About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

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.