A Christless Christmas (2020)


So, Christmas is a thing, right? Most of us look forward to it, a time when we can (maybe) stop for a few days to reflect and spend time with family. Food, drink and festivities all take centre stage, wondering if the turkey will be dry like last year, or what it will be like sitting around the dinner table without Grandad, now that he is gone.

Combined with New Years it can be and often is a time when there are the most reports of suicides and domestic violence over the festive period. I know for me, if I start to reflect, I can begin to question myself as my thoughts unravel into confusion about the rights and wrongs of the choices I have made.

Often my thoughts turn to God at Christmas. When I believed I used to spend this time in reflection and prayer. Thanking God for the gift of His son so that we could all know and have a relationship with the Father because sin had been dealt with once and for all. Reading books like God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, thinking, praying, seeking. Wanting guidance for the year ahead and being thankful for the year I had, whatever it was that I had gone through.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was and is a hero of mine. He decided to stand up against the Nazi regime by opposing the Church within Germany, a church which had begun to support and even praise the actions of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Mr Bonhoeffer had a way of looking at the world which helped me refocus at times like Christmas, or when things were hard.

When I reflect, I can see very clearly that most of my life has been based around doing, rather than being. Only in the last couple of years, as I have uncovered my non-belief in God, have I begun to learn how to be, rather than do. Christmas is a fantastic time for me to attempt to be and to refrain from doing so much. I guess you could ask my wife how well I do on this front, I am sure she would say I am still very much a ‘do’er over our Christmas time.

There seems to be a lot of good evidence that people have celebrated the 25th of December in festive ways for a very long time. Christianity was known to take over a culture or society and turn their pagan festivals into Christian festivals, making Christ the sole focus of the festivities. There is a really interesting article by the Independent that looks at the possibility that people were celebrating the 25th of December 300 years before Jesus was even born, you can find it here.

This Christmas is going to be hard for me. I have lost two grandparents and a whole host of very close friends from Church and the Christian charity I used to work for since I lost my faith. Some really good friends don’t return my messages anymore, when once they would support me and love me with no restrictions. They have found out I don’t believe a certain doctrine and they can become scared and have left me behind. Fear drives a wedge between people, disrupting the relationship or fear draws confrontation to the foreground, seeking a resolution but possibly destroying a relationship in the process.

Fuck man – this year has been really hard. There is no God I can call too for help and comfort. There are so few friends that I have left, a handful at the most who love me and my family for us, not for what I or we believe.

This year I am going to enjoy a Christless Christmas, taking stock of where I have come and utilising the mindfulness skills I have been honing, so that I can be present with the ones I love, right here and right now. If it is hard, or easy, peaceful or manic – right here and right now is always better than hanging hope on tomorrow – tomorrow never comes, we only have each today.

I need to keep reminding myself, as family send Christian messages and my social media feeds blow up with the Biblical birth narratives of Jesus – it doesn’t matter if I don’t believe in the background story, and it doesn’t matter if people don’t know that I don’t believe it. What matters is family, friends, mindfulness and being present.

Enjoy the journey, because there isn’t a destination. Embrace everyone, because the deepest fears we all flee from are fears of being alone.

So, with that I leave you to your Christmas. Wherever you are and with whatever you believe, be present and realise that you can bring peace and love to the settings you are within during this holiday season.

On that note, I am going to go and play with my family – my boys won’t be young forever, so I’m going to enjoy this, right now.

_End of Blog Blurb_

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.

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I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂


Farewell For Now When Belief Dies

It's time to stop, even though it breaks my heart. This episode serves as my reason why.   -Sam
  1. Farewell For Now
  2. When Belief Dies #100 – 'Psychedelics, Philosophy & God' with Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes
  3. When Belief Dies #99 – 'Open and Relational Theology' with Thomas Jay Oord
  4. When Belief Dies #98 – 'The Take Over' with Daniel Kelly & Roger Bretherton
  5. When Belief Dies #97 – 'The End?' with Daniel Kelly

9 Comments. Leave new

  • Merry Christmas, Sam. I’ve always been a bit confused by people who stop being friendly when they discover one has different religious views. I mean, have they forgotten the parable of the good Samaritan? 😀

    On the topic of the ‘Christmas Story’ – Bart Erhman has done an excellent series discussing the birth narratives (which are completely different of course) of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. They’re on his blog, which I can heartily recommend.

    Take care!

  • Merry Christmas.

    Growing up, Christmas was a happy day. But after I deconverted, it became a quiet and boring day.

    Later, with young children, it became a time to have fun with the kids. But now that they are grown and have their own families, it is back to being a relatively quiet and boring day.

    • whenbeliefdies
      December 26, 2020 2:40 pm

      I’m tempted to set myself a challenge when the kids fly the next. Plan a 3 day walk or something to pass the time.

      No one else will be around 😂

  • Be of good cheer, my friend, as we prepare to leave 2020 behind. As much as you grieve the loss of friends who cannot accept your deconversion, what you have gained is ultimately greater, trust me. Being free of religious dogma, and deciding to henceforth evaluate all ideas on their merits alone, will serve you well in your life. It is truly a blessing. And as a young man, you are fortunate to have made this shift so early: I wish I had had your clear-headedness and courage when I was in my twenties and thirties. Of course the Internet helps too! 😉

    I don’t want to minimize the sorrow you feel at the friendships you have lost. And as much as I disagree with those who mourn the path you have taken, we have to remind ourselves that their beliefs, sincerely held, require them to react as they have: your “falling away” is a tragedy and a mortal danger to them and to others who may be influenced by your work. Regarding which, I trust your following will grow in 2021!

    This year of social distancing has been a uniquely lousy time to make new friends, but from what I know of you so far, there are many new friends awaiting you: people whose identities are not defined by religious beliefs but instead by other things you have in common: work, hobbies, being parents of young kids, maybe neighbors. As well as those of us who have made a similar journey and who understand each other as few can.

    I’ve only made your acquaintance very recently, but I’ve enjoyed getting caught up with your journey. The Christmas and New Year period is for me a time of taking stock, looking back, but especially looking forward. I hope this season has been and will continue to be a source of joy for you and your loved ones.

  • whenbeliefdies
    December 29, 2020 9:36 pm

    Beautifully said as always bro!

    I am looking forward to what tomorrow brings, but definitely also taking stock of what is here today and how far things have come 🙂

    I am glad you are taking the time to take stock, look back and look forwards! There is so much to be excited for, and so much to be thankful for!

    • Yes, and cultivating an attitude of thankfulness is one of the keys to happiness, I think, for theists and atheists alike. No matter that we godless types sometimes have nobody in particular to thank! It’s still good.

      • Totally agree, it’s the outlook that amends the mind.

        Something meditation has slowly taught me tbh. ✌️

  • […] can read ‘A Christless Christmas (2020) here, where I explore what Christmas used to be for me, something I will continue to do on this blog […]


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