Random shit for Friday (special #ValentinesDay edition!)
I’m not really sure what to say today. Truth be told, I’ve had a number of specific things I’ve wanted to get into recently, like Macklemore’s Grammy win, the Shermer/Myers crockfest (actually, I don’t want to get into that at all; really pretty bored with it, but it deals with ethics issues that I do feel are important), recent gay-rights-legislation drama in Oregon (my home state) and Virginia (my semi-adopted state). But as you can see, those are big issues that I don’t want to just cram in here.
It’s Valentine’s Day so let’s talk about that.
I’ve never been a fan of the holiday. For all the reasons you might imagine. It’s commercial, and no, not in the way that that irritates everyone. It’s inevitable that a holiday–really any holiday–will be "commercialized." Corporations have an incentive to bank off of things like emotion so it’s stupid to expect that they won’t try and even more stupid to resent such attempts. What I resent is that society tells me I should care, which is expressed through the commercialization.
Further, in my formative years, say late grade school through high school, I wasn’t what you might call a "ladies’ man." A friend is quick to point out that that has since drastically changed, but the point is that at the time it hadn’t yet and those scars are real. Sure, they’re crusted over with scar tissue, but they still happened dammit!
Further, I don’t think anyone really likes the holiday. I think it’s like Thanksgiving where we all engage in it because we all engage in it. And we continue because no one truly wants to be left out of the party. Parties are fun.
And yet, despite my reservations, as my friend has pointed out with many things, any excuse to celebrate is a good excuse.
I won’t divulge my plans, but I do have them. And they’re quite neat.
Now let’s get to the St. Valentine stuff because this is Atheist Asshole after all. This is the intro paragraph to the Wikipedia article on the holiday. I can’t link right now so you’ll just have to find the rest on your own.
Saint Valentine’s Day, also known as Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it is not a holiday in most of them.
St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies. A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day, albeit on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni). In Brazil, the Dia de São Valentim is recognized on June 12.
The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
A couple of very interesting things. One is that, as with Christmas, the very name seems to have evolved to include less and less religious connotation. In fact, I can’t name a single time in my life when anyone in conversation referred to the holiday as "Saint Valentine’s Day." So as with the "-mas" of "Christmas," the "Saint" seems to have been rendered entirely irrelevant. Interesting how that’s gone with so many previously religous holidays.
Another parallel to Christmas is how all the modern-associated traditons–cards, candy, calling someone a "valentine"–date to relatively recent history. Of course I’d imagined that such had been true for the candy bit, given that modern manufacturing techniques are, well, modern, but the greeting cards and flowers bits I guess I expected to date back a bit farther.
When I was a kid, I was told that when he was imprisoned for being Christian or marrying people or whatever, St. Valentine befriended a blind girl, the jailor’s daughter, healed her (from her blindness? I don’t recall), but most importantly, when he was trotted off to die, he left her a note signed, "Your Valentine." I believed this story was historically true because an authority figure told it to me and presented it as such. As I’ve just learned, it’s a legend. Which is just an alternate spelling for b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t. Funny thing is I’ve seen this a lot in Christian tradition (though I can’t imagine it’s unique to them). The story of Katherine (and her Wheel) is admitted to be legend. So is the story of Constantine I’s conversion. In fact, the Vatican, in its little descriptions in the pope’s apartments with the paintings of Constantine I and his sign-of-the-cross-overseen battle, even admits that the story is made up.
Funny thing, that, isn’t it? A faith which professes to be based in and spreading of truth, usually Truth, is so prone to make shit up solely to further its agenda. I can’t blame the faith as it’s a social organism, nor would I as the phenomenon isn’t unique to it or even religion, but I have to admit a certain annoyance at those who 1. attempt to convert me, then 2. toss the whole "pearls to swine" thing when I’m not converted because each of them, to a one, swears all this shit is true. True, true, true. When I ask futher questions or point out that it isn’t, all I get is rationalization, denial, accusations of lack of open-mindedness.
I don’t have a grand point with the above paragraph except to say that if one is concerned with truth, wouldn’t one want to get some of it right? If you’re gonna tell a story about a guy who heals a girl then leaves her a flowery note, wouldn’t you wanna at least try to get it right?
I guess not.
I have no satisfying conclusion. These are simply things I’m thinking about today. You know: random shit. If you’re coupled, have a nice one. If you’re not, have fun masturbating.