Kwanzaa Redux

Though he did attempt to paint me as a conservative, Abiola Lapite raises valid points in his response to my earlier Kwanzaa article. I must admit his take on my position is partially my fault, due to unclear writing. I regret not making my point more clearly. In order to avoid this the next time around, I want to state my positions plainly and then respond to the response. Add to this that I am none too expert on Jewish traditions, and opened myself up for attack from that angle.

Positions:

  • I do not believe that there is a deity who intervenes in human affairs. (I don't think we can know if there's a deity or not, but involvement is definitely out). As such, I don't believe in the religious justifications for Hanukkah, Christmas, or any other religious celebration.
  • I am not a Burkean. Mr. Lapite clearly realizes that I am not a conservative (indeed, that Catallarchy in general is not conservative). While I believe that my positions are very rational and justifiable, they are very radical.
  • I prefer "bottom-up" generation of culture to "top-down" generation of same. Indeed, in many things, including law and software, I draw the same distinction and conclusion.

That said, I proceed to my defense. Mr. Lapite's first point:

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day, and even if he was, this has absolutely nothing to do with Santa Claus and all the other "traditional" trappings of Christmas; as a matter of fact, "Christmas" is nothing more than the brainchild of Catholic priests attempting to wean the Germanic pagans off their Winter Solstice rites, by offering them a substitute that catered to their desire to keep on carousing at that time of the year, while its modern incarnation owes more to the syrupy output of songwriters like the thoroughly Jewish Irving Berlin, and the co-opting of the Dutch "Sinter Klaas" by hucksters like Thomas Nast and Coca-Cola. So much, then, for the "organic" nature of that festival.

There is indeed no evidence that Jesus was born on Christmas. Christians believe that God came to Earth as a man, and as such must have been born sometime. The date's placement was strategic, I'm fully aware, but I think the celebration was going to happen anyway. In all the Christian infighting that occurred before the solidification of the (Catholic) Church's power, I don't see how any institution could have been established without the consent of large parts of the community. It was still, of course, a minor feast. The Santa Claus figure originated in Germany sometime, also organically, as far as I'm aware. I don't think it was any one prince who came up with that idea to solidify his power. This was co-opted by modern tastemakers, but these tastemakers had no coercive authority and people were already celebrating Christmas. It has changed greatly, and I pointed this out, but this evolution is due to "consumer" tastes, not Cesare Borgia's authority.

Now to Hanukkah. Mattathias was a Levite, so I don't think he could have been usurping undue religious authority in acting like one. The revolt named after his son Judah Maccabee (Judah the Hammer) did take place after the Jewish Scriptures were written, but it was during the Septuagint period which is not glossed over by Jews. The celebration was in fact "handed down" by the rulers after the revolt, but in celebrating the recovery of Jerusalem and the Temple, I don't see that it's too arbitrary a holiday for this particular religious community. The eight-day-burning is mentioned in the Talmud. Hanukkah's elevation to major holiday status is both recent and not actually terribly true, as there are more important celebrations for religious Jews and Hanukkah is the one that stands in juxtaposition to Christmas. Still, what elevation there is occurred community-wide.

If some historian wishes to visit Catallarchy and blow me out of the water on historical points, I might have to concede defeat. But these are my impressions based on the knowledge that is available to me, which is more than just what I saw on The O'Reilly Factor.

Lastly, Mr. Lapite brings in a critique of my allegedly Burkean position. This is the deepest cut. The mythological foundations of religious celebrations are obviously unacceptable to me, and these I do dispute. But the ways in which the holidays gained acceptance are basically through "consumer" approval. In a point I did not emphasize enough in my earlier post, I don't see that Kwanzaa has any real observers. Perhaps downtown Atlanta will have more Kwanzaa festivities at the end of December when Kwanzaa is going on, but I've been in this largely black city for a few years and never saw any evidence of Kwanzaa's being near and dear to anyone's heart except in displays sanctioned by minor quasi-government officials, the most timid of creatures. Kwanzaa displays are always tacked on beside Christmas trees and menorahs, never appearing to stand on their own. If in 1966 the smug race pimp's holiday caught on like wildfire, that would be one thing. But many years later having the holiday important only to PC purists does not make me respect it. For all the discussion of the origins of other celebrations, this point is the most important. Perhaps the approximately 365000 residents of Fulton County who could be celebrating Kwanzaa each year only do it indoors with the windows boarded up and I missed it. And if for some reason it ever really does catch on, then it will be like the other two seasonal events in my mind. Until then, the difference is bottom-up acceptance.

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Bravo. its always refreshing

Bravo. its always refreshing to read a well structured response to ill informed and grossly biased prattle. unfortunately that makes up
100% of the discussion when it comes to religion.

after reading your previous

after reading your previous post again, i certainly can find no difference between Kwanzaa? and its idiot parents Judaism and Christianity. i actually find a much higher level of rational thought taking place in the blabbering of L Ron Hubbard, and THATS SAD! if some one wants to start a religion its only a matter of a millenia or 2 and he/she'll be revered as a 'voice of god'. thats what they were and are banking on.

qwest, It's unfair to claim

qwest,

It's unfair to claim that 100% of discussion on religion is "ill-informed and grossly biased prattle". As a Christian myself (although I don't believe nor agree with all of its tenets), I also greatly dislike the evangelical morals-by-government-mandate folks. But every so often I find that I - and other likeminded Christians - have to differentiate ourselves from that pack to those to paint us all as One. Unless specifically asked, I'm not one to really get into long discussions about my religious viewpoints and theories. But as it may, you'll find there are many who can discuss religious theories, and yet be very informed and objective - even if you happen disagree with every word (which is fine).

your right doug. its a high

your right doug. its a high percentage though, and its like every other subject. the interesting discussions of theology get drowned out. sorry for my 'prattling' i'm part romanian , haha. having tons of friends who are catholic,jewish, and scientologist i do tend to get myself in trouble. boy , you get us in a room with booze and look out!!!