In appreciation of religious benedictions

I can’t believe in all gods at once. If I choose the Greek pantheon, the Hindu gods would be neglected. If the Christian god, then what of the spirits the local natives used to honor?

At the same time, I am grateful to be included in a pre-meal blessing or to be told to “go with god”. It makes more sense, to me at least, to listen past the specific phrasing to the intent of the speaker. It doesn’t matter if the blessing speaks of gods’ favor, good hunting or eluei-leiu eue — so long as the sentiment thereby expressed is friendly.

So I am quite confused by people who get offended when private individuals, not government functionaries, wish them a merry Christmas. How much must a person like needless conflict to take offense at a friendly overture?

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12 Responses to In appreciation of religious benedictions

  1. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Some people just need an excuse to be unhappy. I call them ‘dump trucks’, requiring to unload their negativity on others. I refuse to play their game and just try to ignore them – if they haven’t gotten it by now, I don’t they they ever will.

    Life is hard enough as it is without making problems just for the sake of it.

  2. Bill C in w. tx. says:

    As a Christian growing up overseas I was most definitely part of a minority group. I learned not to assume and not to try and impose my personal beliefs onto someone else. In time I came to understand that my faith was my own and not something to be worn on my sleeve.

  3. Don Gwinn says:

    I agree, with this caveat: don’t take Person A’s word for it that Person B was offended or angry at being wished a merry Christmas or a happy Hanukkah.
    Especially if Person A is named O’Reilly, Palin, Hannity . . .

    Following this rule, one begins to find that there are very few people who are actually terribly offended at genuine well-wishes.

  4. Tony Lekas says:

    Oleg – I take such statements as you do. The person wishes the best for me and I appreciate that.

    I was raised Roman Catholic but am now agnostic. My wife is strongly christian. I have talked with people who are hostil to religion and are offended by such statements. There are a number of reasons behind it.

    -As j.r. guerra said, some are just looking for a way be be offended. Why some are like that is another whole topic.

    -Some have either had a personal negative experience with “religious” people or are especially concerned about things that have been or are being done in the name of religion. They may see those around them expressing religion as a potential harbinger of future harm.

    -Some believe that faith is deeply irrational and they are disturbed by people around them being irrational. That may be especially true when they hear something like that from a person they had assumed was otherwise rational.

    My view is that if religion, as expressed in someones life, helps them function better within themselves and with others it is a good thing. If not, not. That is the case regardless of the underlying reality.

  5. Dan O'Brien says:

    All Paths lead to the Mountain-top. I am not a Christian, but felt gratitude when my Christian father and his wife (not my mother) prayed over me after a recent visit before my drive back to Florida. I sincerely believed that they sincerely believed that their prayers would protect my journey. Their intentions created the reality of my safe journey. This is true for all honest believers. They create their own reality which works for them. (Investigate My Big TOE by Thomas Campbell for more on this.)

  6. Matt says:

    Vaya con Dios.

  7. Lyle says:

    “How much must a person like needless conflict to take offense at a friendly overture?”

    There has been a long-term war waged against the founding principles of America, and attacks on Judeo/Christian society are an integral part of that war (even if most of the pawns have no idea that it’s happening). For all other religions and cultures, we are expected to be “tolerant” if not fawning.

    The Soviets attacked religion for very much the same reason we are expected to be intolerant of Judeo/Christian culture– it is largely impossible to subdue a noble, principled and confident people. That, and of course the authoritarian system seeks to become the de facto religion in and of itself, and it can’t abide competition.

    This concept was on display when some TV personality/idiot declared Obama to be “Our Lord and Savior” shortly after the ’08 election. I maintain that it’s also at play when someone goes far out of their way to shake hands with the president or some other political figure and then gets all tingly from the experience– They’re seeking and having a pseudo-religious experience. It’s entirely pathological.

    If I believe I am on occasion in tune with the Creative Force of the Universe, then no mere mortal can have that kind of effect on me (or power over me). People, places and things cease to be terribly important in any context. That’s all there is to all of this, really, and that’s what has some people upset. They seek to place themselves on a pedestal, or put other people or government on one. The faithful have only one pedestal, and no human can occupy it, no matter how loudly he protests or viciously he threatens. That’s why Jesus was murdered— he wouldn’t submit. Not even under torture. He was given several chances to save himself and he wouldn’t do it. That kind of resolve scares the very wits out of the authoritarians, and by extension so does all of Judeo/Christian culture.

  8. Ray says:

    I always feel flattered as I believe that is the nicest thing a religious person knows how to say to me.

  9. Jeff says:

    Sadly, the invocation of religion tends to serve as a wedge these days. While the sentiment may be sincere and and benign, we all *know* that most religion serves to describe boundaries these days, even if unspoken. Not Christian? Then you are certainly going to hell. Not Muslim? Then you are an infidel and, depending on orthodoxy must be killed. No religion at all? Well bless your heart (translated: sucks for you.). And on and on. Because of this, hearing somebody wish you a blessed day after handing you your change tends to heighten your situational awareness. It puts many on guard.

    I am not religious, but I do have faith. I try to respect others’ faith *and* their religious beliefs. Organized religion bothers me because it almost always tend to regress to the mean (which is funding). But if it works for somebody else, great. Chik-fil-A on a Sunday will likely never be on the menu, though.

  10. JoeS says:

    It’s political correctness distorted to outright hatred and endemic of a societal diseased society well into a toxic stage of what the author Dean Ing titled a book as “Systemic Shock”. It will not get better and we are likely to see worse distortions of what were once called manners and politeness. Lots of things needed changing for the better in the social justice arena, the power to control others through fear and intimidation just was to tempting though. Instead of finding a balance its become all about me and mine.XPH

  11. Bruce MacLean says:

    As an atheist I often find myself saying things like “Oh, My God!” or “Merry Christmas” with no embarrassment or chagrin. It is rooted in my culture (I was born and brought up in a western, Christian civilization – my country has a state religion) so why would I deny this? Neologisms like herstory attempt to disrupt the culture, make us question the convention, but in truth the culture in which we abide is changing without our guidance. I would not say “God Bless” as that would be hypocritical, but if you wish me those blessings I accept them gladly.

  12. Paul Koning says:

    In my view, hostility to religion is in itself a religion, and one as intolerant as the worst of the “mainstream” religions. Note that the non-religious — that is, agnostics — don’t show intolerance. It’s the fundamentalist atheists and hard core socialists that do, and both of those are clearly religions — belief systems held in the absence, or contrary to, evidence.
    I’ve found a lot of enjoyment in reading the blog by Robert Avrech, who is an orthodox Jew and often talks about what that means. Check it out ( In particular, and it’s in fact somewhat related to the subject here, if you have an hour, listen to the 7th Ariel Avrech lecture “Happiness is a Mitzvah”.

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