Monday, October 31, 2011

Reclaiming Halloween

This is a guest post by Simon Robinson:

The rubber horror masks, witch costumes and pumpkins that have appeared on supermarket shelves can only mean one thing: Halloween (Hallowe'en) is upon us again, and is bigger than ever. This kitsch celebration of the ghoulish, promising confectionery-fuelled mischief for children, and alcohol-fuelled mischief for adults, is promoted not just by the retail industry, but growingly by the entertainment industry, where film and television have made vampires synonymous with hedonism and sexuality, and music artists like Lady Gaga don fetish wear and devil horns just to buy a pint of milk. To many eyes, Halloween has come to represent not just pumpkins and sugar, but the culmination and validation of a year round media diet of horror, the supernatural and the occult.

These aspects of the festival have always been troubling to many of the Christian faith, but most have failed to find an effective reply. Many Christians simply join in, with the emphasis firmly on light hearted and child-focused fun. At the other end of the spectrum, some distribute pamphlets warning of the dangers of celebrating the occult – a protest which seems likely to founder in a secular culture where Christian disapproval has become a much sought-after credential. 'Un-Halloween'-themed costume parties for children organised by local churches are great fun and get closer to the mark, but seem unlikely to have much social impact, as indicated by the often sizeable percentage of little skeletons and witches whose parents amusingly missed the point.

While confronted by the rise and rise of Halloween, what many fail to appreciate is that what Christians have on their hands could be what Simon Cowell would call a 'high class problem'. Halloween is believed to originate from the pagan festival of 'Samhain', but has long since been Christianised into 'All Hallows Eve', in a bold, ruthless, and far-sighted move that was typical of our indomitable forebears. Halloween revellers are in fact celebrating the eve of a Christian festival – All Saints Day or Hallowmas, if they did but know it – partaking in the symbolic last gasp of darkness before it is extinguished by the light. However, unlike similar success stories of Christmas and Easter, the duality of Halloween and Hallowmas is largely forgotten. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the main activity of the traditionally Catholic feast day is to pray to Saints, a no-no for Protestants. It is followed by All Souls day, which features prayers for the departed faithful. Both festivals are sombre affairs that are not universally observed by Christians, and are certainly devoid of any appeal to the masses.

As our distant ancestors knew instinctively, banning or protesting against frivolity does little to promote the Church's message. Clever marketing does not attempt to change society's attitudes overnight, but works with the grain of human nature to shift perceptions by degrees over time. I would therefore propose that Hallowmas (a name preferable to All Saints Day for its connotations of Christmas and its lack of doctrinal ambiguity) be made into an ecumenical event. This sombre day of the dead could become a joyous celebration of the Christian Communion, for all denominations; a day when the great works of the likes of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, and Williams Booth and Wilberforce could be celebrated, in the context of the faith that sustained and inspired them. The sterling work of Christian charities and the plight of Christians around the world could be highlighted. We rightly recognise the cultural and technological achievements of the Islamic faith; Hallowmas could become a day to trumpet the manifold gifts bestowed upon the world by Christianity. Mass thanksgiving services, gospel concerts, school visits and parties could be held, food and drink (the traditional recipe for Hallowmas cakes can be found online) consumed, and small gifts and cards given. This initiative would not only complete and answer Halloween by reviving its malnourished sibling, but by providing an additional day of celebration instead of bemoaning the existing one, would surely put a dent in the unearned reputation that Christians have as wet blankets. And who but the most churlish could object to children donning sheets and fangs on Halloween if, the very next day, the message of light overcoming darkness would firmly and joyfully be reinforced?

Whether or not this vision of the future appeals, it would appear unlikely that such an initiative will come from the Church of England, with its seeming determination to undermine itself and its message at every turn. Indeed, the Rev’d George Pitcher, the Archbishop of Canterbury's former press secretary, recently denounced the CofE's media and public affairs unit for employing people who would not 'last 20 minutes in the private sector, let alone in private enterprise'. But then, all the best social trends begin from the grassroots up. Why not wish someone a Happy Hallowmas this year. Who knows where it might lead?

62 Comments:

Blogger blondpidge said...

We make a point of wishing people a happy All Hallows Eve.

This year Halloween seems to have hit new heights. I am typing this in a University canteen where all the staff are dolled up in expensive looking fancy dress.

On dropping my children off at nursery, I noticed both the baby room and toddler room were bedecked in decorations and again the staff were in fancy dress. It is a very difficult path for a Christian parent to tread. I cannot believe the amount of decorations, after all this is one day, not the octave of Christmas.

When the inevitable trick or treaters come knocking they are rewarded with the finest cheapest Catholic tat available. Children are given either a fluorescent statue of Our Lady or a gaudy plastic rosary and a prayer card and wished a happy All Hallows Eve.

31 October 2011 at 10:38  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Nice post.

Friend of mine has been doing something really smart this Halloween: he has a sign up outside his house that says "For every child who knocks on this door, £1 will go to a child in Peru. Let your light shine"

When trick-or-treaters come, he lets them put the £1 coin in the charity box, and gives them a leaflet explaining how the money will be used to combat the crippling poverty that afflicts so many kids there. Apparently responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

31 October 2011 at 11:17  
Blogger annmarie said...

@ Belfast: Like it!

Halloween, as celebrated, is an insult to all those Hallowmas is meant to celebrate; those such as my parents, who would never feature on St Peter's Square but who in one case resigned on a matter of principle (in protest at the greedy actions of some of his younger colleagues - they weren't bankers, but it was the same sort of thing ... years ago) and both lived their faith, always with high principles and willing to give to others.

I'm sure many can think of at least one person who fits the celebration.

My pound coins would go to the Copts.

31 October 2011 at 11:34  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Excellent article. Mr Robinson. When my kids were in the public system, every year they were pressured to join the secularized parodies of Christmas, Easter and Halloween and when the teachers were told that our kids will sit out the festivities, we were lectured about how these are now non-religious holidays for everyone and that it would be horribly unfair to exclude or marginalize our darlings.

A generation ago most of the Jews of Toronto, even the Orthodox, comfortably attended the public system and were rarely bothered by the morning prayers and unabashed Christian celebrations which they were never compelled to join. Most didn't participate, some helped their friends with costumes and stage sets, and none felt either threatened, excluded or pressured. The irony is that it took militant human rights-foussed secularists to scare us off with their attempts to "universalize" the holidays and obscure their meaning, while aggressively pushing all kids into participation for the sake of all-important "inclusion." Attempts to explain our reluctance were met with stuff like, "but we put up lights only because they are pretty and we also sing Hanukka songs along with Jingle Bells on Winter Fest," or, "your kids can wear their Purim costume for Halloween"...presumably so that Queen Esther can dance with the vampires, zombies and the Texas Chain Saw Massacre dude. The Jewish flight to private schools is now near complete.

Good luck with taking your festivals back to their Christian roots, where they belong. It will be a culture war, for sure, so expect the warriors of politically correct secularism...the saccharin-smile principal, the school guidance counsellors, the sex ed nurses, the hovering social workers...to defend their privileged powers to homogenize, reform, assimilate and missionize your kids.

31 October 2011 at 12:05  
Blogger Kidz Klub Bradford said...

Here's what we'll be doing this evening. Can't understand Christians who don't take advantage of this fantastic evangelistic opportunity. It's not too late to join in on the fun.

"What you intended for harm, God intended for good". Gen 50:20. Let's take the stick out of the devil's hand and use it to beat him with :o)

31 October 2011 at 12:06  
Blogger Preacher said...

It seems the problem started when occult celebrations were mixed with christian teaching & belief.
A sure recipe for disaster with the age old motto "It seemed like a good idea at the time!". 3-400 years after the incarnation, men started to try & understand the mind of God & improve upon His plan by imposing religion upon the people, perhaps it never occured to them that if that's what He wanted, we'd all nave remained Jewish. Or maybe they just wanted to receive the praise of men & get rich. Whatever, IMO the faith took a wrong & catastrophic turn & the Pagan was mixed with the Christian causing confusion dispute & death.
It's too late to tinker with the problem. We need to return to the roots of the early church & take the right path, preach the gospel, read the Bible, fast & pray. seek God & repent of the divisions that we have caused & supported for so many generations. Love one another, "The Lion shall Lie down with the Lamb". (The Lion of Judah Will lie down with the Lamb of God). Then the banner of the Lord will fly again & the Son will rise with healing in His wings.
It will take effort dedication & commitment to be victorious, (I'm afraid that many have grown weary & lazy), but IMO the Church needs re birth on the principles that the Lord originally gave to His disciples.
Having said all that, I know that God will have the victory over Satan, it was a no contest from the start. The question is what part we want to play & where we will stand when the smoke clears.

Happy days folks, be Blessed.

31 October 2011 at 12:37  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I hate the Halloween thing myself. Not because it's supposedly to do with the occult but because it's mostly an import from the Merkins. As kids, it was always Mischief Night on the 4th November that was exciting.

By the way, can someone mention Winterval please and blame liberals, atheists, or secularists? It's almost November and I haven't seen a reference yet. :O Thanks in advance.

31 October 2011 at 12:51  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

One can only agree with the proposal to reclaim All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day as a Christian festivals.

However, in our enlightened, secular times, what will our pagan and satanic citizens say? By marginalising them in this way, will we breach their rights of equality thereby infringing their human rights? We wouldn't want them running off to the European Court!

While we on the theme of such festivals, isn't it time we reconsidered the ritualistic burning of Guy Fawkes on the 5th November?

31 October 2011 at 13:36  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@DanJ0

Never let it be said we don't oblige:

Winterval. Liberal-atheist-secularists are to blame. End.

Or did you want more hellfire? len will probably be along shortly.

31 October 2011 at 14:25  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

DanJO,

Winterval? Winterval? Never mind the liberals, atheists and secularists; that one deserves to be trashed for the cheesey name alone.

31 October 2011 at 17:20  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

As usual, the christians stole a perfectly good seasonal festival. (Samhain)
Marking the end of the "light months" and the onset of winter.
I suppose re-naming it/them all souls' eve, and all saints day was better than suppressing them, as happened, for a long time, to the festival at the other end ... Beltane.

It's meaningless, EXCEPT as it relates to the siderial year, and the sesnons' pattern of growth, change and decay.

Still, since I'm dancing (practice, not dancing "out") this evening, so I shall probaly wear "midnight", i.e. all-black, just for fun, and to wind up the local fundie (US-based-and-funded) christians.
Anything to give them conniptions, the bastards.

Erm....
Avi Barzel, and Anonymousin Belfast
I'm an atheist and a secularist, and I call it by its' proper name(s): either Midwinter, or Yule.
"Winterval" was dreamed up by some idiot in a council office"

31 October 2011 at 17:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Mr Robinson Save your breath. It’s taken years of Americanisation for Halloween to get this far. Your idea would be drowned in a tub of apples; and to be frank, it’s what it deserves.

The Christian church is for good, and you can’t have good without evil. Let this day remind everyone that evil exists, and is only just below the surface, in individuals and society as a group. Plenty of examples - drug culture, the Mafia, greedy bankers, Islam.

The Inspector suggests we should just join in ‘the fun’. Let’s plaster the walls with pictures of aborted foetuses, gang killings, beheaded Christians, honour killing victims, adulterous women stoned dead. There really is so much about – enough for a topic a year for a lifetime !!

31 October 2011 at 17:58  
Blogger non mouse said...

Why not wish someone a Happy Hallowmas this year. Who knows where it might lead? To 'hollowmas'? [=Sent away empty, soulless].

31 October 2011 at 18:00  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Do remember that the EDL said they will picket any councils who bring back ‘Winterval’. Hope the lads keep to their word !

Councils, if you have any money to spare, forget trying to alter ancient festivals and reopen our public toilets instead ! The Inspector has to go up a wall in a back alley you know. Not quite the image he wishes to promote...

31 October 2011 at 18:11  
Blogger Atlas shrugged said...

G. Tingey

Are you really a true Atheist, or just a lazy thinker?

I ask because I contend that there is no such thing as a true Atheist, just a small minority of people who seriously want to believe that their is no god, for one self-interested reason or another.

Which IMO requires a considerable amount of faith that there exists nothing to answer to, for your own particular actions throughout ones fleetingly short material existence. Indeed far more faith then most Christians possess.

Are you really sure about this? If so what evidence could you possibly have to fully justify such seemingly blind faith in your own almost infinitely improbable pointlessness.

If your evidence includes anything to do with naturalism, as promoted by the likes of now proven idiots like Darwin, or Dawkins, then I feel obliged to warn you that you have been most cruelly deceived.

31 October 2011 at 18:12  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Christmas with Tingey !! What a bloody nightmare that would be – not even Dickens could top that....

31 October 2011 at 18:15  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Atlas & OoIG
Yes - in the sense that Dawkins is.
You can detect particles that have no rest-mass (photons) and miniscule mass (neutrinoes) and electrons.... and ... all the way up to supergalaxy clusters many thousands of millions of light-years away.
No Big Sky Fairy anywhere.
And no evidence of any supposed communications, either.
The evidence points to no god at all.

If the evidence changes, I'll change my mind.

Remember, I started out as an almopst-brainwashed evengelical anglican.
I was a Spinozan deist for a long time, until I realised that that was a lazy position. And a get-out.

As for Yule (erm, "christmas") I enjoy the Winter holiday as well as any other.
Roast goose, lots of home-grown veg, plenty of good booze - why should I not?

Unlike the christians around the corner, who, correctly, follow that well-known christian, Cromwell in realising that we have no idea AT ALL at what time of year Yeshua ben Joseph was born ....
REAL christians don't take a holiday in mid-winter ... (ahem)

31 October 2011 at 19:21  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector

Yuletide, Saturnalia or the Winter Soltice surely if its with Tingey? Can't see him calling it Christ-mass!

Might be interesting if he strutted his stuff though. Can you imagine? What do you suppose is the preferred dance of atheists?

Ps
Pop down to the thread Merkel: If the Euro fails ... Interesting post.

31 October 2011 at 19:24  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Simon Robinson says “I would therefore propose that Hallowmas … be made into an ecumenical event. … We rightly recognise the cultural and technological achievements of the Islamic faith.

Not a good idea. In the Catholic Church we have had the ecumenical Assissi gathering invented by John Paul II where pagan African witch doctors make invocations to their God’s and Hindu priests celebrate their rituals alongside an orthodox Catholic mass in a consecrated church. St. Francis must be truning in his grave. All religions are not equally valid. Satan must be laughing his socks off at these suggestions. John Paul II is going to have a lot of explaining to do. I wouldn't like to be in his shoes.

31 October 2011 at 19:41  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

The preferred dance of this atheist is traditional English - usually performed outside places of ale and refreshment ...
I can't speak for any others, of course.

Indeed, we drink a Weas Hael at our "Wassail" usuall very close to "12th Night".

Erm, Shacklefree...
All religions are equally valid.
Since they are all false.
Oops.

31 October 2011 at 19:48  
Blogger Man With A Pen said...

Ah. Hallowene. Playing with evil is such fun isn't it?

http://justamanwriting.blogspot.com/2011/10/journey-into-evil-and-back-out-again.html

31 October 2011 at 20:01  
Blogger David B said...

@Atlas

'Are you really a true Atheist, or just a lazy thinker?'

There is a false dichotomy for a start. Atheists are no more immune from thinking lazily than anyone else. Though more atheists, in my experience, think deeply about such things as morality and truth than those who are spoonfed pap from one allegedly holy book or other.

'I ask because I contend that there is no such thing as a true Atheist, just a small minority of people who seriously want to believe that their is no god, for one self-interested reason or another.'

That seems to be quite a common misconception among theists of all sorts. In fact many atheists try very hard to hold onto their faiths, sometimes for decades, before finally sloughing it off, often with regret, which can take a while before they feel liberated.

You should try reading some accounts of deconversion. I have read loads, and most of them show signs of deep and serious thought. I could point you to some if you like.

'Which IMO requires a considerable amount of faith that there exists nothing to answer to, for your own particular actions throughout ones fleetingly short material existence. Indeed far more faith then most Christians possess.'

That is another common misconception. One answers to ones friends and family, and, perhaps mostly, to oneself, in my experience. That requires no faith.

'Are you really sure about this? If so what evidence could you possibly have to fully justify such seemingly blind faith in your own almost infinitely improbable pointlessness.'

I'm not sure that there is any coherence in the para above. Could you kindly rephrase it.

It seems to imply, though, that without a god there is no purpose. That is false. I have all sorts of purpose in my life, as do many of my fellow atheists. The pursuit of truth, even if it means giving up the idea of pie in the sky, being one example among many.

'If your evidence includes anything to do with naturalism, as promoted by the likes of now proven idiots like Darwin, or Dawkins, then I feel obliged to warn you that you have been most cruelly deceived.'

I am afraid you have been cruelly deceived. Darwin and Dawkins, both, far from being idiots, have added to human understanding of their place in the universe, among other things, and looked their own mortality courageously in the face, and accepted it.

As, as regards this last, have I, and, I imagine, has G Tingey

David B

31 October 2011 at 20:01  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

We will have to disagree. Purpose without God simply means lasting out for a few short years and then disappearing into eternal oblivion. Hardly a purpose and those who have taken the logical step from that follow the path of hedonism

31 October 2011 at 20:11  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Shacklefree: "Purpose without God simply means lasting out for a few short years and then disappearing into eternal oblivion."

Seems perfectly fine to me.

31 October 2011 at 20:22  
Blogger David B said...

@Shacklefree

It means lasting out a few short years, then disappearing into eternal oblivion while leaving behind memories in friends and family, and the ripples from one's brief life, so to speak, spread out through others.

Religious people, other than the most ascetic, like to enjoy themselves from time to time, and I certainly do, but it does not follow that an absence of god leads to a life of selfishness and hedonism.

There are other aims, like trying to work out the nature of the universe, the human condition, and the relationship between them. I suppose finding this sort of thing fascinating could be viewed as hedonism in a way, but it is not the debauchery and riotous living often associated with hedonism.

That one ought to live well is a truism. What the nature of living well is an interesting question, but one better considered, IMO, without assuming a God for whom the evidence is lacking.

David B

31 October 2011 at 20:23  
Blogger Berserker said...

All this talk of festivals celebrating God knows what... it suddenly occurred to me that Saturnalia (which finished around our Christmas Eve and where the Roman slaves could be waited on and given feasts and permitted to gamble... why not send our top bankers down to St Pauls and on a giant spit roast a few turkeys and heat up a lot of mince pies (could I possibly mean the spineless establishment of the great and the good at the Cathedral?) and serve the idiot slaves of liberalism a nice old Christian feast and do the washing up afterwards... but of course the slaves will be back home with mum and dad busy studying for their accountancy exams to enable them to become a future generation of bankers...

31 October 2011 at 21:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Tingey. As you are searching for the sky fairy, wondered if you have any thoughts on Dark Matter and Dark Energy. The various astronomical branches of science will thank you if you do, because they have no idea themselves. Could contain God and the throne of Heaven for all they know...

31 October 2011 at 21:03  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

The Inspector has just inspired an idea for a new line of Halloween costumes: Let’s plaster the walls with pictures of aborted foetuses, gang killings, beheaded Christians, honour killing victims, adulterous women stoned dead. There really is so much about – enough for a topic a year for a lifetime !!"

And who could object to such a timely update, a modernization of horrors? I've never met a vampire, those who call themselves witches work as cashiers at supermarkets, and too many zombies only give us hangovers.

31 October 2011 at 22:31  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Shacklefree
You have publicly openly committed a cardinal sin in normal theology - DESPAIR.

So, there isn't a "god" or a "Purpose" to life and the unoverse?
Well, lets give it/them one, the other or both some, without any assistance from sky fairies.
How's that for a course to follow?

OoIG
"Dark Matter"
Almost certainly exists.
Traces have been observed, and direct effects, like gravitationsl concentrations, and lensing, which (as far as we know at present) can only be accounted for by DM - seen directly.
A very good case for it exists.
Not "proven" but very, very likely.
Particularly when one considers the usual power-law distributions of both matter, energy, and events.
[ 10 times larger, ten times less frequent, and it multiplies by powers of ten, not just by ten... ]

"Dark Energy"
Nowhere nearly as valid.
A lot of handwavium is being expended on this subject, and I'd certainly put it no higher than one (of several) plausible hypotheses.

31 October 2011 at 22:45  
Blogger David B said...

@G Tingey

Nice post. My understanding of these things is definitely from a lay position, but as far as I'm able to understand these things it looks to me as if you've summed it up pretty well.

David

31 October 2011 at 23:10  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

31 October 2011 at 23:45  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

David B

"In the Country of the blind the one eyed man is King."

And we know what happened to him in the original tale.

31 October 2011 at 23:47  
Blogger David B said...

@Dodo

That was a story. Your point?

David B

1 November 2011 at 00:09  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

David B

You'll need to read the story and work that out for yourself.

1 November 2011 at 00:14  
Blogger David B said...

@Dodo

I read the story years ago.

Make your point, if you have one.

David B

1 November 2011 at 00:42  
Blogger len said...

It say much about a Society that promotes halloween and tries to ban Christmas.
A Country which rejects Christianity will return to its Pagan roots, the wheel is/has turned full circle.
'And this is the test by which men are judged: the light has come into the world and men have more love for the dark than for the light, because their acts are evil.'(John 3 19)

1 November 2011 at 07:31  
Blogger niconoclast said...

Evil does exist -in organised religion that dupes ignorami into surrendering their minds to superstition and irrational mumbo jumbo in order to gain ascendancy and political power over them.Organised religion is a jealous God and does not like any competition like Halloween but it is just a rival irrationality it wants to see off.There is no fundamental difference between them as they share the same base of folklore, mysticism, mindless ritual,promulgation of fear, blind adherence to tradition,repetition of mantras ad nauseam.Most organised religion is also Left wing and liberal which is why it is in the main so sympathetic to secular versions of its essentially totalitarian message such as Communism and Socialism.

1 November 2011 at 08:14  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Ien:
Where is this society that is trying to ban "christmas"?
I haven't seen one around here, Unless you are stupid and gullible enough to believe what the daily Nazi, erm, Mail prints!
The "promotion" of "halloween" is commercial.
It isn't a promotion or even a recognition that ... the seasons are turning, and that we are entering the dark months.
Believe me, if you keep an allotment (I do) you really notice these things.

niconoclast:
Agreed, evil exists. Persons who are so selfish that other people don't matter, at all to them. Which is where most of this planet's cruelty and evil comes from.
Leave out the word "organised" and I'd agree with you about religion - especially since communism is a classic religion.
Careful with "socialism" though - it means many things to many people, including primitive christanity, which was very socialist, I understand?

1 November 2011 at 09:12  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "It say much about a Society that promotes halloween and tries to ban Christmas."

Society hasn't tried to ban Christmas, quite the opposite actually. It's a retail extravaganza and a major theme in TV scheduling. The religious aspects are still there too for those who want it, and I think that's great myself. Christmas is different for different people. I celebrate it myself, albeit perhaps in a more Green Man oriented way.

What has happened, as far as I can see, is that local State service providers have recognised that local tax payers are diverse and have attempted to generalise their service provision. They occasionally mess that up and we get a PC Gone Wrong story as a result.

My local city council promotes both Diwali and Christmas in a big way in the city centre as we have a large Hindu population. We have carol services outside City Hall and fireworks during the Festival of Light. That seems fair enough to me given that the people playing the tax are multi-ethnic. As an atheist, I'm very happy to support both rather than none.

The infamous Winterval in Birmingham was a retail promotion spanning a number of festivals and themes, not a PC replacement for Christmas. If you go to Birmingham in a couple of weeks or so then you will see the Frankfurt Christmas Market which takes over the city centre and attracts very large numbers of visitors. The last thing the council wants to do is ban Christmas!

1 November 2011 at 09:56  
Blogger Michele said...

Halloween - or to give it its correct name - Samhain; the night when the veil is thin between the worlds.

Sorry, but you can't go and try and put your later religions stamp on such an ancient festival and call it evil you know. It was you that hijacked all our festivals, even calling the festival that marks the death of your god by the name of our ancient fertility goddess Eostra!!

And Yule, the birth of the Winter born king, when the sun begins to rise again to bring the hope of the Spring. Ever wonder why your church fathers lighted on the 25th December? The birth of that other winter born saviour who was born of a virgin within a cave and the animals of the earth came and paid him homage - died to bring the light back to the earth and descended into the underworld for three day before returning with the light? Mithras!!! centuries before Jesus was said to walk the earth the memory of Mithras was still strong in places like Tarsus.

If the folk memory of these ancient festivals still strike a chord, one must ask why? Perhaps the earth remembers??

1 November 2011 at 11:40  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Anyway it is November 5th-Bonfire Night-that is/was the big festival in England.

1 November 2011 at 11:51  
Blogger Gnostic said...

It's a good excuse for fancy dress and fun. What's not to like?

1 November 2011 at 13:18  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

David B accepts the need for a purpose in life but says “it does not follow that an absence of god leads to a life of selfishness and hedonism. … That one ought to live well is a truism”. Why would that be a truism I wonder. It certainly is not a truism under a system of survival of the fittest. He then says that “What the nature of living well is an interesting question” but then goes on to say that before answering the question we should make the assumption that God doesn’t exist. A bit like cooking the books and very convenient because once that is done, there is no objective standard so basically we can make up our own rules at least those of us who are affluent enough to have the time and leisure to devote ourselves to more than the menial struggle to make a living. It is all so self-centered and westernized and absolves us from a commitment to humanity in general beyond giving a few pennies to salve our conscience. However, his answer implies that we do have a conscience and that it is more than simply following basic rules that make survival of the species more likely. The argument is engineered to avoid the really tough questions. Perhaps that level of purpose is sufficient for some people and if they are right that there is no God then we don’t need to concern ourselves about Hitlers and Stalins so long as they don’t affect us here and now. However if the assumption is wrong it will get pretty hot for those who in their complacency think that when they die their problems will be over.

1 November 2011 at 14:43  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"It is all so self-centered and westernized and absolves us from a commitment to humanity in general beyond giving a few pennies to salve our conscience."

Why?

1 November 2011 at 15:30  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

shacklefree
Seems to be stuck in a 1930's interpretation of "survivasl of the fittest"
As is typical of religious people with no understanding of science.
Fittest may also mean: "Able to breed fast enough to outrun predator-culls".
Think of mice?
They survive as species#, quite well.
Remember that evolution applies to species as a whole, rather than individual memebers of that species.
Oops.

It is fairly well-known that "altruism" brings rewards, if one has a "memory".
Then there are phenomena like symbiosis and commensalism, which also promote species survival.

"Top Predator" is not the only way to be fittest, in other words.
But shacklefree hasn't noticed this.
Um

1 November 2011 at 16:03  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

I have noticed it but it's all for a few short years and then oblivion. Why not save the effort and slit our throats - that way we get to out lovely oblivion faster.

1 November 2011 at 18:09  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

And in case your thinking that ending it all would be very unfair to your wives and children, they can do it too and join you in perpetual oblivion - what a lovely thought! Come to think of it we could eradicate all human suffering on this Earth if people had the sense to kick the bucket. However, it might not end human suffering out of this world.

1 November 2011 at 18:41  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Who said oblivion was lovely?
I didn't.

Usual religious (christian) trick - assume and argue on the basis of something your opponent is neither saying nor implying.

1 November 2011 at 18:51  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

I seem to remember you saying that there is no God. I assumed you also implied that there is no life after death. That sounds like oblivion to me. Correct me if I am wrong. I will however accept your point that oblivion is not lovely - that was tongue in cheek by the way. Oblivion is in fact the absence of everything and everything you have done in this life to provide and care for your loved ones will at the end of the day be worthless.

1 November 2011 at 18:58  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Oblivion is in fact the absence of everything and everything you have done in this life to provide and care for your loved ones will at the end of the day be worthless."

But not while we're alive, enjoying the present, speculating about the future, and remembering the past. That's enough, plenty actually, for me. You know, I'd bloody hate to be part of the god squad, the underlying terror lots of you guys seem to have about not ultimately meaning anything or not having a universal purpose must be really draining. I'm sure this is actually what leads you lot to a god hypothesis. It's probably a genetic predisposition which some of us don't have.

1 November 2011 at 19:20  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Why not save the effort and slit our throats - that way we get to out lovely oblivion faster."

If it wasn't against the rules, you could do it and get to Jesus quicker. Or perhaps take up dangerous sports, hoping that the increased chance and risk will do the job for you. Or do as some Islamist Muslims do, and martyr yourself for your god and what you perceive as its purpose.

As atheists, we think this is all the consciousness we get so we probably ought to make the best of it. By the same token, we recognise it's the same for other people and probably ought to help them out too when we get the chance. Empathy and sympathy certainly helps that along.

1 November 2011 at 19:26  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

So, there's no life after death.
So what?
I don't like it, but I don't like the ftl limitiation in Physics.
Nothing I can do about it - I have to live with it.

The false, fraudulent and lying claim of christianity and islam and "Modern" (i.e. approx after 400 BCE) judaism that there is an "after-life" as some sort of consolation is a very nasty case of blackmail

1 November 2011 at 19:31  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Yes but are the claims fraudulent? We only have your statements for this. We have given our arguments and so far you have given us your statements of 'facts' without much evidence. You show a great deal of faith in science and you are not prepared to admit its limitations when the alternative hypothesis is God. For my part I have given 'evidence' which may not be conclusive but when the evidence for belief in God is put beside the evidence for belief in the non-existence of God, your arguments come out a very poor fourth. Also we find that when the evidence is presented, you lot generally say we are not going to even look at a good deal of it so you are tweaking the scales from the beginning.

1 November 2011 at 19:45  
Blogger len said...

G Tingey, I would rather go into oblivion having faith in the Gospel than meet God face to face having denied His Son.

1 November 2011 at 20:56  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

len

Do you believe the existance of God can be demonstrated by reason?

1 November 2011 at 22:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Tingey. The possibility that we will all cease to exist at death has never bothered the Inspector. it’s just that there is so much going for God. This planet for example, it was tailor made for life (...as we know it...).

1 November 2011 at 23:06  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

G Tingey said that the idea of an "after-life" is "some sort of consolation [and] is a very nasty case of blackmail". A bit similar to telling children how to cross the street really! Let's keep them in the dark so we won't be accused of indoctrination.

2 November 2011 at 03:33  
Blogger Preacher said...

To Summarise.
We have all decided who or what we believe. The race is about to start, If the Atheists are right, the rest of us are going to look real foolish, imagine,having to look at their smug smiles, the 'Told you so!' looks as we throw away the losing tickets.
But wait, if they're right it won't matter will it? I'll have enjoyed my whole life looking forward to meeting my God, the creator of the universe, the personification of love, the maker of joy, laughter & beauty & I'll never know I was wrong.
But HEY! what if Len & Shacklefree & me & all the rest are right?, There is a Heaven & a He... oh sorry, musn't say that. A day of Judgement when all will stand in front of God to receive Justice?.

I can hear a voice, "Come on now place your bets on the biggest gamble ever. One Soul each, come on lady there's a queue you know. What's that Sir, Odds?, Refund?".

The race will be underway in a moment & then 'No more bets'.
What Race? The Human Race of course, & we all get a chance to decide.

2 November 2011 at 11:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Preacher, what if it's Allah? We will be able to look at each other's horrified faces through the flames in that case.

2 November 2011 at 12:45  
Blogger Preacher said...

Well Dan I'll see you There!.
Should be good for a laugh.
At least I was closer to the truth than you guys.
What would I, or you for that matter do with numerous virgins, plus their mothers in law?.
Preacher.

2 November 2011 at 13:02  
Blogger len said...

I did read somewhere(not sure if it is true or not) but 'virgins 'was a mistranslation the correct word should have been' raisins.'

2 November 2011 at 18:31  
Blogger Preacher said...

Len.
LOL. Well that gets rid of the Mother in law problem.

3 November 2011 at 10:46  

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