Christmas, Silent Night, and a girl’s first communion

"Tender and Mild" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Tender and Mild” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

I had a friend who used to switch words of hymns and worship songs and get me laughing. I came up with this one though. The danger of this game is that it might spoil the song forever.

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26 Replies to “Christmas, Silent Night, and a girl’s first communion”

  1. As my religion-free kids are getting older, they are starting to actually be interested in some of the customs of their religious friends. As a former-Christian, and doing comparative religion in graduate school, I am a good informant for them. And recently when I explained the communion ritual of eating Jesus’ body and drinking his blood, my children could only laugh.

    I tried to tell the good version, but they saw right through it, of course.
    “Out of the mouths of babes!” (Psalm 8:2; Matt 21:16)

  2. Sabio,

    Why did your children laugh?

    I hope you don’t wish to assert that being a “good informant” means that doing so comes without prejudice. I am not using the word “prejudice” pejoratively here, I have prejudices too.

    To laugh because of a religious observance is disrespectful to a religion. The term “religion” in the context I use here is by way of British values according to the Equality Act 2010 where religion is described as “any religion and a reference to religion includes a reference to a lack of religion.”

    So with the religion in this sense – what would your response be to someone finding a perspective of someone’s “god” certainly existing but then at the same time having the belief that there is clear evidence for the non-existence of an all powerful and benevolent “god” not existing laughable.

    I use the term “belief” here in the same context of British values where it is defined as “a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief.”

    There is a difference between satirising and mocking with contempt.

    I fundamentalist mocks a held belief and/or religious conviction with contempt then sooner or later they will find that themselves on the receiving end of contempt as others to the same to them.

    As mentioned Sabio, I have felt my sharing of spiritual journey has been treated with disrespect by you recently and that you have come across with a superiour air where there has been differences between our understandings.

    It seems to me that you like to be understood and to seek understanding. In the interest of that therefore, I will share that until recently I have seen you as articulate and thoughtful and not as someone who is a fundamental atheist. I saw you as someone not dissimilar to my atheist brother who when my niece decided that she wanted to be baptised in a church that he supported her and honoured her choice.

    For your understanding, your laughing and what could be perceived as encouraging your children to laugh at the eucharist is along with our interaction recently leading me to review my belief about you is to review my belief about you not being a fundamentalist.

    Since the only thing those that cross over from satire into mocking with contempt understand is strength then I will, if needed be prepared to be stronger with you. I suggest you prepare for that.

    Having said that, I hope this won’t be necessary.

  3. Great point by the way David about the language and communicating, challenging current expressions so that a girl at her first communion can understand.

  4. It’s not the children I just David and I resent the implication that this is what I may be doing.

    If there is anything that could be judged then I would suggest it be the parent’s influencing the children where the parent ridicules those of differing belief, shows approval of their children if they do similar therefor manipulating vulnerable people to be prejudiced as they are rather than encouraging freedom of thought and welcoming of difference.

    Hasn’t one of your cartoons made a commentary about those who ridicule others for their difference in belief?

    My atheist parents for example brought me up to make my own choices, and supported me by attending my baptism. I saw how moving it was for them when they were in tears of emotion, moved at it. Very powerful.

    Sabio recently commented that it would help him to “play his part” if he were to know what I was intending, whether it be understanding, to argue etc.

    Is it wrong to establish what Sabio intends, whether it be to understand or to ridicule?

    May I suggest that if Sabio had any perception that his children were being referred to in an inappropriate way that he is capable of saying so himself?

  5. Well, David, concerning language:

    The writers of Matt, Mark says that Jesus said, “Take some and eat; this is my body. … this is my blood..”

    Catholics get it, but Protestant decided they could change tradition. For Catholics feel that bread and wine are literally transformed into his blood and body.

    This Pew research shows that 41% of Catholics don’t know the church teaches that, but 55% agree with the church.

    My kids have lots of Catholic friends.
    It depends on what flavor of Christianity we are discussing for how comical this cannibalizing is.

    My kids laughed at the idea of eating a god’s blood and body.
    “Theophagy” is indeed found in some pre-Christian pagan religions too — notably greek god Dionysus (son of Zeus — if you forgot), which may be the reason for this Jesus fable.

    Sorry, “Theophagy” is laughable, no matter how dear to you and how used you are too the idea.

    My kids were right to laugh. But trust me, I tried to present it objectively, but the facts are funny no matter what jargon and theology you try to wrap them in.

    David, what language would you have used to describe how Catholics see it? Your cartoon points right to the silliness.

  6. Well… I didn’t mean for the cartoon to be so theologically charged. I originally thought of a cartoon involving zombies saying, “Mmmmm…. he really is tender and mild!” But that was too offensive probably. So I charmed it down. Just because I’ve always found that line funny, “Holy infant so tender and mild.” That’s all I meant.

    But language reflects deeds and vice-versa. Ideology must always find expression. So when I say the language must change I am implying the manifestations do too.

  7. Oh, I laughed at cartoons of Mohammed too. Nothing is sacred. Just declaring something as religious does not win it freedom from ridicule. Or at least not in my country, yet. And I would fight such silly, pretentious, self-righteous rulings if they ever tried to settle in my country’s culture.

  8. @ David,

    Sorry, didn’t follow you. A bit too abstract.

    To put it simply, do you agree that the Catholic doctrine is that believers are eating the body of Jesus and drinking his blood during their communion ritual?

    I know, you have to be more “tender and mild” since you keep trying to please religious folks to some extent. 😉

  9. Ah, so
    — David Koresh did or did not speak to god
    — Joseph Smith did or did not have magic spectacles
    — Mohammed did or did not say infidels should be killed
    — Donald Trump want Muslims in the USA or not
    both sides of the same coin
    everything is wonderfully mystical and at peace
    I get it

  10. Looks like my daughter and I will be attending her friend’s Bat Mitzvah this month. I will teach her that the whole notion of Jew’s as God’s chosen people is laughable, that the Moses story is a complete myth, that Jews did not come from Ur but were just a small tribe who made up and origin myth and more. But we will have fun at the Bat Mitzvah — but of course it is a reform Synagogue — and most of them don’t believe any of that either.

    Silly things are silly.
    False things are false.
    No mystical mumbo-jumbo can dismiss that.

  11. Um no. That was a leap of mighty proportions! What I’m saying is that what is is. Our individual perceptions, interpretations, and articulation of what is are just that… thoughts, paradigms, and language.

  12. “Nothing is sacred”. I would suggest that there is a line that can be crossed between satire and mocking with contempt. When ordering one of your cartoons David, I think I did see one that commented on ridiculing “the other” who has different beliefs. I don’t recall exactly what you were communication but that seems to me to be not dissimilar to treating others with dignity as human beings whatever their belief or non-belief is.

    Article 1 of the Declaration of Human Rights states:

    “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

  13. Dawkins advocating “if necessary” ridiculing “with contempt”.

    Fundamentalism, as we know, exists within atheism as well as Christianity.

    Sadly whatever side of an argument fundamentalist fall on, they seem to have scant regard for any “spirit of brotherhood”.

  14. With religion controlling education, media, politics and more — manipulating the guilt, fear, taboo and apocalyptic parts of the human mind, it must be ripped clean of its self-righteous, holy, sacred fake garb wherever they appear.

    Civil in person — yeah, I am. On-line where we come of our free will, we can be honest about what we think is silly, nonsense and outright dangerous. If you are offended, go back to your safe churches.

    Of course, for many, the internet is their church! Much safer there.

  15. Sabio,

    I take it that comment was directed at what you would call “Biblical Christians” and by implication or directly – me.

    I find it laughable for you to talk of me possibly being offended and talking of being “safe” within a church. If any one has read my comments over time they will be aware that church for me has been anything other than safe. Given that you have know me for a while here and have engaged with me, this would show that you are one such person.

    Therefore it is silly of you to make out that a church would be any more safe for me than elsewhere. My mentioning this is to satarise the comment and not to ridicule you personally or to mock you with contempt.

    As for your other comments – you know to me the term “religion” means religion or absence of religion as explained here and explained to you by me for your understanding on at least one previous occasion. In this respect I agree with you when it comes to religion and control whether that be atheism, Christianity or any other religion in the mediums you mention.

    The way you are coming across in how you are writing is less amiable than the articulate and thoughtful response you have given on a previous occasion. It could be an indication of you being offended by comments here.

    Are you feeling offended?

  16. Oh and “civil in person” does that mean online you don’t support the human rights principle of being fee and equal in dignity and rights with acting in a “spirit of brotherhood”?

  17. Sabio, If you are interested in answering my question about why your children laughed the I would continue to chat. Otherwise, if you are looking as previously to build a straw man to knock down and avoid that and other important issues that have come up in the conversation then this will be my last comment to you here.

    It would be silly for me to engage in conversation with someone who wants to build a straw man.

  18. Hi Adam: I am not so certain Sabio is building a straw man argument.

    His kids found the Eucharist funny. In light of the cartoon showing a child’s communion, Sabio simply stated his story.

    Sabio also stated that he will teach his kids that some of the Jewish beliefs are mythical. I do not see that as a strawman argument. Rather, I see that as a statement.

    Perhaps you (and I) lean towards teaching respect towards rituals, even if they are myth based. I think Sabio is showing respect towards the personhood of the believer (or non-believer), rather than respect toward the ritual itself.

    [Sabio can correct me, of course.]

    And… I did also find it funny many years ago, about age 14 (when I became a Christian). I mean, the language is bizarre and totally strange when you first encounter it: ‘Hey. Dudes. This bread is my body, and I will break this flatbread.’ A few years later, I understood analogies… but not back then.

    And… I was raised outside the church tradition. So, when we drank grape juice for wine, I could not figure out what was going on… other than I disliked the taste of wine, and was quite happy with grape juice… but I was hungry, and wanted two or three cups of it…. 😉

    I later accepted it as a ritual. I practice Eucharist about once a year, given my views about the ritual. Also, I often do not take ‘communion’ if/when I visit a church, because of my views.

    My view primarily concerns forgiving others, and quite frankly, some people I have not yet forgiven (and in my heart, I feel they ‘owe’ me). So, I do not ‘take communion’ at this time.

  19. Hi Caryn,

    Thanks for explaining how you perceive Sabios commenting as always in your comments, put calmly and in a spirit of dignity and respect where there are differing views.

    I would be interested in Sabios answer as to why his children laughed. Sabio did indeed “state his story”, one in which he claimed to be “a good informant”. I am suggesting that someone who ridicules others because of their beliefs and borders on if not mocking with contempt of others, having scant regard for the “spirit of brotherhood” as in article one in the UDHR is not in the best position to inform and educate.

    My beautiful niece at the spreading of my Dad’s ashes said “Grandpa is in heaven making the sun shine for us”. My atheist/agnostic rest of the extended family were moved by that and all said what a wonderful thing that was to say.

    If Sabio were to ridicule that or anything else about my nieces faith, then I would not want him going anywhere near her. I wouldn’t want him going anywhere near my other 5 nieces for that matter. My atheist brother supported my niece when she wanted to get baptised. Obviously it is not his thing but my nieces freedom and affirming her in her spiritual journey for him was more important than her thinking as he does.

    You have not understood me as intended with my mention of a straw man. This was not in reference to what Sabio did with his children. Although an argument could be made for how he has talked of the Eucharist here that he is building a straw man. My reference to straw man was to the last conversation I had with Sabio where I felt he had been disrespectful to my sharing of my spiritual journey, had an air of superiority and avoided certain questions for reasons previously given.

    These questions namely being about the existence of God, that either he/she/it exists or doesn’t exist. One cannot say to someone one perceives to be a Christian “your god certainly does exist” and at the same time hold the belief that there id “clear evidence of the non-existence of an all powerful and benevolent god” without cognitive dissonance. That is both statements cannot be true.

    Holding both to be true results in unavoidable tension. Sabio previously has coped with that tension by trying to build a straw man to knock down in saying I “don’t understand” that I “have an agenda” that I “want to tell”.

    He has taken a similar approach with a straw man in this thread with talking about “safe churches” and offence. I suggest him doing so, does not distract from the UDHR about the incubance for coexistnece in a “spirit of brotherhood” something which he could be questioning when it comes to internet dialogue. That does not have credibility with me. Either the UDHR is applicable in all instances or none “in person” and on the internet.

    I would offer Sabio the opportunity to have a discussion that presents a credible presentation for what he believes by being available to be in dialogue with him. I would offer to engage with him in a “spirit of brotherhood”. I would affirm what David said above that “Two sides of same coin: either God is everywhere or God is nowhere.” I would also express my appreciation for the respect David has shown for differing belief by using uppercase “G” in “God”.

    I hope that helps alleviate any confusion or misunderstanding.

    Thank you again for your comment Caryn. I always find it a pleasure to interact with you here.

  20. By the way, what I mentioned above about “mocking with contempt of others, having scant regard for the “spirit of brotherhood” as in article one in the UDHR is not in the best position to inform and educate” was a reference to the link I posted, not to Sabio. Just in case there was any misunderstanding about that.

  21. Adam: you are correct that I misunderstood the ‘straw man’. Thank you for the polite explanation and correction.

    Love your story about your niece saying “Grandpa is in heaven making the sun shine for us”. So glad your family respected her statement. We all grieve… and her ‘handle’ for her own grief was simply beautiful in its own way.

  22. Thank you for your response Caryn. Wasn’t what my neice said and the families response just beautiful as has your sharing been.

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