Dear Theists *an open christmas letter*
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26-12-2012, 05:21 PM (This post was last modified: 26-12-2012 05:25 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Dear Theists *an open christmas letter*
Dear Christians. (I'd say dear theists, but really, Christmas is either a secular holiday or a Christian one, depending how you play it.)

This Christmas was a good one. We went to my father's brother's place in Washington, met other family, grazed on crackers and cheese and veggies and chips and dip, and eventually had a turkey dinner with lots of sides. Good time had by all, even by me (the wallflower who brings a book to large gatherings, and typically reaches his saturation for Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving). No emphasis at all was given to the birth of Christ, or Christianity in general.

This year marks... I dunno how many years, but the better part of a century... since we engaged in the Christmas traditions from my mother's side of the family. We are relieved, in that corner of our brain that even remembers, that these traditional practices are no longer engaged in. This is because my mother's side of the family is from a strip of East European land that spent a lot of time changing hands between Russia and Poland, so they can't really identify with one nation or the other. And, also, that side of the family was Jewish. (Ethnically Jewish, I should say. They gravitated towards atheism because they gravitated towards communism, and they gravitated towards communism because in Eastern Europe, a century ago, communism was the opposition camp vis-a-vis royalty and aristocracy.)

Every corner of the world has its own quaint way of having a merry Christmas. In that Russian/Polish region, merriment meant getting drunk. Violently drunk. And once the local Christians finished getting so drunk that they got violent (not that it took much), but not so drunk that they couldn't walk or ride a horse, they formed mobs and went out to kill Jews and set fire to the ghetto. So for that side of the family (those that hadn't gravitated towards atheism, at least), Christmas was very much a somber time, with great emphasis on prayer. Also, fear and trembling. Whether it was "before God" is open to interpretation.

This tradition of antisemitism was hardly unique to the Christians of late 19th and early 20th century Russia and Poland. Spain was exiling, torturing, and executing Jews wholesale in the good ol' days of the Inquisition. Luther, near the end of his life, condemned the Jews as impossible to convert (mostly in frustration over his failure to convert them), and these writings formed the basis for many a pogrom in the Germanies and eastern Europe. And, of course, the superiority of Jewish moneylenders throughout European history (as opposed to Christians, who had trouble with rules about usury), meant that all a ruler had to do to deal with their national debt was to round up the Jew or Jews who were owed the money and kill them. (And their direct heirs, extended family, and anyone who might possibly remotely be Jewish, just to be safe.) Antisemitism is a Christian tradition that's been in play for over a thousand years, up to, including, and since the Holocaust.

Now to my father's side. He comes from a protestant background. Presbytarianism, I think. He doesn't talk about it much. His exposure to religion was local and fairly sheltered until he joined the Air Force and got out to see the world. Specificly, he got out of the Pacific Northwest and stationed in Texas, where he got to see, firsthand, some of the worst evils of Segregation, and all the Bible verses that were being broken out to justify it. He walked away from Christianity and never looked back. This was in the 60s. Time was, of course, that racial oppression was much worse, as were the religious justifications backing it. American slavery, of course. But look also, for example, at the treatment of Caribs by Columbus in Hispania, or what Spanish missionaries did in California. Or atrocities committed against conquered peoples (or other Christians) by the crusaders. Or Charlemagne. Wherever there was oppression, exploitation, and outright genocide of non-Europeans by European Christians, you didn't have to look far to find someone with a Bible verse to justify it. Again, a tradition stretching back over a thousand years. My father, to the best of my knowledge, was never the victim of any of this. But he's never really forgiven the religion for it, either.

There are many other fine Christian traditions. I won't go into them in detail (though any one of them could be the subject of an entire library of books). But as a few examples, we have: Oppression, subjugation, and abuse of women, propping up of nobility and royalty by divine right over the peasantry they abused (and other anti-democratic activities), decorating churches and cathedrals with lots and lots of gold while starvation ran rampant, and wholesale warfare over whether this doctrine or that theology was correct (and nevermind the amount of blood spilled in the process).

For myself, I think people and institutions are capable of change. In particular, an institution is only an expression of those people who currently make it up. Its past sins have no bearing on the present institution, save that the present membership either includes or extolls the individuals who engaged in those evils, or seeks to emulate those ills themselves. So to the liberal Christians out there (and many of you Christians ARE liberal Christians, even without realizing it), I say, THANK YOU. Thank you for all your efforts to reform your blood-soaked, oppressive religion into a positive good. Thank you for all your successes. Thank you for dragging it kicking and screaming out of the ethos of antiquity and into a modern morality. Thank you for taming the man-eating beast into one that is only occasionally rabid. And above all, thank you for your continuing efforts in this regard, and your idealistic, good-willed hope that it can be better still. Call it returning Christianity to the peace-loving ethos of the Christ of the gospels if you want. Some will argue. I won't, because I don't care why you do it so long as you do it. THANK YOU. I know all of the above thank-yous can be read as sarcastic. They aren't. Not in the least. Keep up the good work, and may you always keep that higher ideal before you.

And to all you conservative Christians out there, who think that Christmas is a time to renew and return to "traditional Christian values"? Screw you with the horse you rode in on. Sideways.

-- Very, VERY sincerely: Reltzik

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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26-12-2012, 06:40 PM
RE: Dear Theists *an open christmas letter*
Thank you Reltzik

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26-12-2012, 07:24 PM
RE: Dear Theists *an open christmas letter*
As a Christian, I think that Christmas these days is really just about holidays and family's. But IMO I think religion should still be a part of it. Of course many of you on this forum will disagree lol.
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26-12-2012, 07:56 PM
RE: Dear Theists *an open christmas letter*
(26-12-2012 07:24 PM)Slither Wrote:  As a Christian, I think that Christmas these days is really just about holidays and family's. But IMO I think religion should still be a part of it. Of course many of you on this forum will disagree lol.
That depends entirely on the reasoning behind your thoughts. Why do you think that religion should be a part of these holidays and to what extend should this be the case?

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26-12-2012, 09:45 PM
RE: Dear Theists *an open christmas letter*
(26-12-2012 07:24 PM)Slither Wrote:  As a Christian, I think that Christmas these days is really just about holidays and family's. But IMO I think religion should still be a part of it. Of course many of you on this forum will disagree lol.
Hardly disagreeing here. If you want to make religion a part of Christmas, have at it. In fact, if you want to make religion a part of Sunday (as many do) or even a part of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday -- go crazy. Just don't force those of us who are nonreligious to do it, too Wink

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