Cults: January 2006 Archives

Voltaire: not quite an atheist, but an enemy of superstition everywhere

Even, or perhaps especially, in the midst of so much grief being felt in Mecca and all over the world today, I don't think it's unfair to ask:

When was the last time we've read about hundreds of atheists deliberately drinking poisoned Cool Aid together, or accidently trampling each other to death [again], while passionately pursuing preposterous belief?

[Jean Huber image from University of Chicago, Humanities Division]

the eyes have it

As I write this it's already the early hours of January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany and traditionally the absolute finish to the long holiday which celebrates the birth of the founder of the Christian religion.

But of course there's another story behind the seasonal image I've uploaded above.

I don't have a religious bone left in my body, but I can't ignore a pretty face. A number of years ago Barry and I were in New Mexico where we stopped at one of the more important Mexican colonial country churches. Attached to the beautiful ancient adobe stucture and just beside the sacristy was a fairly serious gift shop. We were alone in its two short aisles for a few moments, so we were able to discuss between ourselves (but still carefully sotto voce) the purchase of this delicate ceramic figure of a baby Jesus sporting some pretty amazing eye make-up.

We were both very much afraid that the middle-aged Franciscan who managed the shop might realize that our interest in the object was not wholly devotional, but the weight of experience assembled during my extended Roman Catholic childhood and our two very straight faces managed to carry the day.

Every year since that day we've placed the pretty little tyke in a thin bed of straw on a prized side table in the parlor every year around the period of the ancient pagan feasts of Yule and Saturnalia. Oh yeah, we give him a small pair of wooden dreidels to play with while he's there.

We figure Jesus needs a vacation from all the Christmas fuss. And besides, we really like kids.

This page is an archive of entries in the Cults category from January 2006.

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