A better Christian blogger would bite his virtual tongue and remain diffident. After all, beating up on American Atheists Dot Org is like making fun of Joel Osteen’s teeth or pointing out that Ted Cruz is a McCarthy-esque a@#-clown.
It’s just too easy to ridicule a group that takes itself even more seriously than the evangelicals they’re wont to battle.
Sure enough it’s Advent and American Atheists Dot Org are putting up their annual craptastic ‘War on Christmas’ billboards all over the Bible Belt.
That American Atheists Dot Org apply the same obtuse, tone-deaf literalism to the Christmas story as do the conservative Christians with whom they’re supposedly locked in pitched rhetorical battle makes me suspect their ‘War on Christmas’ is just a franchise of Bill O’Reilly’s ‘War on Christmas.’
If not, it at least provides bipartisan consensus that unimaginative killjoys exist in both fundamentalisms, Christian and None.
At the very least, it proves that fundamentalism itself- with literalism as one of its dominant motifs- is itself the product of modern liberalism.
Here’s their 2014 billboard:
Don’t even get me started on their (false) assumption that the absence of Christian mythology equates to freedom from any and all other mythology (Secularism, Freedom, America, Racism, Capitalism, Individualism).
With tones of self-congratulatory enlightenment, American Atheists Dot Org’s website etc enumerates in sensationalist fashion the ‘fairy tales’ from which they would have us closeted non-believers rise up in erudite opposition.
You know the ‘secrets’ that the leaders of ORGANIZED RELIGION like me hide from the poor ignorant bastards who comprise their faithful flock.
Among these church-shattering revelations:
1. The bible does not say what year Jesus was born (gasp!).
2. The bible does not say Jesus was born on December 25, originally a Roman holiday (what? no!)
3. The bible doesn’t say there was an ox and an ass in the manger (how dare artists elaborate the story for the sake art!).
4. There are extra-canonical gospels that include other details about Jesus’ birth and childhood (No! It can’t be! Didn’t the ancient Christians know this?).
5. The bible doesn’t say there was 3 wise men (see #3).
6. Only 2 of the 4 Gospels have nativity stories (really? I never noticed that, damn).
7. Matthew’s Nativity story is different and, chronologically, irreconcilable with Luke’s Nativity story (how did I miss that?).
The membership of American Atheists Dot Org boasts some pretty impressive names so one can presume they’re not all stupid or intentionally dense, yet their craptastic billboards are a breathtaking exercise in missing the point.
It just goes to show that one can be smart yet have no imaginative, poetic sense of how narrative functions to tell ‘truth,’ convict, shape faith and elicit transformation.
It also goes to show, I’d wager in many of their cases, how destructive it can be to raise your kids in an idiot Christianity (Fundamentalism) that they then react against with their own version of black/white, overly rationalistic, idiot Fundamentalism.
American Atheists Dot Org brand of muckraking billboards never lets on that all of these supposed ‘secrets’ and ‘fairy tales’ have been known and accepted by the Church for centuries.
For the Church catholic these revelations are a snore and for that reason their billboards should provoke a pitying ‘there, there’ chuckle.
For example, Christians only began celebrating Christmas in the 4th century. Meaning: it’s possible to worship God-in-Christ without the nativity stories (Mark and John obviously thought so); therefore, none of these breathless ‘fairy tales’ drive the dagger into the heart of Christianity as AA imply.
Yes, Matthew and Luke tell different stories. That’s the freaking point. They tell the stories they do the way they do NOT because they’re attempting to construct the sort of biography AA apparently expects. They tell the stories the way they do to make a particular confession about who Jesus is.
Matthew tells his story through Joseph and by way of Egypt to profess that Jesus is the New Moses for a New Israel through whom God is working deliverance.
Luke tells his story the way he does to make the oldest of Christian claims: Jesus (ie, not Caesar) is Lord.
And yes, I know Luke and Matthew didn’t actually write those Gospels. They were attributed to them later in a honorific gesture. But guess what? St Augustine beat American Atheists Dot Org to that newsflash by about 1600 years.
What American Atheists Dot Org gets right is that there’s not much first century documentation about Jesus.
Which the Church has always known.
And never been bothered by.
Because the point isn’t that Jesus lived.
It’s that he’s alive.