Thursday, 24 December 2015

The View from Cullingworth (and Ayn Rand) wishes you all a Happy Christmas!

It's Christmas and we should all be of good cheer. Not everyone is - mostly for sad reasons of loss, fear or illness - and we should send those wishes of happiness to these people. I dislike the line, most popular with bishops, that Christmas is 'a time of hope'. I get the theology - the birth of our saviour must, by its very nature, be a moment of hope. But for me this implies that other times are times of despair, of hopelessness and that is not true. I remain (and believe the evidence supports me here) an optimist about the future of mankind, I do not subscribe the the 'if we don't act now' school of doom-mongering.

Although I'm not any sort of objectivist or 'randian' this little quote from Ayn Rand is among the best summations of the meaning of our modern Christmas. I guess not all folk agree and especially not the humbugs, grinches and grumps who write for the Guardian but I find this pretty cracking:

A national holiday, in this country, cannot have an exclusively religious meaning. The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men—a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part, but is a largely unobserved part) of the Christian religion.

The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: “Merry Christmas”—not “Weep and Repent.” And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form—by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance . . . .
The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying . . . stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only “commercial greed” could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.

Have a great Christmas. Eat too much. Drink a lot. If you smoke get a big fat cigar or some of those fancy coloured Sobranie fags. Listen to cheesy music. Watch rubbish telly. Have the traditional row about who sat on young Josh's toy train. Play board games. And above all (I don't always manage this one) smile with the good cheer that being alive in the best time to be human should bring you.

Enjoy! A a Happy Christmas to you all.


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