Home > Media, Religion and Atheism > Expressing the Impact of a Secular Holiday

Expressing the Impact of a Secular Holiday

So, tell me, what is the meaning of the season, as a national holiday?

Where do atheists get meaning, without a god?

The same place everyone else does; we inherit some of it, and make the rest up as we go. Or coast along, if we’re lazy. Whatever works.

This video’s a good example. Another comes from my Christmas weekend.

We watched a handful of movies. Three in particular stood out: Avatar, Julie and Julia, and Choke. I found the same take-away message in all three, which might otherwise seem drastically different.

Let’s take a look at their individual emphasis first.

Avatar: look at the interconnected biosphere and the limited resources. The Na’vi talk about the flow of life; as Heinlein put it, TANSTAAFL. We don’t have a neural network biosphere, but at the very least, everything is a network of resources. The closer to the line of survival you live, the more obvious this becomes. Examine this from an emotional standpoint and in terms of relationships, and you have the heart of the movie.

Julie and Julia: Notice the conclusion that Julie saved her own life; Julia was an inspiration, but Julie made her own choices, took something she enjoyed and created meaning for herself. Personal transformation is difficult, but taking care of herself, rebooting her own life, led to an even stronger connection with her husband in the end, as well as a new career doing what she loves.

Choke: No gods or devils, just people. Stifling the ability to emotionally connect is damaging, but avoids risk. Rather than worrying about someone else’s ideal of love and life, you must take the leap and love the best you can, in whatever ways work for you. Unlike the rape lady, the connection does have to go both ways. If she wasn’t re-creating an experience over and over, in the same basic, narcissistic way as Victor and the other addicts, her sexual proclivities would be just fine. Lots of people have ravishment fantasies, she just had more props (a fine line from rape fantasies, but it’s definitely there.) Mistakes will be made, but since there is no goal per se, who cares? Well, you do. So keep working the process. This does require a difficult and painful level of internal honesty. And it helps to have friends to smack you when you need it. Okay, for support.

The take-away? Value relationships. From the small-scale to the large, the relationships you build are integral to the meaning you give your life. Beliefs are secondary; it’s your life, including those folks you let into it. So don’t be too hard on yourself, but make a stand when you need to.

To love yourself and to love others go hand in hand. Build your family. Practice your family.

And if you need to down some wine to make it work, go for it.

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