simply looks wrong to me. However, there can be no excuse for the second lacking comma, for which I’m unbelievably sorry.Lori:

    Do Christians all over the world celebrate US Thanksgiving as part of
    being Christian? No? Then IMO, not a religious holiday.

    They may not celebrate US Thanksgiving exactly, but as I understand it, the festival is based on European harvest festivals that are often held in churches. The German Erntedankfest is a good example of such a celebration. Across the pond, Thanksgiving looks a lot like Halloween, ie. a religious festival that was secularized over time.In any case, I now have a much better grasp of the Christmas Question. Thank you to everyone who explained the issue. I hope I wasn’t too annoying.Incidentelly, re: real pagans dying out centuries ago, I wouldn’t be all that sure. For instance, there is no official harvest festival in Finland, because the church apparently found the Kekri festival too pagan to adopt. Instead, they tried banning it, but it wouldn’t die until the country started industrializing. It involved all sorts of charming habits, such as eating, drinking and food sacrifices to dead ancestors and spirits to ensure a good harvest next year. While the celebrants would have probably considered themselves Christian if asked, it seems perfectly obvious to me they were New Agers, picking little pieces of different faiths depending on what suited them. This was presumably true of a very large percentage of Christians through the centuries.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps part of the reason you’re drawing a negative reaction here is that your arguments ignore the context.

    no, I’m not ignoring the context. I’ve considered a lot of different contexts in the course of this discussion, including religious greetings during non-Christian religious festivals, and I’ve presumed the main one being discussed when not otherwise specified has been when the interaction is between people who don’t know each other, because that’s obviously the potentially problematic one.

    I’m drawing a different conclusion to you.  That doesn’t mean I’m making an elementary mistake.

    The one context which raises doubts for me is the one Albanaeon raises, in which it’s part of a thorough-going culture of repressing religious minorities.  But I get the impression, and this is backed up by virtually all of the comments here, that it isn’t the experience of most people here.  Maybe it’s true in some parts of the world – the Bible Belt, maybe.  Yes, a small minority do try to use it like this, but why let them govern the meaning of the expression? Some of them are likely to use ‘hello’ as a shibboleth as well – if you respond with ‘beunos dias’ you’ll get a xenophobic rant about how we use English here.  that’s not going to prevent me from saying ‘hello’ to people.

    If you really were living in such an area, I’m not really sure what you should do.  There ‘happy holidays’ couldn’t be an innocent greeting (if you knew the context in which you lived) – it would be flagging your dissenting view.  It’s vaguely comparable to Rosa Parks – in her context, she’s not innocently taking a seat, that’s not an option to her.

    Maybe it would be an important act of rebellion, but I think it would also be quite defensible to choose to pick your battles, and perhaps the holiday season isn’t the most important one to be fighting.

    So if I wished any sectarian holiday greeting to the customers, it would be tantamount to treating that particular religion as normative.

    This is a slightly different argument to the exclusive argument, but I still don’t see why that should be.   I’ve never interpreted any religious greeting as maintaining that the religious view of the greeter is normative – hell, most of the people i’d commonly get ‘Merry Christmas’ from don’t have religious views.  (One reason to think it isn’t really a religious greetting at all – remember I also maintain that.  but even if it was, I wouldn’t think it made Christianity normative)

    Now, it’s possible I could be out on a limb here, but it really seems as though I’m not.  Virtually everyone here who could have had a problem with the greeting seems to not feel it’s a problem at all, except for litte Gaudior, but adult Gaudior enjoys a ‘merry christmas’ these days, and EllieMukasaki, who thinks any appearance of religion whatsoever is against the universal declaration of human rights.

    Given that the intent behind saying ‘Merry christmas’ is not to be exclusive or normative or anything like that (with rare exceptions), and it is not interpreted like that even by non-christians (against with rare exceptions), I’m afraid I just don’t beleive it is ‘tantamount to treating [christianity] as normative’.  At worst it’s potentially as bad as ‘how’s the game then?’

    Ursuala says:

    I have yet to hear any good argument in favor of saying “Merry Christmas”
    in any context other than when you’re speaking to a person or a group
    of people all of whom you know actually celebrate Christmas.

    I think the boot’s on the other foot – greetings are innocent until proven guilty, and I’ve yet to hear an argument against the practice.

     At least, an argument that actually works in the context in which it is normally spoken, that wouldn’t also rule out ‘how’s the game’, ‘happy thanksgiving’ and ‘hello’.

    I’ve one last thing to say that I don’t think has been giving enough weight to date, and then I’m out of here, unless someone actually comes up with something different.  We’re just going around in circles now.

  • vsm

    …And sorry for the awful-looking mess above. I swear it used to have paragraphs.

  • Anonymous

    I have mentioned this before, but what is actually more significant than the words used as greetings, is that it has become normal in Western countries for there to be some kind of holiday and celebration around this time.  This is where the real cultural assimilation is happening – Makabit has already pointed out that Kwaanzaa was deliberately created as an alternative to Christmas, and Hannukah has gone from a very minor holiday to something much more major, and they’ve even incorporated the yule/christmas tree as a holiday bush.  It even seems that Diwali is celebrated more around this time, whereas traditionally the timing varies from October through to January.  There was also the anecdote about a Muslim man thinking of getting a Christmas tree for his family this year in England.

    ‘Happy Holidays’ incorporates this cultural assumption.  It assumes you will be celebrating something around this time – that you won’t be working, have people to celebrate with, and all of those things.  This isn’t true of everyone, it isn’t true in many non-Western countries, and it wasn’t true of Judaism or Hinduism.

    If you want to avoid any exclusivity and cultural normativity, and you think the use of the word ‘Christmas’ does those things, then don’t use any seasonal greetings.  Object to the ‘holiday tree’ – it’s still priviledging a north-western european festival tradition.

    Christmas has already done a lot of assimilatory ‘damage’, if that’s the way you want to see it, to minority non-European/non-christian cultures in western societies.   This wasn’t done by normalizing christianity; it was done by normalizing a party – the force at work here is Fear of Missing Out.

  • Lori

    One thing I’d like to know: These Christmas Warriors, do they want
    non-christians to wish them merry christmas, or do they imagine a legion
    of oppressed retail clerks who *want* to wish them a merry christmas,
    but are forbidden by EVIL MANAGEMENT? 

    Because “Fuck you, Jew,
    Muslim, Atheist, Hindu, etc, you WILL WISH ME A MERRY CHRISTMAS,
    Heathen!” seems extra special douchey. 

    IME it’s actually closer to “Obviously the vast majority of the clerks and management want to wish customers a Merry Christmas because that’s the real greeting for this time of year, but the Evil Forces of Political Correctness are forcing them to ignore our Lord and Savior.”

  • Lori

    They may not celebrate US Thanksgiving exactly, but as I understand it, the festival is based on European harvest festivals that are often held in churches.

    The thing the Pilgrims did may have been, although I don’t know about even that. It’s not like harvest festivals are rare or that one group needed to copy another in order to come up with the idea of having a celebration of the harvest. At any rate, by the time Thanksgiving became an actual holiday in the US it was not. It’s a national holiday.

  • Lori

    The one context which raises doubts for me is the one Albanaeon raises,
    in which it’s part of a thorough-going culture of repressing religious
    minorities.  But I get the impression, and this is backed up by
    virtually all of the comments here, that it isn’t the experience of most
    people here.  Maybe it’s true in some parts of the world – the Bible
    Belt, maybe. 

    I asked this before, but I don’t believe you answered. If you did and I missed it I apologize for asking again. Do you live in the US? You sound like you don’t.

    Given that the intent behind saying ‘Merry christmas’ is not to be
    exclusive or normative or anything like that (with rare exceptions), and
    it is not interpreted like that even by non-christians (against with
    rare exceptions),

    The fact that this is what you’ve taken from this discussion leads me to suspect that discussing it further with you is pointless. I’ll give it one more go though.

    In the US the intent of saying Merry Christmas in public contexts is often to be both normative and exclusive. Other times it is an expression of thoughtless privilege. Most non-Christians aren’t offended by the words “Merry Christmas”, but we are offended by the desire to use the words in a normative and/or exclusionary way and by the brainless privilege. Which, I repeat, happens quite a bit and is the entire point of the War on Christmas nonsense.

  • WingedBeast

    Third option.  It’s not so much “Fuck you…” more like “I’d rather not be forced to admit that, by virtue of my self-identifying as Christian, my opinions and values don’t rule over all of civilization with the exception of horrible foriegn places that are horrible because they’re foriegn and foriegn because they’re horrible.”

  • Anonymous

    EllieMukasaki, who thinks any appearance of religion whatsoever is against the universal declaration of human rights.

    I assume you mean me. (Check your spelling.) When the hell did I say that?

  • vsm

    Speaking of which, I just noticed your name is spelled “Muraski” on Fred’s blogroll.

  • Tonio

    Given that the intent behind saying ‘Merry christmas’ is not to be
    exclusive or normative or anything like that (with rare exceptions), and
    it is not interpreted like that even by non-christians (against with
    rare exceptions), I’m afraid I just don’t beleive it is ‘tantamount to
    treating [christianity] as normative’.

    The intent is largely irrelevant. That’s the same point that we’ve made here about racism. My argument about context deals with majority privilege. Our culture wrongly otherizes non-Christian religions in myriads of ways, and if one is a Jew or a Muslim or any other non-Christian, being told Merry Christmas is one more sign that one’s religion is not really accepted. Not quite the same as, say, a devout Jew having to use vacation time for Yom Kippur while Christian co-workers get a paid holiday for Good Friday. It’s not about whether  non-Christians take offense at Merry Christmas, or whether someone who accidentally says Merry Christmas to a non-Christian intended to offend the person.

    This Wikipedia entry deals with white privilege, but most of its principles apply also to Christian privilege:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of the way in which Christian holidays get secularized -

    One thing I’d like to see is that under Canadian provincial and federal labor law, that statutory holidays become entirely secular. Already over half the holidays are tied to important Canadian or British (or in Quebec, French) historical figures and/or important dates – e.g. Victoria Day, Canada Day, B.C. (or other provincial civic days for the August one) Day, “Family” Day (really, couldn’t they have called it something else? but hey, a holiday.), and so on.

    The December, October, and March/April holidays should be changed to some appropriate secular winter day; I don’t think Canadians would be unhappy to have some kind of civic holiday that corresponds approximately to Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter respectively; the New Year holiday is pretty much secular, since our calendar is just a convenient date marking system.

    I would also not mind seeing more flexibility in labor law to allow employees to exchange a civic holiday on a date to one more convenient to one of religious significance, if possible. (e.g. suppose we have a mandated holiday in April instead of the movable one for Easter; Christians who wanted to celebrate Easter could ask to take the Good Friday off instead of $APRIL_DAY)

  • Ursula L

    Given that the intent behind saying ‘Merry christmas’ is not to be exclusive or normative or anything like that (with rare exceptions), and it is not interpreted like that even by non-christians (against with rare exceptions), I’m afraid I just don’t beleive it is ‘tantamount to treating [christianity] as normative’.  At worst it’s potentially as bad as ‘how’s the game then?’

    Intent isn’t magic.  

    If something causes harm, then it is harmful, even if the person who did it hadn’t intended to cause harm.

    And the use of “Merry Christmas” as a general mid-winter greeting absolutely assumes that the person you’re saying it to is fine with the celebration of Christmas, and with being treated as if they are Christian.  

    Many non-Christians in the US and elsewhere are used to the “Merry Christmas” greeting, and they may not be aware of the way that privilege twists the way that members of non-privileged groups are treated.  That doesn’t mean that the harm isn’t happening, it just means that some people are so used to being treated as second-class that they take it for granted.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I did note that I almost automatically say Merry Christmas without really stopping to think about it, but I should have noted that it’s usually in response to being told a Merry Christmas. That said, I think I’ll be watching out more, since it would be better to use a nondenominational type holiday wish.

  • Tonio

    The US generally lacks statutory holidays, except for Thanksgiving. But in practice, most employers follow the same schedule that the federal government uses for its own employees. Or they include the state workforce holidays as well. A few Southern states celebrate Robert E. Lee’s birthday, and that sound you hear is my bile rising.

  • PurpleGirl

    Actually, after singing sections of it during Lutheran services, it seems/feels like The Messiah is much more suited theologically to Easter and that Easter — the resurrection — is the more important holy day.

    Consider that I see myself now as an equal opportunity deity worshiper — if the holy day and its meaning or festival routine strikes a chord with me I will observe the holy day.  I’ve lately been observing Divali and the Indian owner of the place I buy coffee and bagels was mildly amused when I wished him prosperity in the new year.

  • PurpleGirl

    While reading this thread it occurred to me that many people were missing some historical aspects of the decorated evergreen tree. It was not part of English/Welsh/Scots/Irish traditions of the earlier pagan eras. Decorating with holly and ivy was. The decorated evergreen tree doesn’t become part of English celebrations until Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert and allows him to have a decorated evergreen tree in their home. Prince Albert was Germanic and was introducing traditions he knew from his Germanic background to his family with Victoria. Italy, France, Spain and other countries had other traditions for celebrating Christ’s birth. The Christmas Tree was not universal although many northern European countries had traditions using a decorated evergreen tree.

  • Anonymous

    Intent isn’t magic.

    Which is why I referred to the reactions of the recipients of the greetings.   It’s worth considering the intent, though, because if the intent was normally to harm in some way, then chances are with social interactions like this it probably does in fact harm – and even if it doesn’t it would still be bad.

    But you also dismiss the reactions of the recipients.  You realise that you are saying that several people on this comment thread are being treated like second-class citizens, but don’t realise it?  I would have thought that Slactivist regulars would be fairly attuned to these sorts of matters.  Makabit in particular seems to be quite sensitive to the social situation of a Jew living in a majority non-Jewish country, yet he’s happy with calling it Christmas.

    (That might well include me, too, as I’m not a Christian, but maybe it doesn’t as my background is Christian and I don’t live in the USA.  Not that it particularly matters, but I would be interested to know your opinion on this – am I being treated as a second-class citizen too when receiving a ‘Merry Christmas’ from someone I don’t know?  Does it make a difference if I’m in the United States, or not?)

    I still don’t agree with your arguments – I think I’m inclined to deny just about everything you’re saying (saying ‘Merry Christmas’ doesn’t treat someone as though they’re Christian, etc.).

    But it would be quite significant if, contrary to the examples shown in this comment thread, that non-Christians commonly did interpret ‘Merry Christmas’ as being treated as a second class citizen in America, or could be made to understand that they are so being treated.  I would seriously think twice about being party to something like that.  Even if they aren’t actually being so treated, the fact that on consideration they think they are is still something I’d want to avoid.

    So I’m interested in finding out.  I have no doubt you can find examples where people do feel treated like second-class citizens, and I can’t afford to sponsor a proper statistical research project to see how widespread that is. 

    So here’s what I’ll offer instead.  You find 10 non-Christians currently residing in the States who don’t currently feel as though they are being treated as second-class citizens by being greeted with ‘Merry Christmas’ by Easter, who agree to participate in the experiment, and convince 5 of them that they are being treated as second-class citizens by next Christmas.

    (There’s a few potential candidates in this comments thread.)

    Basically, these people will act as a jury for your proposition that they’re being treated as second-class citizens.  In a way, they’re deciding their own case, so it should be easy for you! (That’s a bit of a joke, but I think I am stacking the game in your favour).

    To reward them for their participation and to provide a small amount of compensation for their time, I’ll buy all 10 of them an e-book of their choice worth up to $15 US dollars, or donate $15 to a charity of their choice (i.e. one ebook each, not one between all of them!).  I’ll also do the same for you.  It’s not much, but I’m not made of money.

    (It’s either a go or no-go, though.  Either you find 10 people, and the game is on and I spend $165, or the game is off and I spend nothing.  I might well buy you an ebook anyway, if I think you’ve made a genuine effort, but that’s up to me.)

    If you manage to convince 5 of them, I will always use ‘Happy Holidays’ for the whole of the next ‘holiday season’, and explain to anyone whom I have an actual conversation with why I am doing that – and most certainly to anyone who asks or comments on the matter.   I will also do the same for the next such season I spend in the USA (may never happen, but there you go.)

    Should you take this offer up, I’ll also announce what we’re doing on my ‘blog (moribund and a bit broken at the moment, but I’ll undertake to get one going), and on Slactiverse, if the management agrees.  Also, in the comments here on Fred’s blog.  Outcomes will be posted similarly. Other venues could be negotiated. 

    It’s worth keeping in mind that although ‘Merry Christmas’ itself isn’t the biggest issue in the world (hopefully we both agree on that!), to the extent this competition gets any attention whatsoever, it will also draw attention to the wider issue of treatment of non-Christians in the USA (or more generally, in majority Christian cultures).  I also care about that issue, so that’s a win-win.

    What you get out of it no matter what happens:

    - an e-book (or a donation to a charity)
    - holiday presents for 10 other people
    - publicity for the issue
    - a really good go at awakening 10 people to the poor way in which they are being treated holiday after holiday, with their permission!

    what you get if you win:

    - satisfaction
    - 5 people (at least) thoroughly awoken to the issue that affects them
    - more publicity on the internet
    - stopping me from treating people as second-class citizens for at least one and possibly two whole holiday periods
    - ‘grass roots’ popularisation of the issue due to me explaining to everyone I meet (for more than absolutely trivial encounters) why I’m saying ‘Happy Holidays’.

    what I get out of it: 

    - well, it’ll be interesting if nothing else
    - maybe I’ll discover that ‘Merry Christmas’ really does treat non-Christians as second class citizens, so I potentially will improve my treatment of people.
    - if you fail, a small amount of vindication for my current position that ‘Merry Christmas’ doesn’t normally treat anyone as a second-class citizen.  This vindication owing to the fact that it’s difficult to convince anyone in this position that they are in fact being so treated.

    No-one needs to admit that they’re wrong.

    I have a few more conditions that would need to be spelled out, mostly around making some attempt to make sure that the people are who they say they are and are genuine in the exposition of their opinions. Oh, neither of us must know them personally. 

    What I’m looking for now is a conditional acceptance – conditional on agreeing on a final protocol.  If we can’t mutually agree on one, then the wager’s off.

    This offer is open to Ursula first of all, and if she does not accept, then she can nominate anyone else who’s participated in this comment thread up until now.  I ‘m not going to offer the wager to just anyone, because even as it stands it’s open to all sorts of skullduggery should someone wish to take me for a ride – I’m just hoping that scoundrels and cads don’t hang out on Slactivist arguing for rights of non-Christians.

    If no-one accepts, then, well, while you might be right that people are being treated as second-class citizens, if no-one here is willing to do anything to fight it, I’d have to conclude you don’t take the issue seriously enough to do anything about (beyond arguing about it on the internet). Consequently there’s no need for me to take the issue particularly seriously either.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *blink*

    *blink*

    Mmmm-kay!

    *toddles off to get some tea*

    Sorry, I just have a lot of trouble understanding why you’re insisting on going to this much trouble.

  • http://usb3gvn.com/ USB 3G

    Well, interesting post,
    thanks!

  • P J Evans

     SPAM! Eggs and Spam!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I prefer bacon and eggs m’self. :P

  • P J Evans

     Spam with mustard sauce (and cloves, if you have them) is not bad. Neither is pan-fried spam. (Not as good as actual ham, but good enough.)

  • Donalbain

    By the time people started using decorated trees to celebrate in
    december all the real pagans had been dead for one thousand years. The
    real pagans not the one today who dress up and play pagan.

    Are real pagans in any way related to the Real True Christians of Left Behind?

  • Apocalypse Review

    Hope not, but then again nobody’s ever written mass market literature that insists that a certain prophecy is fulfilled in a way that smirkingly validates all of a particular set of pagan beliefs and constitutes a veiled “Fuck You” to all nonbelievers.

    As far as I know, anyway.

  • FangsFirst

    Are real pagans in any way related to the Real True Christians of Left Behind?

    Of course not.

    RTCs are identified by the “experts” on the inside of “Christianity,” while “real pagans” are identified by “experts” on the outside of paganism. Totally different, because people with zero involvement whatsoever are, of course, more expert than those who are inside a tradition and declare their minority variant the superior one. It’s the objectivity, really. Which is a natural result of lacking experience, knowledge and information on the subject.

    Hm.
    I guess they do have that last bit in common.

  • Zachary

    FYI, there are plenty of non-religious gun owners like myself. No need to perpetuate stereotypes.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X