I love Christmas time. The general kindness from people around me makes me feel all warm and fussy.

I'm the only atheist in my family, but it really hasn't bothered me, since they've never seemed fundamental or intrusive in any way. I announced my atheism about a year ago, and all I got was a "why", which I answered as well as I could, and then an "ok", and that was pretty much it. I've always lived a pretty secular life, so my lifestyle didn't change much, but my way of looking at things kinda did.

But yesterday my whole image of the secular family I live in was shattered. Now, I want to make it clear that I would never try to force my lack of belief on my family, just as they never force their belief on me. Yesterday, as we were eating dinner, I asked my little brother if he knew what was special about the day. He said it was a Tuesday, I told him he was correct, but that wasn't it. He said it was the 21st, and I said that he
was getting on the right track. I then shortly explained that yesterday was the darkest day in the whole year, and how the cycle worked. My mother and middle brother knew this, of course, and they also explained some details.

I then told my brother about  our ancestors who used this day as the start of their holiday, which they called Hjól (I'm Scandinavian, my ancestors were Norse), which means "wheel" (referring to the cycle of light and darkness), that it lasted until the 25th, and that that's where our name for Christmas, Jól, was originally from. My mother gave me a dead serious look, reminding me that, no, it's not pagan, it's the date that Jesus was born. Patiently I explained that the Bible actually said nothing about Jesus being born on the 25th, let alone December, and the date was most likely set because it had symbolic value. Again, she looked at me. "No, Jesus was born then". I'm not sure if she said this to "protect" my from the evils of knowledge, or if she was simply being willfully ignorant. I planned on talking to her about the dangers or historic denial and willful ignorance, but I never got around to it.

Maybe I'm being a little over-sensitive, but I just hate seeing the people that I love dwell in ignorance, especially when I feel that I can do something about it. I guess the whole point of this blog is to point out that even when we think we know a Christian as a rational person who is open to new information, they can disappoint.

Does anyone else have a similar experience? Did you overcome it? If yes, how so?

Views: 7

Tags: atheism, christianity, christmas, ignorance, norse, paganism, solstice, willful

Comment by Snowcrash on December 22, 2010 at 2:17pm

Ah yes ive had this a few times myself , i was having an argument with my mom about religion and

after a little while she threw up her hands and said why do you always Think so much about everything ?

I was taken aback at that moment and we dropped the whole subject.

Later on i thought back (hehe) about what she actually had said and realized that my mom had given me the best compliment i had ever had in my life  :)

Comment by Gaytor on December 22, 2010 at 2:26pm

Not quite as seriously, but I had a sister defend creationism and teaching it in school. I don't know that my way of overtly hacking away at the argument and showing her why it's jackassery is the approach that I would take with your mother. My step-father was blown away by the simple idea that you need to support a 6000 year old Earth to believe in Adam and Eve though. 

 

I don't know. From what you've said, it sounds like she'll let your sibling choose their own path, so I don't know if I would get to worked up about it. If you were  in the Southern US, it's worth putting up clear markers so that they see the story for the lies that it is. But in Norway, won't most people see it as not a literal story anyways?  

 

Comment by Velogiraptor on December 22, 2010 at 3:26pm

I'm with Morgan here.

If you can find a fine +4 DVD of convincing from the Discovery network, it will be more entertaining and more acceptable.  Plus, it doesn't get all emotional and agitated like people do, it's read-only. :)

Comment by James on December 22, 2010 at 9:56pm

My mom has similar moments at times as well. Just the other day I was mentioning that it's too bright at my house to see much more than the moon through my telescope. She suggested I bring it by their house since it is much darker there. Then she said the words that made me feel the need to face palm, "Look at the stars here. Maybe you'll even see God."... I paused, then said that I might even see Russel's tea pot (which went way over her head) and moved on to something else. I've had bits of the Christmas origin discussion with my parents as well. My dad is receptive (he's a Deist that thinks he's Christian) but my mom always finds a way to change the subject...

 

Oh well, I guess. I commend you for trying to educate. Keep at it. Just take baby steps and maybe she'll listen.

Comment by Jon Heim on December 22, 2010 at 11:26pm

same here..I can really relate.

 

as far as Snowcrash's comment. my girlfriend who happens to be pagan, often complains that i think too much as well. she says I am "too" logical. she has no idea how good that makes me feel. lmao

Comment by Mo Trauen on December 23, 2010 at 11:04am
No.  You need to follow up on this.  One of my first inklings that religion might not be true was when my fundy mother told me when I was 8 years old that December 25 wasn't really Jesus birthday--just the day when we celebrated it.
Comment by Jennifer Ulean Breedlove on December 23, 2010 at 4:34pm

I understand where you are coming from, and if you study religion in depth you will also find that many religious people do not agree with dec. 25th as being the birth day of jesus either.

One of the other accepted days is July the 10th, Yom Kippur, So it is said this date was in the bible until it was changed and taken out by the Catholic Church?

That is just another one for you.

It is hard when there is so much contradiction to even begin to argue these points. However I do not know what your mothers intentions were. I know I have these problems with my family as well, and I wish that I could just get a simple ok, and it truly be ok, however it isn't we are constantly arguing this stuff out.. It really gets tiring.

 


 

 

Comment by Jennifer Ulean Breedlove on December 23, 2010 at 4:39pm
you know maybe that was october 7th? I don't know it changes every year anyways.. but it seems that I read an explanation of why it would have been july 10th. Of course I have read many other explanations of why I would not have been in December anyways?

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