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KEEPIN’ XMAS IN OUR WAY: A toast to the gods at Christmas

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I don’t want to participate in this year’s “war on Christmas,” so I told Fran I recently converted to Apatheism.

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“Paris, Planned Parenthood, probably San Bernardino, and countless more … I’m done with it.” Fran shrugged as we passed lit Christmas tree downtown. “Like a bad marriage.”

“You want to divorce Christmas?” I asked. “I love Christmas—the Christmas Spirit, Dickens, Charlie Brown and Linus at the wall, telling us all the true meaning. Love thy neighbor and all that. We can’t divorce Christmas!”

“No way! I love Christmas, too. I intend to keep it in my own way,” Fran said.

He didn’t sing Hallelujah much except at Christmas.

“Tens of thousands of tax-exempt denominations of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, each certain they are the one true faith of one true god. Maybe it’s time we end our liberal experiment with monotheism and return to our roots—that ol’-time religion, the full pantheon, a god for every household!”

“Fran, are you seriously suggesting we reject monotheism itself?” I sputtered, dumbfounded. “At Christmas?!”

We both looked around to see if anyone heard his blasphemy. A lot of post-enlightenment educated men and women have been taught that embracing monotheism in any of its forms indicated advanced moral development and implicit moral superiority over the pantheistic savages (not to mention godless communists).

“I’m sick of watching the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions kill each other in the name of peace, especially at this time of year,” he sighed. “And with all the refugees.”

“Loving the global Sermon on the Mount response?” I smirked.

“Sermon in the sewer! ‘Not in my backyard!’” He shook his head. “Let’s go to Lula’s, or Copper Penny, or Kilwin’s or somewhere to make an offering to Dionysus and get back in the Christmas spirit.”

Fran and I made an offering at The Copper Penny, and chatted all the while about the merits of monotheism. Fran figures monotheism is a lot like lifelong monogamy. One god, one sexual partner. Both make some sense for some people, but on the whole both fall short of reflecting the realities of the multi-faceted human spirit. Clearly, neither monotheism nor monogamy are for everyone.

As for me, I am disgusted with the violence associated with our religions of peace, but my hypothesis is that devout clergy and laypersons of the major monotheistic religions routinely have their faith hijacked by those serving gods of money and war.

Over a Guinness Fran actually said, “If symbols of the gods we professed to worship were replaced by those we actually serve, a lot of the crosses in this country would be replaced by graven images of Mammon and Mars!”

I’m sure he’ll be forgiven, especially at Christmas. Besides, it was probably the Guinness made him say that.

Over a delicious buttered-almond cone at Kilwin’s, Fran disclosed his recent conversion to henotheism. Basically, a henotheist believes in one god, but isn’t going to kill anyone who doesn’t believe in his particular god. He also strongly recommended we both select a household god—or gods.

By the time we got to Lula’s, Fran felt a little vulnerable. He decided his god should be intimidating to counterbalance his relative powerlessness in a monotheistic culture and ever-expanding universe. We rejected the Egyptian goddess, “Isis,” to prevent confusion with that group of radical monotheistic terrorists. We discussed the relative merits of Ares and Mars. Ares, the traditional Greek god of war, brings chaos. The Romans ennobled Mars, making him the bringer of peace at the tip of a spear; hence Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome. This is the version of war every subsequent empire implicitly has called upon to justify imperialism. But Fran rejected Greek, Roman, as well as Norse, Aztec, African, Cherokee, and Chinese gods, opting instead for Maeve, Celtic warrior goddess.

I don’t want to participate in this year’s “war on Christmas,” so I told Fran I recently converted to Apatheism. I’m truly apathetic, not interested in arguing about the existence of gods, goddesses, angels, and demons. I’d rather heal the sick, feed the hungry, fix the climate, and sing Christmas carols. But Fran persisted. He said there had to be a god for a healer and athlete, a lover of theater and music who thinks the sun rises and sets on his ass.

I raised my glass, “To Apollo, then!”

Our godly appetites satisfied, we toasted each other Merry Christmas.

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