Freedom & Responsibility

Bom Jesus da Mata My Ass

Written in reaction and as commentary towards “Death Without Weeping / Has poverty ravaged mother love in the shantytowns of Brazil?” by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, for a cultural anthropology class I’m taking…

I have a difficult time with this.  We live in a world where this type of thing need not be.  The wealth of the world is astounding and people still suffer indescribably from what we call poverty.  Coming, as I do, from a background of Christian “virtue”, it’s been stunning to realize that so much horror occurs in the name of “Jesus”. In this situation we hear of a midwife speaking, “just to dust the infant with baby powder and wait for it to die”, this sort of thinking justified as “cooperating with God’s plan.” It’s certainly hard to comprehend how anyone could see such a thing as being part of the “plan” of an all powerful deity. My own ethnocentrism temps me to explain it as the ignorance of a substandard civilization, but I see the same logic used right here in our own glorious, civilized, academic territory of wisdom where many see everything as directed by some unseen, inexplicable deity and all the misfortunes as being part of “his will” and the fault of our “unworthiness” of some sort. We see beliefs and behavior in another culture which are very similar to our own, and see it as horror, which many of us also see as “his will”.  The solution to such problems as this is indescribably simple, unfortunately the first requirement is logical concern against which, Gods, politics, power and money are vigilantly on guard. Bom Jesus de mata doesn’t mean “beneath the quiet” in my book..  But then, I’m just cooperating with God’s plan… ‘er somethin’.

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Freedom & Responsibility

Atheismus?

Christmas is once again upon us replete with added modern splendors. For generations the celebration of the birth of Christ has been accepted by even the non-believers as a valid celebration, if not of an actual deity, or the flesh and blood representation of a deity, at least of the legend of good and kindness the name Jesus represents. Reasoned people celebrating of the birth of a figure who represents this ideology, be it real or symbolic, can be nothing but valid.

Right?

…Apparently not. The attacks are on, with antiChristians leading the assault AND accusing Christians of being the ones leading the assault. “Christians have been pursuing their so-called Christmas Wars with great vigor” ~About.com. Interesting statement considering that a war first requires opposition, thus it might seem reasonable that it is a war of self defense.

I’ve never heard so much from the Anti-Christmas crowd as I have this year. Pointing out the Pagan aspects of the Christmas celebration has become de rigueur. However there are valid reasons for this which have nothing to do with the validity of the celebration. The nature and history of humanity remove this argument from valid consideration since everything we do includes borrowing and taking advantage of present opportunities. Here’s a big Pagan celebration, lets take it over! The root of the copyright problem sits in the same soil.

Interestingly, one of the principal oppositional points refers to the secular commercialism of the celebration, as if this is somehow the responsibility of Christ/Christians/Pagans, or what have you. It is actually the fault of human nature and points towards the validity of celebrating the ideological aspects of the day rather than the commercial. Would this be religious rather than secular? I don’t know, and I don’t care.

As far as I’m concerned when it comes to Christ, I’m with Benjamin Franklin, “I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see…”  Franklin followed this by expressing doubts about the actual divinity of Jesus. Whatever Jesus actually was, divinity or not, he was and still is the the most significant historical figurehead of the concepts of morality, honesty, consideration and kindness. The story of “The Passion” is one of the most moving tales of willing self sacrifice in the name of goodness that can be imagined. Even if it truly was imagined its effect is potent and meaningful.

I am relatively certain that the nativity story we celebrate is a fiction. Certainly Christ was born, but the events are almost certainly described in a celebratory fashion designed to emphasize the importance of the event, and the descriptions vary significantly in the different tellings. Nevertheless, the first person in my liquor store, who scoffs about the nativity scene, shall be enthusiastically frowned upon by the Bacon.

Christmas represents peace and happiness, the celebration of it represents freedom/responsibility. Rejoice! Even idiots!

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