Bah humbug say unbelievers

Bah humbug say unbelievers

Some people are so offended by Christianity and its trappings that they go to great lengths to reject it, even to the point of rejecting simple acts of graciousness. It’s not that these people are anti-religious bigots per se, but that they are usually so caught up in their own rejection of religion that they stomp all over the social niceties as well as the acts of kindness of others.

For example, here’s a request for advice from someone who isn’t religious and doesn’t want people to send the Christmas cards.

This holiday season lots of people I work with or who I’m only loosely acquainted with have asked me for my mailing address so they could send me a holiday card.  While I appreciate the nice thought, I don’t really celebrate a traditional holiday like Christmas and I don’t like giving out my address or getting more snail mail than I need.  Call me a big Scrooge, but I’d rather these folks save a tree and their stamp instead of wasting it on a card to me.  What’s the best way to say “thanks but no thanks” to holiday cards?

I can understand the reluctance to give out your address to whomever asks for it—although you could ask them send it through inter-office mail or drop it on your desk—but when someone says they want to take the effort to do something nice for you and you tell them the nice equivalent of save the stamp that says more about your own self-centeredness.

A few years ago I worked at an ad agency in Boston and the head graphic designer was a woman who could have been the stereotype of the modern Bohemian artist from the hip, square glasses to the black clothes to the militant atheism. I recall a conversation once where she had decided that she didn’t want to say “God bless you” or “Gesundheit” to people who sneeze any more and was looking for an alternative. I think she decided on the French “a sante” (to your health). Rather than observe the social niceties that lubricate civilized discourse, she decided that she had to bash others over the head with her unbelief every time they sneezed, calling attention to herself and oh how sophisticated and intellectual and modern she is. (She also kept a kitschy and mutilated statue of St. Joseph on her desk; I think it was meant to be ironic.) How is this different from a zealous Christian who asks everyone he meets whether they’ve accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior?

It’s not the most boorish behavior and it’s not religious persecution. It is bad manners and self-centered and that’s bad enough.

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  • Technically, she wasn’t my boss and she had some reason for not wanting “Gesundheit.” It might have been that it was so common, people would mistake it for meaning “God bless you” or something.