Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging, Ethics — Rick Moran @ 11:08 am

It would be so easy to write about Christmastime this year and turn it into a Scrooge-like rant about how awful things are, how America is going to the dogs, how the economy has made everyone fearful and grouchy, or how America is past its zenith and has begun a frightening decline from which she will never recover.

The truth is, I could write that post with my eyes closed. And those familiar with this site know that I don’t need the occasion of Christmas to make similar points.

Instead, maybe we should look beyond the day to day and focus in on the big picture.

What is really the most important thing in your life? The standard answer is “my family,” or “God,” or perhaps “my community.” All of those are nice, safe answers and probably true to one degree or another.

I was thinking about this question last night as Zsu-Zsu and I put up our outside decorations for Christmas. And it struck me that there is something perhaps even more fundamentally important in my life than any of those; it is “luck” or, the Greeks would call it “fate” without which the rest simply wouldn’t be very important at all.

Many would ascribe “fate” to the plans of a Supreme Being. If that gives you comfort, I will not argue with you. But being an atheist and a secularist, I think it absolutely incredible that I find myself here in America, alive in what is surely the most exciting time in the history of human civilization in what is still the greatest nation on earth, living a life that billions around the globe and many tens of millions in America can only dream of living, while being surrounded by the warmth and comfort of people that love me.

We generally refer to this as “counting our blessings.” I look at it as pure chance, the product of the random spinning of atoms, molecules, matter, and the mystical, unknowable vagaries of life influenced by the choices we make as well as simple biology.

There is something unsettling about this, which no doubt led to the belief that our lives unfold according to a divine plan. Whether it’s some kind of “God gene” or a specific place in the brain that predisposes our species to ascribe to the supernatural what is actually the result of fate, there is a natural human tendency to take comfort in believing that even with “free will,” our life path can only be made relevant by adhering to the plan some deity has laid out for us to follow.

Again, I intend no disrespect to people of faith. But when I think about where I might have ended up for my stay of three score and ten years on this planet, who I might have been, the kind of family I could have been born into, and the alternate consequences that would have befallen me if I had made different choices in my life, I feel a sublime oneness with with, for lack of a better term, the “universe.” Rather prosaic of me, I know but the point is, the very randomness that caused all of this to occur is quite humbling and makes one aware that putting forth an effort to take from this life every possible joy - which includes giving joy to others - is the best way one can be true to themselves and their concept of living a moral life.

The Greeks believed that a person’s “fate” was in the hands of three goddesses; the Moirae:

THE MOIRAI (or Moirae) were the goddesses of fate who personified the inescapable destiny of man. They assinged to every person his or her fate or share in the scheme of things. Their name means “Parts.” “Shares” or “Alottted Portions.” Zeus Moiragetes, the god of fate, was their leader,.

Klotho, whose name meant ‘Spinner’, spinned the thread of life. Lakhesis, whose name meant ‘Apportioner of Lots’–being derived from a word meaning to receive by lot–, measured the thread of life. Atropos (or Aisa), whose name meant ‘She who cannot be turned’, cut the thread of life.

At the birth of a man, the Moirai spinned out the thread of his future life, followed his steps, and directed the consequences of his actions according to the counsel of the gods. It was not an inflexible fate; Zeus, if he chose, had the power of saving even those who were already on the point of being seized by their fate. The Fates did not abruptly interfere in human affairs but availed themselves of intermediate causes, and determined the lot of mortals not absolutely, but only conditionally, even man himself, in his freedom was allowed to exercise a certain influence upon them. As man’s fate terminated at his death, the goddesses of fate become the goddesses of death, Moirai Thanatoio.

The Moirai were independent, at the helm of necessity, directed fate, and watched that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws might take its course without obstruction; and Zeus, as well as the other gods and man, had to submit to them.

We like to think the Greeks and Romans “superstitious.” But a careful reading of the tasks set out for the Moirae’s reveals a subtly of logic that, while still dependent on the supernatural, nevertheless offers the beginnings of a humanistic response to questions of why I am here, now, and not somewhere else at some other time in history. The element of randomness is part of their belief system which is a recognition that there is some unseen force that plays a role in the affairs of man.

You might legitimately ask why this sudden interest in randomness especially at Christmastime? Despite all that has gone on in recent years that I have written about with passion, energy, and mustering whatever common sense and knowledge I have to bring to bear in illuminating the events that have roiled our nation and the world, nothing is as important as being reminded of the basic notion that I am extremely lucky to have what I have, both material and spiritual in this life. All else flows from that premise, and the concept of “fate” that is responsible for all this should engender awe at the unknowable vagaries of life that have reached out and touched who and what I am to fill me to the brim with happiness.

And isn’t that what Christmas (in the secular sense), at bottom, is all about? Spreading joy by sharing, getting close to your family, making an effort to give more than you receive - in the classical Christian sense, we do this because by recognizing our blessings, we are praising God for his gifts.

But for me, it is enough that I accept the idea that in order to be true to myself, I should celebrate my good fortune by being the best person I can be and share what I have with those close to me, as well as those who deserve better.


  1. One thing that being an Atheist has taught me - or maybe it was more of a revelation - perfection, in various forms, is attainable.

    Excellent post Rick. It never ceases to amaze me that ‘believers’ don’t seem to understand just how much atheists revere and truly love life.

    Comment by Chuck Tucson — 12/15/2009 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Rick, thank you for this post. You’re a good man. I hope only the best for you and yours this season.


    Comment by SShiell — 12/15/2009 @ 12:44 pm

  3. Merry Christmas and blessed New Year to you and yours, Rick.

    Comment by Gayle Miller — 12/15/2009 @ 1:34 pm

  4. I accidentally deleted this comment - instead of hitting “edit” I hit “delete.” It’s very good:


    New comment on your post #5106 “CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA, 2009″
    Author : Jeremy G.
    URL :

    I’ve often felt that it was all up to fate and uncertainty too.

    But as time went by I came to realize how much of what I have, as well as what I
    have to be thankful for, is a direct result of the actions of others. Not just
    from family, mind, but from numerous friends as well, many spread out all over
    the country. I’ve also come to realize how the quality of living where I reside
    is a result of the work of countless other people I don’t even know.

    This is enough for me to conclude that our good fortune comes in part from the
    sum of the actions of all the people who came before us, many of them immigrants
    or the children/grandchildren of same, all working towards a better life for
    themselves, and by extension for the rest of us.

    In my opinion, any notion of appreciating or being thankful for where we are and
    what we have should recognize our common link as Americans, in addition to
    appreciating the fickle vagaries of fate.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    Comment by Rick Moran — 12/15/2009 @ 4:30 pm

  5. Rick

    Enjoy your beliefs. I am happy to be a rational logical Christian.
    To boil it down you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of anything, it all comes down to initial conviction hopefully (In those of us who rever logic and rationality) a progression of listening thinking and taking the most logical steps from that point.

    If you can prove your own existense then you have done better than the greatest philosophers. Proving or disproving the existence of a diety is just a waste of time. Believe or believe in non belief and enjoy the season

    Merry Christmas

    Comment by steve — 12/16/2009 @ 5:56 am

  6. steve said:

    I am happy to be a rational logical Christian.

    Rational Logical Christianity? Is that a new branch?

    Comment by Chuck Tucson — 12/16/2009 @ 11:25 am

  7. oh, Chuck, try reading Francis Schaeffer, especially “The God Who Is There”
    Assuming you are open to a logical approach to Christian apologetics, you may find it eye opening or at least an interesting read.

    Comment by bizjetmech — 12/16/2009 @ 7:51 pm

  8. Everybody who I have seen who believes in fate is kidding themselves if they also believe themselves an atheist. They “believe” in fate. They have conversations with fate. They even bargain with fate. It is a deity for them. You might be different but you certainly don’t sound like it.

    Comment by TMLutas — 12/17/2009 @ 9:24 pm

  9. Happy to Obama

    Comment by Tawfiq Adam — 12/25/2009 @ 1:55 pm

  10. Happy X mass to Barak Obama

    Comment by Tawfiq Adam — 12/25/2009 @ 1:55 pm

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