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Author Topic: Dominant Cultural hegemony
Everard
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On another thread, I said that

"Christians aren't oppressing people, but christians in this country have been so dominant, for so long, that they don't realize how they impose their religion on other people. christians are the dominant culture in this country, and that means they get a lot of benefits that they don't have to think about, while the rest of us get penalized on a regular basis, not because people are trying to oppress us, but because we're a significant cultural minority."

This phenomenon is generally known as Dominant Culture Hegemony. In any given culture, certain sub-cultures are prevalent to such a degree, that they create a priveleged class for those who belong to the dominant culture. Just as a small example on the religious question, despite what it sometimes appears from the news, the vast VAST majority of public school teachers in this country are christian. If you send your children to a public school, they will learn about the dominant culture in the united states, not because the teacher will TEACH christianity, but because its fundamental to any gathering of students in this country, and the liklihood is that the teacher is christian. Your children will, mostly by osmosis, learn a lot of christian philosophy simply by attending public school. This is true of over 95% of school systems in the country. If I am hindu, my child will NOT learn nearly as much about his own religion, as he will about christianity. Again, not because teachers are sitting down and saying "Today we will learn how Jesus died on the cross for our sins..." but because christianity permeates schools to such a degree it is unavoidable.

Or, alternatively, in almost every town in the united states, there are christmas trees going up in the malls. Television is full of adverstisements for christmas. These ads, the malls, utilize christian symbology, and ASSUME that everyone watching or visitng knows exactly what the symbology is. If you don't know the symbology, you won't understand the symbology. Christianity permeates our culture to such a degree, that advertisers don't have to create additional ads to target non-christians. Essentially, an entire 2 months of the year is devoted to advertising solely to christians. This may not FEEL like a benefit, but it gives a slew of advantages to christians, in minor ways.

This isn't oppression. Its simple dominant culture hegemony. The culture is centered around christianity, because 90%+ of the people in this country, are christians.

This is a slightly different example, but think about it for just a few minutes. Its rather profound, I think.

A black person grows up, graduates college, gets a job, etc. He's successful in his career, marries, and has two kids. He looks to move out of the city where he grew up, out into the suburbs. When he moves in, he will be at a severe disadvantage compared to a white person moving into the same home, because the probability is HEAVILY weighted towards him receiving a less positive initial reaction then a white person would. That creates a lot of disadvantages for him, and his family.

[ November 26, 2004, 10:14 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Paladine
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Well, it's certainly an interesting postulation. More than any other religion though (with the possible exception of the related Jewish faith), Christians come in all shapes and sizes and have widely divergent views on "philosophy". This isn't to say that variation doesn't exist in other religions, it certainly does.

A lot of people who are nominally Christian are completely ignorant of their religion. Most school teachers, while nominally Christian, are also political liberals. This is, in my view, a much stronger factor in determining their prejudices. Whatever small permeations might be facilitated by their religion, an opposing (and I dare postulate overriding) influence is present in that history is taught from a politically anti-religious perspective.

The Catholic Church in particular is unfairly maligned in history textbooks. Christianity is often portrayed as almost exclusively a destructive force. The Establishment Clause is blown entirely out of proportion by teachers, textbooks, and courts alike.

Similarly, the "Christian" advertising that takes place around the holidays has virtually nothing to do with the actual religion. It's nothing more than companies plugging their products. Christ long ago, much to my chagrin, ceased to be a part of this culture's commercial "Christmas". The Holiday Seasons are mostly a celebration of Macy's and the Mall.

Christianity, in its current American context, with respect to the public sector, is essentially empty symbolism. The holidays are little more than excuses for shopping sprees. There is a cultural hegemony, but it's certainly not a religious one.

America's dominant culture is Western European in character, and brings with that the trappings of the Christian faith. Ironically, *true* Christians are the group most frequently targeted by the Courts and school board administrations.

If teachers teach about Islam, they are expected to teach that Islam is a religion of peace. They are expected to teach that while Europe was in the Dark Ages, the Muslim world was a center for education and civilization. They aren't supposed to teach about the brutality visited on women and homosexuals, or the fact that the culture has done little save degenerate in the past few centuries. If they do touch on this subject, they need to blame it all on the British. They're not taught about honor killings. If they are, it's with the caveat that we really can't judge someone else's culture. They're supposed to accentuate the positive and misattribute or downplay the negative.

The opposite is true when Christianity is taught. I remember hearing in detail about the brutalities of the Crusades, the horrors of the Inquizitions, the atrocities committed by Protestant against Catholic and Catholic against Protestant, the resistence to science. Anything good about Christianity was minimized and attributed to something else. For example, most of the Founding Fathers weren't Christian, they were all deists, and that was mostly because it was unacceptable to be atheists at the time. The Church did preserve classical learning throughout the Middle Ages, but this was only a good thing because it produced the vaunted Enlightenment, which supplanted the mythical and oppressive religious view of science and history. The Church might be the biggest charitable organization on the planet, but they're responsible for tens of millions of deaths because they won't give out condoms in Africa. The positive must be minimalized lest we appear unfair, and the negative must be accentuated.

And round and round we go. This is vehemently anti-Christian brainwashing, and it's written into the curriculum of our public schools. Having graduated from one only two years ago, I remember all of that vividly. Any soft, unintentional "bias" is utterly decimated by the conscious portrayal of history with Christianty and the West as a whole as the oppressors of the world.

Ev would be right in the example she gave about a black person moving into a white community *if the white people were unaware or accepting of their bias*. For better or worse though, people are both aware and unaccepting of the "Christian hegemony" that they go entirely too far *in the opposite direction*, ostensibly in an attempt to be impartial.

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Zyne
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Right. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if Christmas were not a public school holiday. I don't see any particular reason why any break should be scheduled around that day, and some reasons why it should be delayed to further into winter, where the weather tends to be worse and colder.

The kinds of assumptions you speak of are the ones that make school grading and testing unfair to anyone outside of the dominant group. It's not due to any particular nefarious intent on behalf of the WASP writing the test--while there is plenty of bad discrimination left in America, people in power tend to not intend to be that way--but because the writer is, in fact, WASP, or immersed in the dominant culture.

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TomDavidson
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"More than any other religion though (with the possible exception of the related Jewish faith), Christians come in all shapes and sizes and have widely divergent views on 'philosophy.'"

No one familiar with the Hindu or Buddhist faiths could say this. [Smile]

"Christianity, in its current American context, with respect to the public sector, is essentially empty symbolism. The holidays are little more than excuses for shopping sprees. There is a cultural hegemony, but it's certainly not a religious one."

Those of us who already disbelieve in Christianity would argue that it is not necessary for a religious hegemony to be accurate or truthful in order for it to be religious. [Smile] If you think most religion is already empty symbolism, it is hardly a consolation to be told that the cultural hegemony that surrounds you is merely empty symbolism, and not anything genuinely meaningful.

"Any soft, unintentional 'bias' is utterly decimated by the conscious portrayal of history with Christianty and the West as a whole as the oppressors of the world."

I would dispute this. If it were in fact utterly decimated, I think you'd see a lot fewer Christians in this country. And yet we do not. Perhaps "utterly decimate" would be an overstatement.

[ November 26, 2004, 11:49 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Pete at Home
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Dunno, Tom. Mormons built the town that Vegas took over; we hardly can be said to have a cultural hegemony in Vegas anymore (you may have noticed, but our numbers continue to grow, slowly but surely.

Yes, if the empty cultural trappings were suddenly taken away, many Christians who relied on them might drop away. But Christianity, did, can, and still does thrive as a minority religion in many parts of the world.

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Zyne
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quote:
A lot of people who are nominally Christian are completely ignorant of their religion. Most school teachers, while nominally Christian, are also political liberals.
Some things just go together like turkey and butter... I submit that, those who say they are of a faith, are, in fact, of that faith, and that you're confusing the link between being politically liberal and being educated--the vast majority of teachers having bachelors' degrees, many with some graduate work or graduate degrees--, with the spurious correlation of being liberal and being a teacher.

Macy's and the Mall (gonna have to use this for a crappy band name sometime) may be materialistic, by your standards, but their workers and owners are predominately Christian, by their.

Paladine, educate me. What honor killings do you have in mind that they're not teaching--the ones where you fly into buildings, or the ones where you set the women on fire? Or are you trying to say that such actors are representative of mainstream Muslim culture?

quote:
I remember hearing in detail about the brutalities of the Crusades, the horrors of the Inquizitions, the atrocities committed by Protestant against Catholic and Catholic against Protestant, the resistence to science.
But that was all true, every word of it, brutal and shocking as it was. And is all true: The Ps and Cs are still fighting it out in several places, while innumerable Americans and others resist science.
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TomDavidson
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"But Christianity, did, can, and still does thrive as a minority religion in many parts of the world."

Are you suggesting, Pete, that religions which survive as minority religions in parts of the world in which they are not dominant must contain religious truth? [Smile]

When I refer to cultural trappings, I do not necessarily refer exclusively to the predominant cultural trappings of the majority culture. *grin* All religions have cultural touchstones; this is, in fact, one of the biggest reasons why atheists consider it self-evident that atheism is not a religion.

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Paladine
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Zyne-

You're confusing being educated with having an advanced degree. I've no advanced degree (just graduated HS), and yet would (not so humbly) submit that I'm better educated than many who possess them. One shouldn't allow his schooling to interfere with his education. Also, the liberal-teacher correlation is at least as connected to the liberal-unionized worker correlation as it is to the liberal-educated one. A majority of "uneducated" people like myself, possessing only a high school degree, voted for John Kerry. Beat that one over the head with a stick.

I have in mind the killings where they murder women for not being virgins before marriage in order to maintain family "honor". This is sadly representative of a large section of the Muslim world. My point wasn't to slam Islam, or to deny that Protestants and Catholics fight it out. My point was to demonstrate that the positives of other religions are brought forth in the curriculum, and the negatives minimized whereas the opposite is true for Christianity.

A fair accounting of history isn't given in the public education system. It's taught largely from a decidedly anti-Christian, anti-Western perspective.

Commercialism and Christianity might not be diametrically opposed, but they certainly are different animals entirely. Holidays today are commercialized to the point where their real cultural importance becomes not religious: "I really can't wait for the Christmas Mass!", but commercial: "I wonder what I'm getting this year. And what am I buying for Mom?!?!"

[ November 27, 2004, 12:24 AM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

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Zyne
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quote:
... the liberal-teacher correlation is at least as connected to the liberal-unionized worker correlation as it is to the liberal-educated one.
Source?

quote:
I have in mind the killings where they murder women for not being virgins before marriage in order to maintain family "honor". This is sadly representative of a large section of the Muslim world.
Source?
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TomDavidson
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"Holidays today are commercialized to the point where their real cultural importance becomes not religious..."

I would submit that almost all cultural elements of religion are in fact important not for religion but for culture. [Smile]

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Danzig
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Christians have no right to complain about their holidays being stolen. They stole them all from the pagans anyway.

quote:
Most school teachers, while nominally Christian, are also political liberals.
Priceless. You are aware that the early church members were basically practicing communists, right?
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Paladine
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Danzig-

You have a remarkable penchant for the utterly incoherent and irrelevent. No one was complaning about anything. Please try reading what I write, it'll go a long way. All I said was that Christian "holidays" have become essentially commercial holidays.

-------------------------------------------------

Zyne-

Pick one. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=Islamic+Honor+Killings

I'm sure if you put the search in a bit differently, "Muslim honor killings" or something of the sort you'll wind up with a bunch more.

I don't have the teacher study on hand, but something like 85% of teachers identified themselves as liberals. That number's a lot closer to the number of unionized workers so identifying themselves than it is to the number of college graduates with similar political views. If you really think anything approaching 80-85% of college grads are liberals, I've got a bridge for you.....

It's a simple matter of self-interest for teachers. Democrats and the teachers unions are allied, and the teachers are a part of the union. This creates an institutional bias.

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TomDavidson
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"All I said was that Christian 'holidays' have become essentially commercial holidays."

Your point, however, was to argue that they are in some way therefore less "Christian" -- that once a holiday becomes commercialized, it ceases to carry religious meaning. I believe the other posters in this thread are disagreeing with you.

"It's a simple matter of self-interest for teachers."

I think this is needlessly cynical. While most teachers self-identify as liberal, I suspect this is because traits that we consider liberal are also traits required of most teachers, and therefore someone likely to be interested in a teaching career is also likely to hold values and possess attributes that would bias them towards a liberal worldview.

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Everard
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Paladine-
Every single one of the students in my teacher education program voted for Kerry, and thinks Bush is scum. Its not that teachers are liberal because they belong to a union. Teachers are liberal because its a profession that attracts people who are liberals.

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Everard
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"Well, it's certainly an interesting postulation. "

Its not a postulation. Its fact. Go out, hunt around, and find how many communities there are where christians are NOT given a higher initial positive reaction then people of other faiths, on average. Then find how many there are where christians are reacted to more positively. The ration will be about 1/50.

Find how many public schools where children are not expected to have familiarity with christianity, vs how many where they are.

Find how many people have a house of worship for their faith outside of a 2 mile radius. The vast majority of them will be non-christian. Many more non-christians end up in a house or worship that is non-ideal, compared to the number of christians.

Vouchers is another great example... if I want to send my kid to a religious private school, the significant liklihood is that, unless I am christian, I won't have one within an easy commute. The assumption is made by the government that anyone who wants to find a private school can find one. THis is only the case if you are christian.

Many hospitals in this country are christian, very few are jewish, and there MIGHT be one or two that are islamic. How many are buddhist or hindu?

Ever been invited to a company kwanzaa party, or given a passover bonus, or had a company wide shortening of work hours for ramadan? When I needed yom kippur and rosh hashanah off at Whole Foods, it was a big deal for my boss. Christmas, on the other hand, the store was closed.

Visiting family for holidays is usually tricky... unless you are christian.

etc.

Dominant culture hegemony isn't just an "interesting postulate." Its a simple fact of how sub-cultures interact within a culture.

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Delirium Tremens
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quote:
Or, alternatively, in almost every town in the united states, there are christmas trees going up in the malls.
Ev, you seem to assume that the christmas tree is a christian symbol, which is not necessarily true.

As an atheist, I am happy that the ancient Feast of Yule is becoming very popular in the US as well... [Razz]

[ November 27, 2004, 11:12 AM: Message edited by: Delirium Tremens ]

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Zyne
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Paladine, you've alot to learn about what a "fact" is. We won't do your work for you, especially for something as demonstrably false as your position that the "murder [of] women for not being virgins before marriage in order to maintain family 'honor'.... is [] representative of a large section of the Muslim world." It's also racist and ignorant, so put up where you got that particular factoid or withdraw.
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sakredfire
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From what I gather from these articles, honor killings stem from pre-Islamic tribal practices amongst Arab tribes rather than Islam itself (Hammurabi, an eye for an eye, etc.) A big part of Islam is self-accountability before God, which in itself would make honor killings an un-Islamic practice. Sure, the practice may have spread to non-Arab Muslims by being percieved as part and parcel of Muslim doctrine, but that's like saying Hinduism condones dehumanization of <i>Sudras</i> (Flip through the <i>Mahabharata</i> and you'll see that this isn't true, even in times before Christ) or that Christianity condones the murder of heretics and so-called "witches." (Inquisition, Salem...)
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Doug64
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quote:
Find how many people have a house of worship for their faith outside of a 2 mile radius. The vast majority of them will be non-christian. Many more non-christians end up in a house or worship that is non-ideal, compared to the number of christians.

Vouchers is another great example... if I want to send my kid to a religious private school, the significant liklihood is that, unless I am christian, I won't have one within an easy commute. The assumption is made by the government that anyone who wants to find a private school can find one. THis is only the case if you are christian.

Everard, your examples are simply the result of the effect of being a small group spread throughout society. Any group that gathers in one place isn't going to have any problem dominating the local culture, no matter how few they may be compared to the rest of the mation.

And AFAIK the assumption by the government isn't that private schools exist to meet the needs of vouchered students, but that the demand created by the existence of the vouchers will cause the supply to be created, including for minority groups that have enough students in one place to have a school of their own.

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Everard
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"Everard, your examples are simply the result of the effect of being a small group spread throughout society."

Exactly. A small group spread throughout society faces significant disadvantages compared to the dominant culture.

"Any group that gathers in one place isn't going to have any problem dominating the local culture, no matter how few they may be compared to the rest of the mation."

Not always true. While certain aspects of the local culture may be dominated by a group that is a minority in the nation, others won't be. Also, think what this means. In order to have your culture be partially dominant, if you belong to a small group, huge portions of your culture must gather in one place... meaning that everywhere else, there are now fewer of those people, and the dominant culture will completely dominate the minority culture in the rest of the nation, meaning that the dominant culture has to make fewer "sacrifices" to meet the needs of the minority culture. This sort of insulation almost always tends to result in the further withdrawal of the minority culture into itself, so that the dominant culture either hates and fears it, or ceases to remember it exists.

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noah
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Everard - for example, early Mormons? They had some pretty rough times before being more or less accepted by society. And even now, Utah is heavily Mormon, while the rest of America is much less so.
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The Drake
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You're describing inevitable favoritism due to familiarity with Christianity. But,if you're immersed in the culture, you know all about Christian symbology by proxy. You point this out in your example of teachers subliminally advertising Christ. So you can't be at a cultural disadvantage.

I fail to see any benefits or advantages, apart from maybe feeling more accepted. Not very tangible. And unless you are a Sikh or an Orthodox Jew, nobody can tell what religion you are when you move into a new neighborhood. So I don't think you're comparison to a black family moving into a white neighborhood (suburban or otherwise) is relevant.

I was, however, surprised to hear that there was any issue getting time off - religious holiday or not. Presumably you give notice well in advance, unless you're not allowed to have time off. This is why most businesses have issued "floating" holidays to be used as wildcards for whatever subculture you happen to be from.

The only concession that I would make, is that it may be more difficult to practice your subculture religion, especially one that has dietary restrictions.

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TomDavidson
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"I fail to see any benefits or advantages, apart from maybe feeling more accepted."

Let me guess. You're a Christian. [Smile]

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The Drake
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Raised as one, now I'm an atheist. I'm not sure what that says about my status with respect to the cultural hegemony [Smile]

But I certainly haven't felt oppressed or disadvantaged as an atheist, although I recognize that I've lived in larger metropolitan areas that are more diverse than other areas. I go through the motions when I go to church weddings, and that's about the only time when anybody that I socialize or work with ever talk about personal religion.

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TomDavidson
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"I recognize that I've lived in larger metropolitan areas that are more diverse than other areas."

*nod* As an agnostic who lived in rural Indiana, let me assure you that it's different in the sticks. [Smile]

Seriously, I'm much happier in cities, and that's one of the reasons.

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The Drake
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BTW, I loved the two google ads that just came up for me on this page. "Christianity Run Amok" and "Looking for a church?" I guess Google has got it covered no matter which side of the discussion you might be on [Wink]
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stayne
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Zyne:

quote:
Right. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if Christmas were not a public school holiday. I don't see any particular reason why any break should be scheduled around that day, and some reasons why it should be delayed to further into winter, where the weather tends to be worse and colder.
It's history, plain and simple. IIRC, what we call Christmas has pretty much nothing to do with the actual date Christ was born. Again, IIRC, Christ was supposed to have actually been born around October, because the shephards were still in the fields, or some such.

As I understand it, Christmas was arbitrary created by Constantine(?) when they decided Rome was a Christain nation. They already had a pagan winter celebration, and they slapped a new name and rationale on it.

As for the reason? I always presumed it was because even the ancients knew about Seasonal Affective Disorder, and so they wanted a big ass party for people to look forward to, as the days grew shorter and people worried about surviving the winter, etc. Sheer speculation, but I figure some guy took a notion to spend a crapload of money and get really drunk because he was bummed out and figured he wouldn't survive the winter anyway. It's not a bad idea, either.

I'd also suspect that people had a tendency to turn to some pretty nasty behavior as depression and fear set in, so it was damned useful to make that time of year a time for 'peace on earth and good will toward all men', to counterract such things.

Thing is, it seems to work, and people like it. IMO, only freaky religeous fanatics get hung up on names and rationales. Believe me, having been raised as a Jehova's Witness, I know _all about_ freaky religeous people getting hung up over minor stuff. I never got to have Christmas or Halloween or even birthdays as a kid, and it sucked.

Halloween and Christmas and birthdays are fun. And life sucks a lot of the time. In the end, that's the reason, I think. And I think it's as good as any.

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Paladine
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Zyne-

Honor killings don't happen, and aren't a widespread practice in the Middle East? That Google Search link I provided had plenty of examples that seemed pretty factual to me.

It's not racist to point out that atrocities are committed by people of all religions, certainly including Muslims, to this day. *Your* ignorance of this fact does not make *me* a racist for pointing it out. When I pointed out the Inquisition and Protestant vs. Catholic problems, you said "But that was all true, every word of it, brutal and shocking as it was. And is all true"

Well, this is true too, and truth is always a fair defense. I'm not asking you to "do my work for me", I'm asking you to educate yourself a little before you spout off comments accusing someone of racism and (very ironically) ignorance because they cite practices with which you may not be familiar. If you don't care to follow the link or do a bit of research, that's fine too. I haven't the time or inclination to do a presenatation paper on the bloody stuff for your benefit.

I do find it extremely interesting that liberals who defend so vehemently women's and homosexual benefits here turn an astonishingly blind eye to the violation of actual basic human rights of those same groups in the wider world, writing them off as "culutural differences" and branding anyone who doesn't do the same as a racist. Either we hold these truths to be self evident or we don't; it doesn't end at the borders.

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Paladine
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But here, for your edification, from the Brandeis University: Deparment of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Feminist Sexual Ethics Project Website:

"Intimate violence against women is a worldwide crisis. From “crimes of passion” to “dowry deaths,” not to mention domestic violence, many types of aggression against women occur at the hands of family members. The so-called “honor killing” of women and girls in some Muslim nations is one horrifying manifestation of this global phenomenon.

These killings, which occur with shocking regularity in certain parts of the Middle East and South Asia, target women whose actions—actual or suspected—violate the honor of their families, an honor that is thought to depend on the sexual purity of its female members. Anything from speaking with an unrelated man, to rumored pre-marital loss of virginity, to an extra-marital affair can be cause for an attack, often carried out by a father or brother. In some especially tragic instances, even women and girls who have been raped are slain to remove the stain from the family honor. As with other forms of intimate violence against women, perpetrators are seldom punished."

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Everard
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I think the question is whether or not honor killings occur in a majority of the islamic world. They certainly don't occur amongst muslim populations in europe and north america, but I'm not sure the extent they occur in the middle east. Zyne needed to phrase her question better, I think.
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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
Find how many public schools where children are not expected to have familiarity with christianity, vs how many where they are.
I don't believe I was expected to have any familiarity with christianity in my school. There may have been people who assumed...but there certainly wasn't any class requirement. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by this comment but it wasn't like being expected to know my times tables in middle school math class.

I actually was taught more in school about how Halloween became a holiday than Christmas. Must be that dang pagan hegemony. [Wink]

We even had a regular parade where the kids were forced to march out in front of the school in costumes while parents took pictures. At least for the Christmas holidays we weren't forced to do anything. [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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"But here, for your edification, from the Brandeis University: Deparment of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Feminist Sexual Ethics Project Website..."

Out of interest, do you think the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis is likely to be liberal? If so, why do you think they aren't ignoring this issue the way you think the other liberals do?

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Paladine
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Ev-

Zyne didn't ask a question. I guess that's the problem I have. She nastily and condescendingly dismissed what I said as being ignorant and racist without any consideration whatsoever, adding that I had to learn what a "fact" was. I never said that it occurred in a majority of the Muslim world, I said it occurred in a large segment of it, and that's simply a matter of fact. I'd appreciate an apology and retraction from her.

Honor killings do not occur in North America or Western Europe to nearly the extent they do and historically have in the Middle East. This is all a peripheral issue, however.

As to your main point about "dominant cultural hegemony", it isn't a "fact"; it's a trend. When speaking of trends in societies, it's difficult if not impossible to speak of "facts". For the most part, the majority culture secures benefits unto itself at the expense of minority cultural groups.

That said, there are cases in which a minority imposes its views on a majority. South Africa under apartheid is an excellent example, where a small but powerful white minority secured for itself great benefits to the detriment of the majority. Indeed the idea that a majority imposes its will is a fundamentally democratic idea.

A better generalization would be that most often *those with power* (sometimes in the majority, sometimes in the minority) impose their culture and values on those without power. I'll also agree that American culture and historical tradition are replete with the trappings of Christianity.

This is different from saying that the acutal *religious substance* of Christianity is, as a matter of course, imposed on Americans today in schools and in the workplace. Yes, offices have Christmas parties, but these for the most part have little to do with the birth of Christ. Yes, schools have Easter Egg hunts, but more people associate Easter with the Easter Bunny than the ressurection of Jesus.

If you look at the "Christian" holidays as they're celebrated in public contexts, they rarely if ever have anything to do with the actual religion. They're popular culture holidays that retain their religious names.

-------------------------------------------------

Tom-

Yes, I think the Project is likely to be liberal. If I had to venture a guess as to why they're not ignoring these issues in the Middle East.....I'd have to say it's probably because they're a subsidiary of the Deparment of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Just a guess.

[ November 29, 2004, 01:22 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

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ATW
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Christmas isn't a christian holiday.

In Calvin's Geneva you could have been fined or imprisoned for celebrating Christmas.

The English Parliament in 1644 passed an act forbidding the observance of Christmas, calling it a heathen holiday.

In an appendix to their "Directory for the Public Worship of God" the Westminster divines said: "There is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord's day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly called 'Holy-days', having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued."

When the Puritans came to America they passed similar laws.

Around 1660 the General Court of Massachusetts decreed punishment for those who kept the season: "...anyone who is found observing, by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way, any such days as Christmas Day, shall pay for every such offense five shillings."

It was not until the 19th century that Christmas had any religious significance in Protestant churches.

As late as 1899 the General Assembly of Southern Presbyterian churches declared: "There is no warrant in Scripture for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holydays, rather the contrary (see Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed faith, conducive to will-worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

John Knox and his colleagues included the following statement in their First Book of Discipline (1560): By contrary Doctrine, we understand whatsoever men, by Laws, Councils, or Constitutions have imposed upon the consciences of men, without the expressed commandment of God's word: such as be vows of chastity, foreswearing of marriage, binding of men and women to several and disguised apparels, to the superstitious observation of fasting days, difference of meat for conscience sake, prayer for the dead; and keeping of holy days of certain Saints commanded by men, such as be all those that the Papists have invented, as the Feasts (as they term them) of Apostles, Martyrs, Virgins, of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Purification, and other fond feasts of our Lady. Which things, because in God's scriptures they neither have commandment nor assurance, we judge them utterly to be abolished from this Realm; affirming further, that the obstinate maintainers and teachers of such abominations ought not to escape the punishment of the Civil Magistrate.

====

Where did Christmas come from?

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm

From the Catholic Encyclopedia : "The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date."


The date for Christmas placed on the winter solstice which was a common pagan holiday (under many names Saturnalia, Yule, etc.) (IIRC, when the calendar was corrected, the date of Christmas moved was moved from the solstice.)

Of particular interest to me is Saturnalia (which has babylonian origins) celebrating Ishtar, the queen of heaven, giving birth to her son Tammuz. Remembering the promise of a rebirth tied to the winter solstice event is common among many non-christian religions. Both mother and child were worshipped reminiscent of how the catholics treat Mary and Jesus. Ishtar was worshiped in groves of trees.


The traditional Yule log is of Germanic non-christian derivation as is the Christmas tree. (Many sources from the Babylon tree worship to the Roman's Dionysius (sp?) often being pictured with an evergreen to the Germanic Yule trees.)

Decorating the tree? Very ancient.

Jeremiah 10:2-4
2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.


The dangling ornaments for the Christmas tree were originally of scandanavian origin. They tied small sacrifices of food to the branches of their sacred trees.

Giving gifts was part of the festival of Saturnalia.

http://www.shambhala.org/arts/fest/unconquered.html

In the northern latitudes, midwinter's day has been an important time for celebration throughout the ages. On this shortest day of the year, the sun is at its lowest and weakest, a pivot point from which the light will grow stronger and brighter. This is the turning point of the year. The romans called it Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.

The Roman midwinter holiday, Saturnalia, was both a gigantic fair and a festival of the home. Riotous merry-making took place, and the halls of houses were decked with boughs of laurel and evergreen trees. Lamps were kept burning to ward off the spirits of darkness. Schools were closed, the army rested, and no criminals were executed. Friends visited one another, bringing good-luck gifts of fruit, cakes, candles, dolls, jewellery, and incense. Temples were decorated with evergreens symbolizing life's continuity,
In pagan Scandinavia the winter festival was the yule (or juul). Great yule logs were burned, and people drank mead around the bonfires listening to minstrel-poets singing ancient legends. It was believed that the yule log had the magical effect of helping the sun to shine more brightly.

Mistletoe, which was sacred because it mysteriously grew on the most sacred tree, the oak, was ceremoniously cut and a spray given to each family, to be hung in the doorways as good luck. The celtic Druids also regarded mistletoe as sacred. Druid priests cut it from the tree on which it grew with a golden sickle and handed it to the people, calling it All-Heal. To hang it over a doorway or in a room was to offer goodwill to visitors. Kissing under the mistletoe was a pledge of friendship. Mistletoe is still forbidden in most Christian churches because of its Pagan associations, but it has continued to have a special place in home celebrations.


=========

The observance of Christmas as a religious holiday is catholic rather than Christian.

The imagery of Christmas is pagan.

The practice of it is pure commercialism.

The Dominant Culture Hegemony may be Christian, but Christmas is a poor excuse for an argument in favor of that.

"Christianity permeates our culture to such a degree, that advertisers don't have to create additional ads to target non-christians. Essentially, an entire 2 months of the year is devoted to advertising solely to christians. This may not FEEL like a benefit, but it gives a slew of advantages to christians, in minor ways."


Christmas isn't aimed at Christians. Even the catholics who tried to tie Christ's birth to a pre-existing holiday admit Christmas was aimed at non-Christians.

It was a holiday already and it was popular already. The catholics tried to piggy-back their religion onto something that was already popular.

Of course the advertisers don't have to create special non-christian ads. All of the symbolism of christmas likely to be used in ads are non-christian already. There's no advantage at all to knowing the story of Christ's birth in order to take part in Christmas.

People have been celebrating winter solstice long before Christianity as such came along. Various religious groups may talk about putting Christ back into Christmas. But the truth is, he wasn't there in the first place and for the most part isn't there now.

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flydye45
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quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
... the liberal-teacher correlation is at least as connected to the liberal-unionized worker correlation as it is to the liberal-educated one.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source?


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have in mind the killings where they murder women for not being virgins before marriage in order to maintain family "honor". This is sadly representative of a large section of the Muslim world.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source?

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/lindachavez/lc20040623.shtml

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040705-013501-7302r.htm

http://womensissues.about.com/cs/honorkillings/a/honorkillings.htm

http://people.ucsc.edu/~jlusk/research_paper.htm

The Washington Times and Linda Chavez both have at least the journalistic credibility of, say, Dan Rather and Paul Krugman.

For the second two, one has many associated links and the research paper contains a bibliography. [Razz]

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flydye45
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Allow me to ask a few questions for the athiests on the thread.

Have you been denied housing or medical care for your beliefs? Has someone refused to sell to you? Were you denied a job? My atheist friend worked for a Christian online store. I know I am softballing the problems you think you see, but the oppression you suggest (I have heard no concrete examples) is not Selma Alabama in the Sixties.

Secondly, I had a friend from Egypt. He was a Coptic Christian. Is he going to be treated equally in America? Would you feel welcome and comfortable in the atheistic Soviet Union or China?

I suggest the admixture of Western European Culture and Religion are too often confused. In fact Western European culture is better because you are not "born" into a religion as you are in Saudi, Rwanda, China, India, the Soviet Union etc.

There may be a little favoring of one broad style of creed, but tell me how a Southern Baptist from Alabama is the same as a Lesbian Unitarian?

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flydye45
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When was the last time you saw "The Little Drummer Boy" on T.V.?
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Molonel
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You forgot a link for the first part of your post, ATW. Just thought I'd throw it in for you:

http://www.morethanwords.net/christmas.htm

You wouldn't want to be accused of plagiarism, after all.

[Big Grin]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
When was the last time you saw "The Little Drummer Boy" on T.V.?
I think it was the last time I saw "Frosty the Snowman," staring Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy Something-or-other.

Think there is connection? [Wink]

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The Drake
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I always that John Kerry looked a lot like the Cold Miser from "Year Without a Santa Claus".

And I think the only time I saw Jesus and Santa in the same cartoon was the original South Park short.

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