Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reason's Greetings: The HumanLight December Holiday

Why should the religious have more fun? Join your fellow nonbelievers for a HumanLight celebration. Hey, it's in the Wall Street Journal. HumanLight celebrations are happening all over the US and now elsewhere in the world; here's the one I'll be going to; here's the holiday's home page. Why a holiday? To get together with other atheists and show solidarity, make a connection, and start a tradition you can be part of, that's why. You can call it HumanLight, or the Winter Solstice party, or Isaac Newton's birthday (on Christmas), or (my favorite) getting together with friends and family.

The best part of it - and be sure to diplomatically emphasize this to your religious friends - there's no part of HumanLight requiring you to sit in drafty buildings on hard benches with someone droning at you for 2 hours - it's all fun and good stuff. The Christians smartly moved their own celebration from April to December (so that Romans used to celebrating Saturnalia would be more likely to switch) and made the celebration 12 days, 2 more than Saturnalia. Kids are your best ambassadors - imagine the conversations at school the last day before winter break. "Well my mommy and daddy don't make me go to church. We just get presents and eat and see grandma."

Then again, for atheists, there's no reason you can't go to HumanLight, and Christmas, and Hanukkah, and Kwanzah. I was raised atheist but "ethnically Christian", with a tree and presents at Christmas. I cant' say it's really confused me, and I never turn down an invitation to a mostly-secular Christmas party unless I'm already committed to another one (if that's what it would take to be an orthodox atheist, count me out - I like mulled wine too much). And I'm certain that the friendly if slightly tipsy conversations I've had at a lot of these celebrations have put the idea in a few people's heads that "Maybe those atheists aren't so bad after all" - which is the first step to tolerance and to deversion.

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