How might we ride out the Christmas and other religious holiday overload when we do not believe that god exists? Mairead Ashcroft 24/12/16

Christmas/Christian, Chanakuh/Jewish, Milad un Nabi/Muslim, Yule and Litha/Wicca, Dhanu Guru Gobind Singh Birthday and Bodi Day/ Buddhist (no gods) are a series of religious festivals that span the month of early December into the early days of the new year in January. Each is held in reverence and celebrates the lives or teachings of a prophet or lesson that has been passed down by culturally appropriate means through generations. This could be through the written or spoken words of ancestors, angles, the voice of God or gods or other divine entities. In my modern world, I unfortunately witness the main prophet of the holiday season in now the monetary profit of commercialism.
I was raised in a Catholic family and practice Christmas rituals every year but I don't actually remember any of them being about helping or empathizing with others. I have taken four of the seven Holy Sacraments which I was lead to believe were so vital to me as a human. I once believed that in order to live my life in accordance to God's will I must act in certain ways but I was not shown how to communicate with a person experiencing homelessness or how to give what I had to those who had not. I only remember praying for the less fortunate and feeling sorry for them. I used to find a sense of comfort in the pomp and ceremony, veils, hymns, candles and incense. I believed that the intent of my connection to the elusive God that everyone at Church was always praying to, might lead me to the ultimate goal of sitting at his right hand in heaven when I died. I now see this as a selfish and arrogant perception. Others may not have as cynical a view of their experience as I have had. My experience may have been a sign of the times and a product of my community and upbringing. As I got older and found my feet in
the world, it would seem that the connection to God was not as important to me as it may have been to others in my congregation and in fact, to others in my society as a whole. For those who feel the connection, good for them. I am happy that they experience a sense of fulfillment in their religious beliefs. I respect the choices that each individual makes for themselves and I honour the positive merits of each religion.
I have heard derogatory terms used to portray people who don't believe in God, such as devil worshipers and Satanists for example, which is illogical because if people don't think that God exists, then chances are, devils and Satin are also seen as imaginary figures . I understand the idea that all religions share helpful stories that we may or may not find a familiarity with, just like the stories of the Greek archetypes or Tarot cards. I don't believe in virgin births, miracles or life after death but I do believe the the universe is a wondrous thing and I know that I understand virtually nothing but I am very curious about the splendor, the tragedy and the power.  Many peoples spiritual path may seem in conflict with other's beliefs or philosophies creating dissonance, even though the basic foundations of their beliefs and philosophies are similar.  Some people move away from traditional religions due to disillusionment and internal politics. In many cases, individuality creates diversity and opportunity for positive change and evolution. You can be an individual and have spiritual beliefs. You can have spiritual beliefs and not believe in God or gods. You can be be an individual and still have connection and feel part of something bigger than yourself. It is your business and yours alone what you connect with. Unfortunately some people find themselves trapped in cults posing as alternatives or derivatives of the larger religious groups. As long as all parties involved are consenting adults, no living thing including yourself, looses their rights, is forced to submit, is harmed in any way or is denied choice, the right to question and is free to maintain their own sense of self without question, an individual may be safe to engage in alternative practices.
Christmas is upon us once again, and I am sure that no matter what religion we choose follow, or not, the vast majority of us wish "Joy to the World", "Peace and Good Will to All Men", women and children and respect our differences. I just cannot justify the exorbitant amounts of money that is wasted at this time of the year on energy from the environment, and hoards of unnecessary gifts and disregard for those who are not as privileged as those of us who go to the Christmas sales and enter Christmas light competitions..
Christmas in Australia
Santa may not come to all children regardless on whether they are sleeping or awake or been bad or good for goodness sake. I know I may sound a bit "Baa-hum-buggy"  and possibly a bit preachy but may I suggest we celebrate the ones we love every day, show kindness to strangers all year round and be grateful for everything always. Let this be our religion, let the universe and all living things be our guiding church and let our inner struggles and positive attachments to others be the lessons that we learn and let out vulnerabilities and strengths be our gifts.
Please stay safe over this holiday period and be kind to your self. Christmas comes but once a year and when it comes it often brings a hell of a lot of stress so practice self calming strategies and try not to take anything personally. Or if things are just to difficult to manage excuse yourself and go home. If you are recovering from a bereavement or trauma please take good care of yourself and ask for support if you need it.
Live Your Bliss
Mairead      

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