Friday, December 25, 2015

Santa and Jesus Myths

Santa Claus           

Watching my grand kids indulge in the Santa myth is truly a fun and amazing thing to see. Last year we redesigned the basement turning it into an art studio. The parents and I led them to go down the stairs and Rocky, the youngest, said, “What if he’s still down there?” A frightening thought indeed! He turned to his older sister and said, “Let’s listen for a ‘ho ho ho . . .’. Precious.

This year Lucy being 6 is a little more excited and organized by things. She went to great lengths to write Santa a thank you note for last year’s presents. Santa of course left a note in return telling her what a great kid she was. Santa also ate most, but not all, of the cookies the kids left for him (and the reindeer ate the carrots). What more proof could you ask for?

The Santa myth is a great example of how programmed by evolution young children are to believe what the elders tell them. Their brains are wired for belief of authority. You can see how survival might depend on that early on. ‘Get in the cave NOW or you WILL be eaten by a saber tooth tiger! No time for arguing on that one and similar.

So we can indulge in the Santa myth for the kids’ and our own enjoyment. The preciousness of seeing someone truly believe that this rough old world houses a kind old gentleman who gives you presents and asks nothing in return. Yeah you’re supposed to be ‘good’ to get that but all kids know that Santa keeps the bar pretty darn low.

Is it a little sad when they grow up and get the idea from other kids or all on their own that the Santa myth just won’t hold water any longer? Really the whole world? One night? Every kid? Of course when you’re young and Santa is magical (and you certainly want him to come to YOUR house) you easily suspend disbelief and even invent ways for it to work. This year Lucy told me that if you should happen to see Santa at work he will lose all his magic and that’s why no one ever sees him as proved by the fact that everyone continues to get presents. Usually the sadness is short lived as its now fun to be in on the ruse and embellish for the enjoyment of younger siblings and friends. And so the myth happily marches on.

It is because youngsters are so wired to believe the adults that it is important to start taking them to church and telling them the Jesus myth at the same age you start telling them the Santa myth. So why does the Santa myth vaporize while the Jesus myth takes off and becomes a life directing idea for many people?

There is the same amount of evidence for the existence of both guys. Probably more for Santa! I mean the cookies are EATEN! While getting around the world in a day via sleigh and flying reindeer challenges our credulity at some point why doesn’t rising from the dead, walking on water, turning water into wine, dying for our sins, and being born to a virgin also challenge our credulity? And look, you actually GET something by believing in Santa - presents. You get nothing by believing in the Jesus myth except promises that can only be collected after death.


Somehow belief in an unprovable idea as been equated with being good. Being a good person. “He’s a man of faith”. A phrase we hear often. If it were spoken, “He is a believer in an invisible magic person”, it doesn’t sound so hot. Well, at least not to me.

So very many of us are locked in to a fear of un-belief. Fear of death. Fear of hell and damnation. Worst case, Santa skips you one year. Worst case for Christians, you burn in hell for eternity!

And big organizations like the catholic church have a vested interest in people NOT questioning. The whole thing collapses in a heartbeat if you see that you are believing in something as childish (but not quite as harmless)  as Santa Claus.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. - 1 Corinthians 13:11

But we don’t when it comes to the Jesus myth itself.

I’ll never understand this.