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Also, Kim's got the best facial expressions in the strip, for my money.

(From Something Positive. Click on the thumbnail for full sized working the angles!)

I look forward each year to the week long "Old Familiar Faces" series in Something Positive, where we get caught up with formerly major characters who've rotated out of the limelight. There's usually a touch of Eva (who seems to have reverted back to being a victim -- either her boyfriend, who didn't seem like a douche when first we saw him, has undergone a vinegar and water sea change, or Eva either has pushed him into distancing himself or is just overreacting to what actually is a legitimate business trip), and some other folks. I'm hoping to see some T-Bob (and maybe some Jesus Mickey) before the end of it.

But I had to remark on the return of Kim, who's always been one of my favorite characters. She mentions she has one semester left, which could potentially lead to a return to the regular cast. (A return I for one would like to see.) Kim brings a somewhat more sophisticated sense of dark humor, in my opinion -- she's as dedicated as Aubrey and Peejee to chaos and suffering, but she's far more subtle in her execution of it.)

And more to the point, the strip is hysterical. Especially because it touches on one of the things I hate most about the Pagan community (a community I tend to be sympathetic to, I would add): the treatment of Christmas as an affront needing to be counterattacked, in a way that's honesty funny and darkly cynical. I appreciate that.

I should mention, I'm not a Christian. I'm what I consider a spiritual agnostic (I think there is more to this world than the eye can see, but I don't know the shape and form of what that is) who honestly respects Faith and has no time for intolerance. That's good for my good Liberal cred, but I tend to get in trouble with my peeps when I defend Christians in the same breath I defend Jews, Muslims, Pagans or Atheists. Especially at Christmas.

Dude, it's Christmas. In American society, that's become a thoroughly secular ritual, in a land where we need all the secular rituals we can get. If that secular ritual grew out of a Christian tradition... well, said Christian tradition grew out of pagan traditions too, and besides, who gives a damn? I have no problem singing Silent Night or remarking on Nativity Scenes or listening to the Choir of King's College perform the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. That sets a tone -- a beautiful moment that brings back years and years of happy times with my family. The fact that there are people out there who don't believe in those lessons or in the central thesis of Silent Night, and therefore shouldn't be "subjected" to them, is patently ridiculous to me. That's like trying to ban Johnny Cash music because there are people out there who don't believe in Boys named Sue.

The core of all of this is a sense that we have to be tolerant of other peoples' beliefs. This is something I agree with. I think we should acknowledge and support Chanukah and Kwanzaa, Ramadan and Agnostica alike. I think there is room for the Yule and the Solstice and Kris Kringle at this time of year. The fallacy of the current pravda is the only way we can be tolerant of all of these festivals and religions and beliefs is to acknowledge none of them. No Christmas or Chanukah or Ramadan in public areas or schools, because there might be students who don't believe in these things.

That's not tolerance and that's not separation of Church and State. That's radical intolerance aping the language of the tolerant. That's saying "because All do not believe, we must act as if None do," and that's not only wrong, it's stupid and unAmerican.

During the High Holy Days, I feel we should celebrate what it means to be Jewish in America. During Ramadan, I feel we should celebrate what it means to be Muslim in America. During Christmas, I feel we should celebrate what it means to be Christian in America. And during all these things, I think we should celebrate what it means to be American in America. And that includes the fat man in the red suit who gives things compulsively, as well as the virgin birth and the miracle of the oil in the temple and the seven Nguzu Saba of blackness, in and around this time of the year.

Milholland touches on this obliquely in this strip. He includes the shrill denunciation of Christmas that I've heard from several Pagans (not all, I'd add -- not by a long shot), but makes it clear that the shopkeeper is more interested in provoking fundamentalists into burning her shop to the ground for the insurance money than in the respective symbolisms involved. Milholland, as always, cheerfully goes for the throat here -- he's not attacking Pagans, he's attacking attitudes on both sides of the equation. And I love it. I really do.

Milholland gets yet another biscuit. A tasty, tasty Christmas biscuit, sprinkled with that green sugar that makes you wonder if it's safe to eat.

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Milholland is joining a number of people who have commented on the intolerance of Christmas. My own uni-directional rant is here:

http://www.wlpcomics.com/glob/index.php?p=40

Also, this morning the news brought to me a smiling jolly fundie interviewed on CNN on how the Evangelicals won the election for Bush, and how he'd better give them everything they want, or else. Among his complaints was that the Supreme Court has waged war on Christians since 1962, when the Berger court ruled "prohibiting prayer in schools, bible reading, the Pledge of Allegiance..."

He didn't say that the 1962 and subsequent rulings were against FORCED prayer, MANDATORY Bible reading, etc... nor did he mention that subsequent rulings have ruled that schools must allow VOLUNTARY prayer, Bible study, Christian student clubs, etc... nor did he mention that, just a few months ago, the Pledge of Allegiance "under God" was UPHELD.

It's all part of the fundie mindset- that they have not merely a God-given duty but a Constitutional -right- to force their religion upon you. If you deny them that right to make you pray, make you worship, then YOU are persecuting THEM. It's this mindset that has driven me well away from all existing forms of Christianity.

Milholland, however, manages to demonstrate the hypocrisy and intolerance of both sides in one cartoon- both the majority-rules-so-bow-down-heathens Fundamentalists and the anything-Christian-is-evil Pagans. He helps point out that there -are- people out to drive Christianity into the sea, figuratively speaking, and who are just as ruthless and unscrupulous about it as the Fundamentalists are.

You're a better cynic than me, Gunga Milholland.

Oh, and I can be tolerant of Christmas, Hanuwhatever, the Solstice, Mithras' Birthday, and even (if I grit my teeth and deliberately ignore the racist foundations) Kwanzah...

... but I draw the line at Festivus. }:-{D

It's not the Christianness or Paganness of Christmas that bothers me. (An Athiest) I don't care that Jesus was probably born in a completely different season, or that some modern traditions come from Pagan Germany and/or Rome. It's the fact that the secular commercial part of it is so goddamned annoying! Bad pop renditions of Christmas carols in every store, on t.v., and (I assume) the radio. Salesman trying to sell you more crap than usual. Christmas store displays starting in October.

That and the fact that the whole holiday is based around lying to kids. That's a charade I want nothing to do with.

It also bothers me a bit that the minor holiday of Hannukah is the only Jewish holiday that gets any real attention, just because it occurs around Christmas. And that despite the "common knowledge" factor on the internets, the neopagan holiday gets no attention.
Though considering the kind of attention the secularized version of the Christian holiday gets, I shouldn't really be complaining.

I don't let that ruin to good parts of Decemberween though. Christmas trees, lights, the Grinch cartoon, Calvin's moral struggles, buying stuff for your friends and family.

I'm with Scarybug. My favorite radio station went to a 24/7 all Christmas Music format the day after Thanksgiving, and the remaining ones are getting more and more carol-dense (although the college station is playing snarkier songs, like Father Christmas and I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus).

Yeah. The local soft-rock station goes 24-hour Christmas music for that period as well. Luckily, this means the rest of the stations don't bother playing Christmas music (unless it's specialized, like the classic rock station playing Bob Seger's version of Little Drummer Boy for example).

Yea. Annoying Christmas music is WAY more important than Jesus and God.

Okay, depends on who you ask.

(lookit me, signing up with TypeKey just so I can complain and nitpick)

A local radio station recently had a TV advertisement that was promoting how they would be playing non-stop holiday music until the new year. The horrifying part was that the ad made this move out to be a great thing, because now you would be able to find holiday music reliably on the radio.

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