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Ear to the Ground

Christopher Hitchens on Forced Merriment

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Posted on Dec 24, 2011
aur2899 (CC-BY)

With the sensibility of an iconoclastic elf eyeing a parade of indiscriminate merrymaking unfurling all around him, Christopher Hitchens holds forth on the absurdities of the Christmas season in one of the first of his posthumously published essays.

The piece takes its lead from a famous song titled “A Christmas Carol,” written and first performed in the late 1950s by satirical singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer, viewable below. —ARK

Christopher Hitchens at The Wall Street Journal:

[T]he thing about the annual culture war that would probably most surprise those who want to “keep the Christ in Christmas” is this: The original Puritan Protestants regarded the whole enterprise as blasphemous. Under the rule of Oliver Cromwell in England, Christmas festivities were banned outright. The same was true in some of the early Pilgrim settlements in North America.

Last year I read a recent interview with the priest of one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in New York, located downtown and near Wall Street. Taking a stand in favor of Imam Rauf’s “Ground Zero” project, he pointed to some parish records showing hostile picketing of his church in the 18th century. The pious protestors had been voicing their suspicion that a profane and Popish ceremonial of “Christ Mass” was being conducted within.

Now, that was a time when Americans took their religion seriously. But we know enough about Puritans to suspect that what they really disliked was the idea of a holiday where people would imbibe strong drink and generally make merry. (Scottish Presbyterians did not relax their hostility to Yuletide celebrations until well into the 20th century.) And the word “Yule” must be significant here as well, since pagans of all sorts have been roistering at the winter solstice ever since records were kept, and Christians have been faced with the choice of either trying to beat them or join them.

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Clash's avatar

By Clash, December 27, 2011 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

By the way old T. Jefferson not only wrote about hypocrisy, he also practiced it reverently. Through the law of discovery he not only continued work begun by the Catholic church, the English government including the church, and finally, yup the new American republic, in the pursuit of the annihilation of the peoples indigenous to the Americas,an estimated 6 to 10 million humans.

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Clash's avatar

By Clash, December 27, 2011 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

Ozarkmicheal;

Our differences are purely opinion, and you have expressed yours(plural)with the exquisite use of the violence inherently represented in language one comes to expect,accusations,innuendo,abuse. The best is us against you.

I would also point out surveillance, and censor ship begin right here on this sight and continue right on to the government agency’s who monitor the words we use. Liberty, sure you have the ability to act, but those acts you may carry out is completely dependent on when and were you(plural) commit them.

As to my worldview, I do think you have presumed, or imagined that you have the ability to read minds, since you(plural) will and would most likely never understand it, I will not burden you with trying to communicate such information.

As to your list of names who have committed atrocity’s against the species and on a larger scale life itself, I am more than sure that you have left out a few hundred names on your list. You see the greatest pleasure homo sapiens in your (plural) culture receives is the power to harm,abuse and destroy life.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, December 27, 2011 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

Christian96 – one believes what one has been inculcated to
believe. I suppose it is a prevalent naiveté that holds the belief
you just expressed.  I tend to agree that an abstraction such as
a religion cannot be blamed for anything, which would include its
effect to do good!  Just like video games cannot be blamed for any
violence or other aggressions in those individuals susceptible to the
influence of visually graphic exercises in violence. Except for the
empirical evidence the General Aggression Model that explains the
development of aggression. There is a psychology born of indoctrin-
ation and dogma that influences how people think.  And how people
think determines how they act. Certainly you have noticed this in
yourself.  And the same would be true of any religion where violence
has been a significant part of not only of its origins but its history,
Islam, Hinduism, etc.  I also suppose it depends on what we want to
call Christianity.  Apparently there are about 38,000 different Christian
denominations.  The question must be asked why there would even
be more than one!?  Perhaps that in itself needs to be discussed a bit
because any educated person knows how incendiary doctrines and
dogma can be. 

Raised Catholic, spent some time as a Baptist, I’ve spent much time
reading the Bible.  I’ve also read the Qur’an and the Upanishads, the Rig
Vedas and other “religious” literature.  At the end of the day, I found that
religion did not provide any haven nor solace for the basic questions of
existence.  My pilgrimage through this life has found better answers in
science.  That is my path, whatever is yours, well, it is yours.

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By Anarcissie, December 27, 2011 at 7:39 am Link to this comment

christian96, December 27 at 5:14 am:

‘Shenonymous—-You can’t blame Christianity for what
people do in the name of Christianity. ...’

But then you can’t praise Christianity for the good things people do in the name of Christianity, at least not without a lot of exceptions and provisos and excuses.

But Christianity needn’t feel bad about the violence it inspires; one of the most ruthless wars of recent times, the civil war in Sri Lanka, was carried out on one side in the name of Buddhism, often held to be the most pacific major religion in the world.

I suspect, like our evolutionary cousins the chimpanzees, we humans are fairly nasty, violent animals, and choose religions to serve our desires and interests.  Part of the time that’s to quiesce our various rages, but often enough it’s to enhance them.

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By christian96, December 27, 2011 at 6:14 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous—-You can’t blame Christianity for what
people do in the name of Christianity.  The crusades
probably being the prime example.  The founder of
Christianity, Jesus Christ, did not resist when he
was beaten severely.  Albert Einstein in a book
titled “Ideas and Opinions” said, “If you remove
all the additions to the teachings of Jesus over
the years you would have a foundation for world
peace.”  That support for a peaceful Christianity
comes from a respected and intelligent source.

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By elisalouisa, December 27, 2011 at 6:08 am Link to this comment

By whatever name or under whatever symbol or flag, homo sapiens are violent creatures, some more so than others.  Religious experience is another realm. One should not knock what one has not experienced. Even more important there are other dimensions science cannot touch. One might even conclude that to go through life loudly proclaiming there is nothing beyond what science can tell us or other such gibberish truly borders on ignorance. Of course, those who this comment well describes would not agree.

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By Shenonymous, December 27, 2011 at 12:28 am Link to this comment

Christiain96, yes I should have referenced better.  While there are
unending chronicles of the persecution of the religious, Christians
included, there has been a long history of violence committed in
the name of Christianity.  The list of studies done is indexed at the
Library of Congress, I will cite only a few examples.  Miroslav Volf, a
religionist, a Christian theologian, as would be expected argues the
Christian faith fosters “peaceful social environments.”  You might
check out his thesis in “War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-
First Century,” Chapter 1, “Christianity and Violence.”  However, he
adds the faith was and continues to be “employed to foster violence.”
Further that Christians have “committed atrocities” and various forms
of violence during their history drawing on their religious convictions to
justify them.  He goes on to say that “there are elements in the Christian
faith that, when viewed in isolation or when excessively foregrounded,
can plausibly be used to legitimize violence, and that Christianity has not
been associated with less violence than other major religions.”  He does
develop a thesis that the religion is an important resource “for creating
and sustaining a culture of peace.” 

There is a great deal of literature on this subject, also easily found on a
‘Net search, much of it submitted by the opinionated hysterical but here
are a couple more that provides authentic scholarly bases:  Hector
Avalos, “Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence.”  Avalos is a
Professor of religious studies at Iowa State University, and has had
several books on biblical studies and religion.  He argues that the roots
of violence originates deep from within religion itself, from its very
nature, this would include as being inherent in Christianity as well.

“The Destructive Power of Religion, Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam,” by J. Harold Ellens is another heavily bibliographed text.

More evidence is the persecution of women as witches as justified by
Christians in early American history is notorious, and even more so the
Christian justification for slavery of the African negroes and the violence
done to African Americans well into this century.  The atrocious effects
of missionary Christianity zeal on the natives of the Amazon is well
documented also; you can rent the film The Mission which is Hollywood’s
take on it, but well researched nevertheless. This is just a smidgen of the
history of violence and Christianity.  There are events of such violence
against pagans who would not convert, heretics, the perennial example
the history of the Crusades, violence against the Jews, against native
peoples all over the world.  In the 20th century, we would not want to
miss the Catholic persecutions of the Buddhists in Vietnam.  Who could
forget the self-immolation of the three protesting Buddhists in the
square?

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By John, December 27, 2011 at 12:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Christopher Hitchens was a self-promoting jerk who left Britain to promote himself among the ignorant colonials.

Who cares what he thinks about anything?

He’s not serious. He’s never been engaged in any serious political struggle that would hurt his resume whatsoever.

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By Shenonymous, December 27, 2011 at 12:17 am Link to this comment

The quote is often cited as a letter to Peter Carr, but it is not to
be found in any of Jefferson’s papers.  Regardless, it does have
a slight similarity to several genuine Jefferson quotations, so it is
feasible that the above could be traced back to them.  One such is
found in a letter to James Smith as follows:

“No historical fact is better established than that the doctrine of
one god, pure and uncompounded was that of the early ages of
Christianity; and was among the efficacious doctrines which gave
it triumph over the polytheism of the antients, sickened with the
absurdities of their own theology. Nor was the unity of the supreme
being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but
by the sword of civil government wielded at the will of the fanatic
Athanasius. The hocus-pocus phantasm of a god like another Cerberus
with one body and three heads had it’s birth and growth in the blood of
thousands and thousands of martyrs. And a strong proof of the solidity
of the primitive faith is it’s restoration as soon as a nation arises which
vindicates to itself the freedom of religious opinion, and it’s eternal
divorce from the civil authority. The pure and simply unity of the
creator of the universe is now all but ascendant in the Eastern states;
it is dawning in the West, and advancing towards the South; and I
confidently expect that the present generation will see Unitarianism
become the general religion of the United states. The Eastern presses
are giving us many excellent pieces on the subject, and Priestly’s learned
writings on it are, or should be in every hand. In fact the Athanasian
paradox that one is three, and three but one is so incomprehensible to
the human mind that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and
how can he believe what presents no idea. He who thinks he does only
decieves himself. He proves also that man, once surrendering his reason,
has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like
a ship without rudder is the sport of every wind. With such persons
gullability which they call faith takes the helm from the hand of reason
and the mind becomes a wreck.”

Jefferson used the words “fools” and “hypocrites,” but not conjoined
as a phrase as found in his “Notes on the State of Virginia”:

“Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects
perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity
attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the
introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined,
imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools,
and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the
earth.”

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By christian96, December 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous—-How is Christianity violent?

LocalHero—-To add credence to the words of Thomas
Jefferson in reference to Christianity reflects
what Jesus meant by, “the blind leading the
blind.”(Matthew 15:14)

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By OzarkMichael, December 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

Dear LocalZero,

Your quotation has not been found in any writings of Thomas Jefferson. That makes you an ignoramus. Or if you knew better, it makes you a liar.

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By OzarkMichael, December 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

Clash says:

Your beliefs are your own, you are welcome to them, no angst intended. Like you I have chosen, that our choices are dissimilar, might just be our perception of enlightenment?

Except our difference is more than just an opinion, where we can salute our difference or “perception of enlightment”.  True, my worldview admits that you have a legitimate life and your own legitimate thought. My worldview has proven its tolerance of you. As proof I offer: this “culture of hypocrisy” with its policy of free speech and its policy of liberty, and I also offer as proof: this conversation where we are equals, or at least we have that option, without interferance from the state.

However, your worldview does not admit the legitimacy of my life and thought. Historically it never has and it never will. In your first post, when you say, “policies derived from the fantasy of the millions subjugated by by the distorted perception of religion, collective morality, and false reasoning”, it makes mewonder how long will it take for you(plural) to act against us when your kind has the power to do so. You will need to do it to cut the legs out from the under the policies you hate so much. You will do it for my own sake, or the culture’s sake. yes, i know that.

Read the Gulag Archipelago. Read what Lenin and Trotsky were saying before they sent millions to prison. If you talk like them, you will probably act like them.

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By LocalHero, December 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

For OzarkYokel,

“The Christian god is a three headed monster, cruel, vengeful, and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.” - Thomas Jefferson

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Clash's avatar

By Clash, December 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMicheal;

I have brought and am bring nothing, to you or others that is not already here. I am sorry though that I was unable to articulate clearly the distinct differences in the words I used to describe the state of this culture. It is my fault for presuming that you would understand these differences, as they do reflect to some degree the the communal thinking of all the groups in this culture in general. Your beliefs are your own, you are welcome to them, no angst intended. Like you I have chosen, that our choices are dissimilar, might just be our perception of enlightenment?

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By joegod, December 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can take Xmas or leave it, but I’m not out to ruin anyone’s good time. The
holiday today doesn’t quite work the way it used to. Some years ago the
general majority of Americans felt there was hope for a better future,even
with all the problems, and that’s what the holiday season was about. Those
days are long gone, and in today’s context the hyper-commercialism and
materialism of a Corporate Xmas seems disgustingly inappropriate.

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By joegod, December 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can take Xmas or leave it, but I’m not out to ruin anyone’s good time. The
holiday today doesn’t quite work the way it used to. Some years ago the
general majority of Americans felt there was hope for a better future,even
with all the problems, and that’s what the holiday season was about. Those
days are long gone, and in today’s context the hyper-commercialism and
materialism of a Corporate Xmas seems disgustingly inappropriate.

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By OzarkMichael, December 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Clash said:

Bravo!! Welcome to the culture named hypocrisy, law for the lawless, in a land that only pretends to live by the rule of law, disguised more frequently than not by policies derived directly from the fantasy of the millions subjugated by by the distorted perception of religion, collective morality, and false reasoning.

This culture, historically hasn’t a chance of survival god’s or no. Neither religion, nor the reasoning of false minds would lead one to think otherwise.

This Christian culture, even at its twilight, exhibits more light and more liberty than anything the atheists came up with historically. God save us from the slavery they would put us all through.

My religion and my “false reason” resist being subjugated. Call it “fantasy” and call it “hypocrisy” if you like. Even if your new humanity will triumph over my old ‘false mind’, and even if I have “no chance”, I know the devastation that you bring and I shall resist you every step of the way.

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Clash's avatar

By Clash, December 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

Bravo!! Welcome to the culture named hypocrisy, law for the lawless, in a land that only pretends to live by the rule of law, disguised more frequently than not by policies derived directly from the fantasy of the millions subjugated by by the distorted perception of religion, collective morality, and false reasoning.

This culture, historically hasn’t a chance of survival god’s or no. Neither religion, nor the reasoning of false minds would lead one to think otherwise.

piece

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By JDmysticDJ, December 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Christmas is for kids of all ages. I’m reminded of scrooge and the Grinch for some reason. Silly rabbids, Christmas is for kids.

Now, GET OFF MY LAWN!

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By Shenonymous, December 26, 2011 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

Hypocrites form tribes and within every tribe there is always a
plurality of opposing and baseless opinions.  Hitchens did not
die by himself and he showed no sign of sadness.  He was
resigned to his human condition, mortal.  We all will die…of
something.  Those who deny it are the ones in trouble and who
cause all the trouble.  The psychological need to exist in some
form or another for all eternity, the fear of death, is the grotesque
source of human antagonism and alienation. 

The article linked earlier on whether or not civilization can survive
without God is a lightweight argument between Christopher and his
brother Peter, who is a religionist.  I didn’t find it rancorous, though
I wasn’t reading it to find that, but I did learn some about the history
of Christianity and the virtue of Christianity.  This latter is always
missing from bloggers’ who take a defensive posture.

Atheists who are authentic neither defend their nor initiate any attack
on others’ personhood or their beliefs, unless those beliefs turn into
actions that adversely interfere with veracious atheists’ or anti-theists’
lives. I see others here on this forum and elsewhere say that also in
some articulation or another.  What one believes is their own business,
JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!  The missionary impulse of religions, only two
of which appears in existence today that is fervent in their missionary
practice that takes on a violent aspect are Christianity and Islamism,
and which has been and still is one of the major impediments to a
peaceful humanity.  I am not saying that dogmatically, I would be
happy to be shown it is not true.  It is part of the poison of which
Hitchens’ rails against in his book.  It is justly within their province
for atheists to provide equilibrium and offer rational argument that
gives basis for their non or un-belief.  One features that describes
many truthdippers on the spectrum of belief is the degree to which
they use their groundless opinions as the measure of all things.

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By D.R. Zing, December 26, 2011 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Yeah,

Hitchen’s article was pretty lame. I couldn’t get through it. He seemed
to be stretching a bit. Brings to mind a line from Pink Floyd “Dogs”:

“Just another sad old man all alone dying of cancer.”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HxHwuiDPgk

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By IMax, December 26, 2011 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

I’ve yet to come across a human-being that did not hold a religion close to their heart.

While most believe their own religion is superior to all others only the most arrogant, usually the most self-serving among us, believe all others are too stupid to agree with them.

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By christian96, December 26, 2011 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

Prisnersdilema—-You are absolutely correct about
Democrats and Republicians wanting the camera to
cover them being seen in church.  It’s good for the
votes.  Jesus made two comments related to these
type of people.  First, he said, “Don’t be like the
Pharisees(religious leaders of his day) who like to
pray in public for people to see them.”  Jesus ask
people to go into a private room where they are alone
when they pray.  Secondly, Jesus said you would know
true Christians BY THEIR WORKS(what they do).  That
should give you a clue about politicans calling
themselves Christians.  WATCH WHAT THEY DO!  Do they
pass legislation to help the poor or do they pass
legislation to help the super-rich?  That will give
you enlighenment about their true status as Christians.  I have been critical of Pat Robertson
in the past because of his incesant deceptions to
get little old ladies to send him money but I will
give credit where credit is due.  About 30 minutes
ago Gordon Robertson(Pat’s son) did a story on the
business manipulation of soldiers.  Greedy business
people will set up shop next to military bases to
offer soldiers loans at very high interest rates.
Not knowing how to calculate percentages service
people will fall for their ploy.  Our public schools
should be teaching students how to calculate percentages on loans but for some unknown reason
refuse to do so.  It almost seems like business has
also taken over public education.  Schools should
also teach students how they are being manipulated
by commericals.  There is an advertisement extant on
television showing actor Chuck Norris demonstrating
violent behavior to sell his violent video game.
The commerical disgusts me.  Every time it comes on
I switch channels.

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By prisnersdilema, December 26, 2011 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

No Robespierre I don’t blame the Republican party completely the Democrats are also
to blame, and have been there to cover their tracks. Stll the Religious right has
played a unique role in providing support for the Republican crime syndicate.

Yes Democratic leaders also do their best to appear on T.V. in church.

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By Shenonymous, December 26, 2011 at 6:59 am Link to this comment

EmileZ – Dec. 26 4:35 – 5:15 am, too bad.  I’ve already swiped the
drumsticks!  LOL Yeah, he did mention Ashcroft of the elder Bush
moment. Well…in retrospect, it applies to W too.  Some songs just
never grow old.  Peaches is a little more bigbandish.  Neat.  Can’t
forget he was once a ‘classical’ music composer. Cool violin. Intense
drummer.  Thanks for the mini morning Zappa concert!

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By EmileZ, December 26, 2011 at 6:15 am Link to this comment

@ Shenonymous

Also… “Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk” was way before George W’s time. I wouldn’t quite say they were “innocent times”, but perhaps they were just a wee bit farther away from where we find ourselves today.

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By EmileZ, December 26, 2011 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

@ Shenonymous

“Lonesome Electric Turkey” + “Peache En Regalia”...

two of the many altars from which I like to steal food.

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By Shenonymous, December 26, 2011 at 5:00 am Link to this comment

Ther ain’t no altars in my house.  And ther ain’t no idols ther either. 
While I don’t worship Bobby Dylan, I do like his music, itzdabest, and
Frank Zappa is the anarchist’s kick in the head, he’s an iconoclast
incarnate.  One for you!EmiliZ – Take a trip to youtube here!  It’s
dated but classic Zappa.  Funny, but shhhh!  Bush did get in for four
more years!  Yeowie Kazowie!

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By bj surhoff, December 26, 2011 at 2:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

oh that hithch! captial man, capital man! forced merriment indeed for the thousands of iraqis murdered by the war for which he was such a glib and sanctimonious cheerleader. ho ho ho!  good ol’ hitch.

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By EmileZ, December 26, 2011 at 12:29 am Link to this comment

Well maybe I can go for snotty, but I will never be able to achieve the repugnance that Robespierre115 reminded us of with his Finkelstein quote on the passing of Hitchens.

I do get carried away at times.

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, December 25, 2011 at 11:54 pm Link to this comment

I can be just as snotty and repugnant as Hitchens…

“Bob Dylan is even crappier then Tom Lehrer, mostly because B.D. is so often quoted and generally worshipped. I also hate the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and…. well I guess that about covers it for now, which is the time I should say something witty… however, I just don’t feel like it, too bad for you”

-EmileZ

The Mothers Of Invention - Oh No

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eclj-Klg4wI

and another version with guitar solo…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JJyfE5ZHDI

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By Robespierre115, December 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm Link to this comment

@prisnersdilema, the problem with your thesis is that you appear to blame the downfall of the country and its profound social problems on one party. The Democrats are not Pat Robertson’s party, but they are certainly Wall Street’s. Consider that on the foreign policy front, Obama has killed more civilians with drone strikes than Bush, he has also increased military operations in Latin America and backed the overthrow the elected Manuel Zelaya government in Honduras, and let’s not get into his insane Iran policies which include assassinations and terrorism. And this is the President radical right-wing evangelicals hate with a passion. So your points about the decay in the church are correct, but the idea that Republicans and their Christian backers are the culprits for America’s decay is just dead wrong, it is the imperial system itself that is in meltdown.

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By Robespierre115, December 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm Link to this comment

@Shenonymous, it’s true that the Catholic Church could very well be extinct in a few years or decades. So what’s the need make a big deal out of CHRISTMAS? And again, Hitchens rendered himself irrelevant when he became a megaphone for imperialism and bigotry and war. The Hitchens cult is as irrational as Ayn Rand’s own brand of miserable, deluded fans.

Norman Finkelstein, an atheist, says it all:

http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/a-brief-comment-on-the-passing-of-christopher-hitchens/

I get no satisfaction from Hitchens’s passing.

Although he was the last to know it, every death is a tragedy, if only for the bereft child—or, as in the case of Cindy Sheehan, bereft parent—left behind.

But, still, life is full of surprises.

No one should be too smug in his certitudes.

And if you’ve made a career of pissing on other people’s mostly innocuous beliefs, should it surprise that outside the tiny tent called Vanity Fair, your memory stinks of urine?

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By prisnersdilema, December 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

Christmas as we know it know is the result of the underlying belief in Christianity that
heaven is the reward for good works, and hell for evil done. This turns both God and
Santa Claus into a cosmic buisnessman dispensing rewards for good deeds .

But God is not a businessman. Modern Christianity has done it’s best to turn Jesus
Christ into God’s salesman, in an attempt to make what he said fit in with materialism,
and support the pathology at the mall.

Still I have yet to see a wide spread recognition that fundamentalist Christian ideology,
has steadfastly supported the destruction of this country, and many other countries via
Americas meat grinding War Machine. the have also steadfastly supported the
Republican party and therefore it’s larcenies against main street, and Wall Streets
Criminal Empire.

Indeed without the support of fundamentalist Christian America the republican party
would be little more than a traveling carnival of con artists, and John Birch Society
paranoids.

Undoubtedly if there is a God they will Not escape his judgement of all the evil they
have committed in his name.

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By Shenonymous, December 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment

The pope made his annual Xmas appearance in all his rich regalia
with gold mitered hat, opulent robes and jeweled cross trudging
down the aisle as he was castigating the commercialism of Xmas. 
Funny how the Christians let that happen. 

The video atheist was bombastic and oddly self-contradicting
several times.  I don’t suppose that was heard by those who just
wanted to go with his melodrama.  Oh well…it isn’t really important.

In another hundred years this won’t be a problem.  Religion is on the
wane. 

The atheist on the video was right.  “Everyone knows the story itself
is ridiculous.  The entire tableau is utterly balmy and worthy of open
mockery and ridicule.”  He thought “the power of the church ought
not only to be bulldozed but ground into a fine dust and buried in the
deepest part of the deepest ocean on the furthest planet that is possible
to find.

Every major religion except Islam is declining in Western Europe,
according to the Center for the Study on Global Christianity at the
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. The
drop is most evident in France, Sweden and the Netherlands, where
church attendance is less than 10% in some areas. And in Ireland church
attendance fell to 60% in the years between 1975 to 2004. 

A cousin sighed to today that the Catholic Churches in her area are
merging.  Two in her town, five in a neighboring one.  All due to lack
of attendance.  USA Today reported that one of the most conspicuous
consequences of the decline of religion has been fewer children, so
drastically that the populations is actually shrinking in Western Europe. 

The waning influence of religion also has brought a global change in
attitudes and laws on issues such as divorce, abortion, gay marriage and
stem cell research.

In 12 major European countries, 38% of people say they never or
practically never attend church, according to the World Values Survey
in 2000.  France’s 60% non-attendance rate is the highest in that group. 
In the USA, only 16% say they rarely go to church which is actually up
2% in 10 years, but anti-Mormonism is on the wane as well according
to the Utah’s Daily Herald and won’t be a factor in the general election. 
American minds are changing and anti-theism is unstoppable.

Before his corpse was divided up (he wanted his body donated to medical
research), Hitchens’, almost like a harkening ghost from the grave, gave
an interesting interview in October this year,  “It’s equally true to say that
in huge parts of what we might call the industrialized modern world,
tens of millions of people, in effect, live in a post-religious society. It’s
hard to argue, I think, that they lead conspicuously less-civilized lives
than their predecessors who felt that there was a genuine religious
authority that spoke with power.”  It is worth checking out here.

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By Robespierre115, December 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

@Christian96, the facts surrounding the founding of the holiday are well known. But seriously, who cares? Christmas is a worldwide holiday celebrated by millions once a year, apparently some people would prefer kids dump Santa Clause or The Nativity and instead dance around with Hitchens’ corpse celebrating war, bigotry, imperialism and George W. Bush.

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By christian96, December 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

A lot of Christians realize there is absolutely
no evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th
but it is hard to eliminate traditions.  People
celebrate Christmas because their parents did as
did their parents before them.  The tradition is
maintained by the sights and sounds of Christmas
playing upon the emotions of people.  You go to the
mall and see the beautiful Christmas lights and
hear the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” and they
remind you of emotions you experienced as a child.
I sat at the water foundation at our mall and watched
a long line of people waiting to have a picture
taken of their child with Santa.  I wanted to go over
and shout, “THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS.  IT’S A LIE,”
but I didn’t.  I would probably have been arrested as some crazy old man.  December 25th was assigned
by the Catholic church in the 4th century AD. Type
in “Christmas” and read about it.  Oh well, a little
Christmas humor to lighten things up:

A third grade teacher was asking her students what they did for Christmas.  Johnny said, “My brothers and sisters and I get
up early Christmas morning to open our presents and play with our toys.”  After several other students told stories about getting toys for Christmas the teacher didn’t want Abraham Coen to feel bad so she ask, “What does your family do on Christmas Abraham?”
Abraham said, “Well, we get up early, pile into father’s Mercedes, drive down to his toy store, stand around holding hands looking
at the empty shelves, and sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”

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By grokker, December 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

OZ— Hilarious indeed! Thanks for the link!!

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By diamond, December 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

Only a very nasty and very unhappy person can’t enjoy Christmas or let others enjoy it, and Hitchens was both.

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By OzarkMichael, December 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Here we have an atheist who speaks his mind, who has his say about the Christmas atmosphere. I found this hilarious:

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/210538.php

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By Robespierre115, December 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

At least Antiwar.com publishes material on the Christmas Truce of 1914, but oh wait, many of the editors of this site no doubt still worship Obama, so anything explicitly anti-war might not be so comfortable to post this season.

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By Robespierre115, December 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

So instead of marking Christmas by discussing something IMPORTANT like the Israeli occupation’s effects in Bethlehem, Truthdig publishes more babbling from the deceased, pro-imperialism, pro-war blowhard Hitchens? What miserable people must be running the site today.

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By Misfiteye, December 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

Let’s move Christmas to Feb. 29.  I could live with that, maybe.

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By notafan, December 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Enough with the Christopher Hitchens worship in the media.  He hated religion
but loved to preach.  He hated what religion did to people but didn’t mind war
so much.  He loved to argue for the sake of arguing because he loved attention. 
Being in the spotlight was what he worshiped.  There’s nothing more
depressing that having people fawn over someone who used his love of words
to defend power just to shock people. Why go after spiritual religions?  What
about the free market religion?  There are a lot of religions.  Just because
someone has a gift with words doesn’t it doesn’t mean that they have some sort
of profound intellect.  Hitchens was a shallow man and an equally shallow
thinker.  His writing offers bombast, condescension, and semantic play over
factual research.  It always did.  That’s why it was not surprising when he
appeared to make a hard right turn during his career.  The truth was that he
was never left or right.  He was what ever position got him attention, allowed
him to mingle with the literary elite, and write books that didn’t really offer
anything of substance.  What did the world learn as the result of his work? 
What did he research and uncover that changed anybody’s way of thinking?  If
literature offered nothing but the black/white vitriol that Hitchens spewed, then
there would be no point to it.  Why good authors fell in love with this man is
beyond me.

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By grokker, December 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

Perhaps it would be less hypocritical and frivolous to have two Christmas’. One in the more traditional sense with less commercialization and more true feeling (if that’s possible)and the second that most Americans would truly like to have, where a 24/7 shopping week was mandated and contests to see how many Christmas lights could be hung and how many presents could be bought were held(with lots of prizes). Not to mention an official nod of approval towards over eating and excessive drinking and increased suicidal feelings and depression. Sounds almost like the separation between church and state.

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By sallysense, December 25, 2011 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

,,,,
00
o
o

“say dad… did he fill reading material with those notions every holiday season?”...

\\\
00
o
o

“well if he did son… maybe christmas also brings… forced criticism!”...

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By rumblingspire, December 25, 2011 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Celebrate Saturnalia forever!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

“Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn originally held December 17 and later expanded with unofficial festivities through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves.[1] The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”“

“Saturnalian license also permitted slaves to enjoy a pretense of disrespect for their masters, and exempted them from punishment. It was a time for free speech: the Augustan poet Horace calls it “December liberty.”[22] In two satires set during the Saturnalia, Horace has a slave offer sharp criticism to his master.[23] But everyone knew that the leveling of the social hierarchy was temporary and had limits; no social norms were ultimately threatened, because the holiday would end.”

Saturnalia - Step Out Of Line
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ4taJuBObQ

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By Anarcissie, December 25, 2011 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

I don’t understand Hitchens’s problem.  Of course I have no problem with other peoples’ religious exercises as long as I am not forced to participate in them, and I’m not.  I long ago agreed with all my adult friends and relations not to exchange gifts on or near Christmas.  I stay off the roads and out of the malls, train stations, and airports on and near all major holidays.  And after the invention of the Walkman and its innumerable kin, I no longer have to listen to public auditory treacle.

I realize many people suffer, sometimes severely because of their various Christmas or similar holiday obligations, but unless they are small children, that it what they choose, isn’t it?  People do have agency and intelligence, whether they use them or not.

(Except, of course, for those poor souls locked up in prisons, schools, asylums, old-age homes, and so forth, who are at the scant mercy of their wardens; but their suffering is only part of a larger system of torture which we have long since chosen to ignore.)

Let’s give poor old Christmas a rest.

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By Fred LaMotte, December 25, 2011 at 6:05 am Link to this comment

Hitchens is dead. Christ is born. Waking up on Christmas morning and reading TruthDig is like getting kicked in the face. A whole class of ultra-Left Debbie Downers who think they’re too good for Christmas, and too good for the American political system. Sheeesh! Merry Christmas.

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By IMax, December 25, 2011 at 4:17 am Link to this comment

Absurd.

One doesn’t go through life happy by
taking one’s self so seriously.

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By gerard, December 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

Forced merriment is the least harmful result of Christmas excesses.  It gets on a few curmudgeons’ nerves, but the important thing is that it is a deliberate commercial heist that mars the economic lives of millions of families annually by promoting hyped-up advertising which leads children and their insecure parents into excess spending.  This thievery is conducted without the slightest evidence of concern for its sad results. If anybody suffers criticism, it’s the over-eager, often financially or emotionally insecure parents who are labelled as “lacking in common sense” or “don’t know how to manage money, etc.”
  The Wall Street Journal needs editorials on this aspect of “forced merriment.”

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