Tag Archives | Christmas

My Holiday Gifts for President Obama

Ho Ho HopeWhat follows is an open letter to the President of the United States, extending my holiday greetings and providing a brief explanation of some perhaps ‘idiosyncratic’ gifts sent to Pennsylvania Avenue via U.P.S. this past week.

Okay, okay, I realize this may seem rather belated, but let’s be realistic: there was no way you were going to get around to opening my Xmas gifts to you until now. Indeed, they probably still remain unopened in some storage room, if they haven’t already been nicked by the staff you’ve assigned to opening packages. Or the security detail hasn’t mistakenly drawn a sinister interpretation of their contents and ruined them by soaking them in some watery defusion contrivance.

Which would be a great shame. Not because my personal feelings would be injured by the gifts’ destruction, but because recent events have shown me that you sorely in need these items. So much so that I regard it as equally necessary to append this open letter describing the thought process behind each of the gifts.… Read the rest

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Charles Dickens’ Scrooge – A Victorian Shaman?

Marley's Ghost-John Leech, 1843The Fortean Times has a very interesting analysis of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”  by Guy Reid-Brown, in which he investigates the possible mystical/shamanic inspiration for the classic Christmas story:

No doubt as this Advent comm­ences, I, and many others, will be re-reading Charles Dickens’s 1843 seasonal classic  “A Christmas Carol” for the umpteenth time. Those of us who have fallen under its spell will doubtless continue to do so every year, even if we live to be as old as the oldest Biblical patriarch, and each time with the same degree of emotion – whether it be delight, wonder or sadness -– as the times before.

In any other context, such behaviour might be interpreted as borderline obsessive, but that simply doesn’t apply here. Ponder this for a moment: there are few other works in Western literat­ure that have enjoyed such a breadth and variety of adaptations across all media.

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Santa Flying High On Mushrooms

Fly agaricOne of the highlights of Graham Hancock’s lecture in support of his new book Entangled is when he shows us how the mythological character that he refers to as “Father Christmas” (better known in the U.S. as Santa Claus) has much in common with Siberian Tungus shamans who fly high on fly agaric (amanita muscaria) mushrooms, eaten by reindeer whose urine is then drunk by the shamans — and whose urine is then drunk by villagers, passing through up to seven bladders before potency is lost. Gross, right? Yes, but effective!

disinformation reader Dainius sent along a link to a similar account, saying it’s “about how the meme of Santa Claus was born in the minds of tribal psychonauts, and shows the fascinating links between Christmas and shamanism,” by Mark Adams at the Aminam Recro blog:

These red and white mushrooms, Amanita muscaria, were found in an alpine forest around Creede, Colorado.

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Evil Santa’s Crimes Against Humanity

Robert Anton WilsonScience fiction writer Robert Anton Wilson once researched all of Santa’s “Crimes Against Humanity.”

Jolly Ol’ St. Nick is guilty of more than just paganism, perjury, and trying to steal Christmas from Christ. “Pope John XXIII threw the suspiciously merry old clown out of the Roman Catholic church back in the late 1960s,” and “The Jehovah’s Witnesses have always denounced Santa for his unsavory pagan past. (They also recognized Christmas trees as phallic symbols long before Freud.)”

Santa also has “a rather criminal family history all around,” since he’s a descendant of the primordial bear-god. And in some rustic parts of Europe “and probably in Kansas, Santa retains traces of his carnivorous past. Children are told that if they are good all year, Santa will reward them, but if they are bad, he will EAT THEM ALL UP.”

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Christmas Memories: Bing Crosby Smoked Pot

My favorite part of Christmas is that every time someone plays a Bing Crosby song, I'm thinking about how he used to smoke pot with Louis Armstrong — and that he loved smoking pot his whole life! He even recommended it to his son as a less-harmful alternative to alcohol. And this song from The Road to Morocco could be seen as a secret testament to how much how loved the mellow, laid-back life:
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Iraqi Christians Cancel Christmas

Arts & Crafts in 2008 on the Victory Base Complex, Iraq Photo: Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante

Arts & Crafts on the Victory Base Complex, Iraq Photo: Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante

Christmas isn’t always accompanied with holiday cheer, sometimes it comes with death threats. MSNBC reports:

Iraqi Christians on Wednesday called off Christmas festivities across the country as al-Qaida insurgents threatened more attacks on a beleaguered community still terrified from a bloody siege at a Baghdad church two months earlier.

A council representing Christian denominations across Iraq advised its followers to cancel public Christmas celebrations out of concern over new terror attacks and as a show of mourning for the victims of the church siege and other violence.

Church officials in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul, the southern city of Basra and in the capital confirmed they will not put up Christmas decorations or hold evening Mass and have urged worshippers to refrain from decorating their homes.

Even an appearance by Santa Claus was called off.

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‘White Christmas’ Songwriter Actually Hated Christmas

The following article is an excerpt of "The Music's Debt to Nonbelievers" by Dan Barker, one of 41 articles from the Disinformation anthology I edited, Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion. For more on Dan Barker, check out the Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf.org).

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Irving Berlin (1888–1989)

How many patriotic Americans know that "God Bless America" was written by a man who did not believe in God? Or that it was intended as an anti-war anthem? IrvingBerlinIrving Berlin is by any measure the greatest composer of popular American music, with hundreds of enduring hits, such as "White Christmas," "Anything You Can Do," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "I Love a Piano," "Always," "Blue Skies," "Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee," "Cheek to Cheek," "Marie," "Play a Simple Melody," "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," and "Easter Parade." Born in 1888 into a Russian-Jewish family who came to New York City in 1893 to escape religious persecution, he quickly shed his religious roots and fell in love with America. "Patriotism was Irving Berlin's true religion," notes biographer Laurence Bergreen. "Though he is not a religious person," his daughter Mary Ellin Barrett writes in her family memoir, "doesn't even keep up appearances of being an observant Jew, he does not forget who his people are." Irving and his nominally Catholic wife, Ellin, were married in an unannounced secular ceremony at the Municipal Building, not a church or synagogue...
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