Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Pretty Lightbulb Day

Penelope Trunk, writing in the Huffington Post blog, argues that "Christmas Does Not Belong in the Workplace."

Christmas does not belong in the workplace because it undermines diversity at work. And businesses that promote diversity have more profits in the long run than companies that do not have a diverse workforce.

A big problem with Christmas is that those of us who have no reason to celebrate it have to spend a month between Thanksgiving and New Year's dealing with Christmas at work. Christmas is the only religious holiday that everyone has to stop working for. It's the only religious event that offices have parties to celebrate. These practices alienate non-Christians.

This is classic multiculturalist thinking. The holiday celebrated by the majority excludes the minority -- it's inegalitarian! It has to go! With this sententious, victim-centric nagging coming from the left, is it any wonder people are turning to religion to get away from it?

She refutes arguments she hears in favor of Christmas, the first one being:

"Christmas is not a religious holiday."

The only people who think Christmas is not religious are the Christians. Everyone else thinks, "This is not my holiday." In fact, only a Christian would feel enough authority over the holiday to declare that it is not Christian.

Objectivists would agree with those Christians who say Christmas is not a religious holiday. In essence, Christmas is antithetical to the religious spirit. Christmas is a celebration of values and joy on earth. People equate Christmas with happiness, not misery. People say "Merry Christmas," not "Deny thyself and suffer as Christ did."

Christmas originated when the early Christians cleverly co-opted the Roman Saturnalia, a popular holiday at the winter equinox. In a brilliant marketing move, the Christians decided December 25 was when their God was born. For most of history Christmas was not the most important Christian holiday, Easter was. Christ's death and resurrection is more important to the Christian myth than his birth.

All the stuff of Christmas -- the tree, the lights, Santa Claus -- are either of pagan origin or come from capitalist merchants trying to make a buck. As Leonard Peikoff writes,

Even after the Christians stole Christmas, they were ambivalent about it. The holiday was inherently a pro-life festival of earthly renewal, but the Christians preached renunciation, sacrifice, and concern for the next world, not this one. As Cotton Mather, an 18th-century clergyman, put it: "Can you in your consciences think that our Holy Savior is honored by mirth? . . . Shall it be said that at the birth of our Savior . . . we take time . . . to do actions that have much more of hell than of heaven in them?"

Then came the major developments of 19th-century capitalism...

For the first time, the giving of gifts became a major feature of Christmas. Early Christians denounced gift-giving as a Roman practice, and Puritans called it diabolical. But Americans were not to be deterred. Thanks to capitalism, there was enough wealth to make gifts possible, a great productive apparatus to advertise them and make them available cheaply, and a country so content that men wanted to reach out to their friends and express their enjoyment of life. The whole country took with glee to giving gifts on an unprecedented scale.

Liberals worried about "diversity" should not get hung up on the religious connection to Christmas. The connection is vestigial and non-essential, like the mentions of God in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

If it helps, let them think of Christmas as Pretty Lightbulb Day. The gay lights we perceive through our senses are at least reality, unlike the mythical birth of a man who was supposed to be the son of a God for whom there is no evidence.


EdMcGon said...

If you need further proof of the non-religious nature of Christmas, consider the fact the Japanese celebrate it, and Christians only make up a single-digit percentage of the Japanese population. (The Japanese picked up the tradition during the American occupation after WWII.)

Christmas is just a good idea.

Rational Jenn said...

The god Mithras (who had a small following among soldiers in Rome) was said to have been born of a virgin in a cave on December 25. This legend predates the Christ legend, as far as I can tell. There are other gods said to have been born on December 25 or thereabouts (the solstice), but Mithras is my favorite.

Christmas is about hope and goodwill and it isn't a surprise that it's near the winter solstice in the calendar, the point at which the days begin to grow longer and the world becomes brighter. Still, it's always mildly surprising to me that so many Christians can't/won't recognize the other myths behind their myth.

To my atheist friends, I always wish them a Merry Mithrasmas!

madmax said...

I like what one Objectivist blogger call Christmas. He calls it "Super Happy Capitalist Winter Extravaganza." I like the sound of that.