Review of Sarah Palin’s “Good Tidings and Great Joy”: the Good

Review of Sarah Palin’s “Good Tidings and Great Joy”: the Good December 16, 2013

Sarah Palin’s Christmas bookNo, I’m not part of the target audience for Sarah Palin’s new book, but I was given a copy to review. Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas is a fairly predictable mix of the joys of the traditional American Christmas, an attack on those angry atheists who are apparently determined to make Christianity illegal (starting with Christmas), and a review of the standard conservative touch points.

Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in this book. First, the good. Despite Palin’s eagerness to play the beleaguered Christian, I was not surprised to find important areas where we agree. It’s a War-on-Christmas miracle!

Christmas in Alaska

Most chapters begin with long reflections of Palin’s childhood and adult family life. She includes personal photos and emphasizes the importance of family Christmas traditions by talking about her own. She shares stories of personal difficulties and Christmas memories—a health scare with her father, her daughter Brisol’s revelation that she was pregnant, helping to feed homeless people, difficulties during and after her Vice Presidential bid, and so on. Some favorite Christmas recipes are added in an appendix.

Stories about growing up in Alaska were nice—there’s a lot different from my own upbringing in Virginia—but I did experience a bit of whiplash. She goes on at length about the traditional Norman Rockwell Christmas traditions—sipping hot chocolate by the fire, the unwritten rules about opening presents, and so on. That sounds like what I value about Christmas as well. But then she discards all this like used wrapping paper to emphasize the real reason for the season.

Our annual family activities I’ve described are mere traditions …. But they’d be nothing if separated from the historical event that animates the Christmas season. (8)

Gifts can’t really bring ultimate joy (91)

If I’m for Christmas, it’s only because I’m for Christ. (9)

It’s about Christ and our ability to worship him freely. It’s about America, and what liberty truly means in our day-to-day lives. (10)

I also value America, liberty, and religious freedom. You can’t worship who you want? Then I’m as outraged as you are. Here we see a bit of the War on Christmas theme, but more on that later.

Living with a secular constitution

After listing many recent examples of church/state friction—protests against nativity scenes in front of city hall, for example—she gives a brief list of rules for how we can all get along. She recommends avoiding a Christian-only display.

The courts tend not to like Nativity scenes isolated from other holiday imagery. (53)

The “other holiday imagery” seems to be Santa Claus and snowmen rather than a clear public pronouncement that all faiths are welcome, as courts have demanded. Still, it’s a start.

But what if I’m offended?

She makes a point with which I strongly agree:

Traditionally, … Americans don’t have a right to not be offended (23)

That sentiment is common among American atheists. In fact, I bet that it’s predominant. Citizens have many important rights, but not being offended isn’t one of them.

Are atheists allergic to Christmas?

Want to see a photo of Richard Dawkins with his Christmas tree? Check out the Atheists for Christmas web site. Dawkins is at least one prominent atheist who finds secular value in a holiday that is currently the most popular in a long line of winter holidays.

The site claims, “There are just as many Christians that don’t celebrate Christmas (i.e. Jehovah’s Witnesses, certain Protestant sects) as there are non-Christians that don’t.” Celebrating Christmas is a recent tradition. It was outlawed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1659.

Western culture is built on sometimes-forgotten references to gods. Christmas 2013 will be on a Wednesday, but the name Wednesday also honors a god. “Wednesday” means “Woden’s Day,” and Woden is the English form of Odin, the Norse supreme god. In Romance languages, that day is typically “Mercury’s Day” (mercredi in French and miércoles in Spanish, for example).

The same supernatural connection applies to the year 2013, which counts as its year one an approximation of the birth year of Jesus.

Sure, Christmas was deliberately placed on the calendar to usurp other winter holidays such as Yule, Saturnalia, Brumalia, and any other solstice celebration. And Americans celebrate other December holidays such as Kwanzaa, Pancha Ganapati, and Hanukkah. But if atheists have no problem with Wednesday (which acknowledges Odin) and 2013 (which acknowledges Jesus), why not Christmas?

Palin’s “Good Tidings and Great Joy” isn’t all good. Continue with the Bad.

Do not learn the ways of the nations. …
For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold. …
Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak. …
Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.
— Jeremiah 10:2–5

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  • Y. A. Warren

    The most disturbing thing about the “Christian” holy day story is how much emphasis is put on the last few days of this great life of exemplary action toward others, and the little bit of attention given to the family ancestors that produced such a man, and their lives together before his public life..

    • A good point, but it sounds more like a reason to dislike Easter than Christmas. These days, Christmas is really just a mashup of pagan celebrations with a goofy coat of paint, anyway.

      • Y. A. Warren

        All the major holidays are simply reasons to shop for sh*t nobody needs. And the emphasis in most religions is creating sheep out of people.

        • Itarion

          All the major holidays are simply reasons to shop for sh*t nobody needs.

          True. Christmas shopping is just the most extreme case. See the thirty-odd hour marathon of Black Friday this year. Sickening.

  • MNb

    “helping to feed homeless people”
    Is this a Palin Christmas tradition? Implying they can starve to death the rest of the year?

    “If I’m for Christmas, it’s only because I’m for Christ.”
    A sure sign Palin doesn’t understand her own belief system. The most important event in the Gospels is not Jesus’ birth, but his Ascension. Moreover Jesus likely is not born in December. In Palestina it’s too cold that time of the year to sleep outside in the fields, even for shepherds.

    “Woden is the English form of Odin”
    Wodan is also its Dutch and German counterpart. The ancient Germanic people (Franks etc.) had a lot in common with the Vikings before they converted. It has not been forgotten:

    Pretty stupid song btw.

    Does Palin realize that all seven days of the week are named after pagan gods? In sequence: Moon, Tyr, Wodan, Thor, Freya, Saturnus and Sun. She has a fierce battle ahead of her.

    • She has a fierce battle ahead of her.

      One thing that Sarah Palin would never do is back down from a fight.

      Unless it involves finishing out her term as Governor of Alaska or something crazy like that.

      • MNb

        As a non-American I can’t wait witnessing the spectacle of Sarah Palin – or anybody else – fighting the names of the days of the week. Few things are as satisfying as having my prejudices confirmed – in this case my Dutch biases about stupid Americans.

        “If an American tells you things are better in the US, you just think that he’s arrogant.”
        and point at the War on Christmas.

        • Kodie

          I think anti-American sentiments from abroad take these lunatics to be representative of the population, and it offends me. Some people are such a major headache to us as well, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad country to live in.

          I’m actually way more offended by offhand things men say about women, without irony, over a given week of my life than a whole lifetime of anything I’ve heard a Christian say to my face.

      • Itarion

        You spelled sane wrong.

  • B Dallmann

    I’m surprised that the publisher gave you a review copy!

    • Autographed by Sarah herself. Yeah, I’m a bit surprised as well.

      Come back tomorrow to see a slightly less favorable look at the book …

    • Baby_Raptor

      I wonder if her PAC paid for the review copies, hoping good reviews would garner more buys?

      • B Dallmann

        Perhaps. There are plenty of 5-star reviews on Goodreads, in any case.

        • There are plenty of 5-star reviews at Amazon, too, but the most popular are hilarious snarky put-downs.

        • B Dallmann

          That gives me some hope for humanity.

      • Perhaps. Maybe my review will allow partisans to say, “Sure, it’s an important book. Even the atheists are reviewing it.” But no one who’s paying attention could be fooled into anticipating that I’ll write a glowing review.

        Part 2 comes out today.

      • KatieAnnieOakley

        I have no doubt that she used her PAC funds to buy and distribute her personal books – again – but what on Earth does a book on Christmas have to do with an political action committee? NOTHING.

        Another (probable) example (as in the past with her other 2 books) of using those campaign funds as a slush fund to benefit her personally.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Tea Party Jesus would definitely have a PAC. Maybe more than one.

          So it only makes sense that Tea Party Jesus’ favourite woman would use her PAC for his causes.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If nobody in this country has a right to not be offended, Mrs. PayMe, then guess what? That includes Christians like you. So stop whining about how offended you are that some people celebrate other holidays besides Christmas.

    I’m not a huge fan of Christmas myself. My fundamentalist family disowned me, so Thanksgiving and Christmas are hard days for me; what with everyone around me having happy family times. But I don’t go whining my fool head off when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas and it triggers a sad thought. Maybe the whiners could take a lesson or two.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Why does the cover image have a pagan decorated evergreen wreath, rather than a picture of the baby Jesus? Why does Sarah Palin hate the baby Jesus?

    • Great observation. The tension between American Christmas traditions and baby Jesus was evident in the book.

  • GubbaBumpkin
  • Kodie

    The courts tend not to like Nativity scenes isolated from other holiday imagery.

    I would like to know more about the context of this statement. It is easy to just rip into it. It just sounds like she’s ignorant about what the courts stand for (the law) and what the law is for (protecting people’s rights). So, just skip over that a religious display on public ground is infringing everyone’s rights who is not represented by the display and go blame it on those silly courts making things difficult for Christians. Drum up some major Muslim holiday, like Ramadan. Typically falling in the later part of the summer, after Independence Day and ending up before Labor Day, so it doesn’t conflict or coincide with any large Christian and/or Federal holidays, such as Kwanzaa is overshadowed by the sheer overwhelming volume of Christmas. So, Ramadan decorations on every public courthouse, school, and city hall, and see if there’s a war on ramadan.

    I don’t really want to try this, but the Christians just don’t seem to get why it’s not ok for the government to favor expressions of Christianity or any other religion, or atheism, so why the courts “don’t like it”. And keep saying but nobody’s listening, secularity =/= atheism.

    • She seems to have zero interest in legal precedents that don’t go her way. If it steps on Christian privilege, then to hell with it. It’s bizarre to hear someone (seemingly) well educated and responsible who pretends to not have a clue how things work.

      As for that sentence, my initial read was that this was an all-embracing sentiment, but then I realized that she’s simply saying to mix Christian Christmas icons with secular Christmas icons. Other religions can go screw themselves.

      The Muslim calendar is lunar, so Ramadan gradually precesses throughout the solar year.

      • KatieAnnieOakley

        If you don’t know why she thinks that way, then you don’t know Palin. She made a career of being divisive, vindictive, spiteful and – when done with her enablers – promptly throws them under the bus.

  • Kodie

    The thing I hate mostly about the concept of a “War on Christmas” is what the hell are they talking about? A majority of people are Christians and celebrate Christmas in one way or another. At some point in the relatively recent past, it was decided we’re going to make a humongous deal about it and assume everyone else is too. Not once this year did I hear “what are your Easter plans” or “what are you going to do for Halloween”? You know? Maybe something! Maybe I’m doing something, and a lot of people do, but not in a way that people assume you celebrate and are going to do something.

    City hall doesn’t decorate for Easter. It might decorate for Halloween – a religious holiday, isn’t it? I am unclear on the facts about this. Since Nov. 1 is All Saint’s Day, “All Hallow’s Eve” is in reference to it. New Year’s Day is in reference to Christ. Christianity is really inescapable.

    Christmas is not just a day, it’s a whole month. And it’s inclusive in a presumptuous way. Offices are obligated to throw some kind of party for the employees, and often do some kind of gift exchange. Like anyone really wants to buy a present for the guy who taps his pencil. Christmas is not just a month, but an obligation. We all like our families (maybe?). If you don’t like your family, you’re a weirdo. We all like to give gifts to people we like (maybe?). If you don’t have some token bullshit picture frame or coffee assortment to give to someone you really don’t know that well – ON TIME – you are a piece of shit. I had a nice-ish talk with my therapist this morning in which I came to the realization that most of our culture seems like it hates the shit out of Christmas more than I do. If the stores have Christmas before Thanksgiving, it’s an outrage; and if your neighbors still have decorations up after January 5th, it’s an outrage. Don’t let this vile holiday we all supposedly cherish actually spread over the rest of the year! Can’t give a gift to someone you love in March, god forbid. Can’t get together with your family for a special time in August, it’s just not right without cocoa and a wreath on the door.

    But let’s not actually kid ourselves and pretend this joy and goodwill is about anything but the “spirit” of Christmas. Jews don’t make the rest of us recognize Hannukah. Muslims don’t make the rest of us recognize Kwanzaa. When you say “Happy Holidays,” you’re really saying “Merry Christmas,” you’re really acknowledging the whole month that has been taken over by a machine generated by Christian privilege and forced by tradition upon the rest of us. And why do they complain? Because it’s kind of a commercial circus – most people do participate in this commercial circus, but they still go home and spend time with their loved ones. The essence of the holiday isn’t cheapened by anyone but Christians.

    Our annual family activities I’ve described are mere traditions …. But
    they’d be nothing if separated from the historical event that animates
    the Christmas season.

    To me, this says, “Without Jesus, I get no, and cannot get, joy from spending time with my family.”

    This says the holiday is really worthless. Christmas is bullshit for the single, childless, and estranged. I mean, is it different for Christians? Is it still wonderful if you have no one to share it with? It is like Valentine’s Day if you’re single – just skip it. But they try to make you feel bad about it. It’s “terrible” to be alone on Christmas, but it’s “okay” to be alone 364 other days of the year (except Valentine’s and Thanksgiving). And if you’re alone, there’s nothing to celebrate. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of acknowledging relationships, it’s not about Jesus. If you have no relationships, you’re left out, and nobody cares, but you’re still a freak if you lay low – you still have to buy a gift for the office White Elephant Yankee Swap whatever you may call it. I mean, it would be awful if your workplace didn’t acknowledge you once a year with some kind of bonus or obligatory function with bacon-wrapped scallops and one drink ticket, and whatever lame present someone else was forced to buy for a generic recipient… or a joke, whichever you get stuck with.

    I see most occasions that humans celebrate as things that ought to be celebrated, and yet, if you really listen to people, they dread weddings, they dread Valentine’s Day, they dread Christmas. Not allowed to dread having a baby (or else oblivious because nobody tells you how much it sucks vs. how enriching and rewarding it is). My personal dread is the timetable. I love some people, and I would like to present them with a gift, and I would love to spend some time with them…. why does it have to be at Christmas? Personally, I am overwhelmed this season and Christmas is not making it nicer for me. I see Christmas as an obstacle – yet I am on board with the socializing, gift-giving, family-loving, and spectacle of Christmas. I just need another month or so to get organized.

    Christmas would actually be simpler if it were only about Jesus. You could ignore your family get-togethers, ignore shopping, ignore card-sending, ignore baking, ignore wrapping, ignore shipping, ignore phone calls, ignore crowds, ignore agitated parking lot situations and empty shelves and less-than-satisfactory decision-making, ignore over-spending because nothing is left, and don’t end up with weird “gift” packages that are priced for Secret Santa limits but are bullshit nobody really wants, like scented soaps.

    • Ouch! Sounds like you have a lot to talk over with your therapist.

      • Kodie

        What a bitchy thing to say.

        • Sorry! No offense intended.

        • Kodie

          I came to a realization that people hate Christmas. They love it but they only love it on time, not early, and as soon as it’s over, shove it out the door.

          If it’s not about Jesus, then it’s about the calendar.

    • TheNuszAbides

      Personally, I am overwhelmed this season and Christmas is not making it
      nicer for me. I see Christmas as an obstacle – yet I am on board with
      the socializing, gift-giving, family-loving, and spectacle of Christmas.
      I just need another month or so to get organized.

      for truth.

  • john smith

    This person, Sarah Palin, is not an elected representative and is not personally responsible for any decisions related to public issues.

    So I have an honest question:

    Aside from being chosen as a Republican vice-presidential candidate and trying to sell conservative political rhetoric, what exactly has this person done to earn the unmitigated vitriol, scorn and wrath of liberals and Democrats?

    Why do so many liberals and Democrats hate this person so much more than they do other conservatives?

    ETA: It really is an honest question. I never voted for her nor McCain in my life and have never read any of her books nor even listened to her talk for more than a few minutes. Why does she provoke such venom?

    • Because she has a lot of power. No, not elected power, but lots of people say, “Yeah, what she said.”

      • john smith

        I’m definitely not sure I agree with her having “a lot of power” (I live in a rural white-trash hellhole and I’ve never met anybody who idolizes her or even has an exceedingly high opinion of her) but that’s irrelevant here. Assuming that is correct, is it possible that she seems to have a lot of power, or maybe even actually does, precisely because liberals seem to hate her so passionately?

        ETA: Also, your answer implies that she speaks for people who have already formed their opinions, i.e. those who say, “Yeah, what she said.”

        If true, that implies that she is not influential, but actually does represent the opinions of many American people who are not otherwise being represented.

        And, not to be rude, but to both you and Baby Raptor I have to note that I asked for exact things she has done. Are there specific things she has said, or specific actions she has taken, that you could cite?

        • Are there specific things she has said, or specific actions she has taken, that you could cite?


    • Baby_Raptor

      She was once an elected official. Further, she A) continually drops hints that she will run again, B) Has people begging her to do so C) tends to meddle in the races of others trying to get elected and D) is still a voice in politics that people listen to and believe. So your first comment is wrong.

      That said, people (there are a lot of Republicans who aren’t fans of her either) dislike her because she’s a liar, a racist, a hypocrite, a fundamentalist theocrat, a grifter and a hack. She would damage the country irrepairably if she found herself in the presidency. And she doesn’t care. The only thing she cares about is herself.

      • She seems to have a lot of power as a deal maker. She doesn’t have to run if she can simply threaten to and, at the last minute, have candidates fighting to get her endorsement and fan base.

        • KatieAnnieOakley

          Note the beliefs of the candidates: far, far right Tea Party / profoundly religious / militia / fringe elements that, despite hating government and all that it stands for, can’t wait to be elected to same.

          And they’ve made their positions clear: they want the USA to become a theist-run government, with the Bible replacing the (so-called) beloved Constitution.

          She threatens to run so her loyal followers donate money to her PAC. She then uses the money as a quasi personal slush fund, as the FEC rules regarding these types of PAC’s are fairly “generous”: less than 5% of the money generated / going into Palin’s SarahPAC actually goes toward the purpose / mission of the PAC – to support candidates.

      • john smith

        Thanks for replying, but your reply is almost the exact opposite of answering the question, “What exactly has this person done?”

        I’m looking for specific policy decisions, public actions, or statements.

        • Kodie

          Why do conservatives hate Richard Dawkins? He’s not even American.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Well, the fact that he’s not American is probably a place to start.

        • Baby_Raptor

          She forced rape victims to pay for their own rape kits, was responsible for the deaths of people by refusing to fund certain medical programs, ignored indigenous people who needed her aid until she could make a public display of bringing them cookies when Billy Graham showed up, harassed and got fired the man who divorced a family member of hers, and was rarely ever around to actually govern. Oh, and the state ended up making her pay back a fair chunk of the payments she received to comp her travel as it was deemed that she was abusing the privilege. Also, there’s ample evidence she faked her “pregnancy” and that Trig isn’t hers.

          She created the death panel lie. She hypes the fauxtraversy that was Benghazi constantly. The crosshairs map controversy. her constant racist remarks (shuck and jive, anyone?) Her continual lies about America being a Christian nation, and Christians being oppressed. Her constant gun wanking, and lies about the Second Amendment being attacked. Her constant attacks on anyone not fundamental Christian (see Muslims and Atheists for examples.) Her hypocrisy in attacking other people, but whining when people attack her (see, for examples, her comments on Obama’s children then whining about about someone discussing hers. Or how she gets offended when Liberals use the word retard, but not when her friends do.) Her constant rewritings of history (Paul Revere is the immediate example that jumps to mind)

          That’s all I have time for at the moment, but you have plenty of google fodder.

        • Also, there’s ample evidence she faked her “pregnancy” and that Trig isn’t hers.

          I’ve never been particularly convinced by this conspiracy theory. One of her ex-staffers, Frank Bailey, wrote a tell-all some years back that exposed Palin as the vindictive monster she is, and he never mentioned this big subterfuge.

          What’s the “ample evidence” that you consider so persuasive?

        • KatieAnnieOakley


        • Memes don’t lie.

        • KatieAnnieOakley

          These are third party, official photographer’s-dated photographs, lightened to show details (wearing black in photos is a well-known way to camouflage imperfections – or lack of a baby bump). No Photoshop. No kidding. You decide. She wore huge over-sized coats for months, even indoors, to heighten the “large” effect.

          This is the famous “Andrea Gusty Palin Photo” using the internet archives from its original posting at Flickr, un-lightened: this is the one and only photo that showed Palin decidedly very, very pregnant, and was released (via Flickr) at a time when the media was going crazy over rumors of her faking pregnancy (when McCain picked her).

          It effectively silenced our national media interest. Look at the belly – its HUGE – yet, flight attendants say that on her return flight home to “deliver” they saw no signs of her in distress, and it wasn’t apparent that she was pregnant. Really? REALLY? Look at that belly!

          I believe the round belly is an unaltered photo – but NOT the belly underneath! We’ve all seen pregnancy bellies that are faked on TV and such, worn by non-pregnant actresses. Example of a faux “empathy” belly:

          Below, that fake empathy suit superimposed over Palin:

          And now, the photo on the left, from the Photo Agency website – a closer look:

          The rest of the photos from that day with that particular photographer:

          And – something I found just a couple of days ago in the sets from the photo agency above; a photo of Palin in January 2008 (in black); she has the same profile (in fact, she’s THINNER!) than a photo taken nearly a year earlier in March 2007 when she was NOT pregnant. NOTE – she has NO belly, not even a swelling – at 5 months pregnant? NOT POSSIBLE.

        • Okay, you base your opinion on Internet photos. I mentioned that one of her ex-staffers wrote a book telling what a mendacious pig Palin is, and he never mentioned that she faked her pregnancy. Why wouldn’t he have revealed this?

        • KatieAnnieOakley

          You are apparently unfamiliar with what happens when Palin makes you an enemy. Its well-known that people in Alaska fear speaking-out against her. She’s… vindictive. It doesn’t help that Todd was a member of the AIP, an armed-and-ready to go at any time secessionist group, and she is connected to the many militia groups in the state.

          Bailey *DID* include a photo below in his book, of Sarah (undated) in her Anchorage office (photo #2), holding a young baby – presumably Trig – and the child has a decidedly deformed right ear.

          However, the ear is NOT deformed in Dayton or at the RNC Convention just 3 months later.

          Many think this photo is a message to Palin that he still has secrets to tell (I know, it sounds so clandestine!)

          Something else that is note-worthy – Frank Bailey, who lost his job over his part in the “Troopergate” scandal was widely considered a “Fall Guy” for the Palin’s.

          Interestingly – he was never subpoenaed to testify in the investigation conducted by the Alaska State Personnel Board (who serve at the pleasure of the Governor). After the independent investigator found her guilty in the first investigation, the Personnel Board found her innocent.

          Why wouldn’t they want to question Bailey? He was recorded in a phone call strong-arming Walt Monegan to fire the trooper. When Monegan would not fire Trooper Wooten (Palin’s B-I-L), Palin fired Monegan.

          I believe Bailey was letting Palin know “I still have insurance”. Pure conjecture on mine and many others part, but – why did the baby’s ear change so drastically in 3 months? Was there another baby used? The thing is, the surgery that would be necessary to correct the problem isn’t normally done until the child is a few years older. So many questions…

        • Pure conjecture on mine and many others part, but – why did the baby’s ear change so drastically in 3 months? Was there another baby used?

          You’re out of your mind.

        • KatieAnnieOakley

          That is your opinion – and misfortune.

        • I guess you consider yourself lucky for falling for an Internet hoax. I’ll pass.

        • MouseFanSal


        • Baby_Raptor

          Your detail, evidence and persuasion are utterly amazing. Clearly I am wrong. /sarcasm

          What, exactly, are you calling untrue? I’m more than willing to provide evidence for my claims, unlike you.

    • She is a liar.

      • MouseFanSal

        So is EVERY Democrat. Your point? Biden is an IMBECILE, proven by Couric interview.

    • MouseFanSal

      Because liberals have no perspective and don’t see that their commentary IS hateful.

      • Baby_Raptor

        We disagree with you, therefore we’re hateful. Yup, makes all the sense.

      • Do you have more than one-liners? Surely there must be something in this blog where you can offer a thoughtful critique that’ll make some of us stop to consider your arguments.