|Nikos' festive leaves|
As an atheist, I'm arguing that the end of the year can be celebrated with creativity, reflection, gratitude and communion.
And just to repeat, as some readers seem to have missed it: it's not about Christmas. It's an end of the year celebration - a 'bespoke atheist celebration,' as I put it. A sample:
My son was recently a reindeer in a kindergarten nativity play. Over dinner, in a cautious whisper, he told us that the baby's name was a ''bad word''. Welcome to the modern atheist household: so irreligious, my son thinks ''Jesus'' is a curse, not the name of God's only begotten Son. (''Jesus Christ, who spilt milk on my modern English usage?'') I'm not anti-religion, unless it's passed off as science, smuggled into education or used as a weapon of coercion. But our family has no God or gods.
For this reason, Christmas is an ambivalent time: we recognise reverence and holy days, but without the baggage of Christ and his hay-bale bed. It is also ambivalent for perfectly secular reasons: it combines fine things (family meals, gift-giving, cricket) with crap (drunkenness, desperate over-eating and hyper-shopping). Every year, we're torn: embrace the silly season, or run away screaming?For an interesting comment on this piece (before I had this blog post up), see my last post on reverence.