This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Bah, Hanukkah

Bah, Hanukkah - Comments

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 1 by Mr Blue Sky

Don't you just love Hitch? As I read the piece I could hear his voice saying some of the words and it made me smile. Time for him to launch another tirade I think. His knowlege of history really can make you think when he gets going..

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 16:44:00 UTC | #422283

theolgit's Avatar Comment 2 by theolgit

A crucified Santa, I want one.

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 16:45:00 UTC | #422284

mikey nails!'s Avatar Comment 3 by mikey nails!

Two years on, still my favorite "holiday" article!

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 16:47:00 UTC | #422285

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 4 by RichardofYork

I'd like to nail this article in every Christmas card ,and if Christopher ever happens to be in Yorkshire, sometime ,I'd consider it a great honour to wash his feet and dry them with somebody's hair

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 16:52:00 UTC | #422287

RobiFerentz's Avatar Comment 5 by RobiFerentz

While I'm an atheist, having been born a Jew, as it were, does come with certain....historical baggage. One comedian said "Every Jewish holiday comes down to 'We were few, they were many, we won, let's eat!'" That is pretty much true. Other than the traditional family gatherings, I do not see much point in most holidays (except the ones that grant vacation time, obviously :) )
What Hanukkah basically celebrates is a "victory" of what amounts to a bunch of old time terrorists that couldn't take the fact they were conquered by someone with a better army and completely different world view. It's not unlike Muslim fundamentalists today.
However, history is hardly unbiased after all, so for the Jewish people Yehuda Hamacabbee is a hero and the Hashmonaim a group of enlightened freedom fighters.
It in no way diminishes the joys of stuffing myself with jam filled doughnuts and indulging pyromaniacal tendencies during this holiday. Also, kids gets "Dmei Hanukkah" which is a small gift of money. And money, for us Jewish boys and girls, after all, is a very good thing :P

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 17:03:00 UTC | #422292

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 6 by Stafford Gordon

This piece clearly demonstrates the value of knowing your subject.

Learn everone.

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 18:04:00 UTC | #422309

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 7 by Stonyground

At the age of 51 I still can't help but love Christmas, I have an irrational love of seasonal pop songs and don't even care if they mention effing baby Jesus. Maybe this is evidence of the power of the childhood indoctrination that religions everywhere take advantage of, Christmas is a wonderful time for children and maybe I have never shaken that feeling off.

I think that it makes sense to adapt your Christmas to your own likes and dislikes, that way it grows and progresses and we don't feel forced to do stuff that we don't want to.

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 20:38:00 UTC | #422350

Simon Wilson's Avatar Comment 8 by Simon Wilson

It is nice to be reminded of how much about this festive season is NOT connected to Christianity.

Keep those history lessons going Chris!

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 22:02:00 UTC | #422368

Net's Avatar Comment 9 by Net

i love hitchens' writing! of course his message is good, too. but i could just get off on his style all day!

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 23:51:00 UTC | #422388

DNR's Avatar Comment 10 by DNR

Re: Net.

Me too. fap fap fap

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 01:13:00 UTC | #422406

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 11 by TIKI AL

Proof that the Jews did not kill Jesus:

http://www.jesusoftheweek.com/jesii/531/index.html

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 01:57:00 UTC | #422416

mrjohnno's Avatar Comment 12 by mrjohnno

Great read.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 02:03:00 UTC | #422417

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 13 by Rob Schneider

Methinks Hitch was drinking when he wrote this one. It is more scathing than usual. :-)

[edit] Mind you, I LOVE his writing, and I love scathing critiques. Just noting that, relatively, this one seems like he sharpened the pencil just a bit longer.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 04:01:00 UTC | #422425

Botanical's Avatar Comment 14 by Botanical

Meh - the history is interesting but the rest of it is pretty ridiculous. The holiday clearly means something different today to those who observe it.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 05:03:00 UTC | #422429

jamiso's Avatar Comment 15 by jamiso

8. Comment #440894 by Simon Wilson on December 10, 2009 at 10:02 pm

"It is nice to be reminded of how much about this festive season is NOT connected to Christianity."

Its funny, I was watching 'A Christmas Story' on TV the other day (basically the classic all time American Christmas movie since I was a kid), and I dont recall a single mention of Jesus....

It occurred To Me, The only really christian thing people do for christmas is going to church at midnight...so the contribution christianity adds to christmas....is the least fun part, that nobody really wants to do. So basically....

If you take the christian part out of christmas, you're left with a fun winter festival. If you took all the nonreligious stuff out of christmas, you're left with a boring ritual over a boring story.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 05:39:00 UTC | #422432

godsbelow's Avatar Comment 16 by godsbelow

Comment #440958 by BeyondBelief:

"Methinks Hitch was drinking when he wrote this one. It is more scathing than usual. :-)"

Oh, no doubt he was. But then, that's hardly unusual for Hitch, cf. 'On the Limits of Self-Improvement'

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/10/hitchens200710?currentPage=2

"In order to keep reading and writing, I need the junky energy that scotch can provide, and the intense short-term concentration that nicotine can help supply. To be crouched over a book or a keyboard, with these conditions of mingled reverie and alertness, is my highest happiness."

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 05:48:00 UTC | #422434

pyjamaslug's Avatar Comment 17 by pyjamaslug

I have to think Hitchens is taking the piss when he writes something like this; not the history, but the over-literal take on the folk sayings. Just try the same riff with "there's no sense crying over spilt milk" and you will see what I mean.

Perhaps he is just subtly highlighting the absurdity of the extreme literalists of religiosity (they aren't the only valid targets, of course).

Anyway, it's always nice to see him give the lie to the constant refrain that secularists are afraid to poke a finger in the eye of any faith but christianity.

Peter

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 06:12:00 UTC | #422438

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 18 by Dr. Strangegod

I agree with Botanical. I'm aware of all that history and symbolism, but I think Hitch kind of makes a lame point, or at least not one really worth that amount of vitriol. Usually I love his stuff, but this seemed to be a little bit of tilting at windmills.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 06:15:00 UTC | #422439

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 19 by Enlightenme..

But of course, none of us would exist if history hadn't followed the exact path it did.

Thank fuck for Torquemada and the Black Death.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 06:22:00 UTC | #422440

pyjamaslug's Avatar Comment 20 by pyjamaslug

But then it is not actually important (even to us, except in retrospect) that we as individuals exist.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 06:28:00 UTC | #422441

Roy_H's Avatar Comment 21 by Roy_H

Er...and a a very Merry Christmas to you too Christopher!

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 06:40:00 UTC | #422444

George Lennan's Avatar Comment 22 by George Lennan

I'm with Stonyground. Christmas is a time of good cheer, peace on earth and good will to all men. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only son that man might not die but have life eternal" or something. It would be rubbish without mangers, shepherds, carols, herald angels, the baby on the cross, the snow on the stable roof, the star in the east, tiny tim cratchett and all the other christian trappings.

MERRY CHRSTMAS and GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE!

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 08:24:00 UTC | #422448

jel's Avatar Comment 23 by jel

I'm with Stonyground. Christmas is a time of good cheer, peace on earth and good will to all men. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only son that man might not die but have life eternal" or something. It would be rubbish without mangers, shepherds, carols, herald angels, the baby on the cross, the snow on the stable roof, the star in the east, tiny tim cratchett and all the other christian trappings.

MERRY CHRSTMAS and GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE!

bah! humbug!

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 08:35:00 UTC | #422450

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 24 by SaganTheCat

Anyone hear Lord Sacks on "Thought for the day"£ this morning. would've made me cross anyway but was even worse after having read this yeasterday

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 09:03:00 UTC | #422454

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 25 by SaintStephen

So delicious. Too short, though. I need more Hitchens... where to find more Hitchens...

17. Comment #440968 by godsbelow on December 11, 2009 at 5:48 am

Right here! Thank you, Sir! Another hit of Hitchens is just what the doctor ordered.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 10:26:00 UTC | #422471

brainsys's Avatar Comment 26 by brainsys

Comment #440982 by George Lennan penned "...tiny tim cratchett and all the other christian trappings."

But Tiny Tim is a modern fictional invention. Ah .. yes. Sorry.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 10:51:00 UTC | #422478

beanson's Avatar Comment 27 by beanson

y'know, I like that cliche Hitch dismimsively begins the article with. He has mistaken the thrust when he claims it as a false antithesis: the allegorical point is that it suggests one is unaware one possesses a candle to light.
I use this expression when I wish to sound supercillious.

great article however- rock on hitchens

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 11:00:00 UTC | #422482

Red Dwarf's Avatar Comment 28 by Red Dwarf

Yeah Captain Mandate, I heard Lord Sacks too on 'Thought of the Day'. Perhaps he should read Hitch's article and learn about the historical facts. However, I doubt that anything could pierce Sack's 'blind faith'.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 11:36:00 UTC | #422487

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 29 by SaganTheCat

it was certainly the typical religite one-sided view. a brief mention of a statue of zeus and the suggestion he was the god of human sacrifice and that's all the justification for a massacre you need.

what i really hate about any celebration of victory is the justification that it brought about "peace". the word has connotations of reconcilliation and love and civility when it actually means "enemy dead"

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 12:28:00 UTC | #422491

King of NH's Avatar Comment 30 by King of NH

I agree with Hitch. It so extraordinarily gets on my nerves to have such a joyous time of year - with family, friends, and fresh new undershorts - ruined at every opportunity by Bible thumping brimstone preachers screaming that we're supposed to be bowing to his bloodthirsty tribal deity rather than drinking eggnog. The very idea of these rabid baboons of theocracy is to usurp the strong desire of humans to do good and use it to pressure them into signing up for a divisive, hateful ignorant community.

Hey, Christmas went from ancient acknowledgments of the solstice, to celebrations of Mithra-like embodiments of the solstice, to Christianity's "Birth of the Zombie Savior" holiday...

Screw it. Let's join in and hijack it in the name of science and reason! Do (nonflammable) experiments on the X-mas tree, explain the science of cooking a turkey or ham, measure snow fall and predict the rest of the season... We can rename it SciSolstice Day, the day when Sagan Clause brings all the good boys and girls telescopes, microscopes, and books on the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 21:07:00 UTC | #422586