The Raving Theist

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Christopher, Our Savior

December 16, 2008 | 5 Comments

Atheist Christopher Hitchens has vowed “to write an anti-Christmas column that becomes fiercer every year.” He states his “core objection” as being “that for almost a whole month, the United States—a country constitutionally based on a separation between church and state—turns itself into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a one-party state.” Specifically, he complains:

As in such dismal banana republics, the dreary, sinister thing is that the official propaganda is inescapable. You go to a train station or an airport, and the image and the music of the Dear Leader are everywhere. You go to a more private place, such as a doctor’s office or a store or a restaurant, and the identical tinny, maddening, repetitive ululations are to be heard. So, unless you are fortunate, are the same cheap and mass-produced images and pictures, from snowmen to cribs to reindeer. It becomes more than usually odious to switch on the radio and the television, because certain officially determined “themes” have been programmed into the system. Most objectionable of all, the fanatics force your children to observe the Dear Leader’s birthday, and so (this being the especial hallmark of the totalitarian state) you cannot bar your own private door to the hectoring, incessant noise, but must have it literally brought home to you by your offspring. Time that is supposed to be devoted to education is devoted instead to the celebration of mythical events. Originally Christian, this devotional set-aside can now be joined by any other sectarian group with a plausible claim—Hanukkah or Kwanzaa—to a holy day that occurs near enough to the pagan winter solstice.

Notwithstanding his references to “official propaganda”, “officially determined themes,””Dear Leaders” and a “totalitarian state,” Hitchens has not identified any meaningful governmental role in the offending festivities. Indeed, his thesis collapses at the introduction. He concedes that the activities are “cultural and commercial.” The bracketing references to church/state separation and “a one-party state” are misleading non sequiturs. If anyone, Hitchens should criticize the television, radio and advertising executives who cater to what they perceive as the public’s taste, or the doctors, merchants and restaurateurs responsible for controlling the ambience on their premises. If he did, he would find he had much in common with a sizeable number of Christmas celebrants who decry the commercialization of the season and the disregard of Christmas’ “true meaning” in favor of a generic snowman-and-reindeer holiday.

Hitchens might also examine his own celebration of the alleged “separation” principle. His only rationale for worshipping it appears to be that it is “Constitutional,” e.g., written down on paper by some former Dear Leaders. And had he read it, he might be surprised to discover that it does not remotely support what he thinks it does. The Establishment Clause forbids only the federal government from establishing a religion; the states are free to create (and did for some time)state-sponsored churches. The Free Exercise clause then contradicts the Establishment Clause, to the extent that any governmental curtailment of a religious exercise could be viewed as the establishment of another. So it is as much a muddle as any of the alleged myths he rejects.

Hitchens would best abandon his project in favor of announcing his own true meaning. I imagine that a man of his stature would be involved in charitable endeavors of a magnitude that would shame most simple-minded banana republicans. So lead, Dear Christopher, and we shall follow.

Comments

5 Responses to “Christopher, Our Savior”

  1. Adam
    December 16th, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

    RA, are you a total incorporationist or a selective incorporationist?

  2. The Raving Atheist
    December 16th, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

    For the purposes of this post, I’m a Thomist.

  3. Professor Chaos
    December 16th, 2008 @ 4:34 pm

    “Notwithstanding his references to ‘official propaganda’, ‘officially determined themes,”Dear Leaders’ and a ‘totalitarian state,’ Hitchens has not identified any meaningful governmental role in the offending festivities.”

    You do know how the school system works, right?

  4. Melissa
    December 16th, 2008 @ 7:40 pm

    Excellent blog. ;)

    You’re right in saying that he has more in common with Christians than he realizes. I don’t like the commercialization of Christmas and having all the glitz and greed shoved in my face either. So, in that regard, I might be just as much of a “grinch” as he is. I would love nothing more than to “humbug” the whole thing and just focus on the real celebration of Christmas without all the secular excess pumped up to the extreme. Though, as you pointed out, we are a free-society. This is just capitalism and marketing at its finest. Surely he can appreciate the fact that the world is cashing in on a holiday he hates in order for everyone to keep people employed in their various jobs that are connected with these holidays.

    I sure hope that Christopher will find the true hope in Christmas. If he looks past all the commercialization to see the true joy in what this season is all about. I’ll pray that God’s love melts his heart of hate and brings him true joy!

  5. Professor Chaos
    December 17th, 2008 @ 10:18 am

    The winter solstice?

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