About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An atheist on Christmas - Chrys Stevenson's take

I'll send you straight to Chrys Stevenson's essay over at On Line Opinion. I can get behind this one. The response to a rather mild-mannered essay is pretty heated - you need to go here. Maybe you'd like to add a comment.

Or feel free to discuss what Christmas means to you right here. As it happens, I do celebrate it as a secular festival in much the way that Chrys does, and in much the way that Richard Dawkins has described in the past. But there's a huge spectrum of attitudes to Christmas. Some people hate the commercialisation, some very religious folk despise it as a travesty, some atheists discourage celebrating it, and on and on.

For me, it's a secular occasion, as I said, but more specifically it's largely about family and loved ones. The other thing is that I live in a country where Christmas is the height of summer, so a lot of it is about sunshine, the beach, summer sports (especially cricket and sailing), outdoor barbecues, and a general celebration of summer life. In the northern hemisphere, of course, it's the dead of winter, but still a celebration of the rebirth of the sun. All hail Sol Invictus.

Anyway, what about you?


Eamon Knight said...

Well, tomorrow I'm flying out of white-blanketed Ottawa to spend a snowless Xmas at my MIL's place in LA. That would be my secular Jewish MIL, who loves to put up a decorated conifer in her living room. Along with me (atheist of English Methodist ancestry, who grew up celebrating a secular Christmas with my agnostic parents) will be my wife (Jewish atheist), grown sons (technically Jewish but agnostic or atheist), BIL (? -- not practicing Judaism at any rate) and his wife (Latina, ie. probably vague/lapsed Catholic)and 12yo son. Absent will be my wife's late step-father (very lapsed Catholic) and DIL (ultra-liberal Protestant/UU). You can tell by the vagueness that religions isn't exactly a prominent aspect of the week. It's gonna be about getting together as a family which is becoming increasingly scattered as our kids have grown up and moved out.

Felix said...

Christmas in the summer time??!


Why don't you live in a proper hemisphere?

Rudolph said...

There's only one place for Christmas this year:

The Northern hemisphere - the original and the best.

Svlad Cjelli said...

Jul is a bunch of food and pretty lights to get swedes through the winter without killing ourselves. :)

Kirth Gersen said...

I like the Christmas holiday. I like decorations and lights and spiked egg nog and evergreen trees and mistletoe and big gift exchanges. I just prefer to leave the recent Abrahamic grafts off of it, and celebrate it as more of a pagan Solstice thing -- and of course one can disbelieve pagan superstition to one's heart's content without being thought any less of.