Religion

Say You Love Santa

Pop culture's war on secularists

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Every year at this time, as visions of non-denominational sugar plums dance in our heads, Christmas derives great spiritual power from candy cane bagels, reggae versions of "Silent Night," and Kwanzaa stockings hung by the chimney with care. Christians and heretics alike may decry the commercialization of the holidays, but when gift exchanges confer grace and delicious turkey dinners are the gateway to piety, it's easy to have faith. Almost everyone wants in on the action.

Everyone but Richard Dawkins, the patron saint of faithlessness. According to an article that ran in The New York Times last December, the author of The God Delusion celebrates Christmas for "family reasons" but apparently has even less reverence for Cindy Lou Who than he does for Baby Jesus. "I detest Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the obscene spending bonanza that nowadays seems to occupy not just December, but November and much of October, too," he told the Times.

Is there any more concise illustration of why most Americans would sooner send a gay Hindu divorcée to the White House than a nonbeliever? It's one thing to reject the Lord God Almighty, but Secret Santa too? Even in the bluest blue state, that qualifies as blasphemy.

Atheists have been enjoying a revival during the last few years. Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have hit the bestseller lists with Bible-trumping tomes. All around the country, in an effort to counter the political and cultural clout of those who believe that every stem cell is God's own child and brontosauruses rode Noah's ark, nonbelievers are ramping up their advocacy and recruitment efforts.

The New York City Atheists produce three weekly public-access TV shows. The Rational Response Squad encourages atheists to make their nonbelief public by posting "blasphemous" videos on YouTube. In six locations in the United States and Canada, Camp Quest provides a setting where kids from nonreligious families can roast marshmallows in a rational, freethinking manner. Even old Ebenezer Dawkins has a website that sells buttons, T-shirts, and lapel pins emblazoned with an edgy scarlet A.

So why not just take the next seeker-friendly step and fully embrace the celebration of inclusive humanism and the purchase-driven life that Yuletime has mutated into? Currently, alas, it's much harder to shop for the evangelical nonbelievers on your Christmas list than it is to shop for the devout.

Many Christians will dispute this claim. After all, they started manufacturing faith-based breath mints and holy teddy bears because they were drowning in a secular sea of Bratz dolls, morally corrosive video games, and pagan golf balls. But there's a difference between pop culture with no overt religious component and atheist pop culture, and the difference is striking. Christian organizations like the American Family Association and Concerned Women for America believe gangsta rap is almost as much of a threat to society as gay marriage, but when was the last time you heard 50 Cent give a shout-out to that faux-deity of so many atheist in-jokes, the Flying Spaghetti Monster? God and Jesus, on the other hand, are hip-hop icons, praised more often than Grandmaster Flash and Hennessy cognac.

The same goes for Hollywood. While anti-bias truffle pigs like Brent Bozell, William Donohue, and Michael Medved insist the entertainment industry is out to crucify faith and traditional values, it somehow manages to produce a new crop of straight-to-Hallmark-Channel holiday weepies each year, and not one of them has ever featured Dolly Parton as an unlikely evolutionary biologist who reunites an estranged family by infusing them with that old-fashioned Darwinist spirit. Such powers, it seems, are reserved solely for angels.

Similarly, if you go looking for a Madalyn Murray O'Hair action figure at Wal-Mart, you'll have to settle for a 13-inch Samson doll from the faith-based toymaker One2believe. Christian entrepreneurs are better at providing earthly rewards than the folks who believe earthly rewards are our only salvation. In fact, the Lord has called so many believers to spread the Good News via faith-based salt scrubs and godly poker chips during the last few decades that the annual U.S. market for Christian-themed products, often dismissed as "Jesus junk," is now $4.6 billion.

Toss in megachurches that offer the fanfare and bustle of the mall in holiday mode and prosperity preachers who position God as Oprah Claus, and every day of the year has become a secularized, commercial Christmas for today's Christians. Last August the Church by the Glades, a spiritual Sam's Club in Castle Springs, Florida, started offering first-time guests a $15 iTunes gift card if they came and listened to a sermon. The topic? "How to avoid living in a self-absorbed world."

Of course, many Christians decry the effects such entrepreneurship has on their faith. Jesus, they remind us, is more than just the hardest-working pitchman this side of Jared the Subway Guy. When Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, turns the Good Book into the Good Power-Point Slide for his easily distracted flock, something gets lost in the transition.

But something is gained too. Namely, millions of believers who aren't too crazy about inconvenient concepts like sin and judgment but are completely devoted to products like Virtuous Woman perfume—designed, according to its manufacturer, for women "who are interested in incorporating a passion for sharing their faith with a beauty product that makes them feel and smell really good."

Look for atheist perfume, and you'll be looking for eternity. Try to find the works of Bertrand Russell packaged like the latest issue of Self or Cosmo, as the publishing company Thomas Nelson does with the Bible. ("Becoming is the complete New Testament in magazine format, but it wouldn't be a culture 'zine if it didn't address men, beauty, fitness and food!") Search for the atheist equivalent to Christian yo-yos and Christian neckties, and you will come up as empty-handed as Mother Teresa passing the plate at Christopher Hitchens' dinner table.

To many freethinkers, the idea of atheist lip balm or atheist jelly beans may be even less appealing than Christian lip balm and Christian jelly beans. One virtue of non-belief is that not every aspect of your life has to be yoked to some clingy deity who feels totally left out if you don't include Him in everything you do. And then there's the logical disconnect: What does candy have to do with atheism? Why not stick with books, arguments, reason?

If today's Christian entrepreneurs thought like that, atheists might not have to be concerned about their own current marginalization. Instead of fretting about "obscene spending bonanzas" or admitting that jelly beans are mentioned in the Bible exactly as often as Homo habilis is, Christian entrepreneurs embrace pop culture. They recognize what the consumer puritans behind efforts like Buy Nothing Day never quite grasp: that the stuff we buy, from lipstick to Star Wars figurines, helps to fashion identities, to build communities, to infuse our lives with purpose and meaning.

At last year's International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta, hundreds of vendors displayed a vast, rich Eden of Christian pop culture products that were just as slickly produced, just as fashionable and entertaining as anything secular pop culture has to offer.

Atheists, meanwhile, are still in the pop Dark Ages. Their T-shirts aren't as visually appealing, their tchotchkes aren't as diverse, and their rock bands aren't spreading a 110-decibel message of rational humanism. It's time to evolve past the Darwin Fish and fill up nonbelievers' stockings with atheist junk that's as gloriously profane as the junk blessed by Jesus.

Contributing Editor Greg Beato is a writer in San Francisco.

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  1. The worst thing to happen to Christian Christmas was turkey and stuffing. Heathen or not, you aren’t going to be able to keep people away from an excuse to eat turkey and stuffing!

    We need more feast holidays in general, damnit.

  2. I love Xmas carols and carollers.
    I drop an unwrapped new toy in the USMCs box in the mall every holiday season.
    I eat like a pig, every December 25th.
    I give presents to people I care about every December 25th.
    The city puts up decorations for “the holidays” which really means Xmas. I’m OK with that.
    I say merry Christmas to strangers starting 2 weeks before the holiday.
    I’m an atheist who knows that Xmas is a blatant co-opting of Saturnalia.

    Xmas is cool and fun. Don’t be a Scrooge.

  3. And you can do a whole lot worse than “Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men”.

  4. I’m working on a graphics project for a “holiday” transit bus for a major American city. The graphics have been denuded of all offensive or possibly offensive imagery. The “Santa” character is suspiciously nonwhite, has his back toward the viewer, and we had to change the color of his stocking cap from red to purple, just so no one would mistake him for Santa and (possibly) be offended. The snowman had an extra twig finger added to his hands, because someone thought he looked like he was flipping the bird with just his original three twig fingers. And on and on. Merry Nondenominational, Vaguely Festive Winter Festival!

  5. Whatever one might think about the topic, the article was hilariously written. Well done!

  6. I think Christians are more concerned about watered-down religiosity than full-blown atheism. While the latter may be more offensive to them, the idea that there is no God and no afterlife turns off the average person, so it’s not as dangerous.

    Feel good, warm fuzzy-laden religiosity, which deludes people into thinking that there will be an afterlife, and everyone who’s a “nice person” will be happy there, is much more dangerous.

  7. in an effort to counter the political and cultural clout of those who believe that every stem cell is God’s own child and brontosauruses rode Noah’s ark,

    Straw man much? This is almost as good as the time Ron Bailey said I’d claimed that stem cells were babies.

  8. I enjoy the full Christmas experience every year, yet I am a confessed atheist.

  9. Beato was funny.

    Christmas is a great holiday, especially for little kids.

    However, the all time best holiday ever is approaching us as I speak.

    You got the food and the wine, you got the friends and family to share it with, you got the celebration of accomplishment, you’ve got a chance to reflect on just how good life really is, the solemn thank God, the spirits, the cosmos, or Mohamed.

    It isn’t dragged out, drawn out, commercialized, or fought over.

    No gifts are expected but plenty are received, hugs, bottles of wine, side dishes to accompany the roast turkey (or pork, or rib roast, or goose) pumpkin pies, real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip, and cranberry salad.

    One special day to be grateful and celebratory that might stretch into a long weekend.

  10. “The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men… The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: ?Merry Christmas? – not ?Weep and repent?…The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying?stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street-decorations put up by the department stores and other institutions – the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors – provide the city with a spectacular display, which only ?commercial greed? could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.” -Ayn Rand, famous atheist

  11. I’m disappointed that there was no mention of Festivus in the article.

    That will be one of the grievances that I’ll air.

  12. Maybe if prominent atheists weren’t such assholes, it would help. Just because I don’t believe in religion doesn’t mean I should feel all cool and superior about it, and spend my time being a superior fuckbag to people who think differently than me.

    Honestly, the relentless attempts by some atheists to drain all the fun out of Christmas is probably a huge part of the problem. Some people might enjoy a Christmas tree in the elementary school–including the kids. But some people just can’t let that happen.

  13. However, the all time best holiday ever is approaching us as I speak.

    You got the food and the wine, you got the friends and family to share it with, you got the celebration of accomplishment, you’ve got a chance to reflect on just how good life really is, the solemn thank God, the spirits, the cosmos, or Mohamed.

    As an added bonus, you get to watch the Lions get their asses kicked on TV. Plus we have an awesome parade here every year.

  14. Honestly, the relentless attempts by some atheists to drain all the fun out of Christmas is probably a huge part of the problem. Some people might enjoy a Christmas tree in the elementary school–including the kids. But some people just can’t let that happen.

    I dare say that asshole atheists, like proselytizing Christians, are a distinct minority. Enjoy your Xmas, Eid, Passover, whatever. I’m secure in my religious conclusions.

  15. Whenever I see a “Jesus is the reason for the season” sign I think, “Like hell it is! It’s all about Santa and Trees!”

    Long live Christmas!

    BTR

  16. TWC nails it. Thanksgiving gives all the benefits of Christmas and you don’t go broke in the process.

    These days, however, Christmas is edging Thanksgiving due to the fact that when Christmas rolls around – finals are over.

  17. It’s a freakin’ Solstice festival. Almost every culture on Earth has one. Even as a devout atheist, it’s a nice thing to get your party on during the dark and dreary days of December. And that has nothing to do with dubious stories of Judean carpenters.

  18. were drowning in a secular [commercialized] sea of Bratz dolls, morally corrosive video games, and pagan golf balls

    I thought it was liberals that complained about this stuff.

  19. Episiarch…

    what you said. When atheism becomes a religion, something got lost.

    Everytime I would laugh at the religious right, whining about the “war on christmas”, I would come across some school administrator yakking on a local NPR chat show saying (quite literally) that Christmas should be banned from public schools.

  20. Speaking of atheistic pop culture, I noticed while shopping at Wal-Mart that Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series was sold up and front next to the checkout lines with more book than anyone else…AND they look like there was some brisk selling of books since many of the stacks were dwindling…

    And note, this was in the Deep South, Bible Belt town of Shreveport, LA. Funny with how so many atheists like Dawkins mewling about prejudice against atheists, I didn’t see any protests or book burnings about such a prominent display of ahteist lit…

    Sorry, I just think claims of how bad off atheists have in the US are a bit overstated…

  21. “pagan golf balls.”

    If I hadn’t already had my mind set on “Oedipus and the Mama’s Boys”, this would be the name of the band that I’ll never actually make.

  22. ******WARNING******
    Clicking through link will seer retina.
    Have eye protection in place before clicking.
    *******************

    One atheists take on Christmas

  23. ******WARNING******
    Clicking through link will seer retina.
    Have eye protection in place before clicking.
    *******************

    Well, not if you’re color blind…
    I had that fact drilled into my head yesterday by everyone telling me I can’t have a red or green powerpoint since colorblind people can’t read that shit…lame.

  24. For the record, I run a small multimedia production company and am a fairly active freelance composer and I joined the Brights organization for the sole purpose of trying to find some other atheist & rational thinking people with whom to collaborate on multimedia projects which would advance rational skepticism in popular culture.

    I was told I’d be linked up with some others who have had that idea in the group – and I have yet to hear back with any contact information of anyone.

    My thinking is eventually I’ll just have to do it myself because Dawkins and such have absolutely no interest in contributing to culture in anything less than a stodgy, humorless, and often irritating capacity.

  25. As an asshole atheist, I deny the conventional wisdom that atheists are the ones destroying Christmas. Since when has anyone on a school board or city council been worried about pleasing the atheist voting bloc?

    Isn’t it more likeily that the vast majority of the “Santa cleansing” going on is actually at the hands of multiculturalists afraid of offending all of the religious and cultural victim groups they have carefully constructed over the years?

    Stop scapegoating atheists when you should be scapegoating liberals.

  26. Man, today is colorblindness day. Cool. This makes three threads today.

  27. Stop scapegoating atheists when you should be scapegoating liberals.

    You may have a good point there. Frankly, I enjoy scapegoating liberals, so I’ll be working on that.

  28. damn, Epi. Does this mean you can’t enjoy the song “Karma Chameleon”?

    [ducks. runs off]

  29. Click the link and hit CTRL-A…it makes it a very calming and readable white-on-blue.

  30. Isn’t it more likeily that the vast majority of the “Santa cleansing” going on is actually at the hands of multiculturalists afraid of offending all of the religious and cultural victim groups they have carefully constructed over the years?

    Stop scapegoating atheists when you should be scapegoating liberals.

    Oh, boy, another Grand Chalupa.

  31. Stop scapegoating atheists when you should be scapegoating liberals.

    Beautifully stated!

  32. I clicked Warren’s link – here is mine in response:

    Goggles

  33. Greg, you’re wish is our command. Our 110 decibel pop messenger has come to “save” the day.

    http://www.myspace.com/greydonsquare

  34. So TWC, did you ever get your hands on a Georgian wine?

  35. “Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men”

    It does sound like a nice idea. I can assure you that for most of those Christmas Chrisian persecution-syndome sufferers this is absolutely the last thing on their minds. They do not want peace, they have never wanted peace, they want what they always have wanted…to shove their beliefs down other people’s throats. There is not a dimes worth of difference between the anti-women people of the 1800’s, the anti-black segregationists of the 1950’s, the anti-gay or anti-imigrant people of today. They are all the same, they just dispute the details, they want to think of themselves as special and including other people peacefully somehow ruins their special-ness.

  36. Asharak,

    Who are the people who are concerned about offending people with Christmas displays? Is it the raving libertarians who make of the majority of school teachers in this country?

    The simple fact is “let’s not try and offend anyone” is a mantra of the left, not the right or libertarian.

    As for the “Grand Chalupa” crack… Up yours.

  37. What gets me is not that Dawkins and company are frustrated with the imposition of religiosity into the secular aspects of life (politics, etc.). That is a different discussion. What seems to be going on is a displacement of a deeper resentment in him. He laments that American companies have taken advantage of a popular religious holiday to sell goods and services. Now, given we know he is an atheist we cannot say Dawkins worries these businesses are taking advantage of the pious, who on the contrary, he has open contempt for, and would most likely view as complicit in the venture. No, Dawkins seems to see the inherent evil in the explosion of commerce itself. And this is not dissimilar from many of the liberal intellectuals who descend from the metropoleis of both coasts to preach about the iniquities of consumer culture.

    One in particular, the star of his own Morgan Spurlock film, a Manhattan performance artist known as Reverend Billy, became known for preaching on the street corners of the recently cleaned up Times Square bemoaning the loss of the neighborhood’s “authenticity” to facilitate globalized consumerist desire (The Disney Store, etc.). His new venture, “What would Jesus Buy?” takes him out of Manhattan’s activist salons and plunks him into the strip malls and Wal-Marts of middle America, where he brings a Gospel Choir with him to wax Evangelical at frustrated Christmas shoppers that they might stop shopping for the season in protest of the great bitch-whore, Capitalism.

    Interspersed are clips of spoiled kids and the like, illustrating the common anti-free market chestnut that there is no free will, and that we are but brainwashed pawns of the corporations, slaves to buy more of their products than what we need or could possibly afford.

    Anyway, the point of this is that the attack on both these fronts, particularly Dawkins illustrate a deep hatred of the free market system. Dawkins remarks his disgust is not so much based in the religious aspects so much as the aesthetic ones. And Reverend Billy’s nostalgic yearning for yesterday’s Times Square that can only be that of the San Francisco carpetbagger he is, reeks of pastoral naivete. I personally remember Times Square in the 80’s where my neighbor was a cop, and there were 2,300 crimes in a year, 115 of which were murders, and that’s not counting the prostitution. Makes you real wistful, don’t it.

  38. @Frank_A

    On the flip side of the coin I am color blind and I have been told that some of my presentations use “an interesting mix of colors” (read: what the fuck was he thinking!) because I can’t tell what the hell I’m putting down on the page. For serious presentations I have someone spot check the color scheme.

    I have been in presentations where I can’t make heads or tails of what the slides because of the color’s being used.

    Now back OT… Merry Christmas!

  39. “anti-bias truffle pigs” made me LOL. Yep.

  40. “Just because I don’t believe in religion doesn’t mean I should feel all cool and superior about it, and spend my time being a superior fuckbag to people who think differently than me.”

    Ahh, but there is the beauty in the distinction between Atheists and Agnostics.

    I’m pretty sure there isn’t an almighty supernatural creator “up there,” but I don’t need to go around kicking down people’s sand castles. 🙂

  41. “At last year’s International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta, hundreds of vendors displayed a vast, rich Eden of Christian pop culture products that were just as slickly produced, just as fashionable and entertaining as anything secular pop culture has to offer. ”

    Ahhh well. Sadly, the sale of salvation is going quite well. Makes me want to re-read the tale of jesus and the money changers.

  42. We celebrated Christmas AND Chinese New Year when I was in grade school. Worked OK for my neighborhood!

    I’m all for holidays. Instead of removing holidays to avoid offending non-Christians, I vote for adding more! Buddhist, Hindu, Rasta, Jewish, Muslim, Santeria, whatever that Navajo one is called – bring it.

    Plus, every President’s birthday should be a day off from work.

  43. Religion already got most of us 52 days off of work a year. That’s about the only good thing I can say about it.

  44. For an interesting take on a spiritual paradigm for atheists see

    http://www.atheistprayer.blogspot.com/

  45. As an “asshole atheist” (i.e. one who does not refuse to speak his mind in case he hurts anyone’s feelings) I’d like to say that this single quote from Dawkins was just a side-remark about personal taste, and not a “position” linked to atheism. And I wouldn’t really consider him a “liberal” as one person called him. He usually keeps his opinions about, say, economics to himself. The only political issues he’s talking about these days are separation of church and state. Of the many annoying stereotypes about atheists, the one that they have to be liberals annoys me the most.

    And also, we’re usually content with the mainstream non-denominational gifts mentioned. We don’t give all our friends James Randi dolls for Christmas. (Although we might give Penn & Teller dvds. That’s a libertarian thing, too.) However, we will often buy the special Christian gifts (Biblical action figures, bible breath mints, etc.) because they are hilarious.

  46. his was in the Deep South, Bible Belt town of Shreveport, LA

    Sodom on the Red River?

    The casino gambling Capital of the Ark-La-Tex?

    Aye and Bossier City.

  47. Ahhh well. Sadly, the sale of salvation is going quite well. Makes me want to re-read the tale of jesus and the money changers.

    Makes me want to design some cheap ass product to
    sell to people who like this shit. Maybe the first good Christian video game. Like Halo 4, Revenge of the Christians.

  48. Xmas is cool and fun. Don’t be a Scrooge.

    Actually, I read that the X actually represents the Greek letter “Chi”, which was the first letter of Christ in Greek. So it really isn’t meant to keep “Christ” out of “Christmas”, but that’s still how churches choose to see it.

  49. I thought the spelling Xmas was just for lazy people, not an attempt to “secularize” the name, as if that was important.

  50. PeterS

    I have very much respect for atheism. In no way do I feel that it is an ill to society per se. On the contrary. And it is to be taken, as is religion, spirituality, what have you, for its merits. What I do feel is that Dawkins in particular, not Hitchens, is a character who strikes me as liberal, based on what he’s said and written. In fact, my point was rather that he deviated from an argument about religion and God to vent about consumerism, which led me to believe that he, like many, NOT all, and certainly not most atheists, place commerce and religion in a basket with each other. If they are not causally related, they play a symbiotic part in the constant draining of the welfare of the people. Karl Marx himself remarked that America was rife with religion and capitalism, and his mention of the two in such proximity before proclaiming their status as anathema to a healthy society is telling in this respect.

  51. I fucking hate Christmas…and not cuz I am an atheist.

    If I was the pope I would still hate it.

    That said the best way to keep Christian decorations off of government property is to sell all government property.

  52. Eh, I’m an atheist myself, but I’m fairly laid back on what people practice, especially during holidays.

    I will agree, though, that the constant hammering of Christmas for a good month in advance annoys me. The carols were great when I was little and first heard them, but now they make me want to gouge out my eardrums.

    Ah, well. At least I have Weird Al’s holiday tunes to listen to.

  53. I am an atheist and I hate consumerism. The striking banality of marketing and ownership of every aspect of life is just as disturbing as having religion imposed upon you by fundamentalists and sometimes worse. The best part of the idea of Christmas and I think all religion is that it humanizes people and builds community. The sickness of comodification is as repellant as the sickness of narrowmindedness.

  54. Thank you for your response, Peter, but one can dislike the Christmas-time race to spend your hard-earned money, along with the loud, inescapable Christmas jingles and songs and commercials,etc., as a matter of personal taste, without thinking that consumerism is a bad system that shouldn’t be practiced. I’m a libertarian, and I don’t like it (though that’s just me, I don’t care if other people like it). As for Mr. Dawkins, I’ve read quite a few of his books and articles, interviews, etc, including the one from which the quote was taken, and this is the only time I’m aware of that he’s commented on this subject. In context, it was not condemning consumerism or capitalism, but was an aside about personal taste. I’m not claiming him for our side, but I don’t think it’s right to condemn him as a lefty based on so little evidence.

  55. I think that consumerism and fundamentalist religion in the end require the exact same thing from a society or a people…complete infantilization.

  56. James,

    Your argument rests on a false assumption. This is that it is possible to infantilize a society by anything other than paternalist dogma. For example, consumerism, for lack of a better word, is nothing more than a theory that the mass consumption of goods is beneficial to an economy, and is thus promoted. It does, however, require the consent of the consumers themselves. Anyone that truly believes in mass infantilization by the agents of consumerism seem to invalidate the human capacity for free will, which to me is the first step towards tyranny.

  57. What is advertizing,Marketing, and Public Relations but a form of paternalism? You seem to think that it is so easy to tell if we are actually free whereas I would submit that it is actualy easy to believe that you are free when you are not. Furthermore, I think the suggestion that humans are some kind of complete free agents when it comes to their will is absurd, socialization shades how we perceive any number of stimuli.

  58. James,

    What you are saying is what Marx called False Consciousness. There are those who subscribe to it, and those who don’t. Assuming you do, I would beg that you understand that the same intellect behind the advertisement appealing to a consumer is at the same level as that of the consumer himself – they are both human. To assign one side of that relationship a predatory and superior role is to invalidate the human intellect in service of a motive. You say that marketing is paternalism. But you and I always have the choice to say no. To argue that the source of persuasion is so strong as to render us slaves is condescending to say the least. Had you your druthers, I wonder what would be a suitable manner in which to protect society from its own infantile tendency to stumble head first into self-destructive consumption. I also wonder, having taken that leap into the abyss, where we would cease to “protect” humanity from its own inevitable decadence. In fact, upon a close scrutiny, I might argue that the Constitution is perhaps the most reckless collection of principles for the common welfare of mankind under the provisions you’ve outlined.

  59. Yes I believe Marx was absolutely prescient in this matter. I say this simply to point out that I believe that railing against governmental control as if it is an absolute evil and then submerging the will, the intellect, the emotions to the controls of the vulgar businessman (sophisticated in his techniques though he may be)does not make one necessarily more free. The point of the matter is not to say that one does not have the will to say NO, but rather the game can be manipulated so that even when you think you are saying no, you are saying yes. This is the danger of modern society stripped of real democracy…no matter where you place your bet, the house always wins.

  60. Christmas is about spam! just like this spam article that I received. Sell your Christmas crap to someone else. The writer is also uninformed about atheists products that are out there. The atheist movement is stronger because the Christian Army is devouring it’s self.
    Every day is a good day to celebrate life, to give, love Laugh, and enjoy without God or Gods
    A tee shirt
    I was washed it the blood of Jesus and it has taken years to get all the damn stains out.
    brought to you by http://www.under-god.org Our position on under God is we are not going to take this fucking lying down.

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