Happy Herodmas, My Pro-Choice Friends

By John Zmirak Published on December 28, 2018

Dear ____,

I hope this note finds you well.

This is just to wish you and your family the very best on your special holiday, Herodmas. In my own church we also mark this day, though we call it the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Here’s hoping that by exploring our different beliefs, we can come to a greater mutual understanding. Though I fear that agreement is unlikely.

I know that for your religious tradition, Herodmas marks a momentous event. On this day, some 2017 years ago, King Herod of Judaea, appointed by the Romans to sit in David’s throne, made a fateful decision. It was in response to the news from foreign Magi of a dangerous unplanned pregnancy. One that menaced the peace, tranquility, and civic order of Judaea, Herod believed.

It also threatened his personal autonomy, his plans for the future, and even made him feel “unsafe,” as the Millennials like to say. King Herod did not make his choice lightly. Surely he agonized about it, consulted his friends and family, spiritual advisers and his physician. But in the end, it was a deeply personal decision. 

King Herod did not make his choice lightly. Surely he agonized about it, consulted his friends and family, spiritual advisers and his physician. But in the end, it was a deeply personal decision.

While our feast of Christmas has been celebrated almost to death in song, story, and symbol, yours has not been treated so generously. Yes, there’s the occasional holiday greeting from Planned Parenthood, with holly and mistletoe. Now and then the Church of Satan will put up a billboard. But there really is no comparison, and I’m sorry about that for your sake. I imagine it makes you sad.

But take heart, _____! The laws of our nation, and most Western nations, favor your faith, not ours! The next great global superpower, China, honors your tradition to this very day. I’m sure that you took heart when Ireland, long linked to my Church, decided en masse to embrace the faith of Herod in this past year. May that bring you hope and comfort on this holiday.

Our very creed hinges on welcoming unexpected, unplanned and unsettling births.

In an effort at interfaith understanding, I found a fascinating play by W.H. Auden. It’s called For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio. He wrote it shortly after transitioning from your faith to ours. But he knew your beliefs well enough to write some powerful speeches for Herod. Reading them helped me to understand your tradition, I hope. Let me quote from them here, in the hope that you’ll go on to read and enjoy the play. (It’s one of my favorites.)

Herod, in His Own Words


There is no visible disorder. No crime what could be more innocent than the birth of an artisan’s child? Today has been one of those perfect winter days, cold, brilliant, and utterly still, when the bark of a shepherd’s dog carries for miles, and the great wild mountains come up quite close to the city walls, and the mind feels intensely awake, and this evening as I stand at this window high up in the citadel there is nothing in the whole magnificent panorama of plain and mountains to indicate that the Empire is threatened by a danger more dreadful than any invasion of Tartars on racing camels or conspiracy of the Praetorian Guard….

Legislation is helpless against the wild prayer of longing that rises, day in, day out, from all these households under my protection:

“O God, put away justice and truth for we cannot understand them and do not want them. Eternity would bore us dreadfully. Leave Thy heavens and come down to our earth of waterclocks and hedges. Become our uncle. Look after Baby, amuse Grandfather, escort Madam to the Opera, help Willy with his home-work, introduce Muriel to a handsome naval officer. Be interesting and weak like us, and we will love you as we love ourselves.”

Reason is helpless, and now even the Poetic Compromise no longer works, all those lovely fairy tales in which Zeus, disguising himself as a swan or a bull or a shower of rain or what-have-you, lay with some beautiful woman and begot a hero. For the Public has grown too sophisticated. Under all the charming metaphors and symbols, it detects the stern command, “Be and act heroically”; behind the myth of divine origin, it senses the real human excellence that is a reproach to its own baseness.

So, with a bellow of rage, it kicks Poetry downstairs and sends for Prophecy. “Your sister has just insulted me. I asked for a God who should be as like me as possible. What use to me is a God whose divinity consists in doing difficult things that I cannot do or saying clever things that I cannot understand? The God I want and intend to get must be someone I can recognise immediately without having to wait and see what he says or does. There must be nothing in the least extraordinary about him. Produce him at once, please. I’m sick of waiting.”

Today, apparently, judging by the trio who came to see me this morning with an ecstatic grin on their scholarly faces, the job has been done. “God has been born,” they cried, “we have seen him ourselves. The World is saved. Nothing else matters.”

Naturally this cannot be allowed to happen. Civilisation must be saved even if this means sending for the military, as I suppose it does. How dreary. Why is it that in the end civilisation always has to call in these professional tidiers to whom it is all one whether it be Pythagoras or a homicidal lunatic that they are instructed to exterminate.

O dear. Why couldn’t this wretched infant be born somewhere else? Why can’t people be sensible? I don’t want to be horrid. Why can’t they see that the notion of a finite God is absurd? Because it is.

And suppose, just for the sake of argument, that it isn’t, that this story is true, that this child is in some inexplicable manner both God and Man, that he grows up, lives, and dies, without committing a single sin? Would that make life any better? On the contrary it would make it far, far worse.

For it could only mean this; that once having shown them how, God would expect every man, whatever his fortune, to lead a sinless life in the flesh and on earth. Then indeed would the human race be plunged into madness and despair. And for me personally at this moment it would mean that God had given me the power to destroy Himself. I refuse to be taken in. He could not play such a horrible practical joke. Why should He dislike me so?

I’ve worked like a slave. Ask anyone you like. I read all official dispatches without skipping. I’ve taken elocution lessons. I’ve hardly ever taken bribes. How dare He allow me to decide? I’ve tried to be good. I brush my teeth every night. I haven’t had sex for a month. I object. I’m a liberal. I want everyone to be happy. I wish I had never been born.

Powerful words, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

The Real Meaning of Herodmas

But they’re words with which people of our faith tradition cannot agree. In fact, our very creed hinges on welcoming unexpected, unplanned and unsettling births. From our perspective — no disrespect intended — that is how 99.9999999% of all human births throughout our race’s history have happened. You might say we consider that it’s in the “nature of the thing.” For us, rejecting such births would amount to declaring the whole history of our species a kind of tragedy, or crime against women.

We take a different view. It may sound strange to you, as it surely did to Herod, but we consider each such “random” or “accidental” birth actually … sacred. We see it as the image of the one Birth that so troubled the King.

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I’m sure you understand now why my family couldn’t accept that kind invitation to your Herodmas festivities. Likewise, it’s why we did not extend an invite to all of you for our Christmas events. It really is best that we not appropriate each other’s cultures and traditions. Instead, let us celebrate our diversity, don’t you think?

All this, of course, is by way of explaining that Tweet I posted a few days back, to which you took offense.

I hope now you see that no offense was intended. It was merely an effort at clarity. I apologize if it came across as tactless.

May all the blessings of the Herodmas season descend upon you and remain with you and your family at this very special time of year.




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  • Zmirak

    Oooh, Wikipedia said so? Now if you could just get Snopes.com, Politifact, and Dan Rather to weigh in, the matter would be settled.

    • stumpc

      Moreover, we have heard these tantrums from Skeptics regarding Biblical history before. More often than not the evidence eventually emerges in hidden scrolls, recovered sources and archaeological digs. And, if not we have >60 million dead Holy Innocents since Roe v Wade testifying to the Truth.

  • Walt Viet

    I would just say to you, be careful when you say the Bible is wrong.
    That is not a good idea. Never take the word of man over God’s word.

    • Willam Nat

      Especially a 20th century atheist writer.

  • Bullet Stopper

    Luke 13:3

  • Walt Viet

    I would be careful about hinting the Bible is not truth. We know who would like all of us to believe a lie.

  • Zmirak

    You discount one primary source because it’s not confirmed by another. You clearly have an agenda. I wouldn’t call Josephus a liar because he didn’t echo the Gospel.

  • Andrew Mason

    Troy was fiction until undeniable proof showed it was fact. Contending something in Scripture is fiction simply because undeniable proof hasn’t yet been shown is foolish. Worse, insisting that something may be false because experts who refuse to accept evidence that challenges their faith, is simply buying into the agenda of others. You’ll note that per your Wikipedia article, the number of babies murdered was likely too few to be historically significant to secular historians such as Josephus.

    • stumpc

      Exactly. This is heart of the controversy. Immensely difficult to prove something claimed by historical text did not happen, than proving that it did occur. Since the number of infants were probably on the order of a couple dozen or less it is unlikely to have drawn much attention of uninterested secular recorders of the age.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    Several years ago, several within an atheistic blog contended that abortion should be permitted until the age of two, what they contended was the age of self-awareness. They also contended that the age of consent be lowered to age 8 (maybe younger). These atheistic initiatives are aimed directly at the most vulnerable among us as they are most aware of what we all call the formative years. Come, Lord Jesus.

    • Willam Nat

      There is no limit to the ways that evil can be extended once society has decided to be “tolerant” of evil.

      • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

        Especially when those evils are being endorsed from the pulpit.

    • Andy6M

      Peter Singer of Princeton university is at the forefront of this idea. He’s got some terrible ideas, and some of them go further than this one.

      • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

        I did not know the origin of this idea but attributing it to Singer is no surprise but thankfully yet outside of my experience to envision that he could possible have a worse idea than the murder of a 2-year old or lowering the age of consent.

        • Andy6M

          He has floated the idea that anyone who is wholly dependent on another is not deserving of full protection and thus could be subject to euthanasia by their care giver. He has taken that as far as children up to the age of 10, and handicapped or incapacitated persons, up to any age. interestingly enough, his own mother fell into one of the latter categories in her later life. Singer proved to be unable to apply his own teachings when it came to his own circle of influence. He spent large amounts of money trying to extend her life despite her advanced cognitive failures.

  • Pastor Steve

    I love it, John!


  • Willam Nat

    There are many things which are only found in one of the four gospels. Matthew’s gospel (unlike the others) was written for the Jewish people and would be more likely to have included the story of the Jewish leader murdering Jewish children.

    • Willam Nat

      Oh – one other thing- why would you take the word of Grant, a 20th century atheist over the word of Matthew who personally knew Jesus Christ?

  • Willam Nat

    And they can find that Grant was an atheist with a bias. Why didn’t you mention that? Or did you not go beyond the Wikipedia article?

  • Willam Nat

    And what other sources of that time covered the same ground as the Bible? Like maybe —none.

  • Willam Nat

    So true!

  • Willam Nat

    It’s not just the U.S. Supreme Court. A few years ago the Supreme Court of Canada decided that euthanasia SHOULD BE legal and forced legalized murder down the throats of the Canadian Parliament and all Canadians.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    The atheistic initiative is nothing other than either their overt or covert stand against God for which atheists have no reason to think which is a staple of the irrational world view, the rejection of Realism. The atheistic materialism rejects the metaphysical in favor of their materialist dancing to their DNA, better living thru chemistry, blind pitiless fate….though they steal from God to abuse His Metaphysical Gifts (reason, logic, mathematics of the human mind). The atheist should they ever be true to their world view in all reality cannot differentiate between the materialist emissions from any of there bodily orifices. No right, no wrong, just difference (except they all agree to reject the God of Scripture.

  • G H

    “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” ―

    St. Thomas Aquinas

  • stumpc

    Believe what you must regarding events 2000 years ago. But there is absolutely no doubt that the disciples of Herod killed more than 60 million Holy Innocents since 1973. That is actually the point of the article.

  • stumpc

    Of course it is an order of magnitude more difficult to prove something did not occur than that it did occur. But, you smug certainty of your position is not nearly as concerning as your apparent obtuseness to the promptings of God.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    So that atheisms reject Theism and for which materialism is not foundational to atheism then your atheism is truly intellectually bankrupt, you truly believe in nothing hence your comment is neither true nor false just a subjective personal opinion that with luck you have an affinity group that may or may not agree with you depending on the fluidity of situation. So no formal cause, no final cause, no material cause, no efficiency cause so what in your mind do you have to offer the world other than an opinion for which there is nothing, no rational basis in philosophy other than your denial, given you stand for nothing.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    Granted science is the study of created order, while your secular moral system is now in the business of denying the fundamental of biology in favor of physco-babble, while your secular philosophical systems are predicated on atheism championed by Frederich Nietzsche compared to which the new atheists are mere lemmings.

    Frederich was right when he projected that those adopting his atheist world view would result in the bloodiest century at the hands of his disciples (Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Castro, Hitler, to name a few). Nietzsche was true to his word that only his fictional, self-delusional mad man could declare that “God was dead. We have killed Him.” given that he could not evasion in his own brain that a rational man could or would ever declare the same.

    What is silly, irrational ending question by a self-professing atheist who believes in nothing, no good, no bad, no right, no wrong just blind pitiless luck so from where does this question come? I can only respond to you in atheistic terms because of your priori rejection of God hence you would have no first cause, no final cause that would provide the basis for a rational discussion. We embrace and are embraced by mutually exclusive world views, our the theistic Someone, you the atheistic nothing.

  • disqus_LI1F9sjO9C

    swordfisthtrombone briefly

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    Communism, fascism, illiberal leftist socialism are mere the political, social and economic applications of the atheistic world view imposed by atheistic humanism (including populist homosexualism) secular philosophy on a world going increasingly wrong in accordance with your atheist world views. That you can deny Frederich is quite telling about contentions that your atheism believe in nothing other than your personal proclivities in your contempt for God. As for music, your atheism would lean away from the Sacred to embrace by the increasingly demonic. So your particular atheistic world view is the libertarian strain of atheism.

    To the meaningful point you made, I should have reference Lenis instead fo Stalin twice….then your are a materialist contending that is was only the efficiencies and effectives of modern warfare developed by scientists that lead to the 20 Century being the bloodiest for which you absolve the atheistic Hitlesr, Stalins, Pol Pot, Castros, Che Gueveras of their role and responsibilities. I suspect your argument will be derived from the leftist perspective that as the new breed of atheist you represent would have been more enlightened, efficient and effective.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    Your atheistic world view looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck so is a duck no different that looks, walks and talks atheism is an atheistic atheistic world view. You must be in a constant state of denial given your embrace of nothing that you have nothing to offer other than what has been misappropriated from God…atheism offer no objective goodness.

    Hitler denied the God of Scripture no different than any other of the atheistic world view….he imposed his social contract no different that the atheists are imposing their social contract on the world….Stalin responsive for 29M deaths, Mao approaching 45M murdered, Hitler 20M in concentration and forced labor camps all under the atheistic world view that man is the supreme being, them being more supreme and like you rejecting the God of Scripture.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    Because the God of Scripture is objectively Good, the atheists world view stands in stark opposition to what is objectively good in favor of their subjective evil which they call good, the essence of their atheistic world view embracing relativism, materialism, humanism, scientism, etc which evolves to politically, socials and economically to one form to totalitarianism or another (fascist, communistic, socialism). No different than any other totalitarian, Hitler considered atheist whom did not subscribe to his social contract at threat to his atheistic world view.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    As an individual atheist you fall within the spectrum of the atheistic world view. Your historian does not have the credibility that my family experienced with either atheistic politics of facism or communism. As for the difference in out “opinions” mine are intended to support the Christian world view while yours, in stark contrast promoted the atheistic world view. Socialism is not necessarily totalitarian in it’s infancy but socialism is the first step on the slippery slope to totalitarianism. As for your delimma, God is actually good for which there is no contradiction nor dilemma except in the imagination of the atheistic world view.

  • Kathy

    You were doing well until you included Mary. There is no mention in Scripture or historical records of what became of Mary and certainly no reference to her being assumed into heaven, which there were concerning Jesus. That is just speculation, seemingly due to the desire to elevate her to deity status by the RCC.

  • Kathy

    Must admit I am not familiar with whose remains are believed to have been unearthed..it’s not something I’ve studied. Has there been anything definitive concerning any remains of people in the Bible?

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