Yule Switch Tracks - A Holiday Thread (that keeps giving)

Religious bigotry? From the man who mocks gently both Catholics and Protestants?
[citation needed] - and if I get a good one I will cheerfully admit to being wrong.

I’ve lived in ten places. Does that qualify as suspicious behaviour?

Right, because we’ re in some working-class suburb of Boston, and Catholicism and Protestantism are the only options :roll_eyes: Besides, I think his mocking of non-Christian religions is far from gentle. It’s more a laughing at than a laughing with.

Whenever I see this tired phrase, I interpret it as “See, he’s not overtly bigoted, and I wasn’t offended, so therefore your gut feelings, honed as a much-needed defense mechanism after decades as a marginalized individual, are invalid! Ha ha, got you!”

Well, anyway…


You’ll probably want to move those goalposts a little further, but calling UUs “a million arrogant and unlovable people”, and telling them “if you’re not in the club, then buzz off”, is hardly gentle ribbing. Then there’s that clunker of a line about “lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys”. Even ignoring the brush up against anti-Semitism there… he doesn’t like hearing non-denominational holiday songs in the malls, so he wants to hear religious songs instead? Also, if he wants to call a UU rewrite of “Silent Night” cultural elitism, pot meet kettle. This whole piece just rubs me the wrong way. It is not poking gentle fun, it’s arrogant cultural gatekeeping like he’s been doing all along on his show, only more blatant.


It is a bit confusing how he makes his argument, though, and he’s definitely being disingenuous.

That’s very generous and tolerant of him, but completely ignores how much pressure there is to fall in line and celebrate. I once spent most of the daylight hours of Winter Solstice answering the phone and telling various friends and family, Yes I have all my Christmas gifts bought. Yes I’m ready for Christmas. In fact, for me it’s today! You know, the solstice? The solstice I always take as a vacation day so I can celebrate it?

“Oh,” they said, confused. “But we’re seeing you at Christmas, right?”


It’s also a bit rich considering the syncretic-pagan nature of most Christian celebrations.

Eostre and Mithras? “Saint” Brigid?


Oh, haven’t I? :roll_eyes: How did I know you’d go there first?

I know Midwestern passive-aggressiveness. I grew up immersed in it. It’s my native language. In Midwesternese, that quote is an open-handed slap.

Sure, he didn’t literally refer to UUs as “a million arrogant and unlovable people”, but he sure as hell implied it. He’s basically giving examples of Emerson’s teachings that lead people astray, and then says “to be great is to be misunderstood” makes arrogant and unlovable people feel good about themselves. He heavily implies that these teachings are things Unitarians believe, presumably for these reasons.

Not a mistranslation, but a song, to the tune of “Stille Nacht”, only about silence and nights. That’s not my thing, but singing about silence and nights is a lot more my thing than singing about Jayyyyyzus. Besides, I don’t interpret this as a desecration of a classic song, or a suppression of something that everybody knows exists*, but as a nod to that song, building off it on a different theme.

*oh noes, my childhood is ruined, just like it was when they made that all-female Ghostbusters reboot :wink:

And just to clarify, this is what I meant by cultural gatekeeping. He’s saying, “no, this is ours and nobody else can have it!” To me, that sentiment is unnecessary. Al the UUs in the world can write different versions of “Stille Nacht” about different things, and I don’t have to know or care. More power to them. They’re not taking anything away from me by doing their own thing, and I don’t feel the need to protect a 200-year-old tune that’s in the public domain.

They aren’t doing that though.

He does not have a point. “Jewish guys” don’t typically write songs about Christmas as a religious celebration. Maybe Mendelssohn did, but he’s clearly not talking about Mendelssohn. He’s talking about the likes of Irving Berlin, who wrote “White Christmas” without once mentioning Jayyyyyzus. How dare he? :wink: Also Johnny Marks, who wrote “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, and “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas”, all without mentioning You-Know-Who. And, “The Christmas Song”, which has Christmas in its title but isn’t about Christmas at all, written by Robert Levinson and Mel Torme, both Jewish. These songs were all obliquely mentioned in his paragraph about the Jewish guys. It is dead obvious that he’s bitching and moaning about the secularization of Christmas, which again is a stupid ass thing to be complaining about. If people don’t want to celebrate Christmas by sitting in church and trying not to fart, I can’t say I blame them or that I want to deny them their celebration.

Also, they couldn’t well sing songs about Hanukkah, or even the secular celebration thereof, because maybe a couple percent of this country is Jewish. They couldn’t even really sing about the generic “holidays”, because we can’t even do that now in this fucked-up country with all the nontroversy about a “war on Christmas”. By the way, this was back in the day when everyone in showbiz had to pretend to be a WASP for whatever reason. So, they often wrote songs about “Christmas” that had nothing to do with the religious holiday.

It’s also a little scary that he knew all those songs were written by Jewish guys. Irving Berlin I understand, and those of a certain age remember Mel Torme as the originator of “The Christmas Song”, but knowing who Johnny Marks was or that he was Jewish? People know that off-hand? I know who Johnny Marks was because I’m a music nerd with a weird memory, but I had to Google to confirm he was Jewish.

As I thought you might.

No it isn’t.

My gut feeling is my gut feeling. I don’t need to cite jack shit to back that up. Instead of asking me “why do you feel that way?”, you came across as telling me I needed to prove my feelings are valid. Like I need that.

Not surprisingly at all, you acted exactly as I predicted. Anything other than him saying “kill all the Jews” would be considered a weak argument, and if he did say “kill all the Jews” it would just have been a joke that didn’t land, haha, haven’t you ever whiffed on a joke, lighten up, etc. I can’t win. I’d say I shouldn’t have to win, because this is a discussion and not a rousing game of My Data Can Beat Up Your Data™.

My line in the sand is that tolerating other people’s right to exist but not seeing or treating them as equals is bigotry. He’s a cultural gatekeeper butthurt about the secularization of Christmas and disdainful toward non-Christians usurping “his” holiday. I think I’ve made that pretty clear. In other words, his position seems to be that we shouldn’t include non-Christians in holiday celebrations, whether they adapt our traditions (and music) for their own or whether they actually do write their own songs. This, combined with laughing at non-Christians while laughing with various Christian denominations, is bigotry, but the oh-so-clever Midwestern passive-aggressive bigotry I grew up surrounded by.


B…b…b…but… Christmas is a secular holiday, isn’t it?

except when it’s legally convenient for it not to be


Secular as in swiped from the old pagans, like Hallowe’en was?

Sure. But for Hallowe’en you can turn out all the lights and go to bed early. Leave a bag of candy on the front porch if you’re worried about the house getting egged, or give candy to a neighbour to hand out and put a note on your door saying so.

You can’t do that for Christmas, because all the loud annoying stuff happens in public, well beforehand.


What’s funny is that Halloween is the only holiday I can think of that nowadays seems to approach the public ubiquity of Xmas in the States. I mean, when I was a kid, the vast majority of households that celebrated Halloween at all made do with one or two carved jack o’lanterns on the day, and costumes dreamt up and thrown together that afternoon. Now the whole month of October is taken up with sales and events. The Spirit stores start popping up immediately after the back-to-school sales have ended in mid-September. Knott’s Berry Farm started holding its annual Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween thing in 1973, for three nights. Now, 44 years later, it takes up the whole month. You have to be nearly as much of a hermit to avoid any Halloween stuff as you do to avoid Xmas.

I’m lucky that I thoroughly enjoy both.


For certain values of humorous.

So you’re saying you’re willing to tolerate lesser forms of religious intolerance because greater forms exist? Agree to disagree.

[citation needed]

I’m not convinced of my own rightness at all. I just believe that my perspective has merit, that’s all. Not that it’s right or wrong, just that it’s not complete bullshit.

I don’t consider you a bigot or an enabler of bigots, just someone who is not willing to listen. That’s why I’m angry. I’m trying to have a normal conversation, and you’re trying to play Intellectual Smackdown™. It’s exasperating, not to mention unnecessary. I hope you’re not like this in real life.

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Christ - if he existed at all - was allegedly born in August. Saturnalia is basically what folks basically celebrate now, only with New-Testament Christian overtones.

And Jesus was of Hebrew ancestry (if he existed), correct?

So , Christians should be the ones that “should leave Christmas alone”. Or something like that.


I especially love “Celebrate Yule instead”…well, that’s pretty much what Christmas is, especially here in the Midwest. According to the Christians, not according to others.


I have deleted my posts on this thread. There’s enough evidence of what was being objected to and I generally stand by my remarks but I accept that in the circumstances they were unhelpful.

As for @LearnedCoward’s comments about what I am like in private life, we are most unlikely to meet. Quite simply I could not get medical insurance for the US, and even if I could, I suspect I am unlikely to be admitted.
But no, I’m pretty sure he would dislike me intensely.

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Yep. August, 6 BCE.

That’s right, Jesus Christ was born Before Christ

One more lousy Saturnalia tradition started by Jewish guys, amirite ? :wink:


Isn’t that a contradiction in terms (holiday = “holy day”)?


Maybe at one time it would be, but I think that particular etymology ship has sailed…


However…your reply is in my email, and I can read it. None of it seemed untoward or biased, that I could see. It actually kind of makes sense to me.


If everybody could disagree with ideas and positions rather than critiquing each other as people that would be great :wink:

“you misunderstand,” “i knew you would say that,” all that kind of crap


Very interesting about this man, but posting here because his association with “A Christmas Carol”, the 1938 film; Oakland University and Meadowbrook are places I’ve been during his tenure there:


And he’s STILL alive!