Let me treat you to a preview of the sort of conversation that will be permeating workplaces, schools and social networks in the upcoming weeks:
Person 1: “Oh my god, did you see the Coca-Cola advert last night?”
Person 2: “Yes! It’s now Christmas!”
Person 1: “Yes, I know!! Because of the Coca-Cola advert last night”.
Alastair Campbell famously said of Tony Blair’s labour government: “we don’t do god” and this sentiment seemed to summarise British politics at large, happily. Unlike our American cousins, elected officials stating their religious convictions too loudly are likely to end up counting sniggers rather than votes.
Thatcher learned a lesson when she temporarily demoted herself to theologian, and crackpot demagogues spewing nonsense on the link between homosexuality and the weather are promptly shown the door.
Yet, David Cameron is committed to rubbing me up the wrong way on pretty much everything he has to say concerning religion. There’s the constant pissing on our shoes and claiming it’s not Islam, to encouraging Christians to be more evangelical and divisively asserting we are a Christian country. This brings us to his Christmas message which includes some patronising spiel about the importance of ‘Christian Values’.
From Sky News:
David Cameron has reiterated his commitment to “Christian values” in his Christmas message to the UK.
The Prime Minister said Britain should be proud of “giving, sharing and taking care of others” at home and abroad.
He also praised the work of the British military, aid workers and medical volunteers abroad. He said: “Among the joyous celebrations we will reflect on those very Christian values of giving, sharing and taking care of others”
You see – giving, sharing and taking care of others are “very Christian values”, and not simply human values. These are all perfectly commendable values of course, worth encouraging – but why does the Prime Minister of The UK feel it necessary to place them in such an exclusionary and divisive context? This is the moment where many would suspect it’s not religious sincerity on Cameron’s part, but rather an attempt to keep the Christian vote onside.
Perhaps that’s true, but is that wise? Data shows the majority of Brits believe religion and state should be kept separate. Recent data also reveals a huge decline in Christianity, yet an increase in Islam amongst the youthful. Perhaps it would have been wise for Cameron to talk up ‘Islamic values’ in his Christmas address too. Perhaps not.
I look forward to the day when our leaders are unafraid to champion compassion, good will and empathy towards our fellow creatures without tribal rhetoric or so much as a nod towards a defunct superstition. These values aren’t Christian, they’re human. They’re no-one’s to own – but everyone’s to share. Merry Christmas.
You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.
Thanks to everyone that has listened to my Christmas Podcasts and sent some positive words my way. Also, a huge thanks to all my brilliant guests. At the time of blogging this, the show has had over 15,500 listens and rising. That’s far exceeded my wildest expectations. Thank you.
It’s been a huge pleasure to speak with such funny, smart and lovely people. If you’ve enjoyed hearing from my guests, please let them know by Tweeting some love their way.
It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on anything in my life. I’ve quickly learned that releasing 7 podcasts in 20 days, whilst maintaining a full-time job is…mental.
I’m currently weighing up the idea of another regular fortnightly show in the New Year. I’m brainstorming some ideas to try and make it funny, informative & engaging. Whether I do produce a new show largely depends on whether or not the audience support outweighs the server costs (£110/US$180 per year) plus production costs. I don’t want to charge for content, so I would have to rely on the generosity of voluntary contributions from the listeners to supplement the costs.
If everybody that enjoyed the show donated a dollar, a pound or a….Yuan (I don’t really know China), this would help supplement the costs involved and could even go towards new equipment to improve production and audio quality. If you’ve enjoyed the Podcast and would like to hear more, please consider making a contribution amount of your choice by becoming a patron.
If that’s something you can’t do right now, please take a minute to review/rate and subscribe to the show on Stitcher & iTunes. This will improve the ranking of the show, and enable it to reach a bigger audience. Because my show is listed in the category of “Religion & Spirituality” the majority of my competition are evangelical religious shows. Listening, rating and reviewing will help me knock a few of them of their perch. This thought makes me happy.
I hope you’ve laughed and learned something.
Have a great Christmas
Actor, Writer and The Inventor of Comedy Ricky Gervais joins me on the #GSPodcast to talk about Christmas, Religion, Muppets Most Wanted and Sprouts. Not a bad Richard Dawkins impression either. My mother weighs in with the final word on #SproutGate.
Donate To The Show: www.gspellchecker.com
Direct Mp3 Download
Back in October I extended an invitation to fellow non-believers to be a guest on a ‘planned’ podcast which would focus (mostly!) on the Christmas experience. Thankfully, I received plenty of interest from people far and wide. Phew.
The idea was to create something which would allow people to hear what Christmas means to other non-believers with varying cultural backgrounds, traditions and opinions.
My only hope is to provide the opportunity to learn something, laugh a little and reinforce the knowledge that religion needn’t be the only reason for the season.
All Episodes will be released throughout December for free via iTunes and Youtube. Click below to listen now:
Although these will remain available for free, if you do enjoy them, please consider making a contributory donation below. Your contribution will be used to supplement ongoing hosting & production costs, new equipment for further shows and possibly Scotch. Yeah. Definitely Scotch.
Click To Support This Podcast
It’s been a huge pleasure and privilege to talk to so many different and interesting people. Finding the time to juggle full-time employment, unforgiving time differences and a laborious editing process has been a challenge, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s with regret that I haven’t been able to reach out to everyone that took the time to contact me, but I’m incredibly grateful to have heard from you all the same.
Yes, like it or not, that time of year is almost upon us again. Fox News will soon be rallying a call to arms to fight an imagined war on an imagined deity. And Christians that are unfamiliar with the word ‘Paganism’ will take to social media to vent their displeasure at the fear that nonbelievers may be enjoying a holiday that isn’t ‘theirs’. Delicious irony. Ho ho ho.
Personally, I love Christmas. For me, it’s a time to catch up with family. Great company, mixed with laughter, too much food and drink, terrible sweaters and worse socks. What’s not to like? I’ll pass on the sprouts however, thanks.
This got me wondering (see Oprah? See?). I’d very much like to hear what Christmas means to other nonbelievers with similar or completely different cultural backgrounds to me.
What do you do at Christmas? Do you hate it? Do you love it? Do you refuse to celebrate it? Are you forced to endure the religious convictions of your family? Do you insist on calling it Xmas? Has a recent loss of faith spoiled what was once a meaningful time of year for you? And why the hell didn’t Santa bring you that Megadrive you asked for when you were 7? You were really good that year. And you wrote him a nice letter. A nice letter specifically asking for the console complete with two controllers and a copy Streets Of Rage so that you could play with your best friend, Paul. Yet nothing! Nothing!
I want to hear as many varied viewpoints as possible, from as many countries as possible. So, throughout the coming weeks, I hope to reach out to a number of those who fill in the below form.
The intention is to take up two minutes of your time via Skype voice chat (free download/Also available on smartphones) to ask you to vocalise/expand on your answers given below.