2007.12.22

An Atheist Christmas

00.48.57 - Mark

My family (and the friends that may as well be) is a mix bag of Religions, from atheists and agnostics to Christians from several denominations and even a would be Jew, and that's just our affiliations - there is a religious tolerance and acceptance and true appreciation for varied faiths that goes much further than intellectual knowledge or passive acknowledgments. Most of us have studied more than one faith - my brothers and I were all brought up in a Methodist Church while attending a Catholic School - and we've all settled on something we believe.

So when Christmas comes around and some extremist "Christian" goes off on ignorant rants on the "True meaning of Christmas" and makes attempts at protecting the Christian faith (The overwhelming majority faith in the United States) by trampling less well represented faiths we have a tendency to step up and defend. I've been doing it a lot this season and there are scattered traces floating around this site.

It's not an easy conversation to keep a conversation and quickly degenerates into lies and misconceptions so deeply rooted it's impossible to correct, then more bigotry, and with an end result of those of a "faith" arguing that if non-Christians don't like Christmas then they shouldn't celebrate it or any other "holy days".

There's a sad commentary in that.

I, as an extremely secular person, have spent most of this evening with friends celebrating the holidays. I've wrapped gifts to put under a decorated Christmas Tree (one nicknamed our heathen tree, and another we're calling the Hanukkah Bush), we've decorated sugar cookies, listened to seasonal music from half a dozen versions of the 12 Days of Christmas to Weird Al's "The Night Santa Went Crazy", we were eating some good food and drank some egg nog. All in all it was a wonderful evening spent with friends and family. It's been true several other nights this week, such as last Monday when we visited a festival of lights in Winston Salem

Yet by some twisted version "Christian" logic, I and a couple others involved, should be barred from such festivities because we weren't Christian. You have to imagine that anyone who would deny other's a good time because of something as trivial as a difference in religious beliefs, must be pretty unsure of their own convictions.

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2007.12.15

Whereas, I want to beat my head agasint a wall

00.56.50 - Mark

In the midst of the Iraq war, a failing economy, and other national issues, our Congress has found one issue so important that they managed to spare the time to recognize it. That issue is The Importance of Christmas (and Christians).

The fact that this bullshit resolution was not only introduced, but passed with 372 votes is fucking terrifying. I know congress critters aren't big on actually reading the things they vote on but surely they're obligated to read the Constitution a time or two. This thing just barely skirts a 1st amendment violation.

I'd try and argue it on points, but if I've learned one thing this holiday season, Christians get extra irrational at Christmas. Instead I'll just lift a paragraph from John Rodgers (excellent) post on the resolution:

... Christianity's been acting kind of needy lately. Like, "crazy girlfriend who suddenly believes you're thinking about how to pack your shit in ways she won't notice and sneak it out to the car, and so perversely thinks the way to keep you from bolting is to demand you tell her she's super pretty every hour, which, ironically, is what actually prompts you into thinking about packing your shit, even though you weren't before but now ..." needy.

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2007.12.03

Hunting for something

10.27.13 - Mark

Yesterday my family went Christmas tree hunting. It still feels too early to start celebrating Christmas, but my mom wanted to get the trees yesterday so we drove up to Santa's Delight Christmas Tree Forest in Virginia. The place lets you pick and cut (and drag) your own tree, and picking and cutting down our Christmas tree is an old family tradition going back farther than I can remember. The farm and Virginia is nested in between a few mountain peaks, and is really photogenic so I armed myself with my camera. I took a few good photos, mostly family, but towards the end of our hunting a colorful sunset started forming.

It's probably the mountains, but truly beautiful sunsets are rare in North Carolina, and I've yet to see one that really matches the sunsets we had in Iowa where dirt and debris provided deep rich sunsets. Last night in Virginia however, something was working right, so I turned on exposure bracketing and snapped a few series. I was hoping to get a short HDR panoramic series, but for some reason Canon doesn't allow exposure bracketing when shooting in manual so unless I can work some major photoshop magic I'm not getting a panoramic. I did however get a good single frame set, and after playing with it in photoshop for an hour, I've managed one rich HDR photo from the farm:

High Dynamic Range picture of a sunset over Santa's Delight Christmas Tree Farm in Carroll County, Virginia

Sunset over the Trees (View Large - 2793x2088)

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