I fairly rarely indulge into exposing my own take on religion things at Seeds Aside. Not that it doesn’t matter in real-life. Usually, and probably one more time here, it is without much assertiveness or any sort of activism. Not that it doesn’t matter in real-life. Just that when I need to set things out, it is usually with people who haven’t really any agenda behind all that. I know, I’m lucky.
Recently, I read about why would atheist have any fest a special day of December, like not celebrating Christmas but rather some other great birthdays. I think that’s a good question. Though completely secular, Seeds Aside’s family does indeed have a fest on 25th of December. And actually, I also happen to think this could be a great secular occasion. But before I explain why, let me have a short introducing story…
When I was on national duty (a scientific service, I never had to handle anything closely related to any weapon, unless you consider shrimps are dangerous ones), I was sent in French Polynesia. (Setting). Some day, as I was wandering in the garden of my then family in law, kinda like I remember the coconut trees chilling in the wind, some Arecacea liana going to flower, Croton bushes firing their wonderful colours under a declining sun. You get it, some place and time when wandering also means you’re thinking as to how great life is, when you begin to reach a state of peace at the favour of a promising dusk, and you’re just busy getting absorbed by whatever your thoughts is drifting to. I’m getting to visuals because that’s mostly the way I experience life. But over there and near, there was a sweet melody. I didn’t notice it first. Kids were singing near me. Then I begun to hear what they were singing. This was actually a famous local song, and it was saying this:
I’m hungry I want to eat banana
I’m thirsty I want to drink coconut (milk)
Woman is beautiful
Woman needs caressing
It probably doesn’t escape you that these lyrics are heavily sexual in nature. The very fact that kids were singing this was troubling me. Then I realised that kids were keen on singing this song because it had some special effect on adults, so they were really singing this to tease people out there. They had no idea as to why some adults were grumpy after they sing this song over and over again. There was a teen right there, and she was unsure as to how to behave. On one hand, she was still enough of a kid to like the teasing effect and enjoy, on the other hand she sure was getting another picture too and was shying out.
This is my point: all around the world, traditional and modern cultures have their share of stories, experiences and milestones that makes young people to have an increased understanding of life (well there are also steps to come across later in life, but for sure humanity is mostly about getting into adulthood and has a lesser experience of greater ages). There’s some wisdom to get so that we fully get into adult life. This can take many shapes, and some are interesting. I like this one. I like the idea of having milestones across the various steps in my life, where I could reflect upon life experience on this earth. And these milestones can really be as secular and modern as can be. And Santa Claus is one I definitely plead for as a secular parent from a christian cultural background…
So here we are. I don’t remember transitioning from theist to atheist, things probably got slowly their way. They did. I begun to be suspicious of religion, then decided I don’t get much from it and could forget about it altogether. Was I then an atheist? well maybe. Or maybe it took me some more time to live without higher beings over my shoulder. Frankly I can’t really say when it happened that I was indeed a fulfilled atheist. But I do remember well when I knew it for sure. It happened that I came to remember how I was believing Santa Claus was bringing me wonderful presents if I were to be nice, how I grew up doubting it and eventually understanding my parents were wonderful and for–giving. Santa Claus is a powerful secular tool to help one realising that if you believe what people tell you without further evidence or without any hint of scepticism, you get deceived and then disappointed even if you love those very people much. This is a meaningful experience to me. It helped me outing as an atheist. And this is why my family is having christmases. (Well, I have to acknowledge that in English, Christmas is soundind much more a religious thing than it is in French).
Now, I must admit that it can have drawbacks. Very ironically, I had the feeling sweety daughter was rather “sort of late” about the Santa Claus milestone. To the point I even considered using the god metaphor to have her consider that SC isn’t for real after all (“you know about gods? Well it is the same for SC”). Say for irony!