A splendid little secular Christmas carol


#1

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#2

This remains the only song I have ever bought in the iTunes store. He was donating half of the proceeds to autism research.


#3

Now two of my favourite Christmas songs are Australian.


#4

He's still donating proceeds (during Nov/Dec/Jan).

Maggie: this was the first Christmas song to make me cry, too. Minchin is great. Do see him on the stage if you ever get the chance.


#5

It's kind of special to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere - I grew up with xmas cards covered in glitter for snow, pictures of sleighs for heaven's sake, who uses a sleigh in the middle of summer? My generation have embraced our summer xmas, now we get cards with santa at the beach in shorts - and Tim's excellent xmas song about our xmas which we've been playing for a couple of years now

Besides with the northern polar melting, and the recent sinking of the northern polar operation into the sea, the southern hemisphere santa based at the south pole will have to take up the slack.


#6

Tim Minchin is a national treasure.


#7

Christmas in Australia (or anywhere else 'Western' below the equator I suppose) has always been a bit weird... most of the imported traditions are just plain absurd in the context of the opposite season, not to mention an alien ecosystem. But still, there's a big slice of the population who break out the fake snow and reindeer (~99.9% of Australians have never seen the snow except on a skiing trip, and probably 99.99% have never seen a deer IRL), with dutiful mums churning out turkey roasts in the heat, and fat dads donning sweaty Santa costumes; it's like some kind of Bizarro World festival.

It's a pretty good gauge of the proportion of folks who blindly accept any old shit society promotes without ever critically examining it, and it provides creative opportunities to develop new rituals; I reckon my mum's alternative to the turkey roast pwns: lobster and champagne. But south of the equator, Chistmas is also just kind of the starting gun for the party season; people are on holidays and the sun's shining, and 'Chrissy' for most is about catching up with friends and family and sinking a bunch of piss. And weird irrelevancies like foam reindeer horns.

As for whether I'd prefer to break bread with Tutu or Dawkins, that's a pretty easy call for me. Tutu may well have a more personable demeanor, but Dawkins is amenable to reason. I disagree with both their positions, and saying so to Tutu would be utterly futile, but with Dawkins there should exist a slight chance of converting him from atheism to agnosticism, which IMO is obviously the most appropriate stance for any man of science. For example: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/04/consciousness-after-death/all/


#8

Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords
But the lyrics are dodgy

While I celebrate Solstice (Eris doesn't mind and there's not much else to do), I've loved this song for a few years. Makes me sad though. For reasons that are off topic and whiny.


#9

I find this 2012 guitar accompanied version a bit nicer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le1sDyai-JM


#10

Christmas in Australia does a special feel to it, and this track does a great job of capturing some of that unique summer pathos. We're not a particularly religious country to begin with, and I'm guessing there's a wide swathe of Australia where Christmas is almost entirely about family and having a beer in the backyard (mine included). Merry Christmas BB!


#11

Big coincidence... I just finished watching (again) Tim with full orchestra at Royal Albert Hall, walked upstairs, and read this post... and yes, I wept (again) at this tune. Those that still have parents, enjoy them while you can.


#12

As someone's daughter spending another Christmas very, very far from home, trying to plan Christmas Skype sessions at awkward hours, this one is a guaranteed tear-jerker, every time.


#13

A really talented guy. I liked his song 'Storm'.

On another note, two years ago Cory introduced a lot of us to this little tune called 'Lee Winter's last Christmas' by 'Young Bison'. It's been rattling around in my pip ever since.


#14

Yeah, I bought it from iTunes, too. And I never buy any music from iTunes.


#15

I feel the opposite. Dawkins strikes me as a man who is quite sure he’s right at all times, and a sexist to boot, so a mere woman such as me isn’t going to convince him to reshape his thinking in any way. I knew Tutu, once upon a time, and he was a lovely guy to shoot the breeze with. I’ll take personable over strident any day.

But then, I’m not really interested in converting either guy. For me, it would just be about having a nice conversation about a wide range of subjects.


#16

That's beautiful... I agree about Tutu and Dawkins.

Also, my favorite christmas songs - Bowie and Crosby:

And the Pogues:


#17

My thoughts exactly, chgoliz. Also, I don't really consider the goal of a nice dinner conversation to convert anyone to anything. I'd consider the goal to be sharing ideas and having a nice conversation. And I feel like Tutu would be better at doing that as a two-sided discussion, rather than a one-sided dictation.


#18

My favourite Christmas song is by Tom Lehrer. (It takes the piss out of the commercialised nature of Christmas in the 1950s.)


#19

I've been wrong before, but I feel almost entirely sure that there is no Santa, there are no unicorns, nessies, sasquatches, miracle diets, Nis Pucks and other elves, no menehune, little people and such, no ghosts, WMD in Iraq, angels, chupacabras, werewolves, grey alien intruders ...

When I suspend my belief until I am confronted with any sort of evidence, am I more unscientific than that large majority, who believes in one or several of these stories despite the nearly complete absence of indications of their veracity?

Or should I treat some man-made fairy tales differently from the others depending on how much their adherents insist it is real to them? Is that more scientific?

Agnosticism (not claiming to know if there are gods) is a natural partner to Atheism (not believing in gods). They are, IMO, in no way exclusive of each other.

Having dinner with Desmond Tutu and Richard Dawkins would be a highlight of my life. Like meeting (surprisingly likable) Eddie Vedder, like sharing my joints with Woody Harrelson when he visited the place he now calls home for the very first time, still lacking connections. Like having an email conversation with Douglas Adams or having a very happy Willie Nelson play for me and a couple dozen other bar patrons on a rainy week-night. (And many highlights that involve awesome people who aren't famous. There seem to be millions of those people.)

So, Richard, Desmond, dinner at my house! If you don't mind, I'll invite Tim too.
We'll just not talk about superstitions.


#20

Suspending belief in the absence of evidence is quite obviously more scientific than believing something for no compelling reason; this is the entire basis of my philosophical stance.

And yes, I think it's totally reasonable to treat fairy-tales differently to genuine hypotheses - IMO it's a pretty safe bet that any random malarkey pulled out of some long-dead goat-herder's arse is extremely likely to be close to 100% bullshit and should be called out as such. I suppose this puts me towards the atheist end of the agnostic spectrum... I just wish more folks were aware that dribbling on about the unknowable with complete certainty is just plain crazy talk.

And unfortunately, that includes Dawkins' brand of strong atheism.

The thing is, Dawkins is flat-out begging to be corrected. Here he is on this crusade to dramatically improve the world, but it's as if he decided to do it walking backwards using a mirror to look over his shoulder - it's a doomed effort from the outset. There are very many people in the world who at least suspect there's something pretty interesting about the big picture that's less than entirely obvious, and many others who are quite convinced something pretty trippy is going on, and Dawkins simply cuts no ice with these folks owing to his outright rejection of their hunch.

But if he was to quit rejecting the possibility of anything resembling the divine existing, he'd be far more equipped to reach out to all these folks and point out the commonality of their experience, and expose the dross that all those people argue over and do really stupid things in service of as just so much window-dressing and ancient social engineering. The crucial handicap afflicting humanity here is the intellectual prison of dogma and alienation from reason, not a suspicion that reality is too clever by half.

His life's work is wasted because he's confused the certainty that fairy-tales are bullshit with the certainty that anything that sounds like a fairy-tale has to be bullshit...

Dawkins should consider how amazing and unlikely the reality science has uncovered seems. He appears to lack wonder.