Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Bah Humbug 2

The following link may contain some Explicit Content, but it is all in the frame of a quite intelligent discourse. That, and I just love it when I agree with someone completely about something.


S.A.W.B. said...

As my great and wise high-school latin teacher, John Hogan, once surmised; "Those idiots in the county office think they're so smart, having everything say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", but we, fair latin students, know the joke is on them, as holidays is descended from the latin for holy or religious."

How right he was, and is. Besides, Happy Holidays is bound to piss off every atheist, since they don't believe in god/gods, so they don't celebrate any holidays. And we're all about being PC for EVERY group now, right? Right? I mean, we couldn't POSSIBLY just ignore the religous connotations that 'Christmas' brings about, and remember what most cultures use this season for anyway, which is rememberance and giving...

Naah...that might be something Christ might do...

Dante said...

Personally, I get more offended by Happy Holidays than Merry Christmas. I don't celebrate Christmas but I realize that a good 90% or more of our country does in some form or another. Changing the greeting from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays just to accomodate me is pretty insulting.

I have my reasons for not celebrating Christmas. Most of those reasons have to do with the customs involved. Taking a Christmas tree, Christmas decorations, and Christmas parties and slapping the word Holiday over them does not make it any better, especially given the origins of the word 'Holiday' that SAWB correctly points out.

I choose not to celebrate Christmas. I'm not sad about it and I'm not angry. I'm happy I can live in a country where I can choose not to celebrate the holiday. I'm happy that everyone else gets to celebrate their holidays as well. I'd like to keep it that way. I don't want to be forced to celebrate the holidays of others in the name of inclusion. Taking Christmas customs (or any other religion's holiday customs) and slapping a different name on them puts pressure on me to join in on activities I quite frankly don't want a part of.

patsbrother said...

Um, no offense guys, but y'all're on crack. Happy Holidays was not some mantra begat in some dank correctness vat of inclusive witchery. It's part of something called variety. Today, people use it when they are trying to be inclusive because it is not as specific as Merry Christmas. It is a matter of convenience, not creation.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Well, you don't have to be a linguist to figure out "Holy Days" & "holidays" are strikingly similar.

Ye olde issue herre is the idea that people like me are somehow waging a "war" against people who celebrate Christmas.

And I'm one of the people who celebrates Christmas. In grande fashion as well, as there will be a trip to Savannah, an Island pub crawl, and a bring your own steak night.

I thought that people who hated Christmas were the Uncle Scrooge types of the world...penny pinching and uncharitable.

Yet here we are, and I find out that after 27 years that I'm the one who hates Christmas, 'cause I don't really have a problem with folks who say "Happy Holidays."

Do you know how many people ever told me "Merry Christmas" before 2005? Family & close friends. You know when we said it? On December 25th.

This year, every single stranger I run into is hollering "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!" into my face. At the grocery store, at the gas station, everywhere. It is shocking, really, especially at 7ish in the morning before coffee can be consumed.

I wonder if this is how people feel in the fall when I run around Athens, Georgia hollerin' "Go Dawgs" and barking at the top of my lungs.


I think this is more like the thought police, except PC stands for "Politically Christian."

dadvocate said...

All I can say is that where I work, a private, employee owned company, they avoid the official use the the word "Christmas" like the plague. Sure, we have dinners, parties, trees, days off, etc., but you won't find the word "Christmas" anywhere.

S.A.W.B. said...

You know, I can remember a time, not too far back in my quasi-pickled mind, when you would hear the two terms used interchangably. Then, strangely, sometime around 1992, it all began to change.

I'm not sure who started the fight, but what we've ended up with is the PC nutjobs on the left going out of their way to not refer to the December holiday season as 'Christmas', lest they offend someones thin-skinned culture, or reasonable or not-quite-so facsimile thereof.

At the same time, the clown patrol currently crusading for All-Jeebus, All-the-time, decided that, literally, by god, they were going to force-feed the entire world the notion that Christmas is all about Christ, and all his virtues, which apparrently include outrage, mouth-foaming, bible-thumping, and general obnoxiousness.

What has transpired since then boggles all thought, rational and irrational, as each group has stepped up it's efforts in an attempt to show how much more right they are/wrong/stupid/ignorant the other side is.

And people wonder why I hide inside and growl more at other people during this month than any other...

petallic said...

This is just another example of Christians talking out of both sides of their mouths. If you're offended by the commercialization of Christmas, then stop shopping. If you're offended by the desanctification of marriage, then don't get divorced- or lobby to make divorce harder. If you are offended by abortion, don't have one. Force-feeding the word "Christmas," banning same-sex marriage, and/or bombing an abortion clinic really shouldn't be the Christian way.

Thus speaketh a former Bible-thumper.

Dante said...

"Happy Holidays was not some mantra begat in some dank correctness vat of inclusive witchery."

That's not how it began but that's certainly how it is used now. I'll tell you a story that will hopefully clear up where I'm coming from here:

I worked for the University of Georgia for three years. The first two years, we had a Christmas Party. I didn't ask for any special favors except that I be allowed to work instead of attend the party. The third year we had a Holiday Party. I once again requested to be excused from the party. This time, they refused to let me skip the event because it wasn't a Christmas Party. It was a Holiday Party. So even though they still had a tree, gave presents, and sang Christmas carols, I had to attend this one because they hastily replaced the word Christmas with Holiday.

Patsbrother might see Happy Holidays as a matter of convenience, but I see it as an attempt to coerce me into celebrating a holiday I want no part of. I'd prefer things go back to the way they used to be where you can celebrate your holidays and I can celebrate mine and you don't have to feel awkward about telling people "Merry Christmas" OR "Happy Holidays" and I don't have to feel awkward for skipping a Christmas-related event.

petallic said...

Do you participate in other social activities at your place of employment?

If so, perhaps your co-workers were simply trying to adapt the party to fit your particular philosophical bent, which I think is quite nice of them. It shows that they wanted you there, which is a compliment. If you don't ever participate in any social events, perhaps they are trying to bring you out of your shell. No one likes to work with a ghost - someone who refuses to socialize and be friendly.

Of course it is well within your rights to be anti-social if you please, and generally I leave recluses alone, but only after 2 or 3 attempts to get them to join. The social dilemma here is: if you habitually invite a recluse, you're a hounding jerk; if you don't invite a recluse, you're an excluding jerk. I'd rather invite someone and have them turn me down than to not invite them. Shoe on other foot: I'd rather be invited and politely turn someone down than not be invited at all. I don't go anywhere I'm not invited, and that applies to my close friends as well, so if they want me to show, they better friggin' invite me. Otherwise, I won't be there. Invitations are a social courtesy, not meant to be seen as harassment.

patsbrother said...

Dante, I think there is more wrong with your coworkers than a lateral linguistic move. For one, I've never heard of anyone being forced to go to a party by his employers. Perhaps that awkward feeling you get around your dunderhead coworkers is simply not enough cause to prompt this staged national 'conversation'. Perhaps we should welcome this perverse minutae as a sign Americans have simply stopped caring about the War on Terror and returned to our chickenheaded little brouhahas. Perhaps the right's dogged focus on unnecessary pedantry is the best argument to start bringing our troops home, as even the most devoutly brain-washed appear to have lost interest.

Seasons Greetings,

Dante said...

I wouldn't consider myself a recluse there. I regularly attended other social functions such as Thanksgiving celebrations, retirement parties, etc. I even had lunch with some of my coworkers on occasion. I only wanted to skip the celebration that does not jibe with my religious beliefs.

Going through the trouble to try to accomodate me (and one or two others in my office from what I understand) in this situation was nice of them. It is thoughtful and I did take it as a compliment.

When I politely explained that taking a Christmas event and changing the name of it while still engaging in the same Christmas activities is something I can take no part in, they told me I was still expected to attend. That's the part I had a problem with, not the invitation but the expetation to attend just because they changed the name of the event. That was not thoughtful and it was not nice. That party exists because there is a Christmas. No amount of name alteration is going to change that it is a Christmas Party. I don't care if you saw mamma kissing Secular Claus or it is the night before holiday, it's still Christmas.

petallic said...

In that case, Kevin is correct in saying they are dunderheads. Complete and total dunderheads.

Dante said...

"For one, I've never heard of anyone being forced to go to a party by his employers."

I know. It sounded silly to me. It's not like I was asking for any favors. I just didn't want to attend. I even wanted to work instead. To be fair, the particular arm of the University I was working for back then had some pretty severe morale issues. They might have been making a very misguided attempt at keeping morale high by making everyone go to the party.

"Perhaps we should welcome this perverse minutae as a sign Americans have simply stopped caring about the War on Terror..."

If that's the case, we stopped caring way back in 2003 when this took place.

dadvocate said...

When I was a wee lad we would say, "Merry Christmas," "Happy New Year," and "Happy Holidays." I remember discussing this with my friends in school at some point. We felt "Happy Holidays" emcompassed both Christmas and New Years.

But this doesn't excuse those who forbid using the expression "Merry Christmas." Anyone who is honest with themselves knows that, in the U.S., without Christmas whatever celebrating, etc. that goes on in December would be much less than it is now.

Are the other religions and non-religions made up of such bigoted, intolerant people that they cannot tolerate hearing the words, "Merry Christmas?" We know some are but most aren't. Why do we, as a society, cower at these people? Why are we more afraid of offending a small minority than the large majority?

Patrick Armstrong said...

I agree with you. No one should be going around forbidding us to say "Merry Christmas." And boy, if someone is, they might as well just write 'I'm with stupid' on their forehead. You'd have to live under some pretty sad illusions to have missed that something big happens on December 25th for a lot of folks round these parts.

But why are folks mad at me, telling me that I'm doing something wrong for -not- saying "Merry Christmas?"

See, I don't think the majority of folks in this country really care overmuch. They talk about this in passing and then they go on about their business.

I think most of us are reasonable enough to know how to conduct ourselves. I think that most of us out here know we're gonna hear a lot of 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Holidays' round about this time of year, and I think most of us don't really have a problem with it. And I think that most of us are attentive and polite to our friends of other religions.

At least, that's what I like to think.

When I really spent time to think about it, over the course of my life, most folks have only wished me a 'Merry Christmas' on the actual day of Christams. December 25th. Maybe the week before, if I wasn't going to see someone on the actual day. Every other day of the year, it was always 'Have a nice day.'

Kinda like saying 'Happy Birthday' to someone for one day, instead of four weeks.

But when some crazy group of left wing moonbats comes in and says 'get rid of the nativity scene' or 'I don't like Christmas carols,' I can see it being offensive to a lot of Christians. It makes you ask, "How in the world can something so simple be considered offensive to others?"

But I also see the point of folks being very uncomfortable and overwhelmed by a predominantly Christian culture. Heckfire, I sometimes get overwhelmed by predominantly Christian culture, (especially this time of year) and I'm a Christian. I don't want to imagine what this time of the year is like for Jews and Muslims.

This has very little to do with bigotry or intolerance on the parts of other religons. It is a fundamental cultural misunderstanding.

I have a very hard time with this too, so please bear with me.

Christianity is a primarily orthodoxic religion, what is most important is what you believe. Judaism and Islam are very much more orthopraxic, and put a whole lot of importance on certain practices.

With Christians, we all pretty much believe that Jesus was the Messiah, only son of God, begotten not made, and was actually God and Jesus at the same time. Different but the same. Christians differ on what that means, but we still all base our salvation off the acceptance of Jesus as both God and the Son of God. The mystery of faith and all that. That's really the core and everything in our world extends from that. This is why it is very easy to convert to Christianity, and why Christians can go to other Churches almost at will.

In Judaism, if you engage in practices of another religion, you aren't Jewish any more. I know it isn't as simple as that, but that's a pretty harsh bottom line. Singing songs that, to Christians, are non-denominational, like 'Silent Night' or 'O, Come all Ye Faithful,' can fall into that category because they acknowledge the coming of the Savior/King/Messiah. To the Jewish faith, that's akin to conversion to another religion. That's probably an oversimplification, but that's what I've been told.

The same thing can be said for Islam, because even singing those songs can count as idolatry & heresy.

As Christians, we have a very difficult time understanding that kind of thing. We fall into and out of religion like we start and quit smoking. I'm still working my way back to being Catholic. As Americans, in the big mixing pot, the big inclusive red, white & blue party, we have double difficulty. Why can't we all just have fun and sing songs?

That's why we have a hard time, even communicating that is difficult. That's why the Vatican has an Office of Ecumenical Reconciliation, and many offices dedicated to the understanding of other faiths such as Judaism and Islam.

So, I'll give you a more personal example from the other side. This is something that I've kept to myself for a long time. For many years, I was in a band. For many of those years, two of my best friends on this planet wanted to play a song by Alice in Chains called "Man in a Box." I always refused to play the song, because I would have to play and sing the song. The excuse I always gave them was that I just couldn't stand the song, even though we played other songs that I really didn't like playing.

The reason I wasn't comfortable playing the song, and the reason I refused to play it was because, in the song, I would have had to sing the lyric "Jesus Christ, deny your maker," over and over again.

That's something I just didn't feel like doing. And I may be a big, fat hypocrite for not singing that but hollering out GD and HS every time I stub my toe, but to me they were different enough. The lyrical expression of that verse made me uncomfortable enough to not play the song. Actually admitting that was the reason was an unacceptable option at the time.

SAWB & Sprout will commence making fun of me...right...now. I will never hear the end of it from Jon, Jacob or Corwyn if this ever gets back to them.

But seriously,

Would you like it if your kids had to sing those kind of lyrics in school, because the majority of parents were Alice in Chains fans?

That's a small bit of what it feels like to be a Jew or a Muslim in a predominantly Christian society around Christmas.

I didn't really understand this until it was explained to me by a follower of Judaism. She doesn't even realize how it clicked in my head. I still don't understand it very well. But I try.

I just think the majority should have a much thicker skin. No one is asking us to "deny our maker" in public. They're asking us to extend the same courtesy to others. I don't see near as many things as attacks on Christianity as I see requests for us not to be as obnoxious as some of us can be. Our particular religious observances kind of dominate the scene.

What I am fuming angry about this year, is that there is movement (actual or percieved) by a few very loud Christians in this country, and a few very loud people (right and left) who make money by agitating Christians, to really ignite the culture war over the simple use of words. Yeah, making Santa Claus a 'non-denominational holiday figure' is silly, and people who try to do that are very silly. That's fine for Larry the Cable Guy to talk about. He's a comedian.

But that's not what is being said.

What is being said is that people like me are waging a 'war on Christmas' because I don't feel the need to wear my faith on my sleeve and feel outraged about things that generally aren't that outrageous. People are literally yelling, yelling 'Merry Christmas' in my face almost daily. With angry looks on their faces, like they're just daring me to say 'Happy Holidays' back at them. Then they are getting mad at me for looking at them like they're nuts.

But that's just me.

Matt O. said...

I agree that people should not be "banned" from saying "Merry Christmas" at work or anything. But for me, I just choose to say "Happy Holidays" so I do not appear to be assuming. That is a personal decision. Which ever one you use, that's cool. I have no problem with that. But to say you're some secular progressive trying to take religion out, and waging war on Christmas (ergo Christians) is just absurd. It is just right-wing political hackery to drive the religious fanatics out. It's so far out there even Bush will not back it (see White House "holiday" card).

petallic said...

Patrick, for the same reason you couldn't sing that song, I have to fast-forward through "Satan is my motor" on my Cake CD every time I listen to it. Damn that catchy catchy song.

I hadn't ever really considered the orthodoxic/orthopraxic binary. It suddenly makes me feel bad for making my students stand for the pledge (just stand, not actually pledge, but then none of them have ever complained). That throws my whole "shut your whining and do it" mentality out the window.

I must go and mull now.

patsbrother said...

"Christianity is a primarily orthodoxic religion, what is most important is what you believe. Judaism and Islam are very much more orthopraxic, and put a whole lot of importance on certain practices."

Not to mess with a struggling Catholic, paT, but the above distinction is somewhat inaccurate. Perhaps you forgot the Reformation, but I believe the distinction between beliefs and acts is interior one, as seen between Protestants and Catholics and, I am sure, between different groups within the Jewish and the Islamic faiths. Further, I would be interested to know where you got the orthodoxy/orthopraxy terminology, as the former refers generally to adherence to an established religion (and specifically to the Eastern Church and Orthodox Judaism) and the latter refers, enigmatically, to the correction of physical deformities by means of mechanical appliances. This is not to say these words have not been adapted to mean something else or something more specific - it just seems a bit odd to use those words.

A further indicator that the beliefs/acts distinction is more within religions than between them, it is clear there are a number of Jews who can sing Christmas songs without an attendant feeling of a loss of belief: a prime example would be the Streisand album Wendy has played for the past fifteen years, which includes Jingle Bells, I Wonder as I Wonder, O Little Town of Bethlehem (sp), Silent Night, White Christmas, and - the most Catholic of all songs - Ave Maria.

And paT, your entire life you've been scared of the oddest things: yeah, I'm going to make fun of you for abstaining from doing something you are seriously uncomfortable doing. Need I remind you I am perhaps the one person you know who hasn't engaged in illicit drug use?

Patrick Armstrong said...

"No god but God" by Reza Aslan is an excellent source of material, not only on the differences between Christianity, Islam and Judaism, but also concerning such things as orthodoxy vs orthopraxy and the history of the Middle East. I have a copy if you'd like it. Rarely have I read one book about the history of another religion where I gained greater understanding of my own.

Really, I thought about those terms orthodoxy and orthopraxy much in the same way you do now, because I had never heard them used differently.

And I realize that such things are oversimplifications, and I said so. Several times. If I didn't say it enough for your tastes, I'll say it here again. But learning that increased my understanding just a little concerning the differences between Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It helped frame what I used to think were just nuanced differences (we all worship the one God, after all, how different can we be? I used to say) that was really getting in my way when it came to understanding why three religions that even build themselves off the same books can be so varied and confrontational when it comes to dealing with each other.

I also understand that Catholicism and many of the Eastern Chruches are also more orthopraxic than Western Protestantism. I understand that Sunnis, Shi'a & Sufi all have different schisms within Islam as well as different schools (Sharia, Wahabbi, 12th Imam), and I understand that reform Judaism is quite different from 'orthodox' Judaism.

But I'm not talking specifics here.

As a generalization where Chrisitanity is compared to Islam and Judaism, I still beleive these terms to be very helpful based on my (freely admitted shaky) current understanding of the Big Three.

That there are elements, especially of Western Jewry, who do not adhere so rigidly to these aspects of Judaism does not surprise me. I've seen pictures of plenty of Muslim women in Lebanon, Turkey, Europe and the USA who don't feel the need to wear burquas, and have even known just a few. I know plenty of Catholics who do not go to confession regularly, and plenty of Baptists who drink and dance. That does not disprove any point I have brought up.

As a matter of fact, it actually helps me make it, because it illuminates a little better why Catholics and Protestants have such issues both past and present. I'd never really got the idea of 'grace' vs 'works' until trying to understand the dynamics of the Big Three.

Or did you forget that Jon's side of the Church didn't take Eucharist at his own wedding, because of just that sort of thing? (Protestant marrying a Catholic in a Catholic Church)

Did you ever see the Michael Spurlock series "30 Days," where one West Virginia Christian went to live as a Muslim for 30 days? One of the things I found most fascinating by watching him was his reluctance to pray as a Muslim because it was in Arabic and he didn't know wether or not saying those words would be turning his back on Jesus.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about, and Christians don't really have to deal with that much around these parts.

petallic said...

"That's the kind of thing I'm talking about, and Christians don't really have to deal with that much around these parts."

Depends on the church. I visited a church in my home town once where the preacher stated, "If you're not a member of our Church, please do not partake of the Lord's Supper with us." I got up and left, thinking the Church and its inhabitants stingy exclusive bastards. Raised as a "grace before works" Baptist, perhaps their kooky-but-also-Baptist ways simply eluded me.

Or maybe they were just low on crackers and grape juice.

S.A.W.B. said...

ah, cartoons, is there anything you can't do?

the truth

Patrick Armstrong said...


That just might be game, set, match for this one.

Dante said...

Sawb, your cartoon makes an outside reference to the taking Christ out of Christmas argument. Just a hair offtoppic, but it reminds me of the stink some folks were raising a few years back about calling it Xmas. That was another pretty good one. X has historically been shorthand for Christ's name in Greek (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ which transliterates to 'Christos'). Xmas is just as valid as Christmas for what should be called Christosmas since both X and Christ are shorthands themselves for Christos. Just some proof that shooting from the hip is not a wise idea when arguing about religion, whether you're upset that the word Christmas is being replaced with Holiday or that the word Christos is being replaced with X instead of Christ.

S.A.W.B. said...

The best part about the Xmas argument is the same as the 'Happy Holidays' crowd. What may seem to be a convenient solution to be 'all-inclusive and non-offensive' actually ends up saying pretty much the same thing as the original offending statement. If you asked 100 people on the street where the term Xmas came from, or the root of the word holiday, you might get 5 out of the 100 who could give you one of the two answers.

Remember, my all-inclusive, PC friends...the terms you're trying to pass around are not new. I will call you on it, because it warms my cold, black heart to do so.

Happy Festivus...