4 Dec

War On Christmas? [Reader Post]

                                       

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‘Tis the time of year for the annual “war on Christmas” complaints.

The idea is that there is a secular plot to undermine Christmas through the use of terms like “Happy Holidays,” “Holiday Tree,” “holiday cards,” etc. People get downright incensed when department stores and such put up “Happy Holidays” signs.

Christmas was always a private religious holiday until President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law designating Christmas as a national holiday in 1870. At that moment, Christmas was officially secularized (First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion”). Congress had no right to declare a national religious holiday — by designating Christmas as a holiday for all Americans, it was, Constitutionally-speaking, declaring Christmas to be a non-religious, secular holiday.

The following Christmas songs were written by Jews (cribbed from a web site, but I first heard the story on a locally produced radio show of an NPR affiliate station):

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) – Writers Mel Torme and Bob Wells…Jewish
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Holly Jolly Christmas and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Johnny Marks was a Jew who specialized in Christmas songs.
Santa Baby – written by Fred Ebb and Joan Javits (both Jews, Javits of the famous family)
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Walter Kent, who wrote the music and Kim Gannon, who co-wrote the lyrics…Jewish
Silver Bells – Jay Livingston and Ran Evans…Jewish
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – George Wylie (not his birth name) is also famous for writing the Gilligan’s Island Theme Song
Sleigh Ride – Mitchell Parish who wrote the lyrics, was Jewish and born “Michael Hyman Pashelinsky” obviously.
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – lyricist Sammy Cahn and music composer Jule Styne … Jewish
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays – Al Stillman, the lyricist…Jewis
White Christmas – Irving Berlin wrote this one… his birth name Israel Isidore Baline

Of all the Christmas songs, the one with the largest national air play on TV and radio is the “Chestnuts roasting” song.

All this music was a direct result of declaring Christmas to be a national (secular) holiday. Were Christmas treated the same way as Easter (not a national holiday), it would have about the same impact, culturally speaking — i.e. an important day for religious Christians, but something on akin to Halloween or Valentine’s Day for the un-Churched.

Would we really wish Easter to rise to the level of Christmas, as a secular holiday?

Christmas is a huge holiday in Japan, where a grand total of ONE PERCENT of the people are Christian. On one of my trips to Japan, I was there for several days after Thanksgiving. On every block there was not just one but about a dozen public Christmas trees — everywhere in downtown Tokyo. Lots and lots of silver streamers and other decorations. Lots of TV commercials, promoting Christmas products. Enormous live Christmas trees in the lobbies of the big hotels. And everywhere you go it’s “Merry Christmas” (“Merikurisumasu” –> “Me-ree-koo-ris-mahs-u”). Not “Happy Holidays.”

Huge holiday. All “Merry Christmas” — but devoid of any and all religious meaning.

I personally think that “Happy Holidays” is a much better term for use in commercial advertising, secular decorations, greetings from non-Christian people, etc. The way to put the Christ back in Christmas is to take Christmas out of the secular culture, which means not to force secular people to say “Merry Christmas,” when all they are really trying to say is “Happy Holidays.”

- Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA
P.S. Merry Christmas

This entry was posted in Holidays, Religion, War on Christmas. Bookmark the permalink. Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 at 4:06 pm
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199 Responses to War On Christmas? [Reader Post]

  1. Smorgasbord says: 51

    I’m not an atheist, but I’m not a believer either, but I don’t have a problem with the different religions and their different events. The federal government cannot establish a religion. To me, this means that no religion should be used to help decide what laws are passed, or how legal decisions are made. If a religion is to be used in legal decisions, and it is the Christian religion, because it is the most prevalent, that would mean that if another religion becomes the more prevalent religion, then the laws will be decided on that religion.

    Our founding fathers added the part about the government not being allowed to establish a religion because they came from an England that had a church that had almost as much power as the government. They didn’t want that to happen in the USA, and I don’t either. What if the Muslim religion becomes the prevalent religion, should the laws and legal decisions be based on them?

    I have no problem with CHRISTMAS displays or other religion’s stuff being put on public property, as long as it is the kind of stuff that teaches love and helping others.

    Which nationality wrote, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer?” I love and hate the song, and will never buy it. Why did the writer have to kill grandma instead of having her wind up in the hospital, and why was grandpa so happy she is gone?

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  2. Aqua says: 52

    @ilovebeeswarzone:
    You should Google him Ms. Bees. Publius Cornelius Tacitus is probably the best historian of ancient Rome.

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  3. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 53

    @retire05: Satunalia—the time taken by Christians to celebrate the birth of the Son of God—was celebrated around December 25.

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  4. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 54

    @Aqua: Really. I can imagine some Christian sects stoning people because that’s what the Word says so. However, Giles Corey, an eighty-year-old man “pressed to death” under boulders, defiantly refusing to answer the bogus charges against him. Another five alleged witches died in prison. That must have been painful—in the name of God.

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  5. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 55

    @johngalt: Are you saying that the term ‘fairness’ doesn’t have a meaning in the English language?

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  6. Tom says: 56

    @ Larry,

    Great post. Very thought-provoking.

    @Wordsmith:

    People simply need to quit being offended all the time. And quit teaching their kids to be offended by the inoffensive! I remember during one winter camp with kids, one young girl piped out, “Don’t wish me a Merry Christmas because I’m Jewish!” Oooookaaay….

    I can’t argue with your general point, Word, but at the same time it feels a little convenient for the Right to preach tolerance for religious expression in a Christian-dominated society. Would Bill O’Reilly feel the same tolerance if US towns replaced nativity displays with iconic images from other religions? I doubt it. He or others would likely point out that it’s not the same thing because America is a “Christian nation”, and thus tip their hand, and their agenda. This isn’t about tolerance for expressions of Christianity; it’s about attempting to define America as a Christian nation. This is what secularist are pushing back against, not against people saying “Merry Christmas”. My question is, why not just come out and directly make that argument to the American people, rather than trying to Trojan Horse it into their lives through this ragged defense of holiday expression? Again, no rational person is going to object to a well-meaning Christmas salutation, or a creche on the front lawn or lights on the house. It’s the sanctimonious preaching of “tolerance” while ramming a religious political agenda down our throats that grates.

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  7. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 57

    @Aqua: Josephus is not a fraud, but the religious people who transcribed his words are—according to scientific investigation. But, of course, you, like most of the conservative right-wing reject science when it doesn’t agree with their opinions—it’s all a liberal plot. I repeat: Only Josephus has any credibility as a historian on this matter—and his is questionable. This is what research shows.

    Incidently, as far as Buddhism goes, supposedly Buddha believed is gods. Many sects of Buddhism believe in the supernatural—like Karma—that’s why it’s considered a religion. But it has some good philosophical ideas too. If Christianity didn’t believe in the supernatural—like the Trinity—then it could be considered a philosophy. But, as it is, it is a religion with some philosophical overtone.

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  8. Tom says: 58

    @Skookum:

    If my fast fading memory serves me correctly, didn’t the tyrant Lincoln set up Thanksgiving as a national holiday to entice people to forget the carnage being waged in America in 1863. Carnage based on the right of Northern States to impose tariffs on Southern states.

    Skook, I encourage you to use those prodigious writing talents to craft the defining history of the valiant War Against Northern Tariffs. I imagine it would be a somewhat dry affair, considering the nature of the cause. It’s too bad there wasn’t some larger issues to do with the Rights of Man, bondage and Human suffering that could c0me into play, but you can only work with what history gives you I suppose.

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  9. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 59

    @johngalt: I call progress more freedom for all people—unlike the ultra-conservative belief in freedom for some. History is full of conservative examples, i.e., gay rights, slavery, women’s voting rights, inter-racial marriage, etc.

    By the way—before you go off on this issue—Lincoln may have been the first Republican president, but he wasn’t a conservative regarding slavery. Conservatism posits either maintaining the status quo, or going back to a previous period. Slavery was the status quo.

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  10. openid.aol.com/runnswim says: 60

    Regarding the “did Jesus exist” debate:

    Bart Ehrman is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He’s been on both the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, among many other popular culture gigs. He is a former evangelical turned agnostic. He’s written a number of books which please agnostics and atheists. But he unconditionally asserts that Jesus was a genuine historical person, and recently published a book which, on a point by point basis, challenges the writings of the various “mythical Jesus” authors.

    http://www.amazon.com/Did-Jesus-Exist-Historical-Argument/dp/0062204602

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/did-jesus-exist-bart-ehrman_n_1400465.html

    If you are interested in the topic, but don’t have the time to read the book, the following is a very nice summary of the high points of the Ehrman arguments, presented in an interview with another New Testament scholar, Ben Witherington:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/05/bart-ehrmans-on-did-jesus-exist-part-one/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/06/bart-ehrman-on-did-jesus-exist-part-two/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/07/bart-ehrman-on-did-jesus-exist-part-three/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/08/bart-ehrman-on-did-jesus-exist-part-four/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/09/bart-ehrman-on-did-jesus-exist-part-five/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/10/bart-ehrman-on-did-jesus-exist-part-six/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2012/06/11/bart-ehrman-on-did-jesus-exist-part-seven/

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

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  11. Aqua says: 61

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim:
    Thanks Larry, I’ll read up on those.

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  12. Aqua says: 62

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    But, of course, you, like most of the conservative right-wing reject science when it doesn’t agree with their opinions—it’s all a liberal plot.

    Now that’s funny.

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  13. well I’LL BE damn ,
    my comment was erase in the middle of it.
    I was saying the TROLLS ARE GATHERING TO SEND NEGATIVE OPINIONS
    INTO CHRISTMAS, at this time,
    but this time they have a favorable climate change in the WHITE HOUSE IN THE LAST 4 YEARS
    AND STILL GOING FOR MORE, ELECTED WITH A QUESTION, WELL MANY QUESTIONABLE ACTIONS,
    SO the ATHEISTS are being empower by the MUSLIMS who where allowed by a big number in the last four years, very similar to the many illegals in this COUNTRY MORE OF IN THE SAME TIME OF OBAMA REGIME, they are in the same mindset who think the same for different ideals and intents,
    they where outrageous enough to forbid the returned WARRIORS TO BRING CROSS ON THE TOMBS
    OF THEIR BROTHERS IN ARMS WHO DID NOT RETURNED ALIVE,
    now they come for CHRISTMAS negative babbles,
    the ATHEIST NEVER made as much fuss before, why did they joined the wrong side? because of their propaganda, and if you are not a solid mind or CHRISTIAN YOU MIGHT GET INDOCTRINATE ALSO,
    so beware, of that subliminal message in all the publicity you run in to,
    specially the young people who are still processing their thoughts on what is right and wrong they are very vulnerable and there is some of other faith not peaceful as they say, who are recruiting them in where they are, the SCHOOLS ARE A PRIME PLACE FOR THEM TO DO THEIR JOBS.TOM ,, THE SILENT DISPLAY ARE ONLY SENDING MESSAGE OF GOOD WILL AND GOOD WISHES IF ONE DON”T AGREE WITH CHRISTMAS, just pass on your way,and BE CAREFUL TO NOT BE TOUCH
    BY THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

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  14. liberal1(objectivity) says: 64

    @retire05: The difference is that there is actual historical evidence for such people as Cleopatra—the evidence for Christ is scant, according to empirical evidence (and questionable at that).

    Of course I can’t prove there is no God—but when you consider the data (which I’m sure you never haven’t), it becomes quite apparent. For example, there are some parts of the human body which are non-functioning, or poorly functioning; why wouldn’t a god make such errors when making a person—especially when man was made in god’s image. Another thing, about Noah’s Ark: Imagine gather a pair of each species of the earth—including North and South America—every type of insect and bacteria—there wouldn’t be enough room on an ark of any size. But these are just a few. Can you prove there is a God? No. But given enough time and motivation, I could muster a myriad of evidence against belief in god. All you can muster is your faith.

    By the way, on evolution. Evolution is the next thing to a fact—ask any biologist. And, besides, Gravity is only a theory.

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  15. Skookum says: 65

    Tom, the United States was the only country in the world to end slavery by Civil War; although, Lincoln had no interest in ending slavery before the war. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in states that were in rebellion, but did nothing to address slavery in states loyal to the union or neutral to the war effort.

    If you read Lincoln’s writings, and not the propaganda, you will find numerous instances where he exhibits extreme racist views. He also wrote that he would have never started such a war over the question of slavery.

    Lincoln, like so many contemporary politicians, argued both sides of a question in deference to his audience. In Texas, he encouraged Texans to secede from Mexico with the tenet that people had the right to separate from a government that no longer represented them. However, in his inaugural address:

    “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you…. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.”

    The South seceded because of Northern tariffs designed to subsidize Northern industry. There was no movement other than by abolitionists to end slavery, not from Lincoln or our government. The North wanted the South to buy only their manufactured goods with higher costs and to support the federal government with disproportionate taxes and to prevent the South from trading internationally. The tariff was began in 1828 long before Lincoln came on the scene, but it is forgotten in the history text books. The North had the political power, much like New York and California wield political power in Washington today. If they would begin to impose taxes on “lesser” states for their advantage, a similar situation would soon evolve.

    After thirty years of unfair taxes and tariffs, the tea pot boiled over. Thirteen states decided to peacefully secede, but Lincoln swore to “collect the duties and imposts” and in April of 1861, when congress was out of session, Lincoln blockaded the Southern ports (considered an act of war by many) and suspended habeas corpus in the South. In 1862, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the North as well and was well on his way to becoming America’s Caesar.

    He imprisoned 14,000 civilians and shut down over 300 newspapers that were opposed to the war. Secretary of State Seward boasted:

    I can touch a bell . . . and order the imprisonment of a citizen of New York, and no power on earth, except that of the President of the United States can release [him]. Can the Queen of England do as much?

    When I call Lincoln a tyrant, it is because of his actions. If you want his quotes confirming his racist views, I can deliver.

    Lincoln is one of my favorite presidents; not because of the image, but because of the contradiction in fact and legend. He has been manufactured into a man who didn’t exist, a man you would hate in the present day, but America needed heroes and the abolition of slavery came about as an act of war by this misunderstood contradiction of history; consequently, he is revered as a hero, but make no mistake, he was a tyrant.

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  16. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 66

    @retire05: I would be happy if everyone kept their religion to themselves, and didn’t let it affect the politics which impinge upon my rights and freedoms.

    Like all the hyper-conservatives, you wouldn’t be doing your duty if you didn’t bring up Marxism.

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  17. johngalt says: 67

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Are you saying that the term ‘fairness’ doesn’t have a meaning in the English language?

    No, Lib1, that isn’t what I was getting at. You were the one who brought up “words have meaning” and I simply pointed out one of the multitude of instances where the liberal/progressives have co-opted a word to use and mangling the meaning of it.

    I call progress more freedom for all people—unlike the ultra-conservative belief in freedom for some.

    Now that is funny. Your “progress” infringes on more freedom than it gives. You cannot see that as you are only concerned with the freedom and liberty you favor. Perspective, Lib1, perspective. I don’t expect that you’ll ever see it from our side of things, though.

    Your examples of “conservative” infringement of rights is a little more complicated than just saying someone who is conservative opposes those “rights”, Lib1. You’d think that someone who claims ‘objectivity’ would realize that. But then, you’ve been everything but objective in your comments and postings, haven’t you?

    As for the topic Larry posted on, I’ll repeat again:

    Our founding principle, relating to religion, is freedom OF religion, not freedom from religion. Understanding the difference is important in order to understand why religion and religious viewpoint, in public, can and should be allowed.

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  18. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 68

    @Skook: That’s what I call the pot calling the kettle black. Why does your writing always sound like a diatribe. Try a little logic sometime. It sure beats name-calling—which seems to be your specialty. The Word is Reasoned Argument—as opposed to Irrationality.

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  19. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 69

    @Nathan Blue: Thanks. I’ve read Tillich. He’s very reasonable. There was a time in my life when I was a fan of his.

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  20. Skookum says: 70

    Tom, this history was actually written 80 years before I was born. It was the rewriting of the historical record that has created the myth of Lincoln. I have no ax to grind in regard to Lincoln; however, I was in a mild state of shock when I read the actual historical records of the period. We Americans go to great lengths to create historical heroes, and it is much easier if they meet an untimely end. It avoids the uncomfortable and ugly truth they often write about in their memoirs, like our former president Grant.

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  21. Skookum says: 71

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): Are you sober?

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  22. Tom says: 72

    @Skookum:

    Thanks for your detailed thoughts, which I will have to respond to in detail later, being the rare Liberal/Progressive/Socialist who works. Briefly, I am well aware of Lincoln’s history of racist comments, and I’m not going to spin a relativist argument that it was just a sign of the times. What I will observe is that, unlike many of his contemporaries (and unlike conservative thinking in general, which tend to be static by nature), his thinking evolved. I think you will agree that this is clear if one reads his writings over time. For example, his views of resettlement certainly changed. A thoughtful person who subjects his own thinking to as rigorous a test as the thinking of others is not someone I’ll write off easily based on views he later abandoned. Lincoln always considered slavery an evil. His proposed solutions and timeline were what frustrated the more ardent abolitionists. But just like those zealots were necessary to push and prod Lincoln in the correct direction, Lincoln as a politician had to contend with what could be accomplished in the realm of the possible. And accomplishment rather than good intentions is what lasts and what he rightfully, by most Americans, has been judged by. As for tariffs being the reason for the War, I certainly don’t agree with that, but that’s a more involved discussion I don’t have time for right now. Let me just point out that Lincoln was not murdered for his views and actions relative to tariffs. He was murdered by a racist for his views and actions relative to slavery.

    Edit: my apologies to the author of the post for this side-track.

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  23. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 73

    @johngalt: You’re very good at putting words in another’s mouth, or imposing your presuppositions on another’s beliefs. Maybe–if you refrained from that habit, and listened to what one is saying once in a while—you’d be capable of learning something.

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  24. Nan G says: 74

    @liberal1(objectivity): The difference is that there is actual historical evidence for such people as Cleopatra—the evidence for Christ is scant, according to empirical evidence (and questionable at that).

    And yet, for a few years anyway, there was a teaching that Cleopatra was a black woman!
    It was utter nonsense, of course, and is not taught anymore.
    But it sure was a fad for a while!

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  25. johngalt says: 75

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    That’s funny, coming from someone who issues proclamations of what “ultra-conservatives” believe, Lib1. Pot, Kettle……………..you can probably guess the rest, Lib1.

    Do you ever stop accusing others of that which you, yourself, and your brothers and sisters in the liberal/progressive world commit daily?

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  26. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 76

    @Wm T Sherman: I blog on many right-wing sites. I do not have time to deal with many of the irrational arguments I find on all these sites—I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. But religious doctrine holds a special interest to me because I think they are the bane of society. Does that answer your question? Now why don’t you go blog on some Left-leaning sites—you’re just preaching to the choir here. Or do you fear you’ll have to answer to someone who disagrees with you. But, maybe, like myself, you’ll find you’ll learn something.

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  27. Nan G says: 77

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):
    Wm T, like me and many others, probably thought he could join left-leaning sites and comment freely.
    Reality is that, once you’ve shown your colors are not DEEP BLUE they ban you.
    I’m pretty sure it isn’t for profanity, since I’ve seen others and been banned myself without any filth.
    I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for anything other than disagreeing with the host.

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  28. Wm T Sherman says: 78

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    I have done so. The shreiking, arrogant irrational tone of the responses is reminiscent of you. And as Nan G. alludes, Left-leaning sites tend to ban people simply for being cross-ways with the local bien pensant view. I have been shrieked at, I have been banned, but never did I experience a teachable moment – there were however a lot of smug ignorant people repeating slogans as if they’d thought of the words themselves.

    I still don’t see the reason for your paranoia about Christianity. Nobody is ever going to pile rocks on you and your boyfriend, unless Sharia law is implemented. Even harsh language is banned and that’s not going to change even if there is a Republican sweep of Congress. We had Reagan, the two Bushes — and nothing happened.

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  29. johngalt says: 79

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    I do not have time to deal with many of the irrational arguments I find on all these sites

    Are they only “irrational” on right-wing sites? Or are they only “irrational” when you object to those arguments?

    But religious doctrine holds a special interest to me because I think they are the bane of society.

    Purely opinion, in, of course, my opinion. I’m wondering if you have any examples from history that show how religion has destroyed a society. Some might call this an “irrational” argument, Lib1.

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  30. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 80

    @johngalt: You know, I think insulting, irrational talk deserves an insulting response. I have yet to hear you mention an empirically verifiable fact, or render a logical argument, or document an assertion. Here’s a news flash, Logic is definite thing—you should try it some time—and if you don’t know what it is, look it up in something other than the dictionary.

    But you’ll just continue talking about nothing, and blaming everything on liberals, and talking in that ultra-conservative style—throwing out words that you know absolutely nothing about (Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Statism, etc.), that you’ve heard other conservatives say (but never have read a original work by any of the creators of such literature); the best you’ve done is read about them in Wikipedia. You think logic is calling people names—like Marxist, Socialist, or Communist—but you only show your ignorance when talking to someone who knows something about the subject. But, this strategy is the right-wing’s answer to reasoning. So, why shouldn’t you adopt it too?

    And this is why you have nothing of any importance to say, except your own little, negligible understanding of such matters. I advise you to take some college classes in basic symbolic logic and political science—and learn about what you’re talking about—before you continue to mount your desperate arguments.

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  31. Wm T Sherman says: 81

    Great news, Larry! And it’s right in your back yard. Why don’t you get on down there and counsel these relics of a vanishing age about how they’re so much better off now?

    Seniors decry ban on Christmas tree in their complex in Newhall

    Residents in a Newhall senior apartment complex are protesting an order from management to remove their beloved Christmas tree from the community room because, they were told, it’s a religious symbol.

    On Tuesday, Tarzana-based JB Partners Group Inc. sent a memo to staff at The Willows senior apartment building demanding they take down Christmas trees and menorahs in communal areas.

    http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_22133907/seniors-decry-ban-christmas-tree-their-complex-newhall

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  32. Wm T Sherman says: 82

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    And this is why y0u have nothing of importance to say, except your own little, negligible understanding of such matters. I advise you to take some college classes in basic symbolic logic and political science—and learn about what you’re talking about—before you continue to mount your desperate arguments.

    What are you, 13 years old?

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  33. openid.aol.com/runnswim says: 83

    Hi Liberal,

    You say:

    But religious doctrine holds a special interest to me because I think they are the bane of society.

    You know what? I used to feel the same way. I was a pretty hard core agnostic. But I’m also a scientist, and I’ve learned in my career that the greatest poison to science is certitude. A favorite expression of mine is one of Bertram Russell’s: “on any new issue in science, the majority is almost always wrong.” This doesn’t apply only to new things, but old things, as well. So many former paradigms in the history of science have endured for decades (recent times) or centuries as “truths,” only to be disproved by a scientist with a mind open to the possibility of the seemingly impossible. What hubris it is to presume to understand the cosmos. The greatest physicists in the world don’t agree on some monumentally important issues, cosmologically speaking.

    I was motivated to take a good, hard look at religion by three things. Firstly, I had a legitimate need to improve a certain aspect of personal morality, which wasn’t responding to conventional “therapy.” Secondly, as a physician and life long health nut, I was very impressed by good studies in the peer review medical literature which not only indicated that religious people were happier but actually lived longer — an average of two years, which is the same thing that could be achieved by curing all forms of cancer. Thirdly, as a medical scientist, I really am bothered by the argument of irreducible complexity in evolution. Not regarding species and not regarding organs or tissues, but regarding incredibly complex biochemical pathways. I don’t want to argue the latter now; it’s too complicated and, in any event, superfluous with regard to my present comments.

    What I decided to do was a clinical trial on myself. If I eschewed certitude and actively made the attempt, could I convert myself from a secular humanist to a person of faith? I figured that I had something to gain and nothing to lose.

    The key, for me, was to come up with some explanation for God which didn’t rely on the supernatural. I needed to have at least a remotely plausible explanation for God which was consistent with natural and physical science. I didn’t require a proof, which is impossible, but I did require a physical science plausibility.

    Eventually, I did come up with a physical science plausibility which worked for me. I describe this on one of my blogs:

    http://physicalheretic.com

    Once I had this plausibility, what I did next in my clinical trial was to start faithfully attending worship services in three separate religions – simultaneously. I don’t want to go into the specific religions. My purpose is not to get into a debate about “true religion” this or “true religion” that. It’s a more generic discussion. When I attended each of these, I simply suspended disbelief, as if I were in participatory theater. I made an effort not to question or rationalize or look for flaws or even gross absurdities. I simply kept my heart completely open to whatever wanted to enter. But I participated fully in each worship service (save for those “rites” which are reserved for “confirmed”/”authorized” believers).

    The result was quite remarkable. Truly unexpected. I had no expectations at all of “success.” The whole exercise really was simply a clinical trial. But I’ve found true happiness beyond my imaging. In some traditions, this is called some version of the well know Christian “Holy Spirit,” e.g. Hindus/Shakti, Jewish Kabbalists/Shekinah, Buddhists/Avolekiteshwara, Sufis/the feminine aspect of Allah, and Gnostic Christians/Haggia Sophia or Holy Wisdom.

    Most importantly, it’s given me the help I needed with respect to self-improvement. Eventually, I chose one of my three auditioned faiths (or, rather, the faith chose me); I haven’t missed a single service in a year, and I hope to be confirmed next May. I didn’t do it for life everlasting, or fear of Hell (in which I still don’t believe, which is a heresy in my chosen religion). I wasn’t after forgiveness or absolution. Simply a little bit of self control. But I’ve received so much that I couldn’t have possibly imagined. Whatever may or may not happen after my death, it’s 100% worth it to have come as far as I have, speaking of faith.

    You shouldn’t condemn a person until you’ve walked a mile in his/her moccasins and you shouldn’t condemn a religion until you’ve experienced it for yourself.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

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  34. johngalt says: 84

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Hmmm. A liberal/progressive issuing condescending remarks about me. Same crap, different day I suppose.

    I’m not hurt by your comments, Lib1. Not even in the slightest. Unless, of course, you count the stitch in my side from laughing so hard at them.

    U mad bro?!? (Sorry, got that from the younger crowd. Didn’t quite understand the hilarity of it until I read your comments. Then it became clear as day.)

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  35. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 85

    @Wm T Sherman: I told you, I think religion is the bane of society.

    Also, I don’t believe you when you say all Left-wing site have banned you. You don’t try very hard. I have been banned from a few Right-wing sites myself—The Other McCain, American Blog, Wake-Up America, and a few others. But I don’t blame the entire right-wing blog-o-sphere for the totalitarian action of a few.

    If you’ll leave a message as to the names of a Left-wing sites that banned you. I’ll be glad to try it pretending to be a right-winger, and see if I get banned. They don’t know me—I don’t blog of Left-wing site.

    And, incidentally, I don’t learn anything from the blog itself, but from the research I do in preparing my response to it.

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  36. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 86

    @johngalt: Maybe that’s because you know what I say is true.

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  37. Richard Wheeler says: 87

    Skooks In #65 you say ” Make no mistake. Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant.”
    This statement helps me better understand some of your other posits and positions. Thanks

    I’ m wondering how many other F.A. Conservatives like John Galt,Retireo5 and Hard Right agree with your assessment of Lincoln?

    Larry #83 OUTSTANDING Thank you

    Semper Fi

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  38. johngalt says: 89

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Maybe that’s because you know what I say is true.

    Hardly, Lib1. It’s not your “facts” and references that I object to. It’s the conclusions you draw from them that I find fault with. And instead of answering the questions posed to you, your comments devolve into a cesspool of juvenile accusations and certitudes that offer nothing of value to any conversation. Like you insinuating that my knowledge of subjects is limited to what I’ve only just read on Wikapedia. Juvenile.

    Try addressing this from a point that you made, Lib1: Provide an example where religion has destroyed a society. You are the one asserting that religion “is the bane of society”. In order for that to be true, logically, you must have numerous examples where religion has destroyed a society in the past. Go ahead. List them. I’ll wait patiently for you to respond.

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  39. Skookum says: 90

    Rich, the multi-pronged question is posed; no one has written support of my premise.

    I assume you read the entire comment. You realize Lincoln lifted habeas corpus in the South, totally understandable under the circumstances, but in the North as well. He imprisoned thousands of civilians who spoke out in opposition to the war. (the war was unpopular) He closed down over three hundred newspapers printing views in opposition to the war. He either agreed or planned Sherman’s March To The Sea. A war on civilian population, during which rape, robbery, and total destruction were not just tolerated, but encouraged. This was war of the most brutal type of savagery.

    Now for your question, does this meet the standard of a tyrant like Hussein or Assad?

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  40. johngalt says: 91

    @Richard Wheeler:

    To answer your question, Rich, I believe Lincoln was a tyrant. But I believe that at the time that he was, that it was out of necessity from the position he was in.

    I’m not sure about Skook’s take on it, but I feel that the taxes levied on the South were in response to the nature of the commerce in question, and how the commerce originated. In this sense, I’ve kind of come full circle, in regards to how and why the Civil War came about. In school, we all learned, or were told, that the Civil War was about slavery. Later, after reading more on the subject, it was clear that it was due to a State’s rights versus the Federal government. The question was, though, why the imposition of such high taxes and tariffs in the first place?

    My knowledge of Lincoln, which being from Illinois was a historical figure I was always interested in, didn’t support the notion that Lincoln would have been in support of a simple idea that the northern states held sway over the southern states, for power’s sake. Thus, a reason for it. Lincoln, in my mind, only would have supported that if it meant a means to combat what he saw as a great inequity and injustice being done to mankind in general.

    That the method Lincoln used to impose his viewpoint was of a tyrannical nature is kind of secondplace, considering what was accomplished. The only question, really, is whether Lincoln, assuming he survived any assassination attempt, would have given power back that he had taken, or whether he would have succumbed to the power, keeping it as long as he could. My own thoughts are that Lincoln would have that rare individual that is able to eschew power when they didn’t need it. Fantasy, maybe, but I’m not sure that we will ever know.

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  41. Richard Wheeler says: 92

    Skooks In my opinion Lincoln did not meet the standard of tyrant to be grouped with the likes of Saddam Hussein, Assad and Gaddaffi.
    However,I more clearly understand Conservative principles when I read yours and J.G.’s thoughts on this.

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  42. johngalt says: 93

    @Richard Wheeler:

    However,I more clearly understand Conservative principles when I read yours and J.G.’s thoughts on this.

    It’s quite simple, really. The ends don’t necessarily justify the means. They almost never do, in fact. And you can apply that to virtually every issue at hand, including the original topic Larry has presented here.

    As for Lincoln, it’s not clear that he had any other choice but to do what he did, if the goal was to keep the union of States together.

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  43. Liberal1 (Objectivity) says: 94

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim: A very good variation on a quote most commonly known from the new testament. And much of the writing of all religious traditions have some value—and that’s fine, as long a people keep it to themselves. Each person is taught these life lessons in their life—but I feel there is no reason religion has to be the supreme teacher—even atheists can agree on the value certain precepts that I will call the ‘wisdom of the ages’, and many of which have been codified (but not necessarily originated with) by religion.

    The biggest problem I have with religion is when it intrudes into the political sphere and tries to foist its supernatural values on the rest of the population. I draw the distinction between religion as the belief in the supernatural. If there’s no appeal to the supernatural, then I don’t call it religion. If your beliefs do not entail the supernatural, then it I wouldn’t call it religion.

    I know about those studies you’ve mentioned, from time immemorial. But there are also some studies which detail other factors not included in previous ones, that show happiness may not be the result of religion, but community. http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2012/04/are-religious-people-happier-atheists

    By the way, you say you are a scientist and physician. Are you degreed on both disciplines. I know many medical people think that because of their medical credentials, they have certain knowledge in science and religion. Just checking.

    Regarding Bertrand Russel, he surely felt that science was ultimately uncertain, but at the same time he has always seemed as certain as I am about the folly of religion.

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  44. Nan G says: 95

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): “….[M]uch of the writing of all religious traditions have some value—and that’s fine, as long a people keep it to themselves. …”

    Well, let’s just be happy that our Founders didn’t feel THAT way!
    1.”There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
    BECAME:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Declaration of Independence
    AND:
    “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States” U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 9, Paragraph 8)

    2. “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” (Numbers 30:2)
    BECAME:
    “No state shall.pass any. law impairing the obligation of contracts.” (U.S Constitution, Art. I, Section 10, Paragraph 1)

    3. “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” (Deuteronomy 17:6)
    BECAME:
    “No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.” (U.S Constitution, Art. III, Section 3, Paragraph 1)

    4. “Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” (Luke 20:25)
    BECAME:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. (First Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

    Later,
    5. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
    BECAME:
    “Let [the Constitution] be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges, let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs, let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.” (Abraham Lincoln, “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions”, January 27, 1838)

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  45. on FOX NOW,
    A school elementory class teacher has removed the word GOD
    FROM A POEM a first grader to send to her GRANDFATHER,
    TO BE READ TO A PUBLIC GATHERING,
    those teachers are the worse those are the zomby from the indoctrination center

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  46. Hard Right says: 97

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): “….[M]uch of the writing of all religious traditions have some value—and that’s fine, as long a people keep it to themselves. …”

    Let’s change that and see how he likes it.

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): “….[M]uch of the writing about being gay has some value—and that’s fine, as long as people keep it to themselves. …”

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  47. johngalt says: 98

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim:

    I’ll echo Skookum’s and Rich’s words – Outstanding.

    Lib1 seems to be firm in his belief that there is no God. No afterlife. Nothing to be gained by “having faith” in a religion. That’s fine. I would never presume to force any beliefs upon him. Or anyone, for that matter. But then, that brings up the question as to why Lib1, and other atheists, want to force their beliefs upon the rest of us. And I assure you, they do, which is why Lib1 is so vehemently opposed to any public displays of religion, particularly the Christian religion. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how a public nativity scene, for example, infringes on an atheist’s “rights”. It doesn’t force them to believe in Christ. It doesn’t force them to go to church. It doesn’t deny them government protection. It doesn’t prevent them from expressing their own viewpoints.If it was all about government not promoting any particular religion, as they claim, then there is no reason to deny the public display of any religion, but rather, have a public display of their own to hang their hats on. They don’t do so, however, and you can begin to see their true goals by their current actions.

    Lib1 has essentially stated so, in his response to you and others. He doesn’t care about your freedom to practice religion, as long as you do it in some private manner. Is it really that far of a jump to make from that, to decrying anyone expressing displeasure with government, unless it’s done in a private manner? Tyranny is tyranny, no matter how big or small a package it comes in, and when tyranny is accepted, it only leads to more tyranny.

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  48. Skookum says: 99

    @Richard Wheeler: The main reason or standard I am referring to is waging war against the civilian population. We did it in WWII against two enemies. During the Civil War we waged war on our own civilians for a swath of 100 miles from west to east, total devastation and starvation, everything stolen or burned to the ground. Yes, Lincoln had to wage total war because of the public feeling against the war and the draft was about to undermine the country from the North. Imprisoning Northern newspaper men because they spoke against the war and asked why is also a salient point that underscores our first amendment. Imprisoning 13,ooo civilians without due process is a bit hard to imagine in this day and age. A president who even thought of performing one percent of these atrocities today would be considered one of the most evil presidents who ever lived.

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  49. Aqua says: 100

    @openid.aol.com/runnswim:

    I haven’t missed a single service in a year, and I hope to be confirmed next May.

    Congratulations. We confirm our elect on Easter Vigil. It is one of the most beautiful ceremonies in the Church. Sorry I have to get into the supernatural here, but never in my life have I felt the presence of God more than during the Litany of Saints at Easter Vigil. I wish you well.

    ReplyReply

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