Central Voice

Linking LGBT Communities In Central Pennsylvania And Beyond

It happens every year, but this year the shrill whining of the religious-right over “the secularization of Christmas” and how “traditional family values” are under siege has come to a nauseating crescendo.

Stupidity and intolerance seem to have become the new vogue in America’s mainstream, and never is that more apparent than during the winter holiday season. It seems this is the time when every arrogant, superstitious Fundie McNugget® pulls out all the stops to spread their lies, homophobia, innuendo, intolerance and unabashed desires to further disgrace this country, by turning it into the very theocracy our forbearers fought so hard to prevent.

The latest effort arrived in my email box, from a loved one unfortunately, who was unwittingly caught up in their duplicitous agenda. The email recommends that everyone send the American Civil Liberties Union a Christmas card and write the words “Merry Christmas” inside.

Now their claim that doing so would bring the ACLU to a halt only demonstrates the abject stupidity and ignorance of the morons who wrote the piece. That assertion is really too inane to even waste bandwidth responding. It is, however, the assertion that:

“For those of you who aren’t aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the U.S. Government to take God, Christmas or anything religious away from us. They represent the atheists and others in this war.”

Once again, the Bible-thumping Fundie McNuggets® are clearly setting out to do what they do best -- creating baseless "wars" (much as they did with the Crusades).

No one is trying to “take God, Christmas” or any other ridiculous religious superstition away from anyone in this country. Well, that’s not entirely true. If left to their devices, the Fundie McNugges® would like to take away the gods of the Hindu, the Jain, the Wiccan, the Muslim, the Pagan, the Celt, the Nordic and the Native Peoples. They would like to remove any recognition or possibility of equal rights to religious freedom that those people (and to a lesser extent their Jewish forbearers) expect under the U.S. Constitution. But we can be absolutely certain, the dangerous element in this case is not the ACLU… it’s the Christian Fundamentalists.

As a non-theist — someone who finds no use, logic, nor sense of mature spirituality in the notions and superstitious ideologies of literal and omniscient “gods” and “goddesses”, “saviors” or other primitive ideas — I am grateful for the ACLU, and have always been a staunch supporter of their work. Most intelligent people are as well.

I am a semi-retired Eastern Catholic (Gnostic) bishop and a Buddhist contemplative (monk). I have taken vows to uphold the rights of every person on this planet to be respected, loved and free from suffering and persecution. And so I am not at all offended when someone greets me with “Happy Holidays”, which is, coincidentally, how I greet others during this time.

I am not offended that we’ve removed the Christmas trees, the menorahs, the manger scenes, and such from the public square… because they do not belong there. Period.

That some towns choose to have a “holiday tree” is something I tolerate, while still disapproving of how eerily close that is to still inflicting the Christian tradition upon others. So I make the best of it, and use the time to teach others that the “Christmas tree” was never really about Christmas at all, but was, like most Christian traditions, co-opted from the Pagan traditions and mythos.

I tell them about the Yule log, and of holly… about the reason there is an inperceivable Awen over our doorway, and how the Christmas story itself is nothing more than a 5000 year old astrological tale, complete with its allegorical “virgin”, the manger, the House of Bread (Bethlehem), star in the east (Sirius) and the “three kings”.

The secularisation of the Solemnity of the Nativity of Jesus Christ is not a new phenomenon. It began when what would become the Holy Roman Empire (which was neither holy nor Roman), disguising itself as the Roman Catholic Church, decided to adapt the pagan feast of Saturnalia and Winter Solstice, along with many of its cultural traditions, and turn them into “Christmas”.

Let’s not forget that there is nothing in the ancient tradition or in the scriptures that even suggests that Jesus was born in December. We hijacked the pagan holiday, and the 5,000 years of the exact same stories being told about the Egyptian “Sun God” and the Roman “Sol Invictus” — as well as having been told about 25-30 other mythical beings, before it was plagiarized, and adapted to become a posthumous “overlay” on the life of the great Palestinian Dharma Teacher, Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus) — and we’re whining about the department stores detracting from the real meaning of Christmas?

The “real” meaning of Christmas was obscured by those who co-opted the ancient mythos, and began the Greatest (Bullshit) Story Ever SoldTM, by pretending every word of it was original and historically accurate.

I was raised to understand the significance and importance of Christmas, as the celebration of the birth of Jesus — whom legend tells us was God Incarnate. Macy’s Christmas Parade never diminished that for me. Neither did the absurdity of the Mummers, or snowmen, or Rudolph or the fat, bearded guy, dressed like one of the Gabor sisters in all that velvet and fur! The significance of that Holy Night was bigger than all of that, and nothing anyone could do would ever diminish it.

As I matured, I came to realise that what humanity had absurdly attempted to personify as “God” or YHVH was actually a metaphor, which changed over time. At the time of the historic Rabbi Jesus’ life, the metaphor represented the violent, temperamental, bitchy and judgmental Cosmic Drama Queen, created in the manipulative and pathological mind of Moses the wealthy land baron, and perhaps first of the great Israeli terrorists.

Seeing this, Jesus dispelled the need for such an unhealthy metaphor, and introduced the metaphor of the Cosmic Papa Bear — Abba, or Daddy in Aramaic. But He made it perfectly clear (to those who are paying attention) that there was no literally “dude in the sky” and not even a “higher power” existing separate from us, when He taught:“The sovereign domain of the Divine exists within you.” Of course this was mistranslated from the poetic Aramaic context into the errant Latin text, from which we ended up with, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

So I grew to view the Solemnity of the Nativity as a sacred metaphor, which fit perfectly into the celebrations of Diwali, Chanukah, Winter Solstice and the Birth of the Great Sun. It didn’t matter to me that someone chose to intertwine the mythos with the life of the great Christ — the Anointed Maitreya, Jesus. And it even seemed “natural” to use His life as a model for the metaphor, which celebrates the fact that Divine Love becomes incarnate in humanity, so that humanity can liberate (redeem) itself by realizing its nature, and thus uncover the Divine, we have always been.

Our current president has gone far to offer wonderful, inclusive and respectful greetings in his YouTube messages, during each of the many cultural and religious holidays celebrated in this country. I was disappointed that he missed Samhain. But perhaps next year our Wiccan and Druid sisters and brothers will be on his radar.

Santa Claus is not the issue… And the whining rant that we need to “put Christ back in Christmas” is a good idea. But the only people who can take the blame for taking him out are the Christians themselves. It’s their tradition, and if it’s fallen to disrepair, then they need to fix it… in their homes… in their churches… and in their private schools. It has no place whatsoever in the public forum. Period.

While I may not personally agree with many of the superstitious, intolerant and even intrusive ideologies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and find them, like all fundamentalists to be sorely lacking when it comes to really understanding that the bible was never intended to be literally taken or written by some imaginary god, at least they have had the presence of mind to recognise the “Christmas tradition” for what it is. And while it’s unfortunate that their founder apparently had some deep-seated psychological issues, and was likely manic (evidenced by his abolishing of celebrating birthdays, etc.), at least he had the courage of his convictions to demand that the mythological birth of Christ be observed with respect and dignity. No Christmas trees there… no gaudy, tacky light displays… just the occasional intrusion on a Saturday morning, when you’re trying to relax. I can live with that.

But to suggest that we attempt to interfere with and endanger the work of our nation’s guardian of liberty and human rights, is not something I can live with.

My brother is a Muslim. I would not expect him to be anything other than insulted and hurt if I sent him a Christmas card. I would not demand that he have a Christmas tree in his living room either. I would never do such a thing.

The American Civil Liberties Union is an awesome organization that looks out for the rights of ALL Americans, not just the moronic Fundie McNuggets® and Bible thumpers. It is insolent and arrogant and sickening for these so-called (imitation) Christians to insist that everyone observe THEIR religious tradition.

The morons, who wrote this, are poor examples of what Christ taught, and those sending them out are examples of how easily we forget that Christ taught compassion, charity, diversity and inclusion… not hatred and intolerance (that’s only something Christian fundamentalist imbeciles teach… not Christ). He didn’t try to convince the woman at the well to become Jewish. He accepted her AS SHE WAS, and RESPECTED HER TRADITION. He didn’t tell the Roman centurion to become a Jew before he would heal his boy either.

I am utterly and completely DISGUSTED by this email. The founding fathers were NOT Christians, they were Deists. This is NOT a Christian country, and I pray it NEVER becomes one, because in my opinion, people like this are the most dangerous, disgraceful, sickening and vile of all scourges.

If these Fundie McNuggets® truly want to put Christ back in Christmas, my recommendation is that they begin by striving to become a little more mindful of the compassion, tolerance, kindness and respect Rabbi Jesus showed for all people and then working to emulate that. Put Christ back in your religion before you go whining about how we need to put him back in Xmas! Yes, the secular trappings of the holiday season are an annoyance to me but so are the plastic, light-up manger scenes, the electricity wasted on elaborate lighting displays, the money spent on decorations in a world where people will go hungry or shiver on the streets in the cold. But if those things help you to become more mindful of the “reason for the season”, then I will never try to dissuade you from employing them in your observance of the holidays.

Christ was never born in a manger… but the Cosmic Christ… the Indwelling Light that, according to the legend, represented the Perfect Love, in which all that is Divine became human, so that all of humanity could become Divine…CAN be born in the still, small, humble manger of our hearts.

Peace Bitchez!

- khenpo gurudas sunyatananda


Views: 26

Comment by Terry Drew Karanen on December 15, 2011 at 7:59am

Beautifully put! Thanks for being a voice of reason in our community - I look forward to your future posts!

Comment by Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda on December 15, 2011 at 2:12pm

Thanks for the kind words, Terry. Looking forward to contributing in any positive way I can.


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Local Author's Book Makes Top 10 Gay Non-fiction List

Called a "must read," Michael Long's book on gay pioneer Frank Kameny has been chosen as one of the Top 10 gay, non-fiction books for 2014. Gay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin Kameny by the Elizabethtown College professor is a "must-read for anyone interested in the history of the gay rights movement” says Publishers Weekly.

Harvard University's Michael Bronski, a staple in the world of gay history, said: “The LGBT movement has been blessed with an amazing array of passionate, provocative, colorful, dedicated, and sometimes infuriating women and men. Frank Kameny is certainly one of the most important. Michael Long’s magnificent book captures the breadth of the movement and the specificity of Kameny’s life and importance.”

Long tells Central Voice about his editing of Kameny's historically rich letters, 150 letters from 1958 to 1975, that reveal some of the early stirrings of today’s politically powerful LGBT movement. The letters are lively and colorful because they are in Kameny’s inimitable voice, a voice that was consistently loud, echoing through such places as the Oval Office, the Pentagon, and the British Parliament, and often shrill, piercing to the federal agency heads, military generals, and media personalities who received his countless letters. Long is the author and editor of several books on politics, religion, and civil rights. He is the editor, most recently, of Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life after Baseball.

Central Voice: What has the response been to your work on Kameny? from the academic community? from the LGBT community?

Michael Long: The book has just been released, but the response thus far has been so positive. Kameny's close friends, like Charles Frances and Bob Witech of Washington, DC, have been generous in their praise of the book.


CV: Some advocates are outright sending the book to others?

ML: Malcolm Lazin of Equality Forum has decided to send the book to leading LGBT activists across the country. Early reviews have also been positive, identifying the book as a "must read." I'm pleased about this mostly because it helps to advance the rich and inimitable legacy of Frank Kameny. This of us who fight for LGBT rights stand on his shoulders, and the book helps us understand how incredibly broad his shoulders were. 

CV: Currently, there is lots of dialogue about the intersections of race and LGBT issues. What are your thoughts?

ML: One of the most important things about Kameny is that early on he, like Edward Sagarin and others, identified gays and lesbians as an oppressed minority. That was no small move, and it allowed him to analyze discrimination against gays and lesbians as somewhat akin to discrimination against people of color. It also helped him articulate the need for civil rights and liberties for gays and lesbians early on.

CV: Wasn't Kameny an early petitioner of the US Supreme Court?

ML: His 1961 petition to the US Supreme Court--a landmark document--did exactly that while at the same time telling the justices that homosexuality was moral. It's breathtaking material. Kameny also turned to the civil rights movement for inspiration and instruction for advancing civil rights for oppressed gays and lesbians. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael are among those who influenced his deliberate efforts to politicize the homophile movement and turn it into a political power that politicians could no longer ignore. So Kameny actually helped to create the intersections of race and LGBT issues that we continue to experience today.



Things you may not know about Franklin Kameny -

*During the height of the Lavender Scare, openly fought the US government for firing him because he was gay (1958).

*Led a long campaign to force the US Civil Service Commission to permit the hiring of gays and lesbians individuals for federal jobs, including those requiring security clearances (1957 on).

*Filed first US Supreme Court petition arguing that gays and lesbians were an oppressed minority deserving equal treatment under law, and that homosexuality was moral (1961).

*Co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, the nation’s first organization dedicated solely to securing civil rights and liberties for gays and lesbians (1961).

*Co-founded regional and national gay and lesbian groups designed to politicize the movement and secure and advance political power in government and civil society (1963 on).

*Organized the first White House picketing by a group seeking civil rights and liberties for gays and lesbians. Similar picketing soon followed in front of the US Civil Service Commission, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the Pentagon (1965).

*Criticized numerous leading media personalities, including Ann Landers, Johnny Carson, and Rona Barrett, for their anti-gay views (1966 on).

*Staged protests (“zaps’) for gay rights at American Psychiatric Association conventions, eventually forcing the APA to delist homosexuality as a mental disorder (1971 on).

*Became the first openly gay candidate for the US Congress (1971).

*Acted as counsel to numerous gays and lesbians facing discrimination in the US military and served as a driving force behind the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”


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