Podcast #35 – War on Christmas

We take a look at the (alleged) War on Christmas and the various over-reactions to it.

But first…some Thanksgiving leftovers!  Columnist Jim Griffith of the Newnan (Georgia) Times-Herald paints a bleak picture for atheists on Turkey Day.

Lest you think it’s only small town news hounds who blame everything on the infidels, get a load of the recent essay by Daniel Henniger in The Wall Street Journal.  Who knew the economic implosion was triggered by the scrooges who don’t like to hear the words “Merry Christmas”.

Bloviatin’ Bill O’Reilly has his loufa in a bunch over the fact that Washington State allowed an atheist display next to a Nativity scene on the capitol grounds.  But don’t worry Bill – some enterprising Christian kneecapped the Eighth Commandment and stole that pesky display.  Oh wait, it’s back!

Who needs another installment of “Holey Scripture” when retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong is on the job?  Spong has spent a career letting the air out of the “Bible as literal history” tires, and his opinion of the Christmas Story is no exception.  Thus sayeth the Spong: “The gospel writers knew that they were not writing history, they knew they were creating an interpretive portrait.”  (I wouldn’t be so sure of that, but with Christians like Spong, who wants to argue?)  Sign up for the Bishop’s weekly newsletter at JohnShelbySpong.com.

Our faithful listener Liz from Texas (who is allowed to play the AF podcast out loud at the office) shares her ingenious solution to obnoxious office Christmas Parties – hijack ’em!  In a scenario worth of The Office, Liz convinced her boss to let her organize the year-end holiday bash, due to the fact that she can “keep it religion neutral and thus HR friendly.”  Nobody likes the end result except Liz, HR, and the Jews.

Tom Melchiorre (the new editor of the Secular Nation newsletter) proves his uber-atheist street cred by refusing any observance or participation in holiday cheer.  (He responds to wishes of “Merry Christmas” with either a “No, thanks” or a Glare of Death.  He ‘splains himself in the current issue of Secular Nation magazine, which David will cover in an upcoming episode of the Secular Nation Podcast.

Finally, we share our Top Five Holiday Gifts for the Nonbeliever!  Presented more or less in order from least-to-most recommended:

John’s recommendations:

5. “How to Start Your Own Cult for Fun and Profit” by Heidi Lampietti.  A great stocking stuffer at $5, this 27-page chapbook helps you lay the groundwork for future fleecing of the dumb masses.  RedJackBooks.com

4. “The Resurrection and the Life” – a satirical retelling of the resurrection of Lazarus from the Book of John, this is a limited edition, handbound volume written by horror-meister Brian Keene, with woodcut engravings from Canadian artist George Walker.  Pricey and hard to come by, but worth the chase.  BitingDogPress.com

3.  There Will Be Blood (DVD) – Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano get biblical with a bowling pin in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic and unforgettable fable set in the oil fields of early 20th century California.  I… drink… your… milkshake!!!

2.  Fossils – From $10 bugs-in-amber to a $22K slab o’ Selenopeltis Buchii, the remains of creatures past are sure to please science lovers and annoy the yokels who still think the earth is 6,000 years old.  If you don’t have a local rock shop, try eBay.com.

1.  The Complete Discography of George Hrab – Musician, comedian, podcaster, freethinker, Hrab has accumulated a cult-like following to his Geologic Podcast.  His five albums are kinda nifty, too!  Buy the entire Hrab ouevre at CDBaby.com or check out GeologicRecords.net.

David’s recommendations:

5.  Give the Gift of Godless Power Brokering – Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like putting the nation’s only atheist lobbyist Lori Lipman Brown on your payroll.  (Actually, Lori has an assistant now, but still…)  Make a monthly donation of any amount via automatic credit card payment.  Secular.org/support.html

4.  Gift subscription to Skeptic magazine.  This one’s kind of a no-brainer.  Nuff said.  Skeptic.com

3.  50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy P. Harrison.  David’s favorite nonfiction book of the year.

2.  Playing Gods – The Board Game of Divine Domination!  Invented by Skeptical Inquirer editor Ben Radford, it’s a perfect gift for the godless gamer in the family.

1.  Letting Go of God (DVD) – Comedienne Julia Sweeney’s audio CD of this one-woman performance is already, um, cultishly popular, but now the film version is available just in time for Christmas.  Honestly, this is an uproariously funny and genuinely touching account of Sweeney’s struggle to come to grips with what she really believes.


A reminder that we post new material (news, commentary, links of interest) several times a week at AmericanFreethought.com.

If you’d like to talk about anything you’ve heard on our podcast (or anything related to freethought in general) join us at the American Freethought Yahoo Group [link].

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David is podcasting new episodes of Secular Nation.  AtheistAlliance.org/podcast.

Interested in science fiction?  Then check out John’s SciFiDimensions Podcast.  SciFiDimensions.com.

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Closing music is “Christmas with the Devil” by Allgood, from the 1992 compilation The Mother of All Flagpole Christmas Albums.

Recorded December 5, 2008.  Hosted by John C. Snider and David Driscoll.

To listen to this episode click here.

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