December 25, 2017 – I never enjoyed the “holidays.” Not quite “Buh Humbug,” but there is no feeling of joy or family.
A harsh statement, but the reality is that I spent most of my childhood in my dad’s bicycle store selling and fixing bicycles for Christmas/Chanukah and did not celebrate either holiday until we closed the store on Christmas Eve and dad threw a party for the employees, their families and some friends. I usually escaped to the basement to get away from the noise and hubbub that would last for another three or four more hours.
Today, I am quietly sitting in my office, catching up on paperwork needed for the coming year. With the death of my sister in June of this year, I have no immediate family to be with. I am counting on my wife’s family to fill the gaps of the holiday season.
Most of my friends and family know (or knew) that I am an atheist and do not celebrate the Christian or Jewish holidays. And for the most part, they all have accepted my decision not to believe in their god or gods.
Someone asked if I was lonely during the holidays and the general answer is “no.” Yes, I miss having my weekly talks with my father and miss my mother’s humor. But for me, December 25 is just a day off from the business of retail.
I do have my atheist community to lean on if I need the companionship, both here in the middle of Middle America and on the Internet. I know a number of my co-patriots are online now waiting for replies to their questions and statements put through Agnostics.com and other a-theistic sites. I can connect with people around the world who believe as I do, “talk” with them and discuss things that matter to us.
I also have the itch of restarting the National Atheist Party, which dissolved a few years back due to lack of interest and a leader who was more libertarian than the general group. That’s not to say that I do not like him, I do. But I believe he pushed the group in the wrong direction.
I believe that atheists need a collective voice beyond the workings of the FFRF, American Atheists and other organizations that seek the legal structure to support the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. I believe that there needs to be a political arm of the a-theistic community to voice our political opinions clearly to state and federal government officials. But right now it will take more time than I have to commit.
Collectively, atheists are better educated and know more about biblical history than our religious counterparts. Many of us have read the Bible from cover to cover, not to memorize selected sections or paragraphs. For some of us, the reason to read is to gain knowledge and understanding, not to take as divine wisdom. In fact, there is little wisdom found in the Bible, Torah and Qur’an.
Years ago, I found myself on a Friday night in Temple, sitting in the back of the room praying and reciting the chants I had learned as a child. The story of the day was that of Jonah and the large fish (it was not a whale). When the reading was over, the Rabbi started his sermon by stating, “We know this is a true story…” I was thinking out loud, too loud for the small group in the pews.
“No it’s not.”
The room came to a hush, turned and stared at me, and I had to finish my thought. “It is physically impossible for a man to live in a fish’s stomach as the Torah depicts. It’s an important story and has a deeper meaning, but…” It was my first step into the world of non-believers. I was also persona non grada in the Temple for the next three months.
I am not really sure where I am going with this, but feel it is important for you to know part of my story. 2018 will be a year of transition for most of us, either personally, religiously, financially or politically. Knowing where one starts gives an indication of knowing where the journey will take us. I will continue to write in my blog and my political commentary for the newspaper. I will continue to work in retail until I cannot keep up with the kids. I will continue to see the winter and spring holidays as just another day in our orbit around the sun.