The Christmas Spirit

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The Christmas Spirit

Post by TexasBlue on Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:12 pm

The Christmas Spirit

Bill O'Reilly
Thursday, Dec 20, 2012


Anyone offended by public displays of Christmas needs to see a psychiatrist. Are we clear on this? You are a loon if the sight of baby Jesus arouses anger or sadness in you. Get help.

Which brings us to the Governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee. He recently told me on national television the reason he will not use the word "Christmas" in describing the state Christmas tree. The idea is that the word might offend non-Christians. The Governor calls the state-purchased symbol a "holiday tree."

My reply to the governor was that by excluding the word "Christmas," he might be offending the 73% of Americans who describe themselves as Christian - not to mention the 2.2 billion Christians worldwide. Chafee chafed when he heard that, but had no answer.

And then the Governor did a very interesting thing: he announced the lighting of the "holiday tree" in Providence a full 30 minutes before the cord was plugged in. Very few Rhode Islanders even knew about the tree lighting because it was done so surreptitiously. Chafee did that because he feared protestors would do what they did last year: sing Christmas carols at the lighting. And we can't have that now, can we?

Jon Stewart and his merry band of elves will tell you that the so-called "War on Christmas" is a figment of the imagination, perhaps a result of indigestion after eating too much holiday pudding. Stewart's posture is similar to what Ebenezer Scrooge put forth when the Ghost of Christmas future told him he was bound for hell. I am channeling Charles Dickens to see if the Ghost can visit Jon Stewart on Christmas Eve. I'll let you know what happens.

There is something to the argument that there are more important things to worry about than whether people like Christmas. But the assaults against the national holiday are annoying, unnecessary, and often disrespectful. I mean, here's how bad it is in this country. A pastor in Arkansas cancelled a play called "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" because some nutty atheist objected to public school kids seeing it on church grounds. So Charlie, Snoopy and Linus were thrown under the bus by a Christian cleric. Good Grief!

For all of you separation of church and state fans, here's the deal. Jesus of Nazareth was a man. In fact, he was the most influential person ever born. A third of the world's population has signed on to the Christian edict "love God and love your neighbor as yourself." That sounds like a good thing.

So, when President Grant honored Jesus by signing into law the national holiday of Christmas in 1870, the nation certified that a positive message of generosity and peace was a worthy of a day off. Pretty much everybody was on board.

But not today. In our current state, the Thomas Moore Law Center has to litigate against attacks on Christmas every year. Anti-religion zealots put up billboards in Times Square denouncing Christmas as a "myth." Rabid secularists bridle at any mention of Jesus or his nice mom and dad.

To them I say: Peace on Earth and tough. You don't like the federal holiday, try to rescind it. Start with our pal Lincoln Chafee. See how far you get with that.

And by the way, Merry Christmas to all. Even you loons.


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“I’m not in favor of fairness. I’m in favor of freedom, and freedom is not fairness. Fairness means somebody has to decide what’s fair.” - Milton Friedman
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by Mark85la on Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:20 pm

I saw the interview with Chafee a couple of weeks ago I believe it was, his only response is that Fox is angry and so are their viewers lol. So tired of the PC crap with celebrating Christmas, I am disappointed that many groups are having Christmas displays removed.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by bigger_guns_nearby on Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:16 am

These incidents of idiotic administrators using terms like 'holiday tree' just fuel into this paranoid conspiracy theory about a wider 'war on Christmas'. Every year there is something like this that gets taken out of proportion. Just call Christmas Christmas and stop with the token political correctness. 99% of non-Christians aren't offended when they see Christmas stuff.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by dblboggie on Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:12 pm

This so-called "paranoid conspiracy theory" is neither "paranoid" nor a "theory"bgn, as anyone who has been paying even the remotest attention would know with absolute certainty.

Moreover, this is not just a war on Christmas, it is an all out war on religion of which Christmas is but a small theater in the larger battle.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by bigger_guns_nearby on Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:57 am

What does it even mean, the 'war on Christmas'? Who is declaring war on Christmas? It just sounds like a victimisation complex from religious leaders who can't quite come to terms with the fact that people aren't quite as religious as they used to be.

>Anti-religion zealots put up billboards in Times Square denouncing Christmas as a "myth."

I mean would this constitute a "war"? Surely that's just people who don't believe in Christmas expressing their (dis)belief. You may as well call Christmas carols a war on atheism, or a war on Judaism.

>Rabid secularists bridle at any mention of Jesus or his nice mom and dad.

Again, I could equally say 'rabid Christians bridle at any mention of atheism or the non-divinity of Jesus'.

I just don't see how the 'war on Christmas' turn of phrase is either helpful, accurate or informative, instead of being merely inflammatory.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by dblboggie on Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:34 pm

Clearly you are no student of history bgn. Our modern (the last 120 years give or take) war on religion and its source is not so unlike all the hundreds of such "wars" history has seen.

Your moral relativism aside, religion plays a vital role in the maintenance of a healthy republic, and its rejection is a constantly recurring harbinger of the slow death of a republic throughout mankind's history.

Do you suppose our republic is somehow immune to the very human nature which led to the passing of all such republics that have come before?
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by bigger_guns_nearby on Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:09 pm

Your moral relativism aside, religion plays a vital role in the maintenance of a healthy republic, and its rejection is a constantly recurring harbinger of the slow death of a republic throughout mankind's history.

The rule of law, a functioning democracy, checks and balances upon political power, and a free market economy, to name but a few, are much more important to a 'healthy republic' (depending on what that means) than the particular supernatural beliefs that the populace tends to hold. Where are all the these historical examples of 'the slow death' of republics owing to the decline of supernatural religious belief? On the contrary, the gradual decline in such beliefs since the enlightenment has coincided with an unparalleled increase in our standard of living and human development. How is theocracy working out for all those Islamic republics? How did it work out for 17th century Europe?

Do you suppose our republic is somehow immune to the very human nature which led to the passing of all such republics that have come before?

Such as what? Which republics collapsed owing to a decline in supernatural belief, instead of a dozen more important economic and political factors? You say I am 'clearly' 'no student of history', but your willingness to make such sweeping generalizations raises some questions about your own historical understanding.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by dblboggie on Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:40 pm

bigger_guns_nearby wrote:
dblboggie wrote:Your moral relativism aside, religion plays a vital role in the maintenance of a healthy republic, and its rejection is a constantly recurring harbinger of the slow death of a republic throughout mankind's history.

The rule of law, a functioning democracy, checks and balances upon political power, and a free market economy, to name but a few, are much more important to a 'healthy republic' (depending on what that means) than the particular supernatural beliefs that the populace tends to hold.

None of the things that you cite as being essential to a “healthy republic” can exist if there is no moral framework, no set standards of virtue – written or unwritten. Our founders and framers understood this and wrote about it, countless philosophers and political economists have so stated more times than I could elaborate on here.

Surely you are aware of this simple fact. Without virtue no free republic can long exist. Look at the very framework of all free republics throughout history.

bigger_guns_nearby wrote:Where are all the these historical examples of 'the slow death' of republics owing to the decline of supernatural religious belief? On the contrary, the gradual decline in such beliefs since the enlightenment has coincided with an unparalleled increase in our standard of living and human development. How is theocracy working out for all those Islamic republics? How did it work out for 17th century Europe?

You are misinterpreting (deliberately?) my point. I have NEVER advocated for a theocracy and never would. And in 17th century Europe we find the very genesis of the rediscovery of the basic principles of individual liberty and the rediscovery of the ancient Greek and Roman classics. It is to these developments and the works that followed them by people like Adam Smith, Frederic Bastiat, de Tocqueville, and others, and not the “gradual decline in such beliefs since the enlightenment,” are responsible for the increase in our standard of living. Indeed, the gradual decline in the belief in a higher power is what is at the root of our gradual march toward totalitarian government. Those who believe in nothing far too often will believe in anything.

bigger_guns_nearby wrote:
dblboggie wrote:Do you suppose our republic is somehow immune to the very human nature which led to the passing of all such republics that have come before?

Such as what? Which republics collapsed owing to a decline in supernatural belief, instead of a dozen more important economic and political factors? You say I am 'clearly' 'no student of history', but your willingness to make such sweeping generalizations raises some questions about your own historical understanding.

You’re kidding right? What, you want me to write a book here? Google is your friend, though if you are completely unaware of the influence that the collapse of religious values had in the ultimate collapse of both the Greek and Roman Republics, then perhaps you should actually start with a history book.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by bigger_guns_nearby on Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:18 am

dblboggie wrote:
bigger_guns_nearby wrote:
The rule of law, a functioning democracy, checks and balances upon political power, and a free market economy, to name but a few, are much more important to a 'healthy republic' (depending on what that means) than the particular supernatural beliefs that the populace tends to hold.

None of the things that you cite as being essential to a “healthy republic” can exist if there is no moral framework, no set standards of virtue – written or unwritten. Our founders and framers understood this and wrote about it, countless philosophers and political economists have so stated more times than I could elaborate on here.

Surely you are aware of this simple fact. Without virtue no free republic can long exist. Look at the very framework of all free republics throughout history.

Religion can only provide virtue insofar as it is interpreted in a way that provides for virtue. In some cases it can provide virtue and morals, in some cases it provides anything but virtue and morals as we would recognize them. Indeed, prior to the modern era, almost no society, religious or otherwise, had virtue and morals approaching those that we have today, in terms of our respect for human rights, personal liberties and political rights.

Humans can have morals and virtue without religion. Humans can lack morals and virtue without religion. Humans can have morals and virtue with religion. Humans can lack morals and virtue with religion.

As I said above, our enlightenment happened to coincide with a gradual relaxation of totalitarian religious belief, and ultimately a decline in religious belief, across most of Europe and the West. I did not say this was a causal factor in our enlightenment; I am pointing out that, if such a decline coincided with this, it doesn't not follow that enlightenment is significantly dependent upon religious belief or morality conferred through religious belief.


dblboggie wrote:
You’re kidding right? What, you want me to write a book here? Google is your friend, though if you are completely unaware of the influence that the collapse of religious values had in the ultimate collapse of both the Greek and Roman Republics, then perhaps you should actually start with a history book.

If you really think that 'the collapse of religious values' caused the ultimate fall of the Greek and Roman empires, then your book would be deeply flawed and demonstrably incorrect. In all seriousness, the most elementary text on Roman history will explain to you that the Western Roman Empire collapsed through a combination of imperial overstretch and spending, outward geopolitical pressures, and rampant political corruption, among others. Moral decline was a factor, but this is again where you confuse morality and religion and assume the two are interchangeable. There was never a great deal of 'morality' in Roman society - it was a cruel, violent, sexually deviant place.

At the time of the decline large swathes of the Empire were converting to Christianity - and part of the appeal of Christianity was that it allowed a degree of spiritual and political emancipation from the rule of Rome. Indeed, at that point in time Christianity was in many ways more 'moral' than what it replaced - in a period where the poor and powerless were almost universally oppressed, and became increasingly faced with growing political instability and the break down of sociopolitical institutions, it offered something of a rudimentary moral code that claimed unimpeachable divine authority. In that sense religion would have contributed to the fall of the Empire in the exact opposite sense to the one you suggested. Do you see that? Christianity had the potential to directly undermine the authority of the Empire by making Christians subject to God, not the Emperor. This was why the later Roman Emperors became so concerned with presenting themselves as the conduits of divine will.  

As I said before, your willingness to make such sweeping historical generalizations is worrying. The fall of the Roman empire was an incredibly complex process that took place over a huge area of Europe over several hundred years, and there were a vast array of factors whose influence must be carefully weighed.


Last edited by bigger_guns_nearby on Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by bigger_guns_nearby on Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:47 am

By the way, I assume you meant the fall of the Roman Empire, and not specifically the end of the Roman Republic. Augustus came to power in the mid 1st century and Rome was never democratic again (although it had never really been democratic in the modern sense of the word). The end of the republic was similarly complex and dominated by byzantine political infighting and ultimately civil war. To attribute it to 'the collapse of religious values' would be even more historically tenuous than it would be to do so to the disintegration of the Empire centuries later.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by dblboggie on Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:29 pm

Yes... I was referencing the fall of the empire, not the republic.

I will have to address the rest of your response when I am next before a real computer. No way I can do it justice from my phone.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by dblboggie on Fri Jul 05, 2013 3:58 pm

bigger_guns_nearby wrote:
dblboggie wrote:
bigger_guns_nearby wrote:
The rule of law, a functioning democracy, checks and balances upon political power, and a free market economy, to name but a few, are much more important to a 'healthy republic' (depending on what that means) than the particular supernatural beliefs that the populace tends to hold.

None of the things that you cite as being essential to a “healthy republic” can exist if there is no moral framework, no set standards of virtue – written or unwritten. Our founders and framers understood this and wrote about it, countless philosophers and political economists have so stated more times than I could elaborate on here.

Surely you are aware of this simple fact. Without virtue no free republic can long exist. Look at the very framework of all free republics throughout history.

Religion can only provide virtue insofar as it is interpreted in a way that provides for virtue. In some cases it can provide virtue and morals, in some cases it provides anything but virtue and morals as we would recognize them. Indeed, prior to the modern era, almost no society, religious or otherwise, had virtue and morals approaching those that we have today, in terms of our respect for human rights, personal liberties and political rights.

Humans can have morals and virtue without religion. Humans can lack morals and virtue without religion. Humans can have morals and virtue with religion. Humans can lack morals and virtue with religion.

As I said above, our enlightenment happened to coincide with a gradual relaxation of totalitarian religious belief, and ultimately a decline in religious belief, across most of Europe and the West. I did not say this was a causal factor in our enlightenment; I am pointing out that, if such a decline coincided with this, it doesn't not follow that enlightenment is significantly dependent upon religious belief or morality conferred through religious belief.

You speak of enlightenment but enlightenment and the maintenance of a free and civil society and two entirely different things. I submit that most people are far from “enlightened” and that they live their lives in ways that address their self interests and priorities but they operate largely based on unwritten and unspoken principles which are largely thanks to societal norms that have evolved over the course of human history. Many of these principles, such as personal responsibility, etiquette, social behaviors, etc. have their roots in religion. It was something that even de Tocqueville observed and wrote about.

And yes, humans can have morals without religion, I’m agnostic yet I consider myself a very moral person by and large. But humanity as a whole, or at least the population of any given state, behave in entirely different ways than individuals; and as not every person, or even a great majority, can be as enlightened as those who have dedicated their lives to the study of philosophy, political economy, sociology, history and the great questions of the age, religion and it’s implications (or outright threats) of “eternal damnation” for going against deeply ingrained societal norms serves the function that true enlightenment would otherwise serve.


bigger_guns_nearby wrote:
dblboggie wrote:You’re kidding right? What, you want me to write a book here? Google is your friend, though if you are completely unaware of the influence that the collapse of religious values had in the ultimate collapse of both the Greek and Roman Republics, then perhaps you should actually start with a history book.

If you really think that 'the collapse of religious values' caused the ultimate fall of the Greek and Roman empires, then your book would be deeply flawed and demonstrably incorrect. In all seriousness, the most elementary text on Roman history will explain to you that the Western Roman Empire collapsed through a combination of imperial overstretch and spending, outward geopolitical pressures, and rampant political corruption, among others. Moral decline was a factor, but this is again where you confuse morality and religion and assume the two are interchangeable. There was never a great deal of 'morality' in Roman society - it was a cruel, violent, sexually deviant place.

At the time of the decline large swathes of the Empire were converting to Christianity - and part of the appeal of Christianity was that it allowed a degree of spiritual and political emancipation from the rule of Rome. Indeed, at that point in time Christianity was in many ways more 'moral' than what it replaced - in a period where the poor and powerless were almost universally oppressed, and became increasingly faced with growing political instability and the break down of sociopolitical institutions, it offered something of a rudimentary moral code that claimed unimpeachable divine authority. In that sense religion would have contributed to the fall of the Empire in the exact opposite sense to the one you suggested. Do you see that? Christianity had the potential to directly undermine the authority of the Empire by making Christians subject to God, not the Emperor. This was why the later Roman Emperors became so concerned with presenting themselves as the conduits of divine will.  

As I said before, your willingness to make such sweeping historical generalizations is worrying. The fall of the Roman empire was an incredibly complex process that took place over a huge area of Europe over several hundred years, and there were a vast array of factors whose influence must be carefully weighed.

Yes, yes, all of this is true, but you must have missed the bit about the problem that declining birth rates produced on Rome, and fertility was directly linked to religion (Nero made Fecunditas, a symbol of fertility on certain Roman coins, a divinity), not to mention the dozens of major and minor deities that were used to encourage higher fertility rates (the mortality rates of infants and young children at that time was extremely high by modern standards).

But the gradual deterioration of religious observance began to take its toll on empire and towards the end (I forget what Roman Emperor it was) laws were being passed to first subsidize, then demand, that woman give birth to more children. Religion had ceased to serve as an effective force to promote fertility.

This is not to say that gradual decline of religious observance was the sole cause of the fall of the Roman Empire, but it certainly played an important role as no civil society can exist absent virture.
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Re: The Christmas Spirit

Post by dblboggie on Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:40 pm

Oh... and by the way, I do understand that "virtue" would be defined differently today than it would have been 2000 years ago, part of the evolutionary process of societies and their institutions.
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