Left Behinds

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas: Totalitarian Nonsense? or pungent Santa fart?

Christopher Hitchens amusingly excoriates inescapable Christmas idolatry here in Slate. My favorite bit might be the story of the North Korean refugee who resists conversion to Christianity because Christmas reminds him too much of the compulsory worship of the "miraculous" birth of Kim Jong Il. Heh. The Christmas orgy of greed and orthodoxy does seem rather totalitarian and ridiculous on its face, doesn't it?

This debate (also in Slate) among three prominent historians about the real historical facts of Christmas and the life of Jesus beg the question of whether or not Jesus actually existed as a real person. They just assume his existence, even though, as one of them admits, "in fact, we have absolutely no record of Jesus' existence in any contemporary historical source. All reports of Jesus' life come from believers." Yet as one of them notes, religious beliefs are not the kinds of probabilistic beliefs that can act as historical evidence.

Religious beliefs are not merely probabilistic, for in that case they would be, as the philosopher David Hume argued a propos of miracles, far less probable than most of the other beliefs we hold about the world—in other words, hardly worth holding at all.

Not only are believers a very biased historical source (and writing at least a hundred years after the facts they were purporting to record), but these historians ignore all sorts of even more troublesome problems, such as the similarity between the "facts" of the life of Jesus and the "facts" of the lives of other legendary figures from other religious traditions.

As I said earlier, I am not at all convinced that Jesus really existed. Harold Bloom calls him "pseudo-historical," and after an amateur analysis of the historical record, I raise a very skeptical eyebrow. Here's a good summary of more radical arguments about Jesus' historicity. I don't know that he does not exist, I just think his historical existence is nearly impossible to prove because later Christians so corrupted whatever documentation survived or ever existed.

All of which puts me in a bah humbug mood, to an extent. I like Christmas (or, really, I like solstice celebrations, which account for all the nice parts of Christmas), but I like common sense and independent thinking even more.

In the spirit of Scrooge, here's a touching Christmas tale by a friend of mine:

i am glad that christmas will soon crescendo. however languid i am lately i will march and dance on january 3rd when i can be sure that the festive spirit is dead all around me.
christmas seems to have been lingering like a dreadful fart since autumn. let me describe the odyssey of that fart....
sometime in late october, as the supermarkets sell their last pumpkin, a diseased and filthy santa farts on the shop floor. it is a little fart, silent as a mouse's, but it is has a magical transformative quality and gathers pace like last years tsunami. nobody smells it at first save the very keen (hmmm festive cranberry bleach in sainsburys? wonder if someone will use it to aid their suicide) but it insidiously diffuses...soon the supermarkets completely reek of it, and every trip there to buy pepsi and bread makes the people sick. quickly the fart spreads out onto the streets, so foul its smell it lights them up. by now the people are acquainted with the smell and it's in their lungs, their bodies, their blood. some of them find themselves intoxicated by fart and go out in the streets expressly to inhale. the wires of the media are infested by fart - the telly occasionally broadcasts in smellyvision and the magazines and newspapers are emblazoned by seasonally decorated turds. the people now are so addicted to methane they let it into their houses where it frosts the windows and festoons the walls with its stink. by this time the televison stations have switched from digital transmission to full blown smellyvision and when the presenters now open their mouths to speak they speak in fart. the magazines and papers stop printing on paper in favour of shit, and all reading makes your hands brown. suddenly we are all arrested as the fart, like the tsunami, after gathering momentum hits the beach...a number of people submerge into the fart as it pulls away and they drown. there are a number of casualties besides, and few are untouched. but gradually the sickening smell of the fart recedes and the survivors all comment to one another how sickened they are by its stench...its stale lingering makes them weak and irritable. many will suffer post-traumatic shock and commit suicide in january. the air will eventually rarefy and there will be no trace of the fart. everyone will forget that there was a fart, save a wise few...making them vulnerable to another attack soon enough when a santa -next september maybe- decides to let rip right next to the high-stacked cans of beans and peas.


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9 Comments:

  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    You're starting to inspire me. I may have to take up my long-shelved project Proof that Jesus was fucking insane and begin blogging it here.

     
  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Are you trying to murder Jesus?

     
  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    How much trouble do the Jews get in if we say, "hey, I didn't do it or nuthin', but between you and me I'm glad that motherfucker is gone, if you know what I mean."

     
  • At 4:26 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Heh, I'm sure you'll get blamed, anyhow.

    Did you read that piece in Harpers about Thomas Jefferson's Bible? It convinced me that the actual philosophy of Jesus is really harmless and adorable, very much like Hare Krishnas. The wretched shall inherit the earth, turn the other cheek, etc. It's only when the State coopted Christianity that the problems began...

     
  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    No, but reading the New Testament itself convinced me that Jesus was kind of a nutter.

     
  • At 4:44 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Well, the point of the Harper's article and of Thomas Jefferson's patented miracle-free Bible was that most of the New Testament was nonsense concocted by his followers hundreds of years later.

    It wasn't necessarily Jesus (or the character called Jesus) who was a nutter: it might just have been his followers.

    But I'd like to read you rip him a new one. Because I have to admit I've never actually gotten through the New Testament. A little repetitive, if you know what I mean.

     
  • At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Sildenafil Citrate said…

    that image is very funny and it can be funnier in Christmas time, I love George Bush's face and the big turkey with a British scarf

     
  • At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Viagra Online said…

    For me Xmas is not about religion or about beliefs, Xmas is about love to each other, is about spending time with family or love ones, no matter the religion one may have.

     
  • At 3:53 PM, Anonymous muebles en rivas vaciamadrid said…

    I think every person ought to read it.

     

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