Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Non-believer's Take on Christmas

This doesn't really have much to do with biology, except that many purveyors of Intelligent Design are also partisans in the made-up War on Christmas (a feint by right-wingers who know they are losing their War on Pluarlity and Tolerance). The latest example of this is in NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd's Christmas Eve column, which was actually written by her right-wing brother Kevin. He goes off on 'Happy Holidays', Tookie Williams, Michael Moore, the War in Iraq, and of course, Judge Jones and intelligent design. There seems to be no coherent intellectual common denominator underlying all of this except the idea that Liberals are plotting to destroy good ol' Christian America. I'd think that Kevin Dowd was nuttier than a jar of Jiff, if it weren't for the fact that many people very dear to me also share these beliefs to the letter, and I know this comes from a deeply felt frustration.

People like Kevin label non-believers like me as the ten percent of the American population who "don't believe anything at all." Let's leave aside the fact that I'd rather not "believe in anything at all" than buy into the mindless demagoguery echoed by people who let Bill O'Reilly do their thinking for them; here's what I as a non-believer believe about Jesus and Christmas:

I don't worship Jesus, I don't believe in him as my savior, and I don't believe he came to this world to warn us all not to get Left Behind. As beautiful as I find the Hallelujah chorus, I do not believe that "the kingdom of this world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever" as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." Nor do I think he was the one greatest philosopher or wise man in history.

I do love Jesus though - the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels, the Jesus who stands up to the religious hard-liners of his day, the Jesus who deflates the pretensions of the Pharisees by associating with the 'unclean' of society, the Jesus who said "there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile," the Jesus who chastised those who exploit the sacred for profit by making a house of prayer a den of robbers. The parable of the Good Samaritan resonates with my evolutionary belief in the universal kinship of all people and all life.

What message is more important to this world today - in an Iraq devastated by neo-Conservative machinations to make over the Middle East, as well as the inane jihad by cold-blooded Islamic terrorists (non-combatant civilian deaths equaling more than 40 9-11's), in a Sudan stained by genocide, in a Europe fractured by ethnic strife, and in an America which watched the poor, black, and sick of New Orleans drown while the white suburbanites got out - what message is more important? That Jesus died for your sins and that you too can go to heaven if you just accept his grace (and if you don't you'll burn in hell)? Or that we should not judge, "and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you give back."

There has never been a better statement of the Golden Rule; that's this non-believer's take on Christmas and why I believe in it, so to Kevin Dowd and everyone else,

Merry Christmas.

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