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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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December 27, 2009

It is slow time between Xmas and New Year. We forget about the worries and anxieties of paid work and allow ourselves to unwind and relax, generally at the beach. We turn off from, forget about, national politics, global warming, the destruction of old media, and the global economy.

We allow ourselves some playtime. It's a time of festival that has little to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus.


The Christian conception of Xmas is fading. Xmas now means time spend with family. It is a secular holiday. A festival of feasting and play. The perspective provided by this highlights how Christianity is a mythology and how its highest values have been devalued. Despite the resurgence of a young earth creationist Christian fundamentalism deeply hostile to science and evolutionary theory, Australia is a secular society, and many Australian's do not live their lives according to the values of Christianity.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:30 PM | | Comments (8)


I guess Kev's little dog went with the caravan........woof

the dog is long gone. Given away? Or just taken off?

I'm wondering, Gary, if you over accentuate a possible cleavage between Xmass concepts.
I could accentuate the symmetries by suggesting that not for nothing is the family at the core of Xmass; the point of the Xmass story- when all else fails, is the family hanging together for survival, in an unjust world where the political system is devoted to acquisition of wealth to a community's detriment.

The nativity story is about the power of individuals and the family to create something meaningful beyond the meaningless acquisition of possessions.
And this is what we celebrate in the abbreviated contemporary form, the notion that individuals and families should precede the imperatives of acquisitorial folk and the political system they control. Is meaning for many people gained thru relationships and kindness; the gratitude to others for a good childhood, say, which helps develop a cognitive map of society which bulwarks against the values of 'naff you Jack(ie) homogenising heterogenising ideology. Fits in well with other New Testament concepts of thought for the less well off against the imperatives of exploiters; those who took their cut in material form.
It's actually a protestive even transgressive story, because of what it establishes as meaningful, against outside imperatives and intrusions.

The New Testament version becomes less popular in a consumerist society because it decentres the subject, against advertising, for example, which feeds off flattery.
But it reminds me of the later versions of much the same story put forward by people like Shakespeare and Dickens, as a social critique.
The modern community could be subconsciously resisting the imperatives of the modern exploitative world, in retaining a cultural artifact that subverts the Capitalist message?

We could say that the family is the means for social reproduction, thru individuation, of a capitalist society.
But in the real world the family has perhaps been also a holding operation against a capitalism that holds with in it an atavistic tendency to the return to feudalism, since the values of small communities and families, thru necessity, operate against the dominant ideology.

that is a powerful interpretation of the symmetries of the family and a Christian conception of Xmas.

Though I accept that the family is a holdout and defence against the market values of an exploitative capitalism---it has also been deeply penetrated by the consumerist and individualist values of market society.

Xmas, as a festival is about giving (the gift economy), it is also about consumption in the consumerist sense.

Thanks for explanation.
Am back on the African plains, watching our species evolve in small, desperate little family groups- an us /them divide that is played out in our day against the backdrop of urban jungles.
So evolution has us as very subjective at bottom. This is the one significant aspect of what we now know to be an evolved "human nanture", that the old Enlightenment critiques of the Rational Human necessarily failed to emphasise, given their battles with precisely that (evolved) us/them trait, expressed thru feudalism and then the Hobbesian nation-state.

Gary, Please find this reference which gives a unique understanding of this festive season, and which describes how Adi Da always made this time of the year an occasion of high celebration.

Plus what is now called Christmas IS mostly the creation of white Protestant Christian America.

Santa Claus being the secular version of their good-luck, wish fulfilling "creator-god". The mommy-daddy "god" who rewards children if they are "good".

your account of Xmas does skate over the new evangelical ''Christian'' blowback with the new Christianity's prosperity gospel. In the Hillsong version spirituality comes wrapped in worldly expectations of wealth and success.

The self-made man rhetoric -- Jesus loved money, Jesus blesses believers with riches -- runs through the Pentecostal Church and a surprising number of mainstream evangelical churches.

Nan, happy new year.
Would not have even bothered thinking of prosperity theology, which is only yet another bizarre mutation of Bible belt superstitious fundy Xtianity.
As I said above, these forms deny the decentring intent and agency at the core of genuine Christianity which stands in direct conflict with Cargo Cult and other consumer capitalist modes.
These have (mis) appropriated scripture; coopted it in modified form as part of an ideological superstructure that enables the replication of the current system.
This is against the aims of both social progressives and authentic Gospel Christianity, as shown in Sermon on the Mount, various parables (Lazarus, Good Samaritan, etc) and Christ's direct action against the Money Changers, which gets him tortured to death by the authorities,
much as happens to peasant leaders in Latin America in our time.
It may be that this concern for and special pleading for, the masses, leads to a slave religion, as Nietzsche suggested, but Nietzsche is working within an alternative metaphysics and aesthetics to his opponents, where possibility and reality assume different meanings to other strands of nineteenth century philosophy.
The misreading of N led to Hitler, but existentialism is closer to what he's on about, where regressive tendencies do not blot out social change in a haze of reactionary ultraist fatalism.