Admittedly, there is some contradiction about a holy day being secular. After all, religion is a component of government, at least originally, and I am not complaining. That’s one of the reasons I am trying to discipline myself away from calling the next holy day period ‘christmas’, since that implies the religion aspect of it, which is not even historically accurate insofar as I can tell from polluted sources.
Being an introvert and a nerd I am not all that fond of complicated things. I once had a professor who was fond of saying that “once solved, this problem will be simple.” to which I have learned to silently add “until I forget the solution!” A lot of my life has been spent rediscovering how I solved a particular problem because my notes either got lost or cold.
But the point is that part of what nerds do is work to make complicated things simple. This works somewhat with the real world of physics and even engineering but it tends to break down with constructs of human society because all too often they are not systematic. Yes, I know that sounds horribly Tayloristic but that’s because, if you think that, you’re using the wrong meaning of system.
Simply put, a system is something that is separated off from the rest of the universe by some sort of boundary. Inside that boundary is what we sometimes call a system and it is distinguished by activities (processes) that are stronger (weaker) or faster (slower) or more (less) intense or … than on the other side of the boundary. Most bogs thing the boundary has to be physically blatant, like the paint and glass and chrome on a motorcar, but it doesn’t have to be and when we are considering a social (as in human) system then there isn’t usually paint or chrome or glass. But the things that usually distinguish the system by being larger or stronger aren’t so much so that the system is almost not there. Sometimes we call these ‘cobweb’ systems since you don’t know they;re there until you walk into them and then you’ve torn them up.
Christmas is one of those systems. Supposedly it started out as a plagiarism of winter solstice celebrations by an imperialist religion organization. That right there is one of the cobweb aspects of the system since one can’t tell very easily whether the attempt to squash other religion organizations and add new members is due to questionably righteous evangelistic goals for the individual or ordinary organizational growth efforts. Anyway, christmas started out with secular components and over the years those components have been increasing and enlarging. Today, it is hard to separate the secular from the religionist which is the source of some kultur konflict between those who want to enjoy the secularity without the religionist propaganda overwhelming and the religionist stormtroopers who want to rid the system of all its secularity. This often gets trivialized in the heated rhetoric over whether the greeting should be “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?
Given the density of religionist fanatics in the Old Confederacy/Nawth Alibam/Greater Metropolitan Arab, my desire to distance myself from the fray should be a bit clearer. This is not to say that I do not consider the philosophy of Joshua ben Joseph, admittedly only available to us in hideously corrupted secondary (at best) sources, to have merit but I do often find that those who swallow the organizational corruption aintelligently to be lacking such. And all too often these folks, ever bit as fanatic as the most rabid of those who slavishly attend college football but are not alumni, cannot be relieved by the application of a topical ointment, the social analog of Preparation H (R). Avoidance is often the best anodyne for these people, although one is sometimes tempted to call them by their own term, golems, for surely this brain washing has to be a form of manufacture?
Along which lines, I was pointed the other day, by P. Z. Myers, Pharyngula, to this poll.[Link] Admittedly, the instrument was in an English newspaper and one of the things they took with them when they were evicted was religion sanity, and the results have been corrupted by Myers’ influence, which is itself pseudo-religionist, but are still amusing if not instructive as shown in this graphic
This seems almost deterministic, which gives an indication of how different things are here in the third world of Amerika.
So I shall keep my head down while all the righteous and their religionist colleagues attend services today, which will in many cases be bridging between the appropriated joys of harvest celebration and the appropriated miracle of astronomical turning points. But please do not entrain me in the debate over social semantics; celebrate as you will and intrude not on how I celebrate as I will so long as neither harms the other. And no inclusion of superstitious harm, please.