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Author Topic: The myth of the "secular" Christmas tree
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 09:40 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Toronto artist and Pakistani native Asma Mahmood, who often expresses anti-war views through her work, was one of 12 artists invited to decorate Christmas trees to be auctioned off for charity at a co-op art gallery in Burlington, west of Toronto.

Surprise!

Her tree was called Merry Christmas from Mesopotamia: Lest We Forget, and it was decorated with poppies and photographic images of civilian and military casualties in Iraq. It seems she didn't get the memo Re: Christmas trees are all about giving Christians the warm fuzzies.

Her creation was too much for the good Christian burghers of Burlington ó and two of the other 11 artists, who threatened to withdraw their work unless her tree was banned from the auction.

Which, of course, it was. (Apparently, it's not just Jewish and secular killjoys who ban Christmas trees; who knew?)

Here's what the event's organizer had to say:

quote:
Organizer Sandy Turnzer said she decided to remove Ms. Mahmood's tree from the exhibition out of consideration for the United Way and gallery patrons, and because the artists had been asked to adorn the trees beautifully.

"It was definitely marketed as a family event, and really, how many people were going to bid on a tree with disturbing content and display it in their home?" Ms. Turnzer asked.

"I'm an artist myself. Had it not been for the charitable component for United Way, it would have been different," she said. "I'm sorry that [Ms. Mahmood] is upset."


Said a pissed-off Mahmoud, "I think in a way their attitude totally negates the spirit of Christmas...We can't close our eyes to the war around the world and say you know it's a happy time and we only want to see happy things."

quote:
Mahmood said she was asked to decorate a tree and part of what would naturally come out would be her creative vision. Much of her recent work has focused on war and conflict.

"I feel why would you engage artists if you don't want their artistic vision to come into play?"

The artist, whose work has been displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, said the images of violence on the tree are very subtle and she never intended any disrespect to war veterans by using poppies. The flowers are an international symbol of remembrance and that is what she was using them to signify.
Source


Get used to it, sister. Christians rule, and they get very upset when you meddle with their sacred icons.

[ 19 December 2006: Message edited by: M. Spector ]


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 19 December 2006 09:48 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't see what this has to do with Christians, exactly. It seems to me more of a charity auction getting more than it bargained for. An excellent statement by Mahmood, but being Christian has nothing to do with commercialism anesthesizing the effects of conflict in other countries. You're conflating "Christian" with "Western" here.

Christmas is far and wide a commercial holiday. It has nothing to do with religion.

edited because sidescroll was fixed.

[ 19 December 2006: Message edited by: Catchfire ]


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Boom Boom
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posted 19 December 2006 09:54 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Is this another thread attacking Christmas? Didn't we just have one?
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Caissa
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posted 19 December 2006 10:01 AM      Profile for Caissa     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Reginald Stackhouse had an op-ed in the Globe yesterday clearly outlining how the Christmas tree is not a Christian symbol.
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Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 19 December 2006 10:04 AM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that Catchfire is absolutely right about this. The offended sensibilities were not particularly "Christian": the gallery in question just wanted something "nice" to auction off to their patrons. Frankly, I believe that "nice" art is usually less interesting than art that is less "nice". On the other hand, it's a private gallery (i.e. not owned by the city or province), and they can make whatever aesthetic mistakes they want.
From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 10:07 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, and across the page from the Stackhouse column were a couple of letters to the editor presenting the opposite view.

One of them referred to the contention that the Christmas tree is really a pre-Christian pagan symbol and not Christian at all, pointing out that it makes about as much sense as to say the swastika is not really a Nazi symbol because it was appropriated from native cultures.

[ 19 December 2006: Message edited by: M. Spector ]


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 10:14 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boom Boom:
Is this another thread attacking Christmas?
No, it's another thread pointing out that Christians take their Christmas trees very seriously, and how hypocritical they are when they tell non-Christians to "lighten up" about them.

Then again, maybe it's all part of the War on Christmas!


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 19 December 2006 10:20 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Spector, can you point to where the article says the proprietor or her patrons are Christian?
From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 10:23 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Catchfire:
You're conflating "Christian" with "Western" here.

Christmas is far and wide a commercial holiday. It has nothing to do with religion.


Right. Christmas has nothing to do with religion.

Because Christianity doesn't really count as a "religion" - it's just the default state of our society.

Which of us is it that's conflating "Christian" and "Western" here?


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 19 December 2006 10:29 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If that's you're position, fine, but this incident does not expose the secular Christmas tree as a "myth." Yes, our society is informed by Christian values and traditions. But while Western society includes Christian values, the two terms are not interchangeable.

This story would read exactly the same if they were paperweights instead of Xmas trees. The proprietor wanted to make a "nice" (to hijack Martha's term) fundraiser for the (secular) charity United Way. What she got was a fistful of political relevence. Not very "nice" at all.


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 10:29 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Catchfire:
Spector, can you point to where the article says the proprietor or her patrons are Christian?
The articles (plural) don't mention the religion of anyone, including Ms. Mahmood.

Maybe I jumped to conclusions. Maybe the proprietor and her patrons aren't Christians at all. Maybe they are all atheists or Baha'is or Jews. But whatever their religion, they are obviously offended by people whom they perceive as disrespecting the iconic Christmas tree.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Caissa
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posted 19 December 2006 10:31 AM      Profile for Caissa     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It might be more correct to argue the secular, commercial celebration of Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity.
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Catchfire
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posted 19 December 2006 10:40 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
No, they are not obviously upset at disrespecting the Christmas tree. Maybe they are, but that's your projection. It seems far more likely that someone brought political comment to a craft show, and that's disruptive. Necessary, in my opinion, but disruptive nonetheless. In fact, it might even be that the proprietor et al. felt that this action undermined the "spirit of Christmas (TM), but that is not Christian. I find the "War on Christmas" as comic as you do, but I'm not about to go throwing the vituperative you did in the OP.

I'm much more inclined to agree with Caissa. We celebrate Christmas with our credit cards, not our rosaries. I think Christians forget that as much as pagans do.


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Drinkmore
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posted 19 December 2006 11:09 AM      Profile for Drinkmore     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Catchfire:
I'm much more inclined to agree with Caissa. We celebrate Christmas with our credit cards, not our rosaries. I think Christians forget that as much as pagans do.

Have they done a VISA commercial with the baby Jesus yet?


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Sans Tache
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posted 19 December 2006 01:16 PM      Profile for Sans Tache        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
About.com Agnosticism / Atheism

So, if the Agnostic and Atheist people are using the Christmas tree, is it a religious symbol or just a symbol of the winter solstice? I wonder how they decorate their trees???

quote:
Are Christmas Trees Prohibited in the Bible?:
According to Jeremiah 10:2-4: ďThus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen... For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.Ē Perhaps there is cause for Christians to eschew Christmas trees entirely and get back to genuinely Christian, religious observances of the day.

Do Public Christmas Trees Violate Church/State Separation?:
Some argue that if the government finances and supports a Christmas tree on public property, then this is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. For this to be true, the Christmas tree would have to be an automatic symbol of Christianity and for Christmas to be a necessarily religious holiday. Both are doubtful. It's easy to argue that there is nothing Christian about Christmas trees and that there is little that is very Christian anymore about Christmas.

Christmas Tree or Holiday Tree?:
In order to avoid possible church/state complications, some governments that put up Christmas trees have been calling them Holiday Trees instead. This has outraged Christian Nationalists. It can be argued that these trees exist for the sake of a broad and increasingly religiously diverse holiday season. In that case, not singling out one holiday isn't unreasonable. Since the tree isn't very Christian, and is even arguably against the Bible, perhaps Christians should welcome the change.


quote:
So when you find someone talking about putting Christ back into Christmas, you can ask them what part Christ really played in Christmas to begin with. Although you may not be interested in celebrating holidays with any religious trappings whatsoever, Christianityís hold on Christmas, from a religious perspective, is rather tenuous. If youíre an atheist who would like to enjoy the holiday, you should be able to do so without giving Christianity a second thought.

From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 01:58 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's interesting how people can be so oblivious to the cultural hegemony of Christianity in our society that they can't see the forest for the Christmas tree.
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sans Tache
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posted 19 December 2006 03:06 PM      Profile for Sans Tache        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One might think that if the majority of the Canadian population is Christian, then there might be Christian symbols and Christian holidays celebrated. I don't want to exclude other religions but people in the minority must understand that some times during the year there will a flood of Christianity. However, the Christmas tree is not a religious symbol. It is a cultural and/or traditional symbol for many cultures and religions over millennia.

Religions in Canada 2001 Census:
Catholic - 12,936,905
Christian Orthodox - 479,620
Other Christian - 8,654,850
Total Christian - 22,071,375

Muslim - 579,640
Jewish - 329,995
Buddhist - 300,345
Hindu - 297,200
Sikh - 278,410

No Religion - 4,900,095

Canadian Total Listed - 28,757,060 (vs.)
Canadian Total M/F - 30,017,095 (so there seems to be a little arithmetic problem with these statistics)

Source: Reference.com - Demographics of Canada


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 03:35 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sans Tache:
...the Christmas tree is not a religious symbol. It is a cultural and/or traditional symbol for many cultures and religions over millennia....
OK, please fill in the following blanks:

Present-day religions for whom the Christmas tree is a cultural and/or traditional symbol:

1. Christianity

2. _________

3. _________

4. _________


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 19 December 2006 03:48 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I will fill in a slightly different list, since not only religious people (or "religions") use Christmas trees as traditional symbols.

Present day people for whom the Christmas tree is a cultural and/or traditional symbol:

1. Many, but not all, Christians
2. A large number of secular non-Christians, including
2a. Secular Jews (here I am using "Jew" in its cultural rather than religious sense)
2b. Secular Agnostics
2c. Secular Atheists
3. Some Buddhists I know


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TemporalHominid
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posted 19 December 2006 03:50 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boom Boom:
Is this another thread attacking Christmas? Didn't we just have one?

you are having deja vu too?

what are the odds?


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Catchfire
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posted 19 December 2006 03:52 PM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Who'se oblivious to the cultural hegemony of Christianity? One of the things about using terms like "hegemony" is that you've got to use them correctly, and with care.

Again, you are mistaking the gallery's conception of the Xmas tree as an affront to their faith. I don't see any evidence of that in any of the articles. Rather, it's an aversion to someone making a political point when all that was expected was a nice, friendly knick-knack. Maybe someone was offeneded spiritually, but you don't know that. You seem to be holding the Christmas Tree with more reverence than any Christian I know.

[ 19 December 2006: Message edited by: Catchfire ]


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 03:56 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Martha (but not Stewart):
I will fill in a slightly different list...
...thereby avoiding the issue posed directly by Sans Tache and challenged by me.

I don't want a list of people.

I want a list of religions for whom the Christmas tree is a "cultural and/or traditional symbol", as claimed by ST.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 04:01 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
you are having deja vu too?
Pardon me for having the nerve to actually start a second thread about people taking offence at Christmas trees, after the first one was closed.

Nobody else ever does that on babble.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 19 December 2006 04:06 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What does it mean for an object to be a "cultural and/or traditional symbol" for a particular religion?

Does it mean that it is one of the symbols that the religion holds sacred? Well, then Christianity is off your list -- Christians do not hold Christmas trees to be sacred. Crucifixes (for some but not all Christians), Icons (for some but not all Christians), Crosses (for most Christians): these are venerated in Churches, etc. But Christmas trees? You will find them in Churches just as you will find national flags in Churches, but they are never venerated as are Crucifixes, Relics, and Icons (in Orthodox Churches).


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M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 04:30 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Martha (but not Stewart):
What does it mean for an object to be a "cultural and/or traditional symbol" for a particular religion?
Sans Tache, you said it. Maybe you can tell Martha and me what you meant by it.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 04:40 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Martha (but not Stewart):
Christians do not hold Christmas trees to be sacred.
They sure get awfully nasty when people try to remove Xmas trees from public places like airports and court houses.

It's almost this bad.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 19 December 2006 04:49 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know of Christians who get nasty when their office parties don't include holly and ivy and mistletoe. And I know of other Christians who get positively furious if anyone suggests to their children that their toys were not made by elves at the North Pole. But holly, ivy, mistletoe, elves and the North Pole are not Christian symbols.
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ElizaQ
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posted 19 December 2006 05:26 PM      Profile for ElizaQ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I grew up attending Church and still go sometimes so I suppose you ould say I am Christian or at least have some "Christian" influence. Yes we always had a Christmas tree but I can't ever recall it to be a "Christian" Symbol. It was something that pretty much everyone I knew, whether religious or not had, including the Jewish family that lived 2 doors down.
I have never or would ever consider it a sacred symbol.

It was thing that the presents went under.

The nativity scenes were/are the particularly Christian stuff. Angels maybe though they have become pretty secular as well.

And as for the Christian freaking about malls removing trees and the supposed "War on Christmas" well as far as I'm concerned they need to chill. Most people I know, and yes they consider themselves Christians feel the same way. This anal retentive stuff comes from the fundy's end of things and do not represent everyone. They're just soooo freaking loud about everything that it seems like it they are.


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M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 05:32 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fundies like Dalton McGuinty?
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 19 December 2006 05:38 PM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
When I worked in a goverment office in Ottawa in the 1970s, the maintenance staff put a big Christmas tree in the main floor foyer every year at this time. In addition, anyone could put up small decorations in their office or cubicle if they so desired, as long as they were not fire hazards - everything had to be fireproof, that was the only limitation. We had an office Christmas party every year, at the end of the day closest to the holiday weekend, and the building restaurant catered a light meal and snacks. Absolutely no religious component to our celebrations at all - but a welcome diversion in the darkness of winter, and at the end of the year.
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 05:46 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Jeremiah 10:2-8:

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.... They are altogether brutish and foolish.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
ElizaQ
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posted 19 December 2006 05:55 PM      Profile for ElizaQ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Fundies like Dalton McGuinty?


I dunno maybe in this case he is fundy. Though he's a politician so who the heck knows whether it's a religious belief or he just likes things with pretty lights.


From: Eastern Lakes | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
ElizaQ
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posted 19 December 2006 05:59 PM      Profile for ElizaQ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Jeremiah 10:2-8:

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.... They are altogether brutish and foolish.


Err what the heck does this have to do with a Christmas tree?


From: Eastern Lakes | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 06:56 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I dunno.

Trying to make sense of the Holyô Bible is a mug's game.

I just thought it was interesting to read what appears to be a condemnation of "brutish and foolish" people who cut down trees, decorate them with silver and gold, and fasten them with hammers and nails to one spot.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 19 December 2006 07:04 PM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I will 100% agree Christmas is tremendously wasteful, and there are ways around the waste of Christmas trees, for example - artificial trees last forever - I brought my small artificial tree in 1995 and am still using it. I have serious problems with all the giftwrap that probably ends up in landfills. I would agree Christmas, like Easter and Hallowe'en and birthdays and weddings and anniversaries are all tremendously wasteful. When I was growing up, the Fire Departments were kept busy with chimney fires as a result of uninformed people throwing giftwrap into their fireplaces - giftwrap burns at very high temps, igniting chimney creosote.
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
ElizaQ
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posted 19 December 2006 07:30 PM      Profile for ElizaQ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
I dunno.

Trying to make sense of the Holyô Bible is a mug's game.

I just thought it was interesting to read what appears to be a condemnation of "brutish and foolish" people who cut down trees, decorate them with silver and gold, and fasten them with hammers and nails to one spot.


Ahh. Well I tend to sympathize with that. Though I really like the smell of spruce or pine I find it difficult now to not see a real Christmas tree and think "dead." But then I'm a treehugger.

I prefer artificial trees. Though I have in the past bought smaller potted trees and then planted them. This year since we aren't going to be celebrated Christmas in our home my husband and I bought a small live rosemary bush shaped like a tree. Smells great and we can plant it in the garden this spring. Will be good for seasoning our potatoes as well.


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Boom Boom
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posted 19 December 2006 08:15 PM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Just a thought: Christmas must be an environmentalist's worst nightmare - all that waste, and worldwide.
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 19 December 2006 08:27 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not to mention all the non-renewable petrochemicals that go into making the plastic trees!
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sans Tache
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posted 20 December 2006 05:52 AM      Profile for Sans Tache        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
M. Spector, I can't speak for everyone, only for myself. Being Agnostic, I put up a Christmas tree every year. I celebrate the winter solstice too. The Britís, Scotís, Celts, Druids, etc. call it Hogmanay. Actually, Hogmanay used to be a much larger celebration in Scotland that was Christmas.

Now back to the Christmas tree; letís go back in time to when the CE came to be. Letís offer Joseph or Mary well paying jobs before they met, so they would never meet, thus no Jesus. Then let us move quickly forward to today. Donít you think there would be a celebration during the winter solstice? Donít you think there would be some sort of decorated tree, either inside or outside the home? If they celebrated in Ancient Egypt, then I think they would be celebrating today, even if there is/was no Christianity.

Christian Images, Christian Symbols and Their Meanings, Symbols.net; show no Christmas tree as a religious Christian symbol. I am not going to debate the finer points of religious doctorine as I donít believe that I am qualified but absents of the Christmas tree is good evidents of my arguement. Also, when I read that strict Christian, anti-idol worship sects like the Reformation Protestants that donít use any religious symbols at all and follow what they consider the true coming of the Christ and they donít place a Christmas tree into their homes, I think that is good evidents.

Okay, I accept that if there were no Christianity today, there would be no Christmas tree but there would be something to take its place as there has always been throughout history. That is why I state that the Christmas tree is not a religious symbol and is a cultural/traditional symbol.


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 20 December 2006 05:58 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Not to mention all the non-renewable petrochemicals that go into making the plastic trees!

I've noticed something new this year and last: huge inflatable outdoor decorations - there's three houses with these bloody things here: one is a monster snowman; one a monster candy cane; and three huge merry-go-rounds. All completely plastic, gross, tacky, and in extremely poor taste. I much prefer the days when everyone had a simple wreath on their door, and exercised restraint with their outdoor Christmas lights.

ETA: Where is the CLA (Christmas Liberation Army) to blow these darned things up and rescue the world from Christmas tackiness?

[ 20 December 2006: Message edited by: Boom Boom ]


From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
steffie
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posted 20 December 2006 06:53 AM      Profile for steffie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm with Boom Boom on the balloons. Yuck! I have a nice spruce wreath (dead) on the front of my house, and a nice scotch pine (also dead) in water in my living room. Pressies underneath.

The inflatables really reflect the cheap carnival atmosphere that has surrounded "Christmas".


From: What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish? | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sans Tache
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posted 20 December 2006 08:04 AM      Profile for Sans Tache        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

Just call them the Griswold family from National Lampoonís, Christmas Vacation. That might get them to tone it down.
However, they might shout back to you, "Bah, humbug... Its humbug, I say..."

From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Catchfire
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posted 20 December 2006 08:05 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Aack! Those inflatable horrorshows! A neighbour of mine has had one for years, and I thought it was rather garish, but kids seem to like it, and it was the only one. This year, thought, there are dozens and I'm starting to think we're losing the war on Christmas.

In fact, I saw a bunch of crass inflatable pumpkins around Hallowe'en too. Talk about war crimes.


From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 20 December 2006 08:40 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There's one family here that has inflatable *everything* - for Easter, Christmas, Hallowe'en... you name it. I'm glad I moved out of their apartment last July - I had been subject to these horror shows for four years. Now I'm half a block away, in my own place, with nary an inflatable to be seen.

Borrowed from another list: Ugly Christmas Lights


From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Caissa
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posted 20 December 2006 09:48 AM      Profile for Caissa     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If we start a chapter of the CLA will that end up in our CSIS files?
From: Saint John | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 20 December 2006 10:53 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Maybe CSIS is funding the CLA.
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 December 2006 11:28 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Somebody wrote a good letter to the Toronto Star today:
quote:
Justice Marion Cohen was right to ban the "symbolic" tree from the courthouse. As long as our courthouses continue to be located in strip malls, as is the case in Scarborough, and our court staff suffer from ongoing problems with mould and poor ventilation, I would rather save the decorating money and invest in a proper courthouse.
Maybe Dalton McGuilty could get exercised about that, for a change.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Saber
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posted 24 December 2006 12:33 PM      Profile for Saber     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Someone pointed out that lots of people who would not identify themselves as Christians use Christmas trees. Maybe they call them something else or maybe cultural Christians call them that when "they" use them. Yes, the Christmas tree is pagan more than it is a symbol of original Middle Eastern Christianity. Yet, whatever it was in origin, the Christmas tree has been appropriated by Christianity. If people who do not consider themselves Christian are putting up Christmas trees I do not think it should be seen merely as an indicator that the Christmas tree is a secular symbol. It is also an indicator that the Christian ideology of which the tree is a part is so dominant that people assimilate themselves to it.

How many menorahs do you find in the homes of people who consider themselves to me non-practicing Christians?


From: Toronto | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 December 2006 01:59 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In our house we call them candlesticks.

That doesn't make the menorah any less of a religious symbol.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Legless-Marine
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posted 24 December 2006 05:56 PM      Profile for Legless-Marine        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Right. Christmas has nothing to do with religion.

Because Christianity doesn't really count as a "religion" - it's just the default state of our society.

Which of us is it that's conflating "Christian" and "Western" here?


It's taken me a few weeks to pick up on it, but it's clear you've got a real hate-on for Christians, and Christmas, who are forever in your sights.

Your views appear to be well tolerated, even encouraged by your fellow babblers.

Yet another one of the delicious ironys of babble.


From: Calgary | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 24 December 2006 11:49 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Your post has no discernible connection to the words of mine that you quoted. Maybe you didn't understand what the quote was about, so I'll explain.

I was responding to a poster who actually said that Christmas (and this is a direct quote) "has nothing to do with religion." The poster in question was trying to maintain that Christmas is purely a commercial event, not a religious one, and is a part of Western culture. In assuming that Christmas has something to do with the Christian religion, I was, according to that poster, conflating "Christian" with "Western".

I guess you didn't find that ironic - "deliciously" or otherwise. I, however, did.

I responded with the words you quoted, suggesting (not without my own touch of irony) that to say that the most holy day in the Christian calendar is really just a secular part of Western culture and not a religious holiday at all is to conflate "Christian" with "Western" - the very thing he had been accusing me of. Get it?

Now, as to your post. You assume I hate Christians because I don't think their religion should get to take over public spaces for two months out of every twelve and because I think they are being hypocritical when they try to pretend that Christmas trees are entirely secular things, yet scream about religious discrimination when anyone tries to (a) move their public Christmas trees to a slightly less conspicuous location, or (b) actually try to use a Christmas tree for a secular purpose, such as making an anti-war statement.

I don't hate them. It's just that I love logic more.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Yst
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posted 25 December 2006 01:46 AM      Profile for Yst     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Having been raised very fundamentalist Christian and having ended up very atheist (though retaining an interest in comparative theology from a critical point of view), I have to strongly agree with the view that the Christmas tree is, at best, part of the extraneous cultural paraphernalia of the predominantly Christian west, and not part of its religious symbology by any definition. In my own familial case, it is my atheist father who has a Christmas tree in his home at present, and my Baptist mother who does not. The idea that the Christmas tree even might be interpreted as religious iconography tends to make theologically devout Christian extremely leery of it.

As far as I can tell:

- The Christmas tree is not a component to the liturgy or official iconography of any major Christian denomination.
- The Christmas tree's treatment or description as religious iconography would be considered at least offensive and more often a doctrinal heresy, by most if not all devout Christians.
- The Christmas tree is not and has never been used even as a secular popular symbol of Christianity as a religion, either by Christians or Non-Christians (i.e., to put a Christmas Tree on a Christian house of worship or book of doctrine as an identifying symbol would appear ridiculous).

And consequently, I consider attempting its removal from society's cultural millieu on the basis of its association with religion to be on the extreme side of things, as far as expurgation of religious symbols from society goes. Now, I'm not fond of the view that society should be considered a mosaic of religious identities, given I and most of you are excluded from any such mosaic as irreligious and thus non-persons within it. But I am strongly in favour of indulgence in gratifying traditions and celebrations. So I went to a solstice celebration, and went to a December 24th dinner at which gifts were exchanged and vegan food was consumed.

I don't see why cultural history should be destroyed on the basis of association with religion rather than salvaged and reworked for whatever it's worth, where there is no necessary association with religion in the present. Make of tradition what you will and can, I say.


From: State of Genderfuck | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 25 December 2006 03:57 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think people are missing M. Spector's point. Obviously the Christmas tree is not a sacred part of the Christian religion. But it is a Christian SYMBOL. Yes yes, it was a pagan symbol first. Big deal. It is NOW used as a symbol of Christmas in our society. Sure, it's used by non-practising Christians and practising Christians alike, so it's not a specifically religious icon. But just because some non-Christians get into Christmas and put up a Christmas tree does not mean the occasion or its symbols are any less Christian in nature. Do you think that if I put a menorah in my home during Chanukah, that would prove that Chanukah candles are actually not a Jewish symbol, and that Chanukah is now just a secular occasion? That's ridiculous.

Lots of people buy into consumer, secular Christmas. Great, good for them. But the REASON that happens is because Christianity is the dominant religion and background for most of the people in this country, and sticking Christmas trees and Christmas carols in everyone's face for 1/6 of the year is just one more way for the dominant culture to force their traditions, ROOTED IN THE DOMINANT RELIGION, on everyone. Does that mean that everyone who buys into it is religious? No. But just because there are lots of secular Jews who put up Christmas trees, doesn't mean that it's not a Christian tradition, and celebrating a Christian event.

If it has nothing to do with the religious holiday of Christmas, then what the heck. Why not stick decorated trees up in July? Or, if it really has nothing to do with anything Christian, then why do we hold the biggest celebration of the year at the end of December (which just so happens to coincide with the date that Christians have deemed the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ) and do all our festive "holiday" decorating then? Why not just pick February and celebrate all the events that happen then? Chanukah was pretty much a nothing holiday before Christmas turned into a huge two-month solid orgy of decorations everywhere you look. What the heck do you think the Christmas tree is to Jews, a Chanukah Tree?

The fact that some people from other religions have started celebrating Christmas doesn't mean that Christmas is not a Christian celebration. It means that Christian symbols and observances have become so hegemonic that you either get sucked into participating or you feel completely out of step with the rest of the culture for 1/6th of the year, because it's completely taken over every public space going, to the point where Christian whiners (or dominant culture descendants of Christians) scream whenever someone decides that this or that particular public space is not going to be decorated with that particular symbol. They claim it's not specifically "Christian" anymore, but boy, they sure do whine about how it's anti-Christian discrimination if you want to take it down.

Unless Christians are willing to have the dominant celebration of the year every year in February, with two months running up to it where the dominant symbols of dragons and the colour red, and gorgeous lanterns and stuff are put up, and Christians are willing to say, hey, let's turn Shrove Tuesday into a great big gift-giving occasion so we don't feel left out and that way we can incorporate dragons into our "holiday celebration" and turn Shrove Tuesday into our biggest decorating holiday of the year!" and not have any other festival decorating every corner of public space for the rest of the year - THEN I'll believe that Christmas isn't basically an exercise in compulsory Christian (even if Christian-secular) culture. Until then, I think it's pretty obvious that Christmas trees and the whole Christmas hype is obviously a celebration of a Christian tradition, even if it's a nominal or secular Christian tradition these days.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 25 December 2006 08:35 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Which brings me to this.

quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
In our house we call them candlesticks.

That doesn't make the menorah any less of a religious symbol.


You really seem to be suffering from "cornered dog syndrome." Saber's statement was more or less supportive of your general line of attack, noting that the fact that Christmas trees appear in all kinds of secular settings, and even in non-Christian celebrations, does not necessarily mean the tree is secularized, but that it could easily be an indication of Christian hegemony.

An example of how all things are influenced by the dominant Christian culture.

Like say, Christian women wearing the veil in Iraq.

You really should settle down a bit.

[ 25 December 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 25 December 2006 10:06 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh man. I hadn't seen Saber's post before I posted, and she managed to say everything I did, in about 1/5 of the space.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Kevin_Laddle
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posted 25 December 2006 10:36 AM      Profile for Kevin_Laddle   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Translation: western nations are more than happy to slaughter thousands of civilians in foreign lands to get some cheap access to oil. But put up a holiday tree adorned with some of the work by the troops they so bravely support by attaching a magnet to the back of their SUV (ironically powered by the oil stolen from the people their troops are murdering) and shit hits the fans. You gotta love the right whingers.
From: ISRAEL IS A TERRORIST STATE. ASK THE FAMILIES OF THE QANA MASSACRE VICTIMS. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
fpu aaa
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posted 25 December 2006 08:06 PM      Profile for fpu aaa     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Catchfire:
Who'se oblivious to the cultural hegemony of Christianity? [ 19 December 2006: Message edited by: Catchfire ]

Honestly? In about three more drinks I should be oblivious to everything, which thankfully includes the cultural hegemony of Christianity.


From: toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
fpu aaa
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posted 25 December 2006 08:18 PM      Profile for fpu aaa     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Somebody wrote a good letter to the Toronto Star today: Maybe Dalton McGuilty could get exercised about that, for a change.

The gov't spends a good chunk of change on courthouses already. Decorating budgets aren't remotely high enough to even come close to moving the decimals points further to the right. Besides, we all buy the decorations at dollar stores.


From: toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 25 December 2006 08:21 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
You really seem to be suffering from "cornered dog syndrome." Saber's statement was more or less supportive of your general line of attack, noting that the fact that Christmas trees appear in all kinds of secular settings, and even in non-Christian celebrations, does not necessarily mean the tree is secularized, but that it could easily be an indication of Christian hegemony.
I wasn't disagreeing with Saber, but I guess you didn't notice that. You seem to be suffering from goofy dog syndrome.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 25 December 2006 08:25 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by fpu aaa:
The gov't spends a good chunk of change on courthouses already. Decorating budgets aren't remotely high enough to even come close to moving the decimals points further to the right. Besides, we all buy the decorations at dollar stores.
Have another drink.

My post wasn't a complaint about all the money they were spending on Xmas trees.

It was about how the politicians who get all exercised about defending Christianity from the onslaught of us heathens should be saving some of that concern for matters of real importance, like providing safe workplaces for public employees.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
fpu aaa
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posted 25 December 2006 08:29 PM      Profile for fpu aaa     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
Have another drink.

My post wasn't a complaint about all the money they were spending on Xmas trees.

It was about how the politicians who get all exercised about defending Christianity from the onslaught of us heathens should be saving some of that concern for matters of real importance, like providing safe workplaces for public employees.



Cheers. Yeah, that would be nice. Although we did just do AED training at work, but I don't know how much that initiative was instigated by politicians.


From: toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 25 December 2006 09:54 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
... the most holy day in the Christian calendar ...

A pedantic point: Easter is the most holy day in the Christian calendar.


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 25 December 2006 10:51 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My bad, Martha!
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Legless-Marine
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posted 26 December 2006 01:00 AM      Profile for Legless-Marine        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by fpu aaa:

Honestly? In about three more drinks I should be oblivious to everything, which thankfully includes the cultural hegemony of Christianity.


That's the Christmas spirits!


From: Calgary | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
Legless-Marine
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posted 26 December 2006 01:00 AM      Profile for Legless-Marine        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Martha (but not Stewart):

A pedantic point: Easter is the most holy day in the Christian calendar.


How do you figure?


From: Calgary | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 26 December 2006 04:41 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection, and I think every Christian denomination holds this as the most holy day in their calendar.
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
pookie
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posted 26 December 2006 08:24 AM      Profile for pookie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boom Boom:
Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection, and I think every Christian denomination holds this as the most holy day in their calendar.

True dat.


From: there's no "there" there | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
fpu aaa
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posted 26 December 2006 10:02 AM      Profile for fpu aaa     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Legless-Marine:

That's the Christmas spirits!


was it ever. even if the potato had conspired to force ghost visitation i would have been thankfully unconscious.


From: toronto | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 26 December 2006 10:39 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
I wasn't disagreeing with Saber, but I guess you didn't notice that. You seem to be suffering from goofy dog syndrome.

Sorry, it just seemed that your response was so off point that it came across as negation. Which brings me too: how can you possibly agree with something you don't understand... never mind.

[ 26 December 2006: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Bobolink
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posted 27 December 2006 08:33 PM      Profile for Bobolink   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Can anyone point out to me where Christmas trees, mistletoe or Rudolf are mentioned in the New Testament?
From: Stirling, ON | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
unionist
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posted 27 December 2006 08:46 PM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Bobolink:
Can anyone point out to me where Christmas trees, mistletoe or Rudolf are mentioned in the New Testament?

quote:
The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.

Acts 5:30

Sorry, I had to get even more creative for the others, and even stray back to the Old Testament:

quote:
Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron's right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.

Leviticus 8:23

quote:
Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus.

Song of Solomon 7:4


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 27 December 2006 08:56 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Bobolink:
Can anyone point out to me where Christmas trees, mistletoe or Rudolf are mentioned in the New Testament?

The book of be quiet and look the other way: 4-13


From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 27 December 2006 08:59 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Bobolink:
Can anyone point out to me where Christmas trees, mistletoe or Rudolf are mentioned in the New Testament?
That's exactly what I say to Christians who get all offended about their religion being "persecuted" by rabid secularists when their Christmas trees get moved from the front lobby to the hallway.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 28 December 2006 12:52 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't think of the tree as a christian symbol. It's true that Christmas is currently understood as the celebration of Jesus' birthday in our culture, and so all Christmas symbolism necessarily has a christian context, but I think this is largely incidental. The north-western european pagan cultures who converted to christianity tacked on all their mid-winter festival rites and christianity appropriated them to be spread to other cultures around the world, along with the religion itself, largely through the imperial conquests of the west. These things happen. The real question with appropriation is not whether or not it has happened, but how successful it has been.

Although christianity has been an effective vehicle for spreading these particular traditions to other people, that doesn't mean they've been able to keep a hold over it. Some things are just too big for one religion to control. Looking at things from the long view, we can see that these traditions were here before christianity was, and as christianity is waning in North America, Christmas traditions are not feeling any sympathetic pains. It seems that the christian appropriation of these traditions, so rich in symbolism, will be regarded as just a footnote in their greater history.

That's the funny thing about culture. It's highly dependent on shared acceptance among large groups. If one person does something, it's not cultural but if millions do, it is. To take the menorah example, if 5 million non-jewish people suddenly did start having them in their homes for their mid-winter festivals, then a strong case would be emerging that it had ceased to become an exclusively jewish tradition. I think we've already reached that point with the christmas tree. It was theirs for a little while, just as a matter of chance, but it has drifted away to the point that their claims of ownership are no longer relevant.


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 28 December 2006 06:09 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Interesting link

excerpt:

The tradition of a holiday tree has been around since ancient times and has played an important part in winter celebrations for many centuries. Many pagan festivals used trees when honoring their gods and spirits.

excerpt:

There have also been many legends surrounding the lore of the Christmas tree. In one story Saint Boniface, an English monk, came upon a group of pagans who had gathered around an oak tree and were preparing to sacrifice a child. To stop the sacrifice and save the child, the Saint flattened the oak tree with one blow of his fist. A small fir sprang up in its place, which Saint Boniface told the pagans was the Tree of Life and represented the life of Christ.

excerpt:

Another legend tells of Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant religion, walking through the woods late one night. As it was clear, many stars were shining through the branches of the trees giving the impression of twinkling lights. Luther was so inspired by the beauty of the sight that he cut down a small evergreen and brought it home. He recreated the stars by putting candles on the tree's branches.

excerpt:

The tradition of the Christmas tree eventually spread through out Europe. The English Royalty help popularize the tree in England by decorating the first Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1841. Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, decorated the first English Christmas Tree with candles, candies, fruits, and gingerbread.

When the German immigrants went to American they also brought along their Christmas trees. In the 1830's most Americans still considered the Christmas tree an oddity. One of the first public displays of a Christmas tree was set up by German Settlers in Pennsylvania. At the time many still considered the tree to be a symbol of pagans and it wasn't until the late 1800's that Americans began accepting the Christmas tree.


From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Drinkmore
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posted 28 December 2006 08:19 AM      Profile for Drinkmore     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Caissa:
It might be more correct to argue the secular, commercial celebration of Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity.

Perhaps.

But perhaps it is just too hard to nail down what Christianity is: the Essene faith practiced by its founders; religious beliefs based on the Old and New Testament; or the society & values that Christian cultures have come to produce.

Ditto for the symbolic value of Christmas trees.

Clearly Christmas trees are a tool of cultural hegemony of Christianity in our society, of the West in the world as a whole and of consumerism.

Yet, I suspect in the West they were orginally a part of the resistance of Christian cultural hegemony.


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brookmere
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posted 31 December 2006 05:32 AM      Profile for brookmere     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Do you think that if I put a menorah in my home during Chanukah, that would prove that Chanukah candles are actually not a Jewish symbol, and that Chanukah is now just a secular occasion? That's ridiculous.
...
the dominant culture to force their traditions, ROOTED IN THE DOMINANT RELIGION, on everyone.


It is completely bogus to compare the Chanukah menorah to a Christmas tree. The former is a Jewish spiritual symbol with actual historical relevance (look it up), and the latter is just a winter ornament appropriated for a Christian holiday. Fireworks are not a Hindu or Sikh symbol just because they set them off for Diwali.

And let's take a look at places where Christianity isn't the dominant religion. In Singapore (where Christians are a small minority) and Thailand (where there are even fewer Christians, and the state religion is Buddhism) Christmas trees in public places are popular. And if you want examples of countries that might have a real historical axe to grind against Christianity, you will find them in Vietnam and China too.

All seasonal holidays are ultimately of religious origin. That includes May Day (pagan), but I don't think any leftists have any problem with that. Holiday symbols pass back and forth between religions and secular society.


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M. Spector
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posted 31 December 2006 08:16 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by brookmere:
Holiday symbols pass back and forth between religions and secular society.
That doesn't mean that symbols have no meaning!

The meaning of a symbol is dependent on the social and historical context in which it is used. If I wear a swastika, you will think I'm a Nazi, and no amount of my saying "It's an ancient symbol that predates the Nazis" is going to change the significance of it to you or most of the rest of the world.

I don't care if they have christmas trees in Singapore and Santa Clauses in Shanghai. In Canada, Christmas trees mean Christmas, not some pagan feast day. Canada is a diverse, multicultural society, in which many people have their own religions, and many have none at all. Each have their own symbols, which may not be original and may or may not be appropriated in turn by other cultures or by the advertising industry. Many of those religions have holidays (holy-days) around this time of year. The use of Christmas trees to decorate public buildings at this time of year is clearly a representation of Christmas. When they start having Christmas trees in July, then I may start believing they represent something other than Christmas.


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Boom Boom
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posted 31 December 2006 08:25 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
When non-Christians have Christmas trees in their homes and/or in their front yard, are they still celebrating a religious holy day?
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Stargazer
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posted 31 December 2006 08:54 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Speaking as a non-Christian who celebrated a holiday with my family, in which a Christmas tree was present, no, we were not celebrating a religious holiday. We were sharing a time off in which it is acceptable and promoted by the society in which we live, to get together and have a great meal, some laughs and a good time.
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brookmere
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posted 31 December 2006 09:05 AM      Profile for brookmere     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:

I don't care if they have christmas trees in Singapore and Santa Clauses in Shanghai. In Canada, Christmas trees mean Christmas, not some pagan feast day.


Christmas trees mean Christmas everywhere. The point is that, as many Christians love to complain, Christmas has become a secular holiday to many people worldwide. And the tree is a secular ornamentation - it has no religious significance, any more than having a turkey for dinner.

And are you trying to say that it's OK for the authorities to put up Christmas trees in countries that do not have a significant Christian population, but not OK in countries that (at least nominally) do? Why would a Buddhist from Thailand, or a secular Chinese, be (or not be) offended by a Christmas tree in Canada when he's used to seeing them at home?


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Boom Boom
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posted 31 December 2006 11:56 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Exactly - Christmas is what you want it to be; religious, or not religious. Making a kerfuffle over displaying a Christmas tree in a courthouse is giving in to the argument that Christmas is solely a religious observance, which it clearly is not.

[ 31 December 2006: Message edited by: Boom Boom ]


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M. Spector
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posted 31 December 2006 02:58 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You guys are a moving target. First you deny that the Christmas tree has anything to do with religion, and then when it's pointed out that Christmas trees mean Christmas, you try to say Christmas itself is not a religious holiday!

All you are doing is showing the absurdity of your position. You are trying to pretend that there is no such thing as Christian religious holidays any more, because many people who aren't religious Christians observe them.

The day is a statutory holiday and the media and the entire retail industry shove it down everyone's throat for two months out of every 12. Is it any wonder that non-Christians "celebrate" Christmas? But that doesn't mean it's a secular occasion; ask the Christian churches. Did you not see all the religious services broadcast on TV on Christmas Eve?

Some people, for whatever crazy reason, don't exactly like to have Christianity sold to them every year with a big happy-face - a benign, non-denominational, ecumenical, non-sectarian, one-size-fits-all religion. It's bullshit. It's marketing. It's cultural imperialism, and "progressives" should not be defending it.


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Papal Bull
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posted 31 December 2006 03:04 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Perhaps, just perhaps M. Spector that those three facts are kind of connected in the argument and you're too hazy-headed to really notice it?
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Erik Redburn
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posted 31 December 2006 07:19 PM      Profile for Erik Redburn     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boom Boom:
Exactly - Christmas is what you want it to be; religious, or not religious. Making a kerfuffle over displaying a Christmas tree in a courthouse is giving in to the argument that Christmas is solely a religious observance, which it clearly is not.

I've been celebrating Xmas my whole life in pretty much the traditional manner, and I don't even Recall the last time I believed in Santa...


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Erik Redburn
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posted 31 December 2006 07:35 PM      Profile for Erik Redburn     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
And yes, it's onething to argue that religion shouldn't be Taught in schools alongside say evolution, it's another to protest the active suppression of a minority's religious customs -both are valid and pressing concerns. It's something else Again however to argue that the majority must suppress all of its Own religious traditions on the unsupported theory that this in itself Oppresses Others. That's not necessarily the case, not unless there's something or someone coercing Others to comply -like prayer being mandatory in school when I was a young lad. A multi-purpose syncretic symbol being seasonally displayed in generic public byeways falls rather short of that, and making it a big issue could open a whole can of smelly old worms.
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brookmere
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posted 01 January 2007 09:35 AM      Profile for brookmere     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:
You guys are a moving target. First you deny that the Christmas tree has anything to do with religion, and then when it's pointed out that Christmas trees mean Christmas, you try to say Christmas itself is not a religious holiday!


Well in fact it isn't for a lot of people. A holiday is religious if you think it is (and isn't if you think it isn't).

For another example, look at Thanksgiving. Now to whom were the thanks being given originally? The holiday has religious origins. But if you get together for a turkey dinner with your family, is that a religious observance?

How about Easter eggs? Are they religious symbols too? The Easter bunny? Where did they come from anyway?

[ 01 January 2007: Message edited by: brookmere ]


From: BC (sort of) | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 01 January 2007 10:26 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by brookmere:
A holiday is religious if you think it is (and isn't if you think it isn't).
And you can fly if you think you can.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 01 January 2007 11:55 AM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by brookmere:

How about Easter eggs? Are they religious symbols too? The Easter bunny? Where did they come from anyway?

[ 01 January 2007: Message edited by: brookmere ]


Everyone knows that after his resurrection Christ appeared before the disciples as a bunny rabbit and gave them the Easter Eggs of virtue and forgiveness. Doubting Thomas merely couldn't believe the saviour was a wascaly wabbit.


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