My Facebook Friends come from all over the world, brightening my life daily. Some of their friends have left some fairly harsh comments, however.
A ham-fisted approach is reserved for certain topics. People offer their opinions as tactfully as Frankenstein’s monster swinging a bloated corpse at cobwebs; sooner or later the cadaver’s distended belly will strike something solid and splatter putrescence all over the screen.
I ducked some fairly rank ichor the other morning regarding the use of “Happy Holidays” in place of “Merry Christmas”.
There was an unassuming pile of squelchy poo lurking near a holiday trees posting. All seemed safe until I made the mistake of looking at ALL the comments and beheld Golgothan.
What follows are my observations. They are entirely my personal opinion. I do not expect anyone to agree with me. In fact, I am human enough to understand that my own cynical view is offensive to some people.
Wasn’t that easy?
Free Speech and Christianity:
I draw the line at mockery of a person’s religion. Why do some people feel it is socially (and psychologically) acceptable to shit upon another person's heart-treasure?
No one is telling you, me or anyone to believe in the Christian God. We should agree with the belief or else we should disagree with it, accept that we do not believe in it, accept that the other person deeply believes, and then move on. Any negative reaction (such as posts referring to a sacred deity as “stupid Sky Fairy”) will depict the writer as trifling and their emotional state as puerile.
By the way, I don’t approve of “Zombie Jesus” references at Eastertide. The quickest way to be booted from my circle is to post something so insensitive. You aren’t clever or witty. I have difficulty making the distinction between that vulgarity and the filth promoted by Westboro Baptist (“God hates soldiers” fame).
It is my belief that people who use phrases such as “zombie Jesus” or “sky fairy” do so because they do not realize how offense such phrases are or they do so because they understand the offensive nature of the phrases but find humor in them. Some even use them in an attempt to shock or punish those who hold the belief. (Any theories on this?) It is also my belief that people who use these sorts of phrases when describing a sacred thing are nothing more than bigots or bullies.
Merry Christmas or Else:
“Merry” is O.E. myrige, meaning “pleasing”, stemming from P.Gmc murgijaz, which is believed to have means “short lived”. It was used more extensively in M.E., somewhat embraced as a fad. Someone who is merry-begot is an illegitimate child (“bastard”) created after a merry-bout (tryst outside of marriage). To wish someone a merry anything, one must accept that they are wishing that person a brief yet agreeable or pleasant thing. I’ve always found it odd to wish someone a briefly satisfying holy day.
“Happy”, when alluding to events, is “turning out well” and first used as such in the late 14c. “Happy Hunting” (as one of my dear friends is fond of saying) is nothing more than “May your hunt turn out well”. Likewise, wishing someone Happy Christmas/Holidays is wishing that someone’s Christmas/Holidays turn out well.
The etymology of “holiday”, stems from the 1500s, earlier than haliday (c.1200), from Old English halidæg “holy day; Sabbath,” from halig “holy” + dæg “day”; in 14c meaning both “religious festival” and “day of recreation,” but pronunciation and sense diverged 16c. (etymologyonline.com)
Christmas, of course, stems from O.E. Christes mæsse (Christ’s mass) and is a nod towards Catholicism with “mass” (V.L. missa or “eucharistic service”.)
Christmastide (circa 1620s) was meant to be the period of holy days between Dec 25 and Jan 6 (Catholic Feast of the Nativity). “Blessed Christmastide, ye gentlemen”.
Yule is from a far older Norse word. "O.E. geol, geola "Christmas Day, Christmastide," from O.N. jol (pl.), a heathen feast, later taken over by Christianity, of unknown origin. The O.E. (Anglian) cognate giuli was the Anglo-Saxons' name for a two-month midwinter season corresponding to Roman December and January, a time of important feasts but not itself a festival. After conversion to Christianity it narrowed to mean "the 12-day feast of the Nativity" (which began Dec. 25), but was replaced by Christmas by 11c., except in the northeast (areas of Danish settlement), where it remained the usual word. Revived 19c. by writers to mean "the Christmas of 'Merrie England.' " First direct reference to the Yule log is 17c. O.N. jol seems to have been borrowed in O.Fr. as jolif, hence Mod.Fr. joli "pretty, nice," originally "festive"." (etymologyonline.com)
X-Mas takes Christ out of Christmas:
Xmas is circa 1551, "from X’temmas, wherein the X is an abbreviation for Christ in Christmas, from first letter of Gk. Christos "Christ" (see Christ). The earlier way to abbreviate it was Xp- or Xr-, corresponding to "Chr-," and the form Xres mæsse for "Christmas" appears in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (c.1100)." (etymologyonline.com)
Every year, my atheist ex would walk out his front door on a fair-weather Saturday, gaze around at the other men untangling lights or hauling plastic Santa Claus decorations from their garages, and he'd good-humoredly shout "PEWF!" while waving his arms wildly at his own house. His lack of decorations reflected his contentment to keep Dec 25 as a day set aside for sleeping in. He was not an Outspoken Atheist. He was simply an atheist.
There isn’t anything wrong with not celebrating the season. I do think it’s crass to use the “spiritual holiday time” as an excuse to tell Sally Housewife or John Q Public that personal belief in the “sky fairy” is stupid.
The American Atheists had billboard campaigns for the purpose of waging “a war on intolerance and ignorance” (according to the AA website). I find it hard to believe that a group which proclaims itself as authoritative on Reason would so completely fail to recognize that their billboards smack of intolerance of religious beliefs and ignorance of the multi-cultural aspect of our nation.
But it is my RIGHT!
There is such a thing as being so open-minded that the brain leaks out. I don’t believe in political correctness but I do advocate tempering beliefs with a salubrious dollop of appropriate etiquette.
Human rights should never cease to be egalitarian. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights exists for a reason. Perhaps people confuse Freedom of Speech (Article 19 ) with Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Freedom of Religion (Article 18)?
It is good and proper that people be given the right to express themselves but that expression should not reach the point where their intolerant spirit conflicts with the right of another to hold dear his own beliefs. One can freely express their beliefs if time is taken to do so logically (and conscientiously!)
Consider the following examples:
“I don’t believe in God so I don’t celebrate Easter.” vs “Zombie Jebus is going to visit the Christians and shit chocolate eggs for them.”
“My religious beliefs, in accordance with Holy Scripture, are that marriage is between one man and one woman.” vs “God hates fags.”
“Sharia law confuses me. Why are the women required to wear that covering?” vs “Stupid raghead men keep women in oppression.”
Life is not Twitter; no one wants to hear our every utterance or ephemeral thought. Facebook is more “In Your FACE!” We set ourselves up as gods and then grow irritated when our disgruntled audience declines to bow to our mortality, and more irate when they dare to assert their own godhood via unaccommodating comments on our post!
In other words, “we ain’t all that and a bag of chips”.