Mudcat Café message #2221163 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #107178   Message #2221163
Posted By: 282RA
22-Dec-07 - 08:32 PM
Thread Name: BS: How do u celebrate midwinter godlessly?
Subject: RE: BS: How do u celebrate midwinter godlessly?
I celebrate the winter solstice neither godlessly nor godfully. The various saviors said to be born on December 25th--Jesus, Krishna, Helios, Wittoba, Mithra, etc.--are all solar messiahs. Christ is called the light of the world for a good reason.

So the sun returns from the underworld where it was being assailed by demons (Osiris, Ptah, Inanna, etc.) and is reborn. This is an esential feature of our lives for we couldn't live without it. All life has had no choice but to evolve in sympathy with this seasonal rhythm.

So celebrating Christ's birth is celebrating the return of the solar messiah. And why shouldn't that be celebrated? As an atheist, I have no difficulty wishing someone a merry Christmas and I fully intend to have one myself. Do I worship the birth of some infant in Bethlehem 2000 years ago? No. The story was never meant to be taken literally. But if some people want to believe that, go right ahead. I could care less.

Same with Santa Claus. I wouldn't tell my kid to believe in a real Santa. I would make clear that it is a belief some people have but it is not so. But I would also teach my child what Santa Claus really is and how profound the meaning of the legend is. I wouldn't teach my child to ridicule the belief but to embrace Santa Claus with a different understand than what most kids are taught. But I would impress upon my child not to ridicule them about it just as he or she would not want those kids to ridicule him or her.

And if my kid wanted to sit on Santa's lap, that's fine. As long as he or she understands that this person is neither Santa Claus nor a crass faker. This person is instead assuming the shamanic role of becoming the god in order that the people may communicate to him their wants, needs, hopes and fears. Such is the purpose of all shamans and this role-playing has been a fixture in humankind since there have been humans on this earth. It's a way of coping.

My brother recently had an experience where an old friend had suffered a delusional breakdown brought on by years of extreme drinking, drug-taking and partying. At one point, the guy was in the hospital freaking. My brother was trying to calm him down but he was freaking seeing something that wasn't there. The guy's sister showed up and she and my brother tried to assure him that no one else was in the room. The sister is a very devout Christian. She laid her hands on her brother and began to pray. He seemed to calm down so my brother, who is not religious, laid his hands on his buddy and bowed his head. The guy immediately calmed down. He stopped freaking and just laid back and started to breathe easy. After that, he was a little more rational. Was god there watching? Of course not. But prayer has a power of a deeper communion than mere words. It is an emotional communion that gives a person inner strength as well as having a stress-relieving value to it. Again, this quality of prayer is as old as humankind. No religion has a lock on it and it belongs to no religion. It belongs to each of us.

I won't hesitate to pray for someone if it looks like that's what they need to cope at that moment. I won't pray for that person when I'm alone because I don't have that kind of belief in prayer. But if a person is in a bad way and needs reassurance that goes beyond words and intellect, I may resort to prayer because it provides that person with a deeper connection into the "sacred" and as such calms that person down and gives that person hope. It's the way humankind has always done it. Who is some stupid rationalist bastard to come along and pronounce it superstitious anymore than some retard fundie to pronounce it the work of a non-existent personal god?