Christmas 2019: The Empire Strikes Back But Fades Into Irrelevance

Frank With Santa Hat

Merry Christmas, everyone! In the following article, I’m going to pull together some old stuff from previous posts with mostly new stuff to make a Christmas post. If you want more, go back to Christmas: Everything I Have to Say. It has so much in it that I couldn’t even manage to read it all. And I’m very fond of my own writing (this is helped by having a terrible memory).

Setting the Mood

Let’s set the mood with some Christmas music. This gets harder every year.

It used to be that it was just the explicitly Christian songs that bugged me. And they still do. There are few things that annoy me more than Christians who run around reminding people of the “reason for the season!”

There is basically nothing theologically interesting about Christmas from a Christian standpoint. The virgin birth is just something tacked on for the prols. Christians should make a big deal out of Easter and the related holidays. But they don’t. Because American Christians neither know nor care about their religion’s theology. Instead they care about cultural signaling and in- and out-group politics.

But this year I found it impossible to enjoy songs that I’ve liked in the past like “I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus.” So I included a few songs that you really need to stretch to include. Here’s the list:

  1. “Blue Christmas” — Elvis Preseley
  2. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” — Jackson 5
  3. “Christmas Wrapping” — The Waitresses
  4. “This Christmas” — Donny Hathaway
  5. “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” — The Ramones
  6. “Santa Baby” — Eartha Kitt
  7. “Merry Christmas Baby” — Otis Redding
  8. “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” — The Damned
  9. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” — Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski
  10. “Back Door Santa” — Clarence Carter
  11. “If We Make It Through December” — Merle Haggard
  12. “Run Rudolph Run” — Chuck Berry
  13. “The Weight” — The Band
  14. “Der Hölle Rache” — Diana Damrau
  15. “Fairytale Of New York” — The Pogues
  16. “2000 Miles” — The Pretenders
  17. “Santa Stole My Girlfriend” — The Maine
  18. “We’ll Meet Again” — Vera Lynn
  19. “Must Be Santa” — Bob Dylan
  20. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” — Judy Garland

I’m particularly bothered by The Ramones cut because of the stupid video stuff at the beginning and end of the song. But I so love the song that I included it.

Last Year’s Christmas

Last year, I published A Very Alpha Christmas. It’s interesting because I thought I had written it in 2016 or 2017. My feelings have only gotten worse. In fact, I tried to back out of all my familial obligations. It’s not that I mind doing all the holiday stuff. But I do mind the feeling that there are those who only take.

Next year, I may well do my own horror-themed Christmas. If my family wants to come, great. I’ll serve the food I like and show the horror films that I want to watch.

But that’s not what I would hope for a family gathering. I do, however, think that Christmas shouldn’t be me cooking while the television in the other room screams sports. But note: my problem is not the sports but the fact that it isn’t the choice of the group. It’s the choice of one man. And it is the choice he makes all the time. You see, it is no more a choice for him than it is for me.

Last year I also recommend that you watch Christmas Evil. It is the film I’m featuring on Psychotronic Review, so click over there and watch it. Things have been taking off over there. It is getting a lot more love than Frankly Curious. And I’m starting to see the traffic to justify it.

Still, it’d be nice to do more on Frankly Curious. It’s hard to find the time — especially while I’m trying to save money. But I’ll do my best.

School Is In!

It’s always fun to learn stuff. If you don’t agree, you aren’t the target audience of this site. Go away!

In the past, I’ve featured lectures and interviews that were Christmas-focused. Here are a few that I find interesting.

Don’t Celebrate Christmas!

Tom Flynn believes that people shouldn’t celebrate Christmas or any similar holidays. I don’t find the argument compelling. As I’ve already noted, there isn’t much that’s religious about Christmas.

Still he makes an argument that is worth hearing. He’s interviewed by authoritarian atheist Robert M Price. These were the days before Price felt comfortable flying his authoritarian flag high. Now he takes the derision of people like me as proof that he’s right. He’s hopeless.

The Trouble with Christmas

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson is one of the small number of major atheist celebrities who didn’t go on to be an authoritarian asshole. She continues to make excellent skeptic-oriented videos.

In this video, she jokes about PZ Myers. I’m not sure what that’s about. The two of them have long been allies. Both of them are good examples of how the New Atheists largely pushed away anyone who didn’t go along with its increasing political conservatism (or worse).

About a year after I turned against New Atheism, PZ Meyers wrote:

The number of people identifying as “nones” will grow in this country in coming years, because we’re on the right side of history, and because organized religion is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on other-worldly issues that don’t help people. The number of people identifying as atheists will stagnate or even shrink, because organized atheism is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on irrelevant metaphysical differences that don’t help people.

Here is Rebecca Watson’s funny Christmas lecture:

If you want to hear a more radical view of New Atheism (which I mostly agree with), read Sam Kriss’ Village Atheists, Village Idiots.

A Brief History of Christmas

I highly recommend watching Klaus for a Christmas story that is epic and filled with wonderful folkloric elements. It’s on Netflix but I’m sure eventually will be on DVD.

In the meantime, CGP Grey has this excellent video made in the style of, well, CGP Grey.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Renegade Cut creates great videos of film analysis from a leftist perspective. This one tries to answer why Christmas makes some of us miserable.

Saving Christmas

In comparison with the above, here is another leftist YouTuber Maggie Mae Fish on Kirk Cameron’s ode to materialism Saving Christmas. The film is basically a debate between a sincere Christian who believes Christmas is too materialistic and Cameron who thinks materialism rocks.

According to the movie, Cameron is right. And why not? He does speak for the vast majority of Christians, even if they don’t like it put forward in such a coarse way. Fish tears the film and Cameron apart.

Christmas Comedy

Here is a playlist that I’ve put together with mostly comedy related to Christmas, religion, and that kind of stuff.

Merry Christmas

That’s all for me today. I’ve written an article about the “skeptic” community’s embrace of racial IQ “science” that will come out here early next week. And I’ll be doing a few things over at Psychotronic Review.

I hope you have a good Christmas. It’s hard to be too keen given that it looks like America is taking a big step toward authoritarianism. And if Trump is re-elected, I suspect it is over. The Republicans will be in a position to have minority control over the government for the foreseeable future and there won’t be much we can do about it.

I fear for the world. Ho ho ho!

6 thoughts on “Christmas 2019: The Empire Strikes Back But Fades Into Irrelevance

  1. Random Christmas thoughts, some from recent reading (aka, sloth)…

    On music: those are all good. I do like the really, really old Christian Christmas songs, just for the minor chords. Some of the old songs are pretty bad, though. Michael Harriot of “The Root” pointed out that “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” had a terrible lyricist; it’s the same damn sentence three times plus a bland fourth sentence.

    “Good King Wenceslas” is kinda interesting. Per some accounts, feudal lords took the Gifts Of The Magi story to mean Christmas was a time to honor your betters. So some demanded tribute from their peasants during midwinter. Wenceslas was a real guy, a king in what’s now the Czech Republic, and according to legend was actually kind to poor people during winter instead of the opposite. So that’s supposedly where that song came from.

    It seems as though, every Christmas, “Fairytale Of New York” gets heavy radio airplay in the UK (and, naturally, Ireland). Some people were upset by that this year, because once the couple turn on each other, the woman calls the man “a cheap lousy faggot.” Which is, certainly, a hurtful word. But he calls her “an old slut on junk,” not much better. The whole point is they once loved each other, now they don’t, and they’re saying brutal, terrible things. There’s no other instance of homophobic language in any Pogues song I can recall; these are two characters breaking up in the worst way. I would imagine any person old enough to identify as gay is also old enough to tell the difference between a slur aimed at their community and two angry characters losing their shit in a short story.

    Dom Nero of “Esquire” pointed out that, in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Pottersville looks a hell of a lot more fun than Bedford Falls.

    Thing I didn’t remember: during Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, some religious-prejudice-baiting Republican asked her if she could remember where she was the last Christmas. Kagan replied that she didn’t recall exactly, but as an American Jew, she was probably having Chinese food with her family. Chinese restaurants (at least the family-owned ones) tend not to close on Christmas — it’s not their holiday, after all — and so, apparently, Chinese food is something of an American Jewish Christmas tradition in urban areas. That’s great! Plus both Chinese and Eastern European Jewish immigrants started coming here at roughly the same time, and faced roughly the same prejudices, so there’s something of a historical sympatico, there.

    Hanukkah makes more sense than Christmas; it’s a rather minor Jewish religious holiday, they take Passover and Yom Kippur much more seriously. Just as Christians should take Easter much more seriously than Christmas, but don’t. The vast majority of American Jews aren’t particularly religious, they celebrate holidays as a cultural heritage thing. Making Hanukkah into a big deal was a useful way for the earliest immigrants to assimilate (see, we celebrate at roughly the same time you do), and today persists because that way their kids don’t feel left out on the cool presents front.

    Finally, on holiday food: Christmas food is lame. Too many options. You can have ham, brisket, stick with pie, whatever. What’s the point of holiday cooking if you aren’t obligated to cook something you would never cook at any other time of the year? Thanksgiving, you cook turkey, the food which smells the best, tastes the blandest, and is the biggest pain in the ass to carve/clean up. Ham, fuck it, that shit’s precooked anyway, and cleanup involves throwing the bone to the dog. (Can’t do that with poultry, the bones can splinter and choke them.) Thanksgiving separates the adults who help with dish cleanup from the permanent adolescents who slip into a food coma while watching football. That’s real family holiday cooking. Christmas cooking? Too easy by far.

    At least, in dense urban areas, Christmas has neighbors each hosting family dinners competing about street parking space for their visiting relatives. Now that’s a serious, 100% American holiday, right there — stress making us loathe each other!

    • On my drive to my sister’s house, I had KPFA on and they were playing R&B Christmas songs. I’d never heard them and they were great! It made me feel like I had dropped the ball.

      I’d never heard that in the Pogues song. Of course, I’m terrible about lyrics. I often only get clear on them when I decide to write an article. But when people are angry with each other, they often grab the nastiest words they can. What’s interesting is that in 1987, being gay would be very bad but isn’t so much now. Yet then and now, being a slut is a terrible thing. The march of progress is uneven.

      We got Chinese takeout for Christmas dinner yesterday. Everyone agreed it was the best and least-stressful Christmas we’ve ever had.

      We didn’t have much sports yesterday but there were two basketball games. One thing I was wondering, why aren’t the “War on Christmas!” folks upset about sporting events on their sacred holiday? No, you can shit all over that! The real problem is that a Target clerk said “Happy holidays”! Check out, A War on Christmas Story: How Fox News built the dumbest part of America’s culture war.

      And yes: parking problems does make it real American Christmas!

      • That article is bananas batshit crazy. How Fox News can go in one beat screaming how secular holiday things epitomize persecution of Christianity, then pivot-step to “they want to get rid of Rudolph” is so amazing, I almost half applaud it. That’s borderline brilliant, if you’re a sociopath.

        • I think when you see yourself as the cynical realist, it all follows. It doesn’t matter if what you say is bullshit because you have a higher calling: to stop democracy because it is misguided. I recently read that Holocaust survivors tended to suffer from PTSD for the rest of their lives. But the people who worked at the camps? They had no long-term negative effects from being part of that evil effort. I’m sure everyone at Fox News sleeps really well.

  2. Your opinions are spoken as if they are factual, yet you do not make light of this. You instead continue to push your opinion and claiming that Christians that don’t agree with you is, “Because American Christians neither know nor care about their religion’s theology. Instead they care about cultural signaling and in- and out-group politics.”
    Also if you insult authoritarianism please give me some facts on why you don’t agree with them, and what’s wrong with them. If you do that, I will let you know why authoritarians are right.

    • Wow! I didn’t think I needed to make the case that authoritarianism is bad. You must be a nut-job!

      This is a blog. There are upwards of 10,000 posts here. There are over 200 posts on spiritual/religious matters. If you want more depth, there’s a search function that you can use. But that’s not what this is about. You got your fee-fees hurt because I didn’t agree with you.

      Here’s one for you: Why Conservative Christians Support Trump.

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