Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Let's not get bogged down in semantics. I think what Lisa was trying to say is..."

Two years ago, I heard a lot of hubbub about the "War on Christmas." Apparently, this "war" is a concerted effort by secularists and anti-Christians who want to make our country less Christian or something like that. They argue that by not referencing Christmas in advertising material or being asked to not put up public displays of the religious roots of the season that Christmas and by extension, Christianity, is being driven from public dialogue.

I don't buy it. While there are no doubt some people who really would like Christianity wiped off the face of the Earth, I do not believe that they are going to win this war by simply taking the word "Christmas" out of the weekly junk mail. Rather, if there is a war on Christmas, it began a long time ago and hasn't made much ground.

I'm referring to the advent of Santa Claus as part of Christmas culture. If there is any more secular figure, I can't think of it. Santa Claus lives on the North Pole, dresses in commie red, and has nothing at all to do with the birth of the Savior. Among other things, he supplants the role of the wise men in the Christmas story by bringing gifts not to the Baby Jesus, but only to children that obeyed their parents. This is a damaging lie that gives kids one more thing to think about other than religion. In fact, I feel that the perpetuation of this lie has done more to distract from the true meaning of Christmas than any other single idea or movement in the last 2,000 years.

St. Nicholas might have been acting in the "true spirit of Christmas" but his many incarnations since then have separated themselves from it (i.e. Annual Gift Man who lives on the moon). I say it is time to put an end to all this Santa Claus business. I will not teach my child that Santa Claus is real, but rather that he is just a story told by parents who have no way of controlling their children.

Along with Santa Claus is perpetuated the most unchristian aspect of Christmas: consumer spending. Focusing not on the message of love and forgiveness taught by Christ, we focus on spending boatloads of money so that we can get the earthly things that we want. I'm not sure that He would be very happy about this, having taught, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor..." I am not arguing with the spirit of giving on Christmas. It is the overindulgence that has so pervaded the holiday that bothers me.

I hope that we can take the time in our own lives to focus on the true meaning of Christmas: the gift of eternal life. If we focused on that in our own lives and those of our families, this holiday season will be far more meaningful than any greeter at Wal-Mart can make it.

So, in the spirit of the season, let me say: What you talkin' 'bout, everyone!


Jared said...

"he is just a story told by parents who have no way of controlling their children."

Without digging into the pros/cons of teaching kids about Santa, there has to be a way of explaining Santa without insulting everyone who disagrees with you.

Daniel said...

Yes, but that would be so out of character for me.

jared said...

I had thought of that, and it's a good point. I suppose the proper course instead would be to rue the fact that there are/will be mini-Widdisons running about, with their blunt opinions, insulting my children. Well, I would rue it, but mini-Widdisons ought to be at least as fun as the original, so that can't be all bad. ;)

For some good times, you should search for things on Santa Claus at the church website. There are a number of "Letters to the Editor" style Round Tables published in the 70s about what to do with Santa. There are a bunch of letters from people such as yourself, annoyed that Santa comes to the ward Christmas party. Fun stuff.

John Stevens said...

On the topic of commercialization of Christmas there is a new movie coming out called "What would Jesus Buy" about a reverend preaching about the shopocalypse and other fun things including a cash register exorcism. You might want to check out the trailer at http://wwjbmovie.com/

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