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WOO IN REVIEW: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

WOO IN REVIEW: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!
Soundtrack available on iTunes ($7.99), DVD available in stores everywhere ($11.99), and check listings on Comedy Central

This season, instead of waiting for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to come on network television, you colbertchristmas1might try heading up to Barnes and Noble to purchase a copy of A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All. That is, if you're one of the people who can stand Christmas sentiment (and if you aren't, I'll be getting to you momentarily). And yeah, I realize it's not Christmas anymore in many parts of the world. But for all I know, you're still flipping through the channels awaiting that part where the other reindeer make fun of Rudolph and he responds by letting out a phlegmy-sounding wail. Don't worry, A Colbert Christmas isn't your standard blaring O Holy Night type of Christmas special. It is edgy, controversial, and might even piss off skeptics.

Let me go ahead and throw this out there: I think that The Colbert Report is one of the best news sources in the entire universe. I'm not even kidding here. And according to this poll, viewers of The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are some of the best informed individuals in the United States when it comes to current events. Sorry, Fox News, as much as I have come to love Shep Smith.

A Colbert Christmas meets the same fantastic standards, mostly because it isn't the mind-numbing fortune cookie wrapped in tinsel that, I'm sorry to say, I think A Charlie Brown Christmas is. If I want the fact that we're supposed to be brotherly toward one another shoved down my throat, I will have a gorgeous twenty-two year old bodybuilder force-feed me pages of the New Testament.

Colbert's Christmas special is great because it's relevant. There are actual current event issues (the war on Christmas), philosophical questions (are skeptics and cynics sort of a-holes?), and Elvis Costello gets eaten by a bear (and it's awesome).

A Colbert Christmas follows the basic guidelines of any Christmas special – the titular character is in danger of missing Christmas, or losing sight of what Christmas is really about, and is visited by a host of celebrities who bring Christmas with them right to the doorstep and show its true meaning through song. Colbert's special features guest appearances by Willie Nelson, Jon Stewart, Feist, Toby Keith, John Legend, Elvis Costello, and George Wendt.
colbertchristmas2
But an important thing to remember before I get to the real point of this review is that judging anything about Stephen Colbert's views on politics and belief systems is nearly impossible. The real Stephen Colbert is not the television Stephen Colbert, and it's hard to distinguish what's real and what isn't when watching his show.

Not only that, but the songs weren't written by Colbert. They were written by David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger who are, in my opinion, musical gods (seriously, I've listened to the soundtrack so many times now that I think iTunes is on the verge of an explosion). Javerbaum, who is the Executive Producer of The Daily Show, was quick to remind me, both before and after nearly everything he said when I spoke with him, that the show is a Christmas special – meaning that it's going to have all the cliché and all the tropes and what you're watching might be serious – or it might not.

But it's because of the potential seriousness and the very real edginess that the show makes me feel mildly uncomfortable – even though I enjoyed it. It reaches beyond a Hallmark greeting into territory usually reserved for drunken egg nog debate. Not to say that the show isn't peppered with saccharine. It is. But it doles out the Sweet n Low with a big fat dose of irony. The only unfortunate side is that the irony seemed to be utterly lost on whoever timed up the laugh track. You'll get pulled out of the show every five seconds as the fake audience laughs hysterically at what can only be called “absolutely nothing.” At first I believed the laugh track was intended to be ironic, and it could have even been funny the first nine thousand times. But after a while, it was so grating it took me straight out of the action. Javerbaum told me, though, that the DVD has the option of watching the special minus the laugh track.

Returning to the point, though.

One of the songs, toward the end of A Colbert Christmas, is the very catchy somewhat melancholy tune There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In, sung by Elvis Costello and Stephen Colbert. It features a lot of lyrics that the skeptical community will probably resent, and therefore I'd like to devote some time to it. A lot, actually. Let's take a look at all the lyrics, with a mix of me and Javerbaum as well. (And be sure to check out the video to the right.)

Elvis: There are cynics, there are skeptics,
There are legions of dispassionate dyspeptics
Who regard this time of year as a maudlin, insincere,
Cheesy, crass commercial travesty of all that we hold dear.

Stephen: When they think that,
Well, I can hear it,
But I pity them their lack of Christmas spirit,
For in a world like ours, take it from Stephen:
There are much worse things to believe in.

“That song, like every other song, is part of a Christmas special,” Javerbaum said.

Though Javerbaum wrote the song, he was a bit reticent to discuss his actual belief systems.

“I always feel like it's a mistake in general for people behind the scenes... to outright say what they believe about something,” he said.

But let's, for a moment, pretend that this song is about real beliefs. Because no matter how much I might want to write it off as some cute little melody from a Christmas special, there is some grain of truth in it somewhere that I cannot quite identify.

Something that I have never understood (that we can battle about in comments later) is the tendency of some people to insist that the rest of the world believe what they do. For instance, around once every four months a group of teenage Baptists comes to my door and 'saves' me (this does not require a belief in Christ, only saying a prayer that they've actually typed out on a card). Whether or not I believe in Jesus (or want to) is irrelevant because they're going to come a-knocking anyway armed with their pamphlets about how much God loves me. So, they want me to believe what they do. I don't understand why they want that, but alright.

Of course, if I said it should be illegal or unethical or that I should be allowed to pull a shotgun on them for coming to my door, then I would be doing the same thing – because they believe that they are supposed to spread God around like mayonnaise on wheat. If I make it impossible for them to come to my door, then I am insisting that they believe as I do.

By the way, every time the Baptists come to my door, I wind up getting saved by Jesus. Not because I feel Jesus stirring within my toenails or wherever it is I'm supposed to feel that, but because I know those teenagers think they are doing something kind and good, and who am I to slam the door in their faces for that? If they brought me a cherry pie instead of Jesus, hell, I'd eat it. The only way I wouldn't eat a pie someone brought me is if it was pecan, since I am allergic. But see, I'm not allergic to someone's belief in Jesus. colbertchristmas3

And the first part of the song seems kind of relevant in that way. I have heard people insist that it is better to say “Happy Holidays” than “Merry Christmas.” Why is it better? Because Christmas is associated with Christians? So are hard-boiled eggs with paint and The Spanish Inquisition. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop putting people on the rack.

Moving right along with the song...

There's another part that I think the skeptical community might take issue with, and that's the following.

Elvis: A redeemer and a savior.
An obese man giving toys for good behavior

Stephen: The faith in what might be and the hope that we might see
The answer to all sorrow in a box beneath the tree...
Find them foolish?
Sentimental?

Stephen: Well you're clearly none too bright,

Both: So we'll be gentle.

Stephen: Don't even try to start vaguely conceivin’

Both: Of all much worse things to believe in.

Stephen: Believe in the judgment, believe in Jihad.
Believe in a thousand variations on a dark and spiteful god.

Elvis: You've got your money, you've got your power,
You've got your science sayin’ the planet’s going to end within the hour.

I asked Javerbaum what he meant by that last lyric. We all know that science definitely has a place. But does it have a place in things like Christmas?

“Science... well, is scientific. And can also be horribly depressing.” Javerbaum said.

And that brings me to another thing that irritates me during the holiday season. There are some people who go out of their way to say “Happy Winter Solstice” or whatever. If you want to celebrate a freakin' holiday, do me a favor: Celebrate the holiday. Don't keep twisting and twisting until it's unrecognizable. Celebrating Christmas does not mean that you love Jesus. It means that you love presents. And go ahead and tell me the history of Christmas and how it actually has something to do with the winter solstice. Don't care. No one goes around saying “Happy Lunar Eclipse.”

Now, none of this means that I'm blind to how wonderful science is. And I disagree with the 'You're clearly none too bright' line. It is unnecessarily antagonistic. But then again, so much of what we do is as well.

I think that a lot of my feelings toward this song are based around my perception that many individuals who do not believe in God seem to find other people who do stupid. That really drives me crazy. But moving on.

Stephen: You've got your dreams that don't come true.

Elvis: You've got the ones that do.

Stephen: And then you've got your nothin’.

Both: Some folks believe in nothin’.
But if you believe in nothin’,
Then what's to keep the nothing from coming for you?

“The standpoint would be...” Javerbaum said, “The clarification is: If you don't believe in God... there is nothing to keep the abyss from getting you.”

This part of the song sounds a whole lot like Nietzsche. You know, the whole 'When you look into the abyss; the abyss also looks into you,' thing. And here I'll give points back to the non-believers in this made-up boxing match in my mind. Nothing can't come for you because nothing can't think and isn't a physical being. An abyss of nothingness can't get you – that's all just a personification. It's the type of thing a believer would think of non-believers – that their non-existent hound of hell was going to rear its non-existent head and bite you on your all-too-existent ass.

It's not that I agree with the concept of nihilism. I think nihilism is about as rewarding as a diet based solely upon saltine crackers. It's just that the lyrics here aren't necessarily the best way to represent that. Of course, an argument against a belief in nothing wouldn't be a couple lines of a song. It would be the collected works of Martin Heidegger. But Javerbaum (and I'm sure many of you will agree with him) seems to think there's some comfort in nihilism; or at least finds it understandable.

“If I were an atheist – and I may or may not be — I would take far more comfort in thinking the woes of this world are happening for no reason whatsoever, nothing personal, than that some omnipotent God is being a dick to us.” Javerbaum said.

But for me, that's not what it's about. It isn't so much that I'm willing to use a god as a giant celestial shoulder to cry on as it is that I would prefer it if, when I thought of something funny whilst alone, I would feel that someone else was in on the joke. Do I believe there is? I haven't the foggiest. If there is a god, he probably doesn't find me funny at all. colbertchristmasgroup

The end of the song is when it gets quite melancholy – when I feel that perhaps I'm actually missing something every Christmas that other people have. I remember a long time ago singing Silent Night in church during the candlelight ceremony, and I can't tell if being philosophically deep and scientifically sound and therefore not attending church has actually helped me out any.

Stephen: Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.
Now if you'll forgive me there's a lot to do here.
There are stockings still unhung,
Colored lights I haven't strung,

Elvis: And a one-man four-part Christmas carol waiting to be sung.

Stephen: Call me silly; call me sappy;
Call me many things the first of which is happy.
You doubt, but you're sad.
I don't, but I'm glad.

Both: I guess we're even.

Stephen: Well, at least that's what I believe in,

Both: And there are much worse things.

Don't you feel ridiculously effing sad at that? I can't explain what it is, but you're picking up on that truth grain, aren't you? Okay, maybe I'm the only one. Aha, no I'm not.

“More people are thinking about this song than any of the others,” Javerbaum said, “No one ever asks if I really believe there are angels in heaven waiting to answer your call.”

I actually had considered asking about that since the song he's referring to (Please be Patient) contains the line “Angels answer every prayer.” Which made me wonder if I said contrary prayers if somewhere a cherub would explode like a down pillow at a sorority slumber party. I did not mention this imagery to Javerbaum.

He and Colbert collaborated on the entire special, and it is definitely worth watching whether you believe in the views expressed in it or not. According to Javerbaum, the special would've been a little more satirical toward Christians, but Colbert rejected the songs that were going to make it so. Colbert is a practicing Catholic. Or maybe he isn't. Who knows.

What I do know is this - I have no idea about anything that's religious. None at all. But I do like it when things can make me think, and make me laugh, and make me think again.



A COLBERT CHRISTMAS: THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL!: 5 out of 5 stars, and prepare a drink for the debates that will follow.

FURTHER READING:

I Am America (And so can you!) by Stephen Colbert

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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Well, I supposse we should've just kept on calling black persons n*****s, homosexuals p******s, and using the male pronoun when referring to both sexes. What the hell.

Christmas celebrates Christ's birth. Period.
If you don't want to celebrate Christ's birth, then for Christ's sake call it something else!
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Much Ado About Nothin'
written by roguetrick, December 26, 2008
The end of the song is when it gets quite melancholy – when I feel that perhaps I'm actually missing something every Christmas that other people have. I remember a long time ago singing Silent Night in church during the candlelight ceremony, and I can't tell if being philosophically deep and scientifically sound and therefore not attending church has actually helped me out any


I don't feel this way, but if you do, go to a church. I went to churches for many years as an atheist, and I never liked it. If you want to sing, then go sing. If you're arguing that church is the best way to develop a group of people to hang out with people and do fun things, I'd disagree. Still, if you really are feeling that way, go to a church.

Don't you feel ridiculously effing sad at that? I can't explain what it is, but you're picking up on that truth grain, aren't you? Okay, maybe I'm the only one. Aha, no I'm not.


I feel no more sad than the small sadness I get from people pitying me for no reason, and thus underestimating how happy what they do makes them. For Christmas, I cooked my Christan family large amounts of food(which is a celebration of my late grandmother more than anything and the reason I enjoy the holiday so much), and read a note from my aunt saying she knows I'm not a Christan but still wishes to wish me well, which made me laugh very much(she was poking fun at me). I also gave and received presents, and I was quite happy.

And that brings me to another thing that irritates me during the holiday season. There are some people who go out of their way to say “Happy Winter Solstice” or whatever. If you want to celebrate a freakin' holiday, do me a favor: Celebrate the holiday. Don't keep twisting and twisting until it's unrecognizable. Celebrating Christmas does not mean that you love Jesus. It means that you love presents. And go ahead and tell me the history of Christmas and how it actually has something to do with the winter solstice. Don't care. No one goes around saying “Happy Lunar Eclipse.”


I'm putting this at the end because its the one that is the silliest. Most people call another holiday Christmas, and that irritates some people. Its a holiday that has been twisted like crazy and I personally ignore any Jesus aspect to it. Some of us just say Holiday Season due to the vast amount of traditions present. I often say Christmas since that what everyone else is saying. If you are getting annoyed by semantic and historical arguments involving the whole thing, however, perhaps you are missing something.
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written by asmith, December 26, 2008
roguetrick,

I am referring to individuals who say "Happy Winter Solstice" and yet hang stockings, put up and decorate a tree, and wrap gifts in wrapping paper covered in tiny Santas. That is not a celebration of the Winter Solstice. That is a celebration of Christmas.

Also, no thank you on the church thing. I am not religious.


BillyJoe,

That has to be one of the more majorly over-the-top comparisons I have ever seen. At least I think it is... I can't tell because I've been sitting here trying to think of a word that starts with a 'p,' ends in an 's,' has eight letters and is a rude word for homosexual. I keep coming up empty. But it is early.

Anyway, I don't call black people that word you mentioned that's probably just going to be autocensored anyway so I won't put it because I don't believe they *are* that word you mentioned that's probably just going to get autocensored. As I mentioned above in this comment, if you are decorating a tree, hanging stockings, and wrapping presents, then you are celebrating Christmas the way the majority of the United States does - minus the nativity scene (in some households). I think your final sentence should be more like "If you don't want to celebrate Christmas, then for Christ's sake, don't keep right on celebrating Christmas."

I guess what I'm saying here is, and this applies to both comments...

Why say Happy Winter Solstice? Why say Happy Holidays? If you do not believe in the holiday corresponding to the date, then why would you celebrate a holiday *on that date* and find yourself saying anything at all?

And if you don't celebrate it, well, I wasn't referring to you anyway.

-- Alison
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Door to door exceptionism
written by DrMatt, December 26, 2008
Hm, I've been composing classical music since I was 4, and have gone out of my way, at great expense to myself, to make it easily available to those who might want it. I think art has the real potential to benefit humanity. But I don't go door to door pushing it, because that's rude. Making special exceptions for proselytizers looks to me a lot like condescending to them--they can't help it, they feel they're being kind, etc. I don't see the appeal nor kindness in blending in and going along with them.
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I Agree
written by roguetrick, December 26, 2008
I agree, Allison, but I also understand the individuals who want to have no connection to the Christan church while still having a holiday on that date just like so many cultures do and they did when they grew up. So I consider it all just an irrelevant semantic argument that shouldn't be worried about. That's all I was trying to say.
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Thanks
written by danieljref, December 26, 2008
I'm not going to be cheesy and say that a Christmas miracle happened at JREF site, but I have to say that I loved the review (oh wait, is this cheesy?).

I have some disagreements with some of the things that were said, but I think they are a minor point before the whole review.

Great Work!
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What's in an expression?
written by danieljref, December 26, 2008
Christmas celebrates Christ's birth. Period.


Although true, there are points missing. If you don't understand the meaning of Christ or His birth, the sentence is nothing more than an understatement. There is a whole lot more before this "Period". That is why so many people celebrate it, even if they are not religious.
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Eight letter slur that begins with "P"
written by lcanney, December 26, 2008
That would be "Poofters" - we yanks were exposed to it thru Monty Python ("No Poofters!!!!!!")

Great review too!

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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Alison,

That has to be one of the more majorly over-the-top comparisons I have ever seen. At least I think it is... I can't tell because I've been sitting here trying to think of a word that starts with a 'p,' ends in an 's,' has eight letters and is a rude word for homosexual. I keep coming up empty. But it is early.

I'll bet you are against racism, homophobia, and sexism. In line with that you would not use the words n****r or p*****r (Icanny is correct). You probably also avoid sexists pronouns whenever it is sensible to so so. Yet you are happy to promote a religion by wishing everyone a Merry ********s. I guess you don't think there is anything wrong with religion?

Anyway, I don't call black people that word you mentioned that's probably just going to be autocensored anyway so I won't put it because I don't believe they *are* that word you mentioned that's probably just going to get autocensored.

But speech doesn't get autocensored.
(Except perhaps with a clenched fist smilies/cheesy.gif)

As I mentioned above in this comment, if you are decorating a tree, hanging stockings, and wrapping presents, then you are celebrating Christmas the way the majority of the United States does - minus the nativity scene (in some households).

In evolutionary, there is a process called exaptation. I would commend it to you.

I think your final sentence should be more like "If you don't want to celebrate Christmas, then for Christ's sake, don't keep right on celebrating Christmas."

If you don't want to promote religion, and if you realise that you're never going to stop the celebration on that day, and if you would still rather have that holiday than go to work, I suggest you could exapt that holiday for a...um...higher purpose.

Why say Happy Winter Solstice? Why say Happy Holidays? If you do not believe in the holiday corresponding to the date, then why would you celebrate a holiday *on that date* and find yourself saying anything at all?

Rather than discard them, evolution transformed two of the reptilian jaw bones into the mammalian middle ear ossicles with the result that hearing was greatly improved. Maybe we should follow its lead. "Happy holiday" is fine with me.

And if you don't celebrate it, well, I wasn't referring to you anyway.

No, I celebrate that holiday all right
In fact, I read quite a number of good skeptical articles on the day. smilies/smiley.gif

BJ
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Okay, I caught about six grammatical errors in my post.
I hope it doesn't matter.
(I wonder if we could have a edit function here)
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Not Past Christmas Yet
written by StarTrekLivz, December 26, 2008
In the traditions of the Western liturgical churches (Roman, Anglican, Lutheran) and Eastern Orthodox, Christmas lasts until Epiphany, 6 January.

and of course for Old Calendar Orthodox, it isn't even Christmas yet (it's now 12 days out of sync).
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written by Wolfman, December 26, 2008
What amuses me about this is how many of those who condemn Christians for shoving their beliefs down their throats, turn around and try to dictate how other atheists should act. It is somehow wrong to use the words "Merry Christmas", or to participate in the rituals associated with Christmas.

Get over yourselves. Christians don't have any right to tell me what to believe, or how to act; and neither do other atheists. If you personally find it difficult or impossible to dissociate secular and religious aspects of Christmas, and/or you find it offensive, that's fine...nobody here is telling you that you can't say "Happy Holiday", or whatever else you want to.

I've just recently come back to Canada after 15 years living in China. Christmas was celebrated every year that I was in China...and gets bigger and more popular every year. Yet it is an almost entirely secular holiday; a lot of Chinese don't even know that Christmas has anything to do with Jesus. To them, its all about Santa, and gifts, and an excuse to have parties.

That's my view on it, as well. I enjoy Christmas. I enjoy having a Christmas tree, and a turkey dinner with my family, and exchanging gifts, and all that other stuff. And yes, I regularly wish people a Merry Christmas.

And nobody -- Christian or atheist -- has the right to tell me how I should celebrate (or not celebrate) this holiday.
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written by Willy K, December 26, 2008
written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Christmas celebrates Christ's birth. Period.


BillyJoe... that's 99.999% wrong. Don't get mad, it just mostly wrong. Most of the Christmas traditions are 2000 years of myths and celebrations from hundreds of cultures. You might want to think it's only about a mythical person from 2000 years ago, but it's not. People like to socialize and celebrate, it's a Human condition that gets tied to the latest, local, popular fad.

I don't hate Christmas, I hate the anger from people who insist that everyone MUST believe in the childhood fantasies of the believers!

Alison, people who believe in any deity are stupid... period. It's not an insult, most people who believe in this nonsense know deep down that they are wrong, that's why they get so fraking mad. Would you ever consider an "adult" who insists that Santa Claus is real "smart?" smilies/tongue.gif

I've come up with my own variation of a holiday saying. Hoppy Halidays! Hoppy as in beer, Haliday as in slurring the word holiday after many beers. smilies/grin.gif

Willy K

P.S. My favorite Christmas songs are, "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby and "So This Is Christmas" by John Lennon. They give me a nice warm feeling that has absolutely nothing to do with deities. Maybe it's the beer. smilies/grin.gif
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written by Son of Rea, December 26, 2008
Just because Christmas started as a holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, does not mean it must presently only be celebrated as such.

I don't have to reject the traditions of Christmas (presents, tree, decor, family gatherings, meals, etc.), just because I reject the premise on which Christmas is based.

Do you refuse to say "good-bye" because it is derived from "God be with you"?

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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Son of Rea,

I am with you.
What you are talking about is what Dawkins called an exaptation! smilies/smiley.gif
I have no problem with that.

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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Willy,

BillyJoe... that's 99.999% wrong. Don't get mad, it just mostly wrong. Most of the Christmas traditions are 2000 years of myths and celebrations from hundreds of cultures. You might want to think it's only about a mythical person from 2000 years ago, but it's not.

I don't get mad I get even! smilies/grin.gif
(No, really, I don't get mad, I leave that to others to suffer under the influence of)
The word "Christmas" is a contraction of "Christ's mass" which means "celebration of Christ's (birth)". Sure the meaning has changed for a lot of peoples and cultures over the centuries. What I am saying is that we don't have to be stuck with the name (like black people do not have to be stuck with the word n****r, homosexuals with p*****r, and women with male nouns and pronouns).
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written by BillyJoe, December 26, 2008
Wolfman,

Settle down.
Everyone is just putting their points of view.
Nobody's ordering you to do anything.

BJ
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What I'm getting Allison for Christmas.... NO NEGATIVE COMMENTS!!!
written by monstrmac1, December 26, 2008
Merry Christmas Allison.

I have no problem celebrating Christmas or saying I celebrate Christmas. I think its great that there is a unified time of gift giving every year. I don't attend nativity reenactments or Christmas plays because I don't believe that Christ is the reason for Christmas. Its just the Christians taking too much credit.

Also, I was gonna blog about this but I think it fits here. Belief in Santa Claus is so much better than belief in God. Santa Claus may not be real but most kids stop believing when they get older and they never make huge life decisions based on whether or not Santa Claus would approve. They also never ask Santa Claus for healing or miracles. When kids grow up and realize how much there parents went through to make them believe Santa Claus was real, they will appreciate there parents effort even more. I have a 4 year old boy and I now know just how much effort goes in to the Santa Claus secret. Belief in God on the other hand leads to countless years of needless guilt and anger over not knowing why your prayers were ever answered.

To sum it up, Santa Claus totally owns God.

Merry Christmas Allison,

May Jebus bless you.
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written by Kuroyume, December 26, 2008
a lot of Chinese don't even know that Christmas has anything to do with Jesus


Well, in a literal sense it might but in a general sense it has nothing to do with Jesus. The actual festivities around this time of year all revolved around the Winter Solstice for thousands of years before Christianity stole it for its own (think of it as 'regifting'). smilies/wink.gif The 'Christmas' tree is nothing of the sort. The Yule and yule log have no direct relation to Christianity. Same for holly, mistletoe, festive meals, and gift giving. Much of this can be traced to Roman Saturnalia or northern European Yule festivals. And the celebration of his birth doesn't jive with the written accounts (no way am I saying 'historical') but suspiciously coincides with every great 'rebirth of the sun' festival in history. Hmmm...

I don't celebrate Christmas. I respect the tradition but not the intent now that I'm atheist and no longer Roman Catholic. My biggest celebration day is Dec. 21 and then New Year's next. I feel no compunction to say or not say 'merry christmas'; in the same way as 'good-bye' (as already noted). These are words. To change things, we need to impart understanding and, as Paul put it, have the shingles fall from their eyes. If people can realize these blatantly obvious connections and not be fooled by sly counterarguments, Christianity can finally devolve into mythology just like every other religion in history. As much as I think that it has far outlasted its usefulness (especially after the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and Technological Age), one then must reflect that the Egyptian gods lasted the breadth of the civilization's span (three thousand years!). Not even a Pharoah could replace them (Ankhenaten and Nefertiti).

Robert
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written by dr pepper, December 27, 2008
I don't celebrate Christmas. I don't celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, or any other regular hlidays either. I do celebrate cheap turkeys, though.
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A Green Christmas
written by Michieux, December 27, 2008
I think Colbert's a Christian atheist, or atheistic Christian, or something.

I liked the show, especially the horticultural section.

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written by BillyJoe, December 27, 2008
A Christian Atheist?

Is that an oxymoron?
Or is that like having your cake and eating it too?

BJ
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I say Happy Winter Solstice
written by Alencon, December 27, 2008
And that brings me to another thing that irritates me during the holiday season. There are some people who go out of their way to say “Happy Winter Solstice” or whatever. If you want to celebrate a freakin' holiday, do me a favor: Celebrate the holiday. Don't keep twisting and twisting until it's unrecognizable. Celebrating Christmas does not mean that you love Jesus.


Alison,

I have this feeling that we wouldn't get along. Your thinking strikes me as terribly digital when it's an analog world. Not everyone fits into neat little categories. The Holiday Season transcends Christmas. Yes Christmas was it's genesis but it's no longet necessary to be celebrating "Christmas" when one engages in holiday traditions.

I have a lighted & decorated tree (artificial), stockings hung over the fireplace and we exchange presents on Christmas morning but we're not celebrating Christmas. We're celebrating holiday traditions of home and family that are much more important than the birth of a mythical god. I also tend to say Happy Holidays and even occasionally Happy Winter Solstice (usually in response to someone who wishes me Merry Christmas).

Feel free to call that "twisting" if you must. I call it doing my own thing and not fitting into any easily defined little bucket.

I might also point out that kicking those annoying Baptists, or Mormons, or Jehovah's Witnesses, that come to "save" you off your property is not insisting they believe as you do, it's simply excercising one's Constitutional right of Free Speech which in this case means making it clear that you consider what they're pitching to be total nonsense.
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written by LindaRosaRN, December 27, 2008
This is an unconvincing, rambling recommendation to buy the DVD. There is only one reason to buy it and that is the "War on Christmas" song. The rest is tedious. Gone are the days when Colbert delighted with his "This Week in Religion" episodes on The Daily Show.
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No better or worse
written by gr8white, December 27, 2008
I don't know that it's any "better" to say "Happy Holidays" or any worse. I think some people may prefer it because it is more inclusive; after all, there are other holidays than Xmas this time of year, and not everyone celebrates Xmas. I don't celebrate it myself, but I don't begrudge anyone who does, whether they believe in the religious aspects or not. What I can't understand is how some people can get so worked up over other peoples' choices of how to extend holiday greetings.
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written by asmith, December 28, 2008
Alencon,

I never said that kicking the Baptists off my property would be an example of me insisting they believe as I do.

I said that creating laws that keep them from ever coming to the door in the first place would be making them believe as I do. Because their beliefs dictate that they must spread the word of their god. Mine do not. If I make it impossible for them to spread the word of their god, then I have taken away their ability to have that belief.

All that aside, though, it's interesting that you think we would not get along in person. In person, I don't normally have long-winded debates about whether or not people saying "Merry Christmas" drives me crazy. In fact, in conversation, it wouldn't even be apparent that I was a skeptic. I see no reason to inject my beliefs into every conversation.

So why is it that we wouldn't get along?

-- A
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written by Kuroyume, December 28, 2008
???

I don't like any kind of unsolicited solicitation at my front door. I don't care if it's an encyclopedia salesperson or a Jehovah's Witness. It does not affect their ability to prosyletize in any public, non-federal place (as long as it does not disturb the peace). Next you'll be telling me that not inviting them in is violating their belief. In this case, there is a Constitutional law (not even law enforcement can enter your premises without 'just cause' or a warrant or, at the least, your permission).

I can't see how prohibiting people from coming to your front door affects their beliefs in any way. Of course, I simply ignore them when they do come to the door (and they do on occasion - but not recently so I now be on the 'not worth the trouble' list - yay!). smilies/wink.gif
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written by Careyp74, December 28, 2008
Not to derail, or rerail as it may be, did anyone who watched the christmas special enjoy it? I watch the Colbert Report whenever I catch it on, and find it a lot funnier then the Daily Show, but I didn't find much of the christmas special funny at all. It was really cheesy, and nothing like the regular show. The song about atheists was clever, but not funny, and the bear thing got played out last season.
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written by Cuddy Joe, December 29, 2008
Careyp74: "Not to derail, or rerail as it may be, did anyone who watched the christmas special enjoy it?"

I found it pretty standard cable TV fare, employing standard devices of comic parody, sarcasm, and attempts to shock. A few high spots, a few low, mostly average fare. Felt a bit like a 5-10 minute skit stretched to an hour-long show.

Poster Linda Rosa opined: "This is an unconvincing, rambling recommendation to buy the DVD." and I tend to agree with this assessment (Ms. Smith sorely needs an editor). I also noticed the sales blurb at the very beginning:

WOO IN REVIEW: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!
Soundtrack available on iTunes ($7.99), DVD available in stores everywhere ($11.99), and check listings on Comedy Central

This is the only Woo In Review to do this, and I wonder if Ms. Smith has any sort of financial or promotional agreement with iTunes, Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert, or anyone else connected to this show.
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written by asmith, December 29, 2008
I do not have a financial agreement with anyone. Normally whatever the Woo in Review is about is free - like it comes on regularly on television. Therefore only the network is listed. The Colbert special is a Christmas special - therefore you aren't likely to see it in the listings until at least next year. Therefore the best way to see it is to buy it.
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written by Cuddy Joe, December 29, 2008
There doesn't seem to be any 'normally' to the subject matter in Woo In Review. You review books, stage shows, and movies too, none of which are free. But, no matter.
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written by asmith, December 29, 2008
CuddyJoe,

And the book reviews had links to Amazon where individuals could buy the books. Hoodwinked is not currently onstage anywhere, otherwise there would have been a link to that. And there was a link to the Monte Carlo site, where people can purchase tickets to Lance Burton.

Is the problem that this time I put the price?

-- A
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written by Cuddy Joe, December 30, 2008
There is no problem. No other Woo In Review had a full sales blurb at the top. I wondered if there was an unstated promotional connection. You've said there is not. No problem.
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written by Wareyin, December 30, 2008
I enjoyed this "Woo in Review" much more than most of the others I have read. I also didn't find it long and rambling, rather I find one paragraph blogs to be far to brief. As a skeptic, I had no problems with "There are much worse things to believe in". I agree with some lines, and disagree with others. The song that bothered me was "War on Christmas". That song is far too close to what many Christians I know profess. The Nutmeg song, the Angel telephone song, and especially the 4th Wise man song were clearly tongue in cheek silliness. Maybe Toby Kieth's delivery had something to do with it, as well. That guy just exudes I'm countrier than you and I can kick your ass you hippy.
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Christmas is for Christians
written by Karl, December 30, 2008
The word Christ-mas is self explanatory, it is the "mass for Christ" and is the only religious aspect of the holiday (yes, holy day).

NOTHING else about the celebration is Christian. Not evergreen trees, tree decorations, presents, cards, mistletoe, yule log, lights (electric or fire), etc. ad nauseum. Most of the traditions are in fact pagan and were outlawed by many of the Christian sects when they first came to America. There is a verse in the Bible telling Christians not to follow the lead of the "heathens" by putting up a tree in their homes and decorating it with gold and silver (Jeremiah 10:2-4)

The Winter Solstice is the reason for the celebration and has been for thousands of years before Christians came along and tried to claim it as their own. Virtually every culture celebrates the Winter Solstice, unfortunately most celebrations have been polluted with mythology.

Saying Happy Holidays is the most polite way to acknowledge the celebrations of all cultures. Saying "Merry Christmas" is, foremost, ignorant (of history). When you are not Christian it is spineless. Christians saying Merry Christmas to everyone in sight is arrogant.
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It had the best secular hymn ever.
written by thorby, December 31, 2008
"(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding"

Absolutely brilliant song.

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written by thetruth, January 01, 2009
Why does it matter to some atheists that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ? We all can celebrate the way we want to. It's about the celebration of family and giving. The bible is just a bunch of story lessons and Christmas is just a great American tradition. Why make more of it? I wouldn't get mad if someone said Happy Mardi Gras. It would be ignorant for me to assume the person isn't wishing me well. Christmas is the holiday everyone. So saying Merry Christmas is not arrogant.
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written by Kuroyume, January 01, 2009
No. It's a holiday stolen from other traditions and perpetuated as unique (as is usual in Christendom). Unique and original - my a$$. Christmas isn't the holiday. The Winter Solstice is the holiday and if one wants to be closer to the "real" tradition, time to brush up on Saturnalia and Yule Festivals. But even these are sprinkled with religious overtones. I celebrate the Winter Solstice - the time when the day is shortest in the year and in the hope (and steadfast knowledge) that the days will get longer and the seasons will continue to change in the grand cycle caused by our planet's orbit and axial orientation with respect to our star. I think that saying 'Merry Christmas' is cordial but it is not arrogant to do otherwise. How do Hindus and Jews feel about this (exempli gratia)? Again, my take is that the institutional christian church (Roman Catholicism) has worked so hard for so long to spread and engrain their dogma and traditions that we might actually feel guilty not acquiescing to these long-held, pagan-based traditions. I, for one, want to see a change after 1700 years. The rule of christianity can only come to an end if we hasten it by challenging the blithe acceptances and perpetuating the traditions. smilies/wink.gif
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written by tctheunbeliever, January 03, 2009
M. Smith---thanks for once again.....I'm looking for a metaphor here.....dancing in a shooting gallery often frequented by violent drunks and would-be sharpshooters. If this is considered fluff, I'm on the wrong Internet.
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Hitting the Nail on the Head
written by BillyJoe, January 05, 2009


The Winter Solstice is the reason for the celebration and has been for thousands of years before Christians came along and tried to claim it as their own...

Saying Happy Holidays is the most polite way to acknowledge the celebrations of all cultures. Saying "Merry Christmas" is, foremost, ignorant (of history). When you are not Christian it is spineless. Christians saying Merry Christmas to everyone in sight is arrogant.



smilies/smiley.gif

Yes, take a stand all you sceptics!

Happy Holidays!

(It can't be "Happy Winter Solstice" because it's actually Summer in half the world - including right here in Australia! smilies/smiley.gif
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