Posts Tagged “christmas tree”

This Christmas tree is upside down! Outside a local bar :) #upsticksandgo #bar #bangkok #christmas #christmastree #upsidedown #travelgram #travellinglife #travellingtheworld #michfrostA new salvo has been fired in the Religious Right’s phantasmal “war on Christmas.” And that is, upside-down Christmas trees. Yes, you heard that right … upside-down Christmas trees. I’d heard of these a few years ago, as a space-saving way of having a Christmas tree that doesn’t take up floor space. In other words, a sometimes-practical variation on a traditional practice.

But as with everything else associated with the solstice-time holiday, it becomes fodder for Rightists’ annual “war on Christmas.” As Newsweek reports, pundits on Fox News have taken them as an assault on Christianity itself (Archive.Is cached article):

The president’s favorite TV show tackled an important topic inspiring nationwide debate on Friday, brought in an expert and somehow turned it all into a political controversy. Yes, we’re talking about upside-down Christmas trees.

In a segment on Fox & Friends, host Pete Hegseth opened a discussion about trendy inverted decorations by linking them to the so-called war on Christmas, a rallying cry for some evangelicals and Republicans who argue politically correct culture is hurting American values. Hegseth wondered aloud whether having a traditional, right-side-up Christmas tree was part of those values and then asked Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski what he thought.

This was, of course, a setup; the irrationality snowballed from there:

Lewandowski first said he didn’t know what the trend was about. Then, in a swift and almost masterful maneuver, he used it to attack the Democrats for their response to Senator Al Franken’s recently revealed sexual misconduct.

“It’s like an upside-down world. It’s like Seinfeld, the bizarro world. Like you can be a U.S. senator after groping people on a picture and nobody has any accountability for it,” Lewandowski said. “That’s what the upside-down Christmas tree means to me. I mean, it’s everything that is wrong.”

He went on to say that he thought the Trump family would be keeping the White House Christmas tree—a 19-and-a-half-foot Balsam fir from Wisconsin—right side up because they appreciate the country’s traditions.

This is a dense package of habitual Right-wing appeals. Lewandowski alluded to Al Franken — who, contrary to what the Groper-in-Chief’s minion claimed, has offered to be held accountable for his actions (cached). He asserted his boss, the GiC, would bravely defend the country against the relentless onslaught of upside-down Christmas trees and courageously protect “tradition” — which, if Rightists are to be believed, is perpetually in danger. He mentioned the world being turned upside-down, which is a common Rightist complaint in the face of almost anything that ever happens, e.g. the advent of gay marriage).

That the GiC’s own White House is, itself, a “bizarro world” is something that neither Lewandowski or anyone else on this show accepted … but I digress.

Really, there’s nothing insidious, blasphemous, anti-Christmas or anti-Christian about upside-down Christmas trees. Newsweek links to an article on their antiquity; they actually date to the early Middle Ages (cached). I also found articles. One is at Christianity Today, surveying the history of Christmas trees, which mentions those early-medieval upside-down Christmas trees (cached). There’s also a religious commentary, by a prominent minister, at the Gaston Cty, NC Gazette suggesting upside-down Christmas trees are theologically appropriate (cached)! So really, this complaint has no basis in reality … or in the metaphysical irrationality of Christianity.

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White House and the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009The non-existent “war on Christmas” has been raging (solely in the vacuous minds of militant Christianists) for nearly 15 years now. This ridiculous trope is a complete fiction, as I’ve blogged so many times now, cooked up solely in order to stoke the fires of sanctimonious Christofascist outrage over the putative destruction of their religion.

That there is no effort to abolish Christmas, or to ban Christmas trees or outlaw the saying of “Merry Christmas,” doesn’t matter to these folk. They believe it’s happening anyway, because the psychopathology of their religion encourages them to think they’re “under attack”. This means they like feeling persecuted for their Jesus, and have no qualms about inventing persecution, even if there’s none going on.

Earlier this year, GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump declared himself a Christmas warrior. His son Eric, in an interview with televangelist James Robison, recently doubled down on that. This interview is in two parts (WebCite cached versions here and here), but it’s the second which contains the relevant tidbit:

[Eric’s father, little Donnie] opens up the paper each morning and sees our nation’s leaders giving a hundred billion dollars to Iran, or he opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the pledge of allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck. Or, he sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed “Holiday tree” instead of “Christmas tree.” I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.

So there you have it … among the reasons little Donnie ran for president was because “the [Christmas] tree on the White House lawn has been renamed ‘Holiday tree’.” Thus, Eric hoped to endear the would-be Dear Leader to Religious Rightists who love their whole “war on Christmas” bullshit.

There’s just this one, teeny little problem with that: It never happened! The national Christmas tree is still called “the National Christmas Tree.” It even has its own Web page (cached), which shows its official name as such:

Cropped screen shot of National Christmas Tree Web page at National Park Service (URL: https://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/national-christmas-tree.htm)

Cropped screen shot of National Christmas Tree Web page at National Park Service (URL: https://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/national-christmas-tree.htm)

Snopes has a page on this particular lie, which dates back to 2009. I don’t doubt that little Donnie’s campaign will not issue any correction of Eric’s claim, even if confronted with unassailable evidence (such as the National Christmas Tree’s official Web page, above) that it’s not true. They’ll probably just stammer about “crooked Hillary,” and — perhaps — mention the “holiday tree” in Rhode Island (which wouldn’t make Eric right, since he specifically complained that the tree on “the White House lawn” had been renamed a “holiday tree”). That will be about it.

Trumpie’s campaign being caught lying is nothing new. The Trumpster has raised lying to an art form since starting up his campaign of endless fury last summer. He and his staffers lie far more often than other presidential candidates … by a very wide margin. And to date, neither he nor they have ever taken anything back. That policy — of ignoring reality in favor of whatever bullshit they spew — will surely continue, even past this election.

Photo credits: Top, Wikimedia Commons; middle, PsiCop screen grab from NPS.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Comments Comments Off on War on Christmas 2016, Part 2

glowing tree: a glowing christmas tree shaped ornament, via Christmas Stock ImagesBill O’Reilly is commander-in-chief in the so-called “war on Christmas.” His crying and bellyaching about the poor, put-upon Christians who’re insidiously being thwarted in their efforts to force all Americans — of whatever religion, or of none — to worship their Christ and his putative birth, is by now an annual feature of his Fox News show. He’s launched a salvo at Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, who insolently calls the foliage in his state capitol a “holiday tree” rather than a “Christmas tree” (WebCite cached article):

Anyway, there is obviously more Christmas chaos in Rhode Island and Governor Chafee is again behind it. Apparently he believes that Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island in 1636, would not want to call a Christmas tree “a Christmas tree” or something.

O’Reilly has some problems with semantics. Since “Christmas” is a “holiday,” then it is always correct to call a “‘Christmas’ tree” a “‘holiday’ tree.” There’s nothing wrong with doing so.

Also, the Billster conveniently forgets who Roger Williams was. He’s notable for having been the first major advocate of religious freedom in the American colonies. He was a Baptist preacher who was run out of the Massachusetts Bay colony by furious Calvinist Puritans who’d objected to his presence there, who took refuge among the Narragansett to the south, and then founded the colony (now state) of Rhode Island. Roger Williams understood sectarian persecution far better than Billy-boy ever will. He lived it! He even penned a work whose words have become part of the canon of the United States, an exhaustive treatise called The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience. This work — not Thomas Jefferson’s now-famous letter to the Baptists of Danbury, CT — is the true origin of the phrase “separation of church and state.”

(Yes, folks. That’s right. The Founding Fathers’ effort to prevent the state from encroaching on religion, and vice versa, was not even their own invention; a century before them, a man had been agitating for that exact same policy. They were, to put it bluntly, Williams’s students. For Billyo to dismiss Roger Williams’ work as blithely as he does, is not only an affront to his memory, it’s also an insult to theirs. So much for the Religious Right’s vaunted worship of the Founding Fathers!)

I concede that it’s fair to ask if Roger Williams would have objected to calling a “‘Christmas’ tree” a “‘holiday’ tree” … but as far as I can tell, it’s also fair to conclude he would likely not have cared. Most people in the colonies in his time didn’t really celebrate Christmas at all, much less put up Christmas trees. (You can thank those angry Puritans for that.) This complaint is a strictly modern concept, manufactured from whole cloth by Religious Rightists like Billy-boy and his ilk. It’s not a controversy that Williams would have even known existed, nor would he have understood it, had he been aware of it.

Having spewed such a laughable anachronism, though, Billy-baby doesn’t stop there. He charges happily on to even greater heights of ridiculousness:

Now, this is insane, of course. There is no reason to mess around with the word “Christmas”. As we reported, President Grant signed a law in 1870 making Christmas a federal holiday. So there really isn’t any controversy unless Congress revokes the holiday.

You see, in Billy-boy’s mind, the fact that President Grant — whose presidential administration was, shall we say, somewhat underwhelming — made a proclamation about Christmas, appears to do all of the following:

  • Requires all Americans, of whatever faith or of none at all, to worship Christmas along with all other Christians
  • Mandates that nativities be planted on every town hall lawn, in front of every courthouse, etc., all around the country, every December
  • Forces every American to say “Merry Christmas!” at each and every meeting — without fail, and without substitution or alteration of any kind
  • Prevents Americans from ever referring to Christmas as a “holiday,” even if by every English dictionary definition, it is one
  • It removes all of the sacredness from the holy day known as Christmas and makes it purely secular
  • And on top of all that … Grant’s proclamation carries every bit as much authority now, as it did 142 years ago when he first signed it. The passage of time has only made it more compelling than it had been in the late 19th century.

I don’t know about you, but I find that quite a lot to ask of one simple presidential decree. Billy-boy must think Grant was a whole helluva lot more powerful — and everlasting — than he actually was.

Here’s my challenge to the Billster: If you really think that I, as an American, am obligated to celebrate Christmas alongside you; am obligated never, ever under any circumstances to refer to it as a “holiday” (even if it is one); and am obligated to wish “a Merry Christmas” to everyone I see, whenever I see him/her; then you just go right ahead and make me. I dare you. Please. I invite you to do everything in your power to compel me to obey your wishes. You deliver your copy of President Grant’s decree to me, slam it down, force me to read it, and then coerce me into celebrating Christmas. Go right ahead. If you’re truly convinced it’s my obligation as an American to do so, then why would you not do it?

Unless you’re willing to track me down and force me to do what you want me to, then you’re just another whiny coward who’s capable only of complaining, unwilling to put his own words into action.

Boo fucking hoo, Billy, you sniveling crybaby. Boo fucking hoo.

Photo credit: Christmas Stock Images.

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Comments Comments Off on War On Christmas 2012, Part Four

White House Christmas Tree in the Blue  Room.Cue the sanctimonious rage, the accusations that Christmas is being outlawed in in one US state, the wild-eyed delusional claims of Christian persecution. And what, you may ask, sparked the furor that has lit up Fox News and Religious Right pundits around the country?

Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee has named his statehouse’s decorated tree a “holiday tree,” and not a “Christmas tree.”

Fortunately, as the Boston Herald reports, Chafee has no intention of caving in to the Religious Right caterwauling and wailing over his choice of labels (WebCite cached article):

A beaming Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee calmly weathered a cross-country Christmas controversy yesterday, standing by his PC pronouncement that the 17-foot spruce in the State House rotunda is a “holiday tree” as outraged residents cried foul.

Taking the Christmas out of the tree is in the Rhode Island spirit, Chafee said, invoking the 1663 Colonial charter and the legacy of state father Roger Williams.

“I’m just continuing what other governors have done,” Chafee told the Herald after dedicating a separate tree to soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I just want to make sure I’m doing everything possible in this building to honor Roger Williams.”

For any of my readers who don’t understand the importance of Rhode Island’s history and how it specifically relates to the idea of separating church and state, R.I.’s founder, Roger Williams, was a Baptist minister who’d endured Puritan persecution in the Massachusetts colony, found refuge among the Narragansett to the south, and established his own colony on the premise of religious liberty. He penned The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, a treatise promoting religious tolerance and freedom of conscience, including Christian-scriptural support. Rhode Island, perhaps more than any other state, has a heritage of religious tolerance. So Chafee is not overstating his reasons for insisting on “holiday tree” instead of “Christmas tree.”

Besides, since Christmas is a “holiday,” it is never semantically wrong to call a “Christmas tree” a “holiday tree.” If it weren’t for the modern Christian custom of putting up Christmas trees, there would be no “holiday tree” in the Rhode Island statehouse, so it hardly matters what the governor calls it; as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick would say, “It is what it is.” The militant Christianist outrage over this is just ridiculous. People really need to fucking grow up.

P.S. Having mentioned Roger Williams, I’d like to add something important. Thomas Jefferson is frequently named as the man who coined the phrase “separation of church and state” (in his famous 1802 letter to the Danbury CT Baptists). But in fact, he didn’t. Roger Williams did. In Bloudy Tenent, he wrote:

When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day.

Given how well-read Jefferson was, it’s not safe to assume he couldn’t have been inspired by Williams.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: alvesfamily.

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Comments Comments Off on War On Christmas 2011, Part 2

a flickr christmas cardIt’s that time of year again, folks. The time when the Religious Right gets its knickers twisted into knots over their delusion that Christmas either has been, or soon will be, outlawed in the U.S. This “war on Christmas” trope is usually good for about a dozen blog posts each year, and likely will continue to be … because the R.R. is so predictably outraged over this manufactured controversy.

The Aledo (IL) Times Record reports that Congressman Joe Walsh has proffered what he calls the “Save Christmas Act” in an effort to “defend” his supposedly-beleaguered holiday (WebCite cached article):

Yesterday, Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-8) introduced the ‘Save Christmas Act’ to permanently end the Obama Administration’s new tax on Christmas trees. This tax was established to fund yet another unnecessary government board, the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. This is clearly the most ridiculous in a long list of new taxes and regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.

Walsh stated: “The sheer audacity of a tax on Christmas trees is ridiculous. Are we going to start taxing Halloween candy and pumpkins or turkey and apple pie? Are we going to tax the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too? Are we going to tax hotdogs and hamburgers and American flags for the Fourth of July?

There are actually several problems with this. Yes, the proposal to levy a 15¢ fee per tree sold on sellers of live Christmas trees was a genuine one. And it was announced by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recently. However, as Snopes makes clear (cached), it is not a “tax.” Rather, it’s a cooperative program — first requested by the Christmas-tree-growing industry, I might add! — intended to promote the sale of live Christmas trees.

Of course, these little facts didn’t get in the way of the Right-wing flaring up with sanctimonious outrage. In light of this shitstorm, the White House quickly put the kibosh on this idea … even though those who raged and railed against it were angry for all the wrong reasons. If the Right-wing fury over this supposed “Christmas tree tax” was predictable, so too was the Obama administration’s eagerness to cave into it.

But beyond the problem of the Right’s outrage over this being counter-factual, is that even the scenario they were telling themselves was in play — i.e. that Obama and his evil cohorts were taxing Christmas trees in order to hinder the celebration of Christmas by Christians around the country — makes absolutely no sense! A 15¢ tax is nowhere near enough to put a dent into sales of Christmas trees, which normally cost upwards of $20; and it wouldn’t have been limited just to real trees, artificial ones would have been “taxed” too.

Time to get over yourselves, Christians, and grow the fuck up. Not everything is intended to abolish your religion and/or its trappings. Really. Moreover, if you guys are really fans of the private sector and want to help industry, you’d have supported this 15¢-per-tree fee, because it was the Christmas tree industry itself that originally came up with it!

P.S. There’s almost nothing truly or genuinely “Christian” about Christmas trees, as I explain in my page on the myths about Christmas that the R.R. clings to so irrationally.

Photo credit: julian.

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Comments Comments Off on War On Christmas 2011, Part 1

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-06851, Mailand, Parade italienischer FrontkämpferBill Donohue, the Christofascist who heads the Catholic League, reached a new high in low, during an appearance on Fox News, wherein he made his position on Christmas — and on what everyone should believe, generally — crystal clear. News Hounds reports that what he said, is that non-Christians need to convert to Catholicism and worship Christmas along with him (WebCite cached article). He began with some remarks about reports that Christmas trees make some non-Christians uncomfortable:

Bill’s verbal pugilism escalated with “tell them to get over it.” He then did a litany of those who are “excluded,” including “mothers who feel excluded from father’s day” (WTF!) and said “too bad.”

What the fuck, indeed! I had no idea that any mothers felt “excluded” from Father’s Day. Where did the Billster pull that from?

Bill claimed that his Jewish friends (imaginary?) say this is ridiculous and that “everybody celebrates Christmas.”

Aha. The old “some of my best friends are Jewish” thing. Sorry Bill, but that you happen to know a few Jews who celebrate Christmas, tells us absofuckinglutely nothing about Jews as a group, or even about non-Christians generally. My guess, Bill, is that any Jewish friends you may have, are telling you what you want to hear because they know what a ferocious Christofascist you are. (That’s assuming you really have any Jewish “friends,” Bill … I find that claim to be non-credible.)

He then brayed that if people are made uncomfortable by Christmas displays — are ya ready for it — they should “convert to Catholicism.”

Yes, folks, that’s the Billster’s solution to the problem of religious inclusiveness … everyone should just convert en masse to his own religion, Roman Catholicism, and — voilà! — problem gone.

That, Gentle Reader, is the very definition of a religious militant, and now you see why I’ve been saying that the Billster is a Christofascist.

The really sad part about this is that a lot of religious folks are going to read what the Billster said, and agree with him, that everyone converting to the same religion would solve the problem of religious division. What all of Bill’s believer/defenders fail to understand is the truly hideous nature of this idea. Its horror would become clearer, if put in the mouths of others. They wouldn’t be too keen, for example, on al-Qaeda terrorists saying to them, “If you want us to stop trying to blow you up by the dozen, all you have to do is convert to our Wahhabi Islamism.” Its criminality becomes even more obvious if one puts it in the mouth of a robber: “All you need do is give me all your money, and I won’t be forced to attack you.”

At any rate, I have to wonder, though, how many of the Billster’s allies among the rest of the Religious Right — which is overwhelmingly evangelical Protestant and therefore opposed to Catholicism — are going to take his demand that everyone convert to Catholicism. My guess is that they secretly cringed when they heard that … but in the interest of militant-Christian solidarity against non-Christians, they likely would never openly admit it.

I hope any doubts as to the religiofascist goals of people like Bill Donohue have been dispelled. Now you understand why they make such an issue out of Christmas every year … for them, it’s a wedge issue they can use to push their demand that everyone in the world believe what they do.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Comments Comments Off on War On Christmas 2010, Part 11

PietasWith all of the screaming, screeching, and wailing about Christmas somehow being outlawed (it isn’t, of course), as well as how it’s somehow necessary for Christians to make a point of openly celebrating Christmas — to the extent that they demand everyone they ever come across wishes them a “merry Christmas” and puts up Christmas trees to entertain them — I can’t help but wonder how truly “Christian” all of this is.

You see, Jesus himself condemned open displays of piety and righteousness. This is a reality of their own religion of which most Christians are inexplicably and inexcusably unaware. The words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels are clear on this matter. Perhaps the best such passage is found in the gospel according to Matthew (emphasis mine):

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6)

I just don’t see how any of the sanctimonious caterwauling about Christmas can possibly be interpreted as being in line with this philosophy. I assume that Christians can easily cook up a rationale for how their very-public worship of Christmas — including demands that everyone else worship it right alongside them, regardless of their own religion — somehow does mesh with this. They generally are quite willing to rationalize away pretty much the entireties of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain (the above-quoted passage is part of the former). But these are arguably the very “core” of what it means to be Christian … which means it’s not appropriate for them to cook up reasons to ignore them.

Someday Christians will mature to the point where they can be comfortable with their own religion, all by themselves, without imposing it simultaneously on everyone else … but that day, sadly, is not going to come soon.

Photo credit: scazon.

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