I suppose there are still people around here and there who complain about the creeping secularism of the Holidays and who in consequence admonish others to “keep Christ in Christmas”. I well remember such exhortations from the time of my childhood, growing up in Wichita, KS. Such hortatory rituals were often accompanied by carols, religious services, and – I would argue, curiously enough – by a reading of Charles Dickens’ perennial A Christmas Carol. I say “curiously enough” because I have just finished reading Carol for the few-hundredth time and for the first time, I noticed the absence of Christ in Carol, except in a very "thin", allusive sense. Carol without Christ, or with Christ in the background of the background, is a much more universal, even “archetypal”, story of the awa
Full disclosure: as I have said elsewhere, I never got the “hang uv” being a Christian, and consider the multiple decades I spent beating my head against that particular brick wall as time merely pissed away. I still believe that. But that is only half the truth. The other half is that it is equally true that I could never get, have never gotten, the “hang uv” being an atheist. I am no more successful as a “creedal” atheist than I was as a “creedal” Christian. My admiration for, e.g., Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, and Daniel Dennett is undiminished. Nothing I say in what follows should be interpreted as disagreeing with their contention that religious statements should be subject to the same critique as other statements. Religio
Now that Christmas is over -- unless you celebrate Christmas from the first Sunday of Advent through and including the Feast of the Epiphany -- it might be a good time to examine the political and ideological questions raised by Christmas carols ... which I do in this week's "Skeptic's Collection" column in hopes of increasing the "woke-ness" level for Christmas of 2019. No reason to thank me ...
Recently, the cultural outrage factory, never short of work, has managed to evoke a sense of high dudgeon about the allegedly sexist lyrics, amounting to an advocacy of date rape, attaching to the well-known Christmas carol “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Before following the controversy on Facebook, I would have thought that this kerfuffle