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Oh Tannenbaum!! The Reason Of The Season: Day 2

I’ve often wondered if pine trees’ feelings get hurt – you know that ones we use for Christmas (or Joshmas ūüėČ )

Maybe I took Ferngully too literally.

For years I’ve enjoyed real trees in my house during December. They smell good, they all have unique character, and I love nothing more than finding pine needles hiding in my couch or behind furniture in summertime.

I love Christmas trees. Do you think they are as offended as the guy in the video about being called “Holiday” trees?

Far be it for anyone to be inclusive. Why do people like this guy completely disregard ALL other holidays being celebrated during the month of December. Even if we take out all religious holidays (except Christmas) we are left with New Years Eve – which is a pretty big one. But to say, “Happy Holidays” or “Holiday Tree” is in NO way a WAR ON CHRISTMAS. I’m not offended by Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Kwanza. Why is using the term “Holiday” so offensive to Christians? Holiday is used to include everyone and all holidays – From World AIDS Day through New Year’s Eve.

How pompous do you have to be to believe you are the only group of people celebrating something this month?

Well, Mr. John Timothy Leydan, your precious “Christmas” Tree originates – not with Jesus – but with Pagans and Druids. But you knew that, right?

Long before Christianity, ancient people held great belief that plants and trees that remained green all year round had special meaning.. and powers. They decorated with evergreen boughs over their doors and windows and in many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

The evergreen tree was an ancient symbol of life in the midst of winter.

You see, before science and the understanding of why these plants and trees remained so lush through harsh winters, when nothing else was fruitful or green, ancient people believed many a thing that we now know to be untrue.

The longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 or 22, is what we call the Winter Solstice. Many ancient people, believing the sun was actually a god, thought winter came each year because that sun god was sick and weak. The evergreen was a reminder of what was to come, when the other plants and trees would grow again, that their sun god will begin to become stronger and bring back bounty and harvest.

Ancient Egyptians: 

They worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.

Early Romans:

Celebrated Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The solstice meant soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful again. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.

Druids:

These priests of the ancient Celts, decorated their temples with evergreens as a symbol of everlasting life.


Scandinavian Vikings:

Evergreens, mistletoe, is associated with the the Norse sun-god, Balder.

By the by, found this in the bible:

Jeremiah 10:2-8

2 thus saith Jehovah, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them.  3 For the customs of the peoples are vanity; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe.  4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.  5 They are like a palm-tree, of turned work, and speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.  6 There is none like unto thee, O Jehovah; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.  7 Who should not fear thee, O King of the nations? for to thee doth it appertain; forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their royal estate, there is none like unto thee.  8 But they are together brutish and foolish: the instruction of idols! it is but a stock.

Wait a minute… you mean… cutting a tree to decorate used to be… bad? Because it was from the pagans…

All in all, it’s safe to say that the “Christmas” Tree was a re-packaged idea (along with many other symbols and traditions)¬†to help convert¬† individuals, cultures, symbols, and traditions to Christianity. Clever Christians. #sarcasm

I hope that Mr.  John Timothy Leydan can get the pine needles out his panties long enough to realize a couple things:

1. Happy Holidays and a Holiday Tree isn’t so much politically correct as it is inclusive. Whereas, claiming sole ownership of ¬†the December holidays is exclusive and douchey.

2. The Christmas Tree isn’t an original Christian idea, symbol, or tradition. However, claiming ideas as your own and dismissing the actual history of something is a long practiced Christian tradition.

Can’t wait to put up my Holiday Tree this year!

***

The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 ‚Äď December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.

***

Here’s To The Crazy Ones

“Here’s to the Crazy Ones.¬†The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. ¬†The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. ¬†You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore ¬†them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them ¬†as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think ¬†they can change the world – are the ones who¬†DO!”

~ Apple Computers ~

 

Debunk in the Trunk

Imagine life without stereotypes.

It’s pretty difficult when you actually think about it. Not just making it a pretty song and walk around with peace signs for hands, but critically thinking about what it would take–at this point in the world’s history–to be a human race of no stereotypes… and tolerance.

It’s kind of a ‘blow-your-effin-mind’ deal.

As another year draws to a close and I reflect on what I’ve learned this year, especially being open about my atheism and secular humanism on this blog, and it seems I’ve learned more about how hate invades life.*

Sad…but true.

And the “haters” can justify their hate in many ways…”I’m not a bigot because God says homosexuality is abominable,” ¬†or, “We can believe different things… but I still love you and I’ll still try to convert you,” or, “I love Jesus and hope all atheists die.”

Dealing with people who base their unalterable and life-shaping opinions on an un-verifiable, contradictory, and widely unread antique document, or who cultivate hate under the guise of “tradition” is tiresome.

I roll my eyes back into my head so often when conversing with these types of people that I’m worried my eyes will get stuck up there.

There are plenty of non-religious people who never seek to offend or challenge or even change the way this hate is still permeating in our world. Why do I bother?

I bother to challenge and attempt to change the trend (never seeking to offend, but often succeeding) because I want better for my kids. And from where I’m standing, even other people’s kids are assholes. Scientifically speaking,** no one is born an ignorant, prejudiced, bigoted asshole. Those are learned behaviors. More often than not, these behaviors are learned from parents. And if not learned from parents, then from peers, and perhaps parents aren’t correcting the behavior.

I understand that every single person will never like every other person they come into contact with. I’m not high. This isn’t Canada.

What is perplexing is why, in the year 2011, we continue to allow hate and prejudice to shape our laws, prevent gender equality, or to make children feel as if suicide is the only way to get out.

In the words of Susan Powter… “STOP THE INSANITY!”

In a small attempt to help the world stop  being assholes for no rational or logical reason, I offer the following:

In my research, I ran across a great article by Amanda Marcot on AlterNet.org¬†debunking myths about atheists. Education is key – that means meeting actual people and forming your own opinion instead of finding it in an antique book or looking for someone else’s¬†interpretation¬†of said antique book.

1) There are no atheists in foxholes.

Stop trying to use a time of pain, suffering or weakness to convert me. Sleazy marketing.

2) Atheists are just angry with God.

I can’t be angry at something that doesn’t exist. It’s like being angry at the genie that failed to pop out of my lamp and grant me wishes.

3) Atheists are aggressive and rude.

Last I checked, being honest about my atheism isn’t as rude as someone telling me I’m going to hell. For some reason, the fact that supernatural creatures don’t dictate my opinions and actions is offensive. I don’t walk around door to door proselytizing or commit others to eternal pain for not believing what I believe. People in general can be aggressive and rude. Critical thinking skills and grounding in reality does not an asshole make.

4) Atheism is a white dude thing.

According to my doctor, I am biologically female

Atheist blogger Jen McCreight grew so tired of this myth that she compiled an extensive list of prominent female atheists such as Susan Jacoby, Rebecca Watson and Lori Lipman Brown. Greta Christina followed up with a list of prominent atheists of color, such as Debbie Goddard, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Hemant Mehta.

5) Atheism is just a faith like any other.

I always flinch in embarrassment for the believer who trots out, ‚ÄúAtheism is just another kind of faith,‚ÄĚ because it‚Äôs a tacit admission that taking claims on faith is a silly thing to do. When you‚Äôve succumbed to arguing that the opposition is just as misguided as you are, it‚Äôs time to take a step back and rethink your attitudes.

And, not to drag out this old chestnut, but Atheism is no more a faith than “not collecting stamps” is a hobby.

Faith in the untestable, improbable, and unprovable is quite a stretch from “faith” in facts, critical thought, and scientific methodology. Read a book.***

6) Atheists don’t have a moral code.

Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. What you are implying is that the only thing standing between you and, say, Ted Bundy, is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring in any scenario, but especially if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.

I’m moral because it’s the right thing to do. Not because of ¬†“reward,” or because of a fear of some cosmic retribution.

7) Atheist lives are bleak and lack meaning.

In fact, I spend my days enjoying this life, the people I love, and raising my children to be good people. Is there something I’m missing?

8.) Atheists are hedonists who don’t understand the true meaning of love.

If I had to live by the true definition of ¬†“God’s Love” I would let loved ones die even though they begged me not to. I would sacrifice my children’s lives for others (in situations that in no way warrant that behavior). I would kill those who did not follow my nonsensical and inexplicable rules. I would ask others to constantly prove their love by doing harmful things to others. I would collude with my enemies to make my loved ones’ lives miserable. In short, I’d be a jealous, petty, insecure tyrant with unchecked power and no obligation to my people.

I prefer the human definition of love. The one we hold everyone in the world to.

9) Atheists have no way to cope after losing loved ones without the belief in an afterlife.

Such arrogance. The religious don’t have a monopoly on humanity.¬† Grief Beyond Belief is a great group for those of us dealing with loss without the supernatural default sayings.

10) Atheists are out to destroy Christmas.

I find this funny since Christianity used the Pagan’s Saturnalia to convert people. Read up. I would prefer if you didn’t let your faith-based hate to infect my government, though.

* Clarification: Basing your opinion on an individual person’s actions or words is different than forming an opinion of an individual based on a stereotype due to color, race, religion, sexuality…etc etc. Disliking someone for who they are and disliking someone for what they represent are two different subjects. I’m speaking to the bigoted “hate them for what they represent” segment.
** I am not a scientist. My use of the term “Scientifically speaking” is an attempt at sarcasm. I mention this because the people to whom this is most pointedly referencing will not recognize the difference between actual science, fake science, folklore, or a joke.
***Really. Any book. Even the Bible. ESPECIALLY the Bible, the whole thing by yourself. I dare you.

A “Gay” Education

In Love…

I’m positively enamored with this weather. Although, not officially Autumn just yet (that will occur September 23) the weather here in landlocked Missouri has been sublime the past couple of days. Yesterday we opened our windows and turned off the A/C. The electricity bill this summer has been a monster.

For the moment (because here in STL the weather can and will deviate 20-30 degrees at any given moment) the cool breeze blows through my house, I can hear neighbors laughing and the rustling of leaves.

Autumn and it’s sounds and colors and crisp breezes are truly magical to me. I know it’s bringing the blustery, icy air… but I can’t seem to curb my admiration each and every year that the autumn season rolls around.

I fall in love with the outdoors during this time of year.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. – George Eliot

 

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been! ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

Enjoy the sweetness of the air everyone – we never know when it will disappear.

I’m Dead, Now What? Recycling With A Twist

On a recent 5 hour car ride, the topic turned to what you do with bodies when people die. My son’s biological father is passed and we had visited his grave before we left on this particular trip.

I haven’t know too many people who have died. The most recent being my own father, a few years ago. He was cremated. I still have half of his ashes which I will take to Ireland with me one day.

I hadn’t put a lot of thought into what I wanted done with my body when I die. But I know I don’t want it to be traditional. Funerals, coffins, plots… so expensive! I don’t want to leave my family with that burden.

And… it’s just too… boring. My last effort to be “green” ūüôā

So I got to thinking… and researching (I can’t do anything without research first!).

Here are a few ideas ūüôā

1. Donate Your Body To Science
  • Preregister your¬†donation¬†with a local medical school or university. You’ll be given a registration packet that covers policies and procedures; read it very carefully. More here.
2. Baby You’re a Firework
  • ¬†Special fireworks displays¬†which include a number of unique fireworks designed or modified to incorporate cremation ashes, allowing for a spectacular memorial event and happier farewell. More here.
3. A Diamond In The Rough
  • A certified, high-quality diamond created from a lock of hair or the cremated ashes of your loved one as a memorial to their unique life. More here.
4. Plastinate Yourself
  • Volunteer human specimens are used to make them available both for basic and continuing medical training as well as for the general medical education of the public. More here.
5. Become One With The Earth
  • Promession means that the body is transformed into an organic, hygienic soil in about six to twelve months that can then act as nutrient for new plants.Because the coffin and it’s contents are transformed into soil it becomes an important contribution to the living earth.Promession means that the next of kin can plant a tree or bush as a memorial and can see it grow into new life.

    More here.


    Me-cycling. Helping the world, even in death.

Dear Scientists

Dear Scientists,
Thanks to you, my home and world is full of ideas, education, technology, and modern medicine. Please keep doing what you are doing so that my family, friends and the world will benefit, learn and evolve. Celebrate with us in my home and with my family and friends with Knowledge, Reasoning and Integrity (and so much more). This entreaty is so dynamic! Feel free to repost. Science continually works to explain the unexplainable.
Yours Truly,
Shannon
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