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December 08, 2008


Dear Brian,

I have a bit of trouble with your term "true meaning" as per the upcoming "holiday." The pagan roots of the co-opted Christian displays, etc., for Christmas were not -->atheist<-- in their nature. They celebrated pagan deities and pagan "religious" mooga-booga - just like you complain of how today's Christians have presumed to take these over for celebrating/symbolizing their own mooga-booga. (The Puritans a la 17th century were quite opposed to any "celebration" of Christmas as being thoroughly "pagan" in its nature.)

What is "true" about any humanly constructed set of notions - whether "original" or co-opted(/"stolen") - is a matter quite up for individual subjectivity. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the nature of your complaint.

Robert Paul Howard

I am a non-believer and I always put up a xmas tree because to me it symbolizes a happy childhood memory. I do not worship my tree and I know it has nothing to do with christianity. Most christians are too ignorant to know this.
Actually my Lutheran minister father wanted to rid our home of the tree when we were small because it is a symbol of paganism. My mother did not allow it. Growing up after the war in Germany did not allow for presents or anything for us children and my mother believed we should have something; hence the tree.

I am proud that the ffrf put up this sign saying:

“At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

I also know a lot of people who do agree with this. What makes us different is the fact that we do not go door to door and try to convince people to be rational. As long as the religious stay off my front porch I have no problem with them. Now if they could just stay out of politics I would really be happy. I do know that is too much to ask from these zealots.

Also the non-believers I know have a very fine tuned moral compass because they know that they have to live with their conscience and not because they are afraid of some eternal hell fire.

Several years ago after our last child moved into their own place, we decided to cancel Christmas for that year.
We had really enjoyed our Christmas days with our kids in the past, but decided to take a break for a year.
No tree, no lights, no wreath, no cards, no presents, no nothing, zero-zip-nada!!!
It was GREAT!! Just another day in paradise.
That Christmas day taught us a great big lesson about choice and free will.
Should we celebrate Christmas? / Should we skip Christmas? It should be a deleberate choice. But it is not for the vast majority of folk. They HAVE TO go through all of the rigamaroll; it's a civil requirement.
Well guess what?
We have asked ouselves each year since, "Shall we celebrate Christmas this year?" and the answer has been NO!!
December 25 is just another day in paradise here. Now THAT is something to be thankful for.
You want to celebrate the life of Christ?
Thank him for a clean conscience and free will, every day!

Robert, I was being a bit facetious with my "true meaning of Christmas" comment. However, since the pagans were first to celebrate a solstice holiday, let's honor their meaning of it and consider the Christian celebration to be an add-on.

Look, Chrismas is a federal holiday. Christmas exists because of a belief in Christ. If you don't like it, then get legislation in place that removes Christmas as a federal holiday.

Other religions are allowed to display their symbols as well as long as they don't disparage the displays of other religions.

The difference with the atheist sign is that atheism is no religion at all and therefore has no place in an area designated for religious displays.

Personally, I dislike all the hoopla and commercialism that goes on for months before Chrismas and the lame musac in stores. Would Jesus do this?

I am not a christian nor do I have the traditional concept of God.

I am fine with anybody getting to express their spiritual ideas but frankly would prefer it all stay off public grounds. I guess it's part of our heritage though and makes sense and it is a problem with many spiritual symbols mostly from Christianity like the Ten Commandments that Cecil B. DeMille got out all across the country to advertise his movie and now cities think they came from god or something.

I didn't plan it this way but this year I decorated for the Solstice, not for Christmas. The tree went years ago after the kids quit being here and it simply made no sense to have one but I kept putting up the manger scene, the Advent wreathe, and my collection of winter snow village houses including Santa Village. This year it wasn't a religious decision but rather I just didn't want to take down everything that was here and put up all new and then have to take it down. I had been seeing these natural looking artificial garlands and decided to get one.. then two.. then you don't want to know, but it basically let me have greens all over the house that won't have to be replaced twice, won't drop needles and pitch, and won't make us allergic. I realized after putting out some of them that it was turning out to be very Solstice like and so Solstice decorating it has become. Welcoming the shortest day because then it's on it's way back to summer! Now that's something to celebrate

Thats the way it should be in my opinion, Rain.
You do what you want to do and it feels right. Not because you're part of the machine or chained to the bandwagon.
Happy Solstice!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! Christmas is for kids and Santa Claus. I respect everyone and their beliefs.

I have to support your comments mentioning paganism as the genuine origins of celebrations during the winter solstice. Although there's much irrationality in traditional western and eastern religions and I wish our cultures as a whole could eliminate them, I nevertheless support tolerance of various views whether or not they are factually correct or logically consistent. You're right on point that one can be as closed-minded as one wishes - to some extent - in one's own home or private groupings, however, in the public arena, there is no such freedom from skepticism, critique and rebuttal. By all means, claim ownership over that which you rightly have ownership, however, "public" belongs to all in general and none specifically. It's always tragic how many forget that their beg for liberty comes with it one central stipulation - your liberty is granted by granting others the same. If you want the liberty to chain others to your will, what you ask for isn't liberty. What you really want is domination. That thinking rather puts you at the continuing mercy of changing winds. You may be powerful today, but power frequently changes hands. In one day, out the next.

The man who advocates slavery advocates the chain that will one day enclose his own neck.

You should have put up a "Christmas" tree, for the tradition of decorating a tree at this time of the year is actually of pagan origin. Putting up a tree is in fact a reminder to the whole world that this holiday is NOT Christian!

So please do it next year...and with a plaque reicterating the very nice state capitol announcement:

“At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Merry Winter Solstice!

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