...he said with the faintest whiff of irony.
I rarely do serious because, frankly, I don't do it all that well. I tend to ramble. I'm waaaay too lazy to do a bunch of research. I'm keenly aware that I'm just one more schmuck on the internet and why should anybody give a shit what I think?
Today, I'm doing serious. Well, my version anyway.
Those of you who know me, know that I grew up in an observant Jewish home and I still self-identify as Jewish, but of the utterly unobservant variety. I'm not Atheist and I don't think I'm Agnostic. I'm fairly certain I believe there's a God. Here's a short (incomplete) list of some things I believe about God.
-He's the same God everybody else believes in regardless of what they call him
-His ego doesn't require that I praise him. He's really secure like that.
-He's got enough people asking him for crap all the time. He won't miss it if I don't join in.
-He doesn't really care if I have cheese on a burger or think shrimp is totally yummy. (O.K. he might care, but shrimp is really really delicious so, hopefully he'll give me a pass on that one.)
-He's so Almighty, he was capable of Intelligently Designing a world where Evolution is just how shit works.
-He may have been a Details Guy once upon a time, but now he just checks in every once in a while and lets us sink or swim on our own. (That whole Noah and the Flood thing was sort of like a kid growing bored with how the ants were tunneling in their ant farm. Hey! Let's shake this sucker up and see what they come up with if they have to start over again.)
-He doesn't really care whether or not I believe in him. (See item 2)
-He doesn't give a rat's ass who wins any sporting event (except when the Red Sox are playing, but even then he's got a rule against interfering).
-There may or may not be a Heaven. People who live their lives solely for the sake of going there really piss him off.
So that's the short list. And what, pray tell, prompts me to bother you with this? Only the annual You stole Christmas-I want a Menorah-Look at my Yule Log-Pagans did it first-Name your offended sensibility Season. Yesterday, Jeri threw out a little post about the annual controversy and a display put up by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I don't plan to talk about that one specifically. Go read it there.
No, I want to talk about how every year, a bunch of rude, self-important assholes of every variety seem to make it their goal in life to fuck up everybody elses' December. It turns into taking what should be a really enjoyable part of the year and doing everything they can think of to fill it with angst and anxiety and confrontation. How did we get here?
Let's start with a common assertion that is wrong, wrong, Wrong, WRONG, WRONG! Regardless of which religious argument taking place, there are a bunch of people who start out with the assertion that this is a Christian Nation and somehow, they're just letting the rest of us live in it. Well, it's not a Christian Nation. Christianity is certainly the dominant faith in our society, but the Founding Fathers went out of their way to set things up in a fashion that prevents Christians from lording it over the rest of us. (Note: Anyone who steps in from the cold to argue that point with me will not get an argument from me. You're just wrong. You're as wrong as you'd be if you tried to tell me I won't get wet if I stand in the rain. You're as wrong as you'd be if you tried to tell me I can breath on the moon. Get it? You're just wrong. Stop saying that.)
Anyway, despite what the Founding Fathers set up, Christians basically lorded it over the rest of us for the first 170 or so years of our history in an unofficial sort of way. Then, during the Cold War, in an effort to differentiate ourselves from Godless Communists, God started showing up in all sorts of official places like our National Motto and the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. etc. A few spoil-sport Athiests started complaining almost immediately, but in a fairly quiet sort of way, cause, ya'know, they may have been Godless, but they sure as hell didn't want to be called Communists. And besides that, nobody was listening to them because...well, they're Godless!
Now all along, every Town Hall and Court Bldg. and you name it, had been blithely going along putting up their Christmas decorations every year and, for the most part, nobody complained becuase....well, just because. That's the way things had always been.
Eventually ( and I don't know when---remember that lack of research thing?), somebody did complain. I have no idea who complained first or when. Coulda been some Jew. Maybe the Atheists. Possibly Space-Wiccans from the Planet Solstice. Doesn't matter. Let the court cases fly!
Now, the (incomprehensible) rules are that if anybody gets to put up their decorations, everybody gets to put up their decorations. But all of the decorations have to be some generic non-blatantly-religious celebration of the season and it can't offend anyone elses' beliefs and it can't push your own beliefs and yadda, yadda, fucking yadda.
A little aside here: This seems to be something of a four-horse race here. Christians, of course have Christmas. Jews have Channuka, which, truth be told, is a really really minor Festival, but just happens to fall at the same time of year. Wiccans and Pagans and I guess some other people have the Winter Solstice. And Athiests don't have anything in particular except an aversion to having any of that other shit forced down their throats. (I have no idea what a Ramadan display looks like, but I'd be interested in seeing what would happen if a bunch of Muslims showed up at City Hall with a few decorations at the end of next summer. On second thought, one shitstorm a year is enough.)
It's been suggested (and I mostly agree), that none of these religious displays belong on public property especially if they're paid for with public funds. I mean honestly, aren't there enough Churches and Synagogues and private homes around that get decorated? I light a Menorah for Channuka and it doesn't offend my girlfriend. (It doesn't have any deeply religious meaning for me; it's just kind of festive and homey.) We also usually hang a fairly big wreath over the front door and I don't feel the least bit oppressed by it. (We don't put any lights on it, but that's only because there isn't a convenient outlet to plug them into.)
Stores and businesses are free to decorate any way they want to, although if they choose to cater to one religion to the exclusion of all others, they shouldn't be surprised if those they ignore choose to ignore them right back.
So where the hell am I going with all this? This is my impassioned plea to everyone to just grow a little thicker skin and Shut The Fuck Up about it all already. As much as I'd like to see all of it eliminated from public property, that's just not going to happen any time soon. There's a reasonably fair balance now and just how the hell does it hurt or coerce me if there's a fucking tree in front of City Hall. Hell, I grew up when Nativity Scenes were the norm at public buildings and while I think it's apprpriate that they've toned that down, I also have no memory of Baby Jeses ever leaping out of the manger and going all Chucky on my ass.
And I don't really have a problem with different towns and neighborhoods putting up lights and wintery decorations and the like. Hey, I'm bummed enough that it gets dark ten minutes after my second cup of coffee. Go ahead and cheer up the joint a little.
The way I see it, every time one of us starts hollering about what should or shouldn't be included, we're simultaneously depriving someone else of their cherished traditions. Does it really hurt so badly to have a cashier say Merry Christmas to you even if you don't celebrate the holiday? She's just being nice and friendly to you. Get over it.
The guy who owns one of the Delis in my neighborhood is Muslim. He knows damned well I'm Jewish. If I walk in there on December 25th, he's going to wish me a Merry Christmas and offer me a shot of brandy, just like he does every year. How dare he trample my rights like that, the evil fuck?