Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hitchens-Jefferson Day, An Atheist Holiday

I think you'll agree that one of the most naggingly frustrating things about being atheist (besides the "where do you get your  morals form" nonsense) is that we're always celebrating other people's (read:Christian/Pagan) holidays. It's like having 364 friends, and no one ever gets around to celebrating your birthday.

Sure, I can kill a Reeses' Easter egg like few others, and I know all the words to "Baby it's Cold Outside" and it takes me a full 31 days to talk myself out of dressing up as a Naughty Nurse every October, but working retail for over a decade has never let me forget what all those holidays are really about: Margin.

And what they certainly are not about: Free Thought.

So, why not have an atheist holiday to propagate that? My suggestion is that we dub 13 April as Hitchens-Jefferson Day. It is, of course, the day that both of these Free Thought icons (is that oxymoronic?) were born. Instead of mulling the change of Christmas to Newton Day among ourselves and friends, in a Yankee-Doodle type of protest, I suggest this date for more than the one reason, First, making our claim on a previous holiday is a combative answer when we should be aiming at peace for this move. Second, Spring is the season of birth. Of beginnings. Third, Easter is wishy-washy with it's date. We'll set our claim and let them work around us.

Of course, drug stores across the nation will be in no hurry to clear 100 square feet from their Easter Aisle to sell the Jefferson Bible or "Letters to a Young Contrarian," and while it would make a good deal of symbolic sense for tobacco to factor largely into celebrations, perhaps we should shy away from that.

So, I propose, we shift our concentration and efforts of the glamorous aisles of Wal-Mart and take them deep into the dark recesses of your local book store.

Yeah, I'm suggest we continue the act of gift giving. Sue me. What could possibly be more fitting for a Free Thought holiday than an exchange of books? Book s represent the most complete single thoughts  that our species is capable of producing.

There are two "Also's" which make a more compelling case to perpetuate this behavior.

Also #1: A massive and diverse book exchange will directly assail the practice of certain individuals who claim to only need "One Book."

Also #2: The publishing industry is far from healthy. There will always be Bibles and Korans and Torahs published. Always. It's sort of on us as a community to guarantee that authors not named god stay in print too.

One last thing, instead of "Merry Christmas," or "Thoughtful Hitchens-Jefferson Day" or even "Here, read a fucking book," maybe each Hitchens-Jefferson Day gift should come with the phrase, "I'm an atheist and a free thinker."

Corny? Sure. But think how corny "Merry Christmas" really sounds. Yet it gets uttered billions of times per year. And the effect is that it normalizes the idea of Christianity. It is a type of branding for Christians which conjures thoughts of family gatherings and Christmas trees and gifts.

If we do our work, "I'm an atheist and a free thinker" will conjure thoughts of books instead of, well, whatever it is that the phrase conjures now.

Anyhow, here are the books I bought and the thought process behind each of them.

For a fellow atheist. A delectable morsel of Hitchens. It is readable, quotable, and off the beaten Hitchpath (God is not Great, Letters to a Young Contrarian, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America)

For a fellow reader who has dabbled in Palahniuk. The book is far from flawless, as many of the characters are indistinguishable, but the scope and ambition of the project should classify it as required reading.

For a friend who is aiming at becoming a stronger reader. Sure, he probably won't get the full depth of Hemingway at first read, who does? But Hemingway is exceedingly smooth to read, and upon returning to Hemingway, you always notice more.

A bit of a different look than the other books, but the giftee in question has quite a bit of reading to do for school already. One of her interests is fitness, so this book should get some use even while she is doing her imposing readings for school.

Don't question the worth of comics. This is for a local film-maker who is looking at making an adaptation of Hamlet. Therefore I believe this is going to be a helpful tool for him when entering the visualization portion of production. 

ADRIAN FORT is a writer, blogger, and essayist from Kansas City, Missouri. Follow him on twitter @adriananyway. His work has appeared in Existere, decomP magazinE, The Bluest Aye, Bareback Magazine, Gadfly Online, Chrome Baby, The Eunoia Review, Linguistic Erosion, and Smashed Cat Magazine. His Master's Degree is from Lindenwood University. 


  1. Will definitely share your idea. I'm an Epicurean (and an Epicurean author, at that), like both Jefferson and Hitchens were, so these are definitely ideas worth spreading. Cheers!

  2. I freakin LOVE this idea! We deserve a day to celebrate us heathen types and giving a book as a gift on this day, is perfect! We need to get this idea out there and get everyone in the atheist community on board! If (I'm late to this and the idea has already been accepted - because I only found your blog today! - then I apologise for being way, way behind with the times, but I'm still going to Tweet it and see who else sounds like they're up for it!.

    Love your writing style by the way. I wish I could master the art of having impact and being succinct the way you do. Going to enjoy playing catch up through the archives, that's for sure. Hopefully it'll inspire me to kick my own ass into gear and start posting on mine again.

    Take care