Monday, December 13, 2010

I Just Don't Get It

This is going to be a rant. This is going to make some people squirm uncomfortably (good... good...). It's going to flat out piss off some people. It will likely lose me some popularity points. It may even divide my readers into small warring factions. Alas... why not... it's the holiday season.

Which brings me to my point: I just don't get it.

Welcome to the Church of the Wayward Gypsy. Settle in, quiet down. We're going to revisit one of my favorite topics - third year in a row now.

How is it that a tired ol' Atheist like me can have more Christmas cheer and spirit than the Christians who claim the holiday as their very own? Seriously. I've been spreading peace on earth and good will and best wishes and smiles like crab dip on a cracker. I do it because I like the good feeling that comes from it, not because I believe in the birth of a savior. I do it because, sadly, it's the one time of year that I can get away with smiling at anyone and everyone, and give them a hearty heartfelt greeting without them giving me the oh-how-nice-that-they've-let-you-out-of-the-asylum-for-the-day look. I do it because... kindness and a smile is just how I roll.

Yet, I've seen people who claim to be Christians treating people, especially loved ones, in a deplorable manner. The only spirit present in them seems to be loathing for the holiday they claim and anyone who expects them to be the slightest bit involved in it. The other day at the grocery store, I saw a woman who was sporting a button that, in big bold lettering, read, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season!" Evidently the button had lost its super power because two aisles later I saw her smack her child upside the head and snap at him, "Shut up!" The child's offense was asking if they could get cookies. I just don't get it.

I have a facebook friend who, at least once a week, posts as his status, "Put Christ back in CHRISTmas!" Evidently he's still trying to figure out how to do that himself, since these posts are typically followed by some tasteless holiday-themed picture such as topless slutty Santa girls and/or raunchy holiday-themed jokes. I just don't get it.

Still others who purport the same ideals (and yes, I'm calling them ideals, because I'm not seeing any real faith), talk about "getting shit-faced" at the next indicated holiday party, and doing unspeakable things to elves under the mistletoe. I just don't get it.

I've seen people with "Christ in CHRISTmas" style bumper stickers driving like maniacs and flipping people off - probably because they're in a hurry to get to the church for choir practice. I just don't get it.

I could go on. There are more examples. Many more. I just don't get it.

And I end up feeling like a world class asshole because every time I see or hear something like this, I (The Atheist, mind you) want to holler (or type in all caps as the case may be), "Are you kidding me?! What would Jesus say?!" But, really, I'm not looking for explanation. I'm looking for change. Trust me, I don't expect perfection. As if. What I'm asking is really quite simple: don't claim it if you're not willing to live it. Stop shoving your beliefs down my throat when clearly they mean nothing at all to you. Because, I'm all for anyone believing whatever they want to believe, but y'all are acting like the man who claims to love his wife just before he lowers a fist into her eye. What would Jesus say.

Thing is, I do believe that historically, as a man, Jesus existed. I believe that he was a kind man who had a lot of good things to say (and do). That's where my belief ends - I just don't see him (or anyone else for that matter) as a deity - but I can't help but think that he'd be all kinds of pissed if he saw how the world was (mis)using his "birthday."

To paraphrase the line from My Fair Lady, don't talk of God, show me. 'Cause as it stands now? I just don't get it.

10 comments:

  1. i agree. as a recovered lutheran, i agree. long ago i started to believe, whatever you believe you have to live and be an example. we celebrate the holiday with presents...i'm sooo with you in that you have to be living good doing good every day! that is what will make and does make our world a better place. :) thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  2. Well said. (moves hand off of the delete button...) This should be mulled over by both those that subscribe to faith and belief and those that don't. Either way, it is food for thought - actually, food for action...

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  3. "Food for action..." I LOVE that!

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  4. Very well said, Barb. The origin of the world "Christian" is "little Christ"...in other words, they were called that because they were Christ-imitators. How far the Church has come from those early days in Antioch!

    That being said, please don't judge all Wal-Mart shoppers by the people who show up in holey T-shirts and pajama bottoms. There are actually some clean, classy people who shop at Wal-Mart. :)

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  5. Ooooo Barb, you used y'all - made the magnolia part of me happy.

    I see this behavior as an extension of a world that wants to 'fix what's wrong - starting with YOU!' Yeah -like that ever works. If I put on a button that shows you what I think you should believe, maybe it will change you.

    I'm with Gandhi on this one.

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  6. I don't get it either Barb. Same as I didn't get it as a child when I saw the good Christian folk of my hometown walk out of the church after the Sunday morning service & proceed to bitch about everyone they could think of. That's part of the reason religion ended for me. We'd all be a lot better off if the only 'religion' in the world was just 'be kind to each other.'

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  7. Sarah, I don't judge... I merely report on what I see.

    Blue, I'm an odd blend of colloquialisms from all over the world. I get laughed at for saying, "I reckon." But it works! I'm with you and Ghandi. BE the change.

    Kirsten, the more I get to know you, the more I like you!

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  8. "judge" was a poor word choice. Mea culpa. But I think you get what I'm trying to say: there's the genuine, and then there are the knock-offs, which (like my faux Coach handbag) begin to come apart when any stress is placed upon them.

    (Umm...I think I'm mixing metaphors here...)

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  9. Please don't stop being who you are, Barb, because there are a bunch of people out there who forget what being a Christian really is...they are broken. So many people seem to think that by playing the part, they'll look good to the world, but they forget that actions speak louder than words.

    I'll return your smiles and your holiday greetings and be glad to get them! I promise you that I won't be ugly to anyone while loudly declaring my Christianity to the world. I also promise you that you have it right when you are unhappy/ranting as an atheist about people not using the question "What would Jesus do?" as a prime example of how to behave. There are still good people out there, but they aren't the ones tooting their own horn about their beliefs, they are the ones trying to change things by giving that hand out to help, by smiling at those who look like they are going to fall apart any moment, by praying for the people who smack their children upside the head.

    Please don't view us all as the same, truly we aren't...and you have such a big wonderful caring heart. I'm sorry it has to take these kinds of blows. I'm even more sorry that it looks like those blows will continue.

    Hugs, Jo

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  10. Amen Sister. ;) I agree 100% with your sentiments here.

    I actually wrote about this (and then some) myself a while back in an old blog of mine... It's still there at: savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/the-true-meaning-of-christmas/ - if you're interested.

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