Lindsay Perigo: Hysteria and Humbuggery
SOLO Op-Ed: Hysteria and Humbuggery
December 24, 2007
Strolling through town just now I found it necessary to contrive a state of nonchalance, so infectious was the alarm that had clearly taken charge of everyone else. Scurrying hither and thither with clenched, yet ominously splayed, grimness etched into their faces, everyone else reminded me of nothing so much as the outbreaks of mass hysteria that notoriously overtook medieval villages. Remaining nonchalant was all the more difficult in the absence of the gentle seasonal carols of yesteryear, the soothing insouciance of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis having given way to the aggressive caterwauling of sundry ineluctable, interchangeable and indistinguishable headbangers. Good will and good cheer? Precious little of that to be seen or sensed among the panicky pedestrians and piped performers.
And all for what, this annual insanity?
It's clear enough that Christmas is not a celebration of Jesus' birthday, since even eminent Christians now assure us he was born six years or so before he was born—and not even in December. December 25 was a direct steal from Saturnalia, the pagan tradition celebrating the birth of the sun god. Nothing new under the sun, as they say.
The cast and special effects are all baloney as well. No less a God-Person than the Archbishop of Canterbury has just pronounced the Christmas story to be nothing but a 'legend.' Dr Williams says there is little evidence that the Three Wise Men ever existed, and there is nothing to prove there were three of them or that they were kings. Heck, there were probably no asses or oxen in the stable, nor even snow, according to His Grace. And you can forget about those stars! What a party pooper for his own team!
Still, there was probably a Jesus, and he undoubtedly for several years was a little boy—and we know how the church suffers little children to come unto its priests!
And, Christians will insist, there is a sense in which the story is true—God's coming down to earth to shoulder the burden of man's sinfulness and offer salvation.
Hmmmmm. That doesn't make a great deal of sense either. Think about it.
God, having been on his own forever, suddenly gets bored and decides to have a bit of a play. He makes stuff. His prize exhibit, man, gets uppity, however, and branches out on his own. God first banishes, then drowns him. Or most of him. Then he becomes one of him in order to atone for him. Those who accept the gesture, God will take unto his bosom forever; everyone else will be tortured in perpetuity in the special place God has set aside just for the purpose of settling his scores, over and over and over. God the "merciful" who knew in advance all this was going to happen. Why, one wonders, did he bother—unless he's a cosmic sadist?
Isn't it time to put aside this humbug?
If Jesus existed, and said the various things attributed to him, he was assuredly a mess. Not what we'd call today an ideal "role model." Full of hate one minute, love the next; forgiveness here, hellfire there. Delusions of grandeur all the time—Son of God and all that. Probably a megalomaniac. Absolutely gorgeous in his loin cloth, as typically represented—but of no use to man or beast in that position. While I would love to have been there to pour copious Shiraz down his parched throat, I would even more have wanted to shake him and say, "What the hell is wrong with you?!"
What was wrong with Jesus was his anti-worldliness, his rejection of this life, this earth and the pursuit of happiness on it. His followers soaked it in blood in his name, and would do so again, given half a chance. Bloodshed is the inevitable result of any philosophy that is anti-this life, anti-mind and anti-happiness, as Jesus' modern-day Islamic counterparts are demonstrating anew, all too eloquently.
Let us take this opportunity to rewrite the Sermon on the Mount and replace its wailing misery with a healthy dose of life-affirmation, and in the process, fortify ourselves against the annual hysteria that still goes on in Jesus' name:
Blessed are the poor in spirit—when they become rich, in spirit and matter, for theirs will be the kingdom of earth.
Blessed are they who mourn—when they get over it.
Blessed are the meek—when they acquire pride, for then they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after individual rights—when they rise up for their hunger and thirst, for then they shall become free.
Blessed are the merciful—when they learn to discriminate, for then they shall secure justice.
Blessed are the pure in heart, since to be pure in heart they must be using their brains.
Blessed are the peacemakers—when they learn that peace doesn't come at any price..
Blessed are the rational, the independent, the honest, the sincere, the productive, the just, the proud, the poets and singers and symphonists of love and thought—for theirs is the power and glory of man. For ever and ever. Ah, men!