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Joining The Santa Cause, Part 1

“Magical journeys always have a reason,” Santa said. “Or they should, anyway. … Let me assure you: I also completely agree that Christmas is about Christ, not myself. If I were real, I would be glorifying Him. How, though, would I do that? That’s what I’m here to discuss.”

“He’s not real.”

The words were clear — the dreaded words. But whose little voice had just uttered them? They came from below and to the right, about three feet away, and Holly glanced down to the sidewalk, past rows of boot-clad legs, and, moved to look upward —

Wasn’t that Christine’s boy? Jo-something, like a Bible character. All of Christine’s children had J-names from the Bible, so this one would be Joash or Joshua or Josiah or maybe Joshikia ben-Tammuz. The six- or seven-year-old was buried in his coat, of course, and too thin a coat, also, but the coat wasn’t what forced his little dark-haired head upward as he added to his pronouncement: “Santa Claus is a pay-gan figger!

Even from half a foot taller than the boy, Nick stared down to him, as if he had never before heard this said. Beside him was Chelsea, already shivering, and now confused.

Of course they hadn’t! She’d tried so hard to prevent this, but some kids just had to …

Already Holly was moving closer. The high-school band was moving away, meaning she could be heard just as easily. Why did kids have to be this way? His mom — there she was, standing nearby, her black hair forced up into the coiled-tight bun. Evidently Christine hadn’t heard her own child, but she seemed distracted, watching the parade.

When had they arrived? Did she even let them enjoy holiday events like this?

Holly finally edged past two people, beside Nick, whose freckled nose had just wrinkled into a sniff. Cold, or disappointment? Holly turned down and put on her best maternal smile. “Well, we celebrate Santa at our house.” What was the little boy’s age? He was old enough to be bold enough to spoil things. “Santa is real for us.”

“Well …” Uncertainty. “It’s Jesus’ birthday. Santa is a distraction.”

“Holly? Hello.” That voice was on her level, and had just come nearer. Christine stopped and stood beside her little boy, and gave her own mild look. “Nice to see you again.”

Christine and her husband, and their pew-full of children, almost always sat up front. Holly had first read their last name from the church directory she’d helped put together. Or was it the offering counting? Or the Sunday-school volunteer collection? The last was not possible; Christine’s family didn’t do Sunday school, or children’s church. They barely attended those few awkward meals they had tried together, attempting to find common ground beyond Sunday and Wednesday services. But not even the children and their mutual love of parenting had seemed sufficient for that.

“Hi.” Holly increased the smile, ready to ask if they was well, what brought them here —

“He’s real,” cried Nick from below. “Last year he gave me a —” something — “and a —”

“Nick, hush, it’s okay. Every family is different. Santa skips over some families’ houses.”

“Mm-hmm. Well.” Christine’s dark eyes lowered. “We’re just here to pick up some film. We didn’t know a parade was today.”

Cheers rose — and now Holly saw it, coming down the street and beyond the raised hands, wool-capped heads, and bundled-up children on shoulders. Blaring soundtrack, — “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” of course — came from moving speakers on the float, which also bristled with glittered sides, candy-cane fences, and cotton for snow.

“Sannn-ta Claus is comin’ ta toww-wwn! Sannn-ta Claus is comin’ ta toww-wwn!”

Christine had bent over. She was trying to pull her boy away. Standing nearby and watching were several other children, two boys, three girls, all dressed like her.

“But Mom!” the first boy was protesting.

Had he ever seen a parade before?

“I can watch him, if you want,” Holly offered. “He’d like the parade. Your first time?”

Straightening, Christine had a tolerant you-know-how-children-are smile. “Well. We try to make sure to keep Christmas focused around Christ.”

Mm-hm. Of course she’d say that. “Well, in my view, it’s harmless fun. Just a fantasy.”

Christine shooed Josiah/Joash/Joshua back to the herd of other children, and took a step back, with white tennis shoes just poking out from just under her loose jean legs.

“Well, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Santa is a distraction.”

Holly raised her voice: “Well, do you want your kids to grow up without imagination?”

“Well —” Christine barely raised hers — “do you want to tell them something that isn’t true, and have them later question whether God and our Savior also aren’t real?”

My children can know the difference.” That came out too harsh. Holly had forgotten her well. A well-placed well would soften any sentence. “It seems that if we’re to give our children a sense of magic and imagination, there’s nothing wrong with Santa, or gifts!”

“Little tin horns, little toy drums! Rudy-toot-toots and rummy-tum-tums!”

“Well, sounds like materialism.” Christine’s face sweetened even more sickly. “More of what our culture and the world offers. We’re to focus on the reason for the season.”

“He’s making a list! And checking it twice!”

“Your children are going to grow up without magic, imagination, fantasy and joy —”

A blast of a horn, blaring at first from the speakers, then even louder than that …

“Yours will be taught that things matter more than truth, and that Santa is like God —”

Then Christine’s face snapped upward, and her eyes widened. Suddenly no crowds were nearby, between the barricade between sidewalk and street. Instead, only a tall figure. Broad and bulky, his hands on his hips, but even with a dazzling light silhouetted around him, he was clearly looking at them both. Between plump cheeks, and under a plumper beard, he was grinning so widely that his cheeks had glistened with faint red.

“Don’t let me interrupt,” he rumbled. That voice … just on the edge of a joyous chuckle …

Behind him the light was growing. Him in the center, like an angel. How was it? Holly wouldn’t look away, though the light brightened even more, any moment forcing her to turn from it. Then the horn blared again, and so hard her very forehead trembled.

The tall, broad man, dressed as Santa, took one look behind, let out a terrific cry, and launched himself forward. His huge bulk slammed into Holly, and she was tumbling backward, into black —

__________

Potpourri, that’s what it must be: the scent of cinnamon sticks, hot cider, hot and soothing. But something was wrong. There was too much of it.

The scent came from right underneath her face. Holly lifted her head, and found nothing but dark brown underneath. Brown with streaks, no, a grain. It was wood, in fact, several boards of wood, and from it came the succulent but overwhelming smell.

A groan came from nearby, and she lifted her head. Warm orange light fell on her hair that must now be strewn about crazily. Where had her hood gone? What of the cold?

And she was there, just rising from the floor, still in that dull gray sweater, over the old, baggy jeans. As for the six children she’d had with her moments ago? Nowhere. They were both alone. But as Christine propped herself on one elbow, she seemed all right.

The air prickled as if from static. Somehow Holly felt no fear, not even after what had just happened. Instead, she tried to take in their surroundings.

A high roof, with vast wooden beams, rose to a peak in the middle, stained with multi-colored lights. They came from flickering torches on enormous chandeliers, like cast-iron, carved into intricate curving and pointing patterns. Nearby, the angled ceiling met a vast wall, also of dark wood, which dropped at least 30 feet down to a raised platform.

On that wooden platform stood a man. He was large, and dark, and covered in crimson.

Just as before?

Now that man stepped forward and the wooden floor rumbled under herself. Dressed in shining red fabric like satin that also caught the light, his two thick arms led to broad shoulders, a wide collar that covered his neck, and a pure white beard over plump face, sparkling eyes, and a nearly bald head.

Where was the hat? What hat? You know, the little red thing you’re supposed to wear.

They had both landed in a mall shop? Of wood? Taken captive by him?

“Christine. Holly. I’m glad you’re all right.” His voice sounded like it should, and it made Holly smile. This shouldn’t be surprising. Not this time of year, anyway. Not with all the stories, the specials, the children’s books. And oh, wouldn’t Christine be shocked?

Santa had moved closer, and Holly watched those great boots thump across, then stop, before Santa knelt. His boots, or his limbs, creaked, and he reached down to Christine.

On her face: just the right kind of alarm. Wouldn’t this be something to tell the kids!

“My apologies.”

Now Santa was sitting on the steps, putting countless creases into his shiny red — robe? Still he wore no pointed cap. As for the broad red coat, with the shining golden buttons — just a moment ago he had removed it, with a contented sigh, and hung it on a nearby coatrack. That device stood near the stage, with multiple wooden points, like antlers.

Santa gave a shrug, and extended a hand. It was bare, with no glove. “Such things can happen in the middle of a magical — or, if you prefer, miraculous — transport to another place. The system gets things mixed up. Here I wanted a simple portal, and …”

Another blast from a horn, though fainter. Holly glanced behind her. The wall back there and just a few feet away seemed to close in upon itself, fading like a fog and filling in with the same wood-grain colors and textures. But just beyond it was the sight of a speeding silver surface, several of them. They were enormous train cars, filled with windows, out of which poked the excited faces of small children in pajamas, so filled with the Christmas spirit that they stared in childlike wonder, outward, with vacant expressions and strangely, disconcertingly hollow eyes.

Then finally the Polar Express was gone, and Santa had settled back on the wood stair.

Christine was gazing, her mouth closed, with no hint of awe.

Santa’s cheeks rose; he had to be grinning again, under that bushy mustache.

“Magical journeys always have a reason,” he said. “Or they should, anyway.”

“You’re not real … you can’t be,” Christine said quietly.

“Maybe not.” Santa answered briskly, but with no annoyance. Instead, he gave a wink. “Possibly a dream, remember? And let me assure you: I also completely agree that Christmas is about Christ, not myself. If I were real, I would be glorifying Him. How, though, would I do that? That’s what I’m here to discuss. Let’s consider together, what you were saying earlier, when you thought I didn’t happen to see — that I could distract from Christmas, or that I’m a harmless fantasy. Where would you like to begin?”

(To be continued, next week …)

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Fred Warren
Member

Holy frijoles…it’s Satan Clause!

Kaci Hill
Member

He’s gonna EAT them!

Galadriel
Guest

Sounds like fun.  I could definately go for an adventure like this.

Patrick J. Moore
Guest

“Now there are those who don’t believe
In miracles or Santa Claus
But I believe what I believe
And I believe in Santa’s cause” – The Statler Brothers

Enjoying the story so far. Can’t wait to find out what happens next (I really hope Fred and Kaci are wrong)!

Santa is a very touchy subject with some. You have to admit some of the songs make him sound pretty creepy… “you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why” – that whole song makes him sound like the monster under the bed: a gimmick of cruel parents to scare children into behaving. Throw in that creepy sidekick (Krampus) he travels with in Germany and the Santa version of Christmas starts sounding more and more like Halloween.
But belief in miracles, a sense of wonder and hope… there are good things wrapped up in this Santa package. And what about the actual man, the saint, Saint Nicholas? Other saints get celebrated with no-one making a big stink about distracting from Jesus. Why should the gift giver distract from the first and greatest gift of Christmas?

Seems people tend to either embrace Santa or completely reject him. His image being used in the marketing of so many products this time of year (being embraced by materialism) makes it so much easier for Christians to out-right reject him.

Well, it didn’t sound like you are opening this up for discussion yet, but I thought I’d throw in a few coins anyway. Looking forward to part two. 

Fred Warren
Member

Enjoying the story so far. Can’t wait to find out what happens next (I really hope Fred and Kaci are wrong)!

I’m not optimistic. He’s already used the M word twice, and he’s clearly overweight.

Kaci Hill
Member

Enjoying the story so far. Can’t wait to find out what happens next (I really hope Fred and Kaci are wrong)!

 
Like I said on FB the other day…there’s a reason I’ve never written a Christmas story…

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

I tend to think those who don’t believe in Jesus are quite relieved to have someone else to focus on at Christmas. That way they can participate without violating their own consciences.

I enjoyed the pretend of Santa growing up. We left out milk and gram crackers (in place of cookies), knowing full well that my dad would enjoy the snack. We tried staying up to catch him in the act, but always fell asleep. We hung stockings, anticipating a Santa gift, though we knew it came from Mom and Dad along with the ones under the tree. It was fun. A distraction? Only if anything else fun is a distraction. Putting up trees? That was fun. Building snowmen? That was fun.

The idea of distraction can get carried away, I think.

In the same way, it’s possible for the Nativity and the celebration of Jesus as a little baby to be a distraction from why He came!

Becky

Kaci Hill
Member

Santa is a very touchy subject with some. You have to admit some of the songs make him sound pretty creepy… “you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why” – that whole song makes him sound like the monster under the bed: a gimmick of cruel parents to scare children into behaving.

I honestly find Frosty weirder than Santa.
 

Throw in that creepy sidekick (Krampus) he travels with in Germany and the Santa version of Christmas starts sounding more and more like Halloween.

Sounds like something *I’d* write…

But belief in miracles, a sense of wonder and hope… there are good things wrapped up in this Santa package. And what about the actual man, the saint, Saint Nicholas? Other saints get celebrated with no-one making a big stink about distracting from Jesus. Why should the gift giver distract from the first and greatest gift of Christmas?

 
I prefer the simple homage to the actual man, myself.  Lately, the deification of Santa and the increasing number of movies that rely on “faith in Santa” sort of disturb me. It shouldn’t, but it does.  Hey, I’m 27 and still get “presents from Santa,” so I have no problem with the game. But those movies are weird…Okay, so I admittedly overthink things.
 
Probably St. Nick’s problem is having his celebration simultaneously with Jesus’ birthday – which likely wasn’t till spring anyway (so the Christian urban legends go).
 

Seems people tend to either embrace Santa or completely reject him. His image being used in the marketing of so many products this time of year (being embraced by materialism) makes it so much easier for Christians to out-right reject him.

It’s when he’s deliberately being used in place of Jesus that bothers me, I think. There was this movie on the other night that had a Christmas pageant that included shepherds, angels, Mary & Joseph, and Santa.  Silent night, cuz Santa Claus is coming to town…
 
But I’m admittedly getting less fond of most non-religious Christmas music….so….

In the same way, it’s possible for the Nativity and the celebration of Jesus as a little baby to be a distraction from why He came!

 
My mom’s explanation for her favorite holiday being Easter is, “Anyone can be born. Not just anyone can come back from the dead.”
 
But to that end,  I’m going through this Advent booklet right now – I’m enjoying it, but while I completely understand the parallel of “As the saints of old awaited his first coming, so we await his second,” it’s a bit chronologically confusing, even for me, to jump to his death and resurrection before we’ve finished discussing everything leading up to and surrounding his birth.

Bob
Guest
Bob

But I’m admittedly getting less fond of most non-religious Christmas music

It seems like every time I turn on our local Christian station during this season, their playing the likes of ‘Jingle Bells’. Now that’s a distraction. There’s plenty of other stations to play the Santa’s Cause.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Bob, I agree. Maybe my expectations are different for Christian stations — that they would actually have Christian music on a holiday ostensibly to celebrate a Christian event. Are we asking too much? I don’t think so.

 

Becky

Kaci Hill
Member

Becky – I don’t mind Christian stations playing non-religious Christmas music. What’s weird to me is when they aren’t playing *any* Christmas music.

Kaci Hill
Member

Haha.  Glad to know I’m not alone. 
 
What’s frustrating is *no* Christmas music….

Kaci Hill
Member

Update: Just for you, Bob, I’m on hold with Best Buy and their hold music is Jingle Bells.

Paul Lee
Member

At my secular state community college, they were playing Christian Christmas hymns at the bookstore.  Well, the recording didn’t have the words to “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and the rest of the gang, just an instrumental arrangement, but it was good to hear the tunes and reflect on the meanings of their unsung rhymes.

Bethany A. Jennings
Guest

Stephen, while I am enjoying your story quite a bit, I have to admit that I feel like your portrayal of Christine takes an unnecessary dig at ultra-conservative Christian families.  Lots of kids, unattractive and/or identical clothing, all Bible and virtue names, people who apparently don’t have any fun…  I say this as someone who knows an ultra-conservative family; when I first met them, I noted their unusual clothing style, Bible/virtue names, and many children, and I immediately made assumptions about them and viewed them with almost suspicion.  Then I got to know them…and they are one of THE sweetest, most Christ-exalting families I have ever met!  They are constantly encouraging people, giving gifts, and building others up, and honoring God with their every word.  I was deeply ashamed of myself for thinking unkindly about this sweet, sincere Christian family – all because of a cliche that I subconsciously believed!

All this to say, Christians come in all different shapes and sizes and clothing styles.  So do Santa-haters – we’re not all unimaginative, unpleasant sorts.  🙂  (I know I for one am imaginative, and I certainly hope I’m not unpleasant!)

Yes…I admit it…I don’t like Santa.  😀  I wasn’t raised in a Santa-celebrating home and so Christmas is joyful and complete enough to me without him, and I’m not interested in celebrating him with my own children. I certainly don’t take any issue with other families incorporating him into their Christmas! To each his own. But I do feel there is a difference between “the pretend of Santa” (as Rebecca worded it) and letting your kids completely believe Santa is real and hiding that he’s not, as Holly seems to do in the narrative.  I feel like the latter betrays children’s wholehearted trust in their parents.  I wouldn’t worry about my child questioning God’s existence later, but I don’t want to look my children in the face and admit that I lied to them for years!  Ouch!

I hope I’m not coming across as berating or harsh here.  I just felt I needed to put in a good word for uber-conservative families, who are often sincere fellow believers, and can be unjustly viewed as a result of the cliches we often proliferate, even if we’re not being malicious (and I’m sure you weren’t!).  🙂

In Christ,
Bethany 

Timothy Stone
Member

Great story so far Stephen. I think that both fictional ladies are wrong. Those who insist you are “destroying your kid’s imagination” without Santa, AND those who insist you are on the verge of idolatry with Santa. Why must we insist that others are practically evil if they don’t agree with us as these two do. And they ARE both all too representative of crackpots on both sides in real life.
As for pretending he’s real.

My parents helped me believe it as a child. Yes, that even extended to my Father eating my cookies at night I left out for Santa.I believed it completely as a child and it never prevented me from accepting Christ. I got into the Santa legalism (as in condemning those who let their kids believe in him and my OWN PARENTS for letting me do so as a kid) when I was a teen. Fortunately, I got over it and stopped being a legalistic idiot. Today, I am thankful they did so. Really, can’t we just respect each other’s right to celebrate how we want to, and raise our kids how we wish to do so? Why are we all such busybodies? 

Truth be told. I believe in a “Spirit of Christmas” in the vein of Father Christmas/The Ghost of Christmas Present that spreads good cheer, a la Victorian through 19th century impressions. I think of it as an angel. So I guess I still believe in Santa. Many folks in times past believed in a “Father Christmas figure” and still do in some countries, as I just pointed out. Why do we suppose that we are so much smarter than them?

Maria Tatham
Guest

Stephen, yes, both women have fixed ideas, and because we get Holly’s pov she seems the most snooty, especially because her thinking is well-done, for example, when she call’s Christine and her husband’s children, their ‘pew-full’ of children. Good job in getting her pov across.

About Santa. What bothers me is lying to kids, doing our best to maintain a fiction we’re going to destroy. It doesn’t make sense. Sometimes I wonder if parents can’t let go of Santa Claus themselves.

It was fun to read and it will be interesting to see where you’re going with this. But, as with a lot of Santa stuff, I get this feeling of something a little dark. Maybe, I’m still afraid to climb onto Santa’s lap.

 

Bethany A. Jennings
Guest

Yes, Stephen, seeing as neither character embodies your point of view, you’ve done an excellent job of showing two different perspectives!

Maria, I’m with you in seeing something subtly dark here…the children with oddly empty eyes are creeping me out…I guess we’ll see what’s up with that in the next installment? 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Right, Bethany! Waiting for the next installment!

Kaci Hill
Member

Addendum: Since other people have mentioned it: I’m reminded of a story a pastor tells.  He generally doesn’t wear a suit & tie when he preaches; he normally wears jeans and some sort of shirt. But one year, since it was Christmas, he wore khakis and a red dress shirt. The way he tells it, someone emailed him and called him a sell-out for dressing up for the service.  Ever since he told it, I’m reminded that the reverse legalism also exists: The emailer was just as legalistic in their stance against “traditional dress” for church as some are in favor.
To me, this particular narrative is a further example of this: The mockery and sheer contempt of Holly for Christine’s beliefs is the equal opposite of Christine’s disdain of everyone who “does the Santa thing.”

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

I think this story has the potential to be a very good ‘teaching’ tale, 
and I will most certainly be tuning in for the next part…

However, I think you’ve chosen a poor time to give a negative image of the ultra-conservative Christian in light of the publicity the Duggar family is going through currently. I understand that the perspective is supposed to be Holly’s, but it comes across as the perspective of the writer and a ‘that’s wrong/ridiculous’ mindset.

I respect Mr. Burnett from the NarniaWeb Council, but this may be going too far for the sake of storytelling. It sounds like you are writing caricature of the above-mentioned family (All the names beginning in J, descriptions of the matching outfits, the whole Sunday School issue…etc). 

This being said, I’m am not the average ultra-conservative. I went to separate ages sunday-school today, am wearing pants, and have cut my hair pretty short. Its not that I have a thing against them (or even super for them)…I just think this image is coming at the wrong time.
Thanx!
Ellen 

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Ellen, I had to have someone explain to me what the reference to the Duggar family meant. Not all of us are up to speed on some of these shows. I mention this only as a way of saying, it’s probably not possible to know that an author is taking cues from one source or another. Rather, I think the fact that Stephen’s fictitious character reminds you of them means he did a pretty good job portraying her realistically.

 

Becky

Maria Tatham
Guest

Stephen, waiting for the next installment!
Blessings!
Maria 

Timothy Stone
Member

Myths and lies are a part of our culture. I hate to state that, but it’s true. Let’s go over the lies we’ve all been told apart from Santa.
Washington told the truth about cutting down the cherry tree. (False! He did no such thing. It’s a folk legend that got put into book form and passed through the ages).
Lincoln wanted equality for all. (False! He wanted slavery to end, but still believed whites were VASTLY superior to other races. He wanted to ship many blacks to Liberia. Now, he was ALSO VASTLY open-minded for his time, and seen as scarily revolutionary on race relations due to it).
Thomas Jefferson never had an affair. That’s all Left-wing bilge. (False! Yes he likely did have an affair. Documents at the time support this and make clear that Sally Hemmings (sp?) was a dead ringer for her older deceased cousin, Mrs. Thomas Jefferson).
The Puritans and the Founders were so morally upright that they never gambled, drank, or smoked. (False! The Founders and the Puritans before them got so drunk so often that it’s a wonder they could stand at all. This is partially due to the fact of the unreliability of good drinking water at the time. You took what you could get.)
The Founders were all Christians. (False: The Founders were a mix of Christians, Deists, lapsed Christians, and some men who believed the Bible in a cultural sense, but not a theological sense. Think of how many Europeans treat their “national churches”).
Let’s just, for the sake of being safe and sure, assume that Christian “historian” (and I use that term loosely) David Barton is either wrong or else, when he is right, ignores the evidences that would show his ideas as not as widespread.
The Boston Massacre was the fault of the colonists, who were asking for trouble hurling ROCKS and so forth at armed Soldiers.
The ideas that the South used to justify secession were, in fact, originally put forth by the NORTHERN states who were furious after a string of Virginians in the White House.
America was founded as a Christian Nation! (False! and True! It’s more complicated than that. Our Founders primarily took the inspiration from the Western Canon. This means a love of learning and freedom from Greece’s racist system, and a love of codified law from Rome’s horribly messed-up system. What balanced these to give true freedom was the Christian Scriptures, and their emphases on the dignity of each individual person before God, and said value before God. Yes, we founded on Christian values, but also on Roman law and Greek learning, or as some conservative Theorists put it: :the three Pillars of Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem).
You can do anything you put your mind towards. (False: No, you can’t).
Mommy and Daddy are tired. (False: Won’t say anymore on that, because it isn’t appropriate. No, weisenheimer, I’m not making bad jokes, I’m serious).
I’m sure I’ll see more jokes soon, but this is a credible list. And the above lies range from the mundane to lies many Christian parents spend more time on than Santa Claus.
Lies are lies. But cultural myths are important. I tell kids most of the above lies because they instill truths behind them. The children eventually grow up to realize the fact and fiction of what they’ve been told. The truths will always stick close to them. If I sound like it is a good thing to lie to your kids, then that is because I don’t view it that way. On Santa, at least I view it as helping a child retain their innocence. If I FORCE my kid to believe, that’s one thing. But if I help them lay out cookies and eat them in the night, that’s another. Let children have fun.
And the stork doesn’t deliver babies either.

Maria Tatham
Guest

Timothy,

Simply because lying is commonplace, and lying about important things is too, doesn’t make lying right.

The idea that truth somehow sticks to kids, while lies fall away, is really interesting, but is probably a rationalization for doing what we want to do instead of taking God’s lead.

 

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

But are we talking about “lying”? Is there no place for pretend?

Think about it. When parents first play peek-a-boo with their infant, aren’t they actually teaching two important things — that their parents haven’t actually left, even when it appears they have (their absence isn’t actual; it is “pretend,” if you will) and the more commonly acknowledged lesson, that they will always come back when it appears they have left.

My point is, we teach children about the pretend when we play with them and when we read to them. Was I to believe that the tortoise and hare were actually racing? That Mr. Toad truly went on a wild ride, that Brer Rabbit really knew how to outsmart Brer Fox and Brer Bear? Pretend, folks, pretend, not lies.

Children understand that the fat man didn’t actually come down the skinny chimney and that he didn’t arrive in Southern California dressed for snow — not really. It’s pretend.  And there’s a place for it, one that parents shouldn’t feel is forbidden them because they are constrained to always tell the truth. Yes, they are, but telling the truth does not preclude the pretend.

 

Becky

Maria Tatham
Guest

Becky, I don’t think that for many many children it’s the fun of just-pretend. Pretending means that everyone would be in on the game. This isn’t about playing or reading to them, but maintaining a fiction, until at some point we tell the truth.

Besides (gulp)….are you really actually telling me that Mr. Toad did not go on his wild ride….?

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Well, as too often, I wrote my comment without considering all the possibilities. Yes, I suppose there are some parents who do actually lie to their children. I think it’s cruel if a child asks a parent if Santa is real and the parent, for some misguided sense of doing good for their “innocent” child, resorts to lies.

I don’t think that’s the general rule, however. I could be wrong. I may have to ask the question on Facebook and see what others have to say. I could be blinded by my own experience and the observations I made as I grew up.

At any rate, I don’t think anyone who would suggest that “playing along” with a child who may not yet have asked, Is Santa real, is the same as lying.

When I was teaching 7th and 8th graders, I played and pretended frequently. Pulling a joke on junior highers was part of the fun, and such often meant “lying.” But it wasn’t lying, it was pretending. Yet for a short time, those kids believed something that wasn’t true, a la April Fools jokes (You have something hanging from your nose or some such made up thing).

I think most kids and their belief about Santa is the like that. For a short while babies might think their parent disappeared behind the blanket they held up in front of their face, too. It’s temporary, it’s for fun, it’s quickly followed up with the the truth. If something deviates from those three, then I would say, perhaps the parent or adult is lying to the child.

Heheh … and yes, Marie, it’s time you learned the truth about our beloved Mr. Toad. 😆

 

Becky

Maria Tatham
Guest

Okay, my friend, we can leave the issue there, contentedly. Glad our beloved Mr. Toad could be part of an insightful discussion. 

Timothy Stone
Member

Ma’am, do you ever hide gifts from your kids you buy them, because hiding the truth is also a lie. Should parents tell kids they have sex with each other, when, and how. After all, you will not want to lie to your kid, right? You will also outright tell folks that people die in war, and show them the images on tv. After all, otherwise would be lying. Should I get in frank conversation, when I’m emotionally able to at times, about warfare? Otherwise is lying.

Should I tell kids that their animals will be put to sleep if they are sick? After all, you only can go so long with saying not to talk about it before *some* answer is given. How far is it before you lie, and should you be so sure to never lie that you make your toddlers knowledgeable about sex, war, murder, money, loss, grief, and all else?

Let’s go to a more serious level. Was Rahab evil? Was Corrie Ten Boom? Was Dietrich Bonhoffer? Heck, God ORDERED people like Gideon to lie. He ordered the Magi to lie via breaking their word. One’s word was considerably more serious at the time than today culturally. I’m sure I can think of sooooooo many other lies that OT “heroes” told, sometimes at God’s command.

Are the military and intelligence services evil for saying things untrue? D-Day relied on a great DEAL of lying. Patton wasn’t an “idiot” that had to be worked around, or didn’t know the real mission. He was part of a very deliberate ruse.

I lie. I lie quite often. Every day that I tell less than I know (and all other vets who actually observe Operational Security or OpSec, which they damn well should) or tell something different than I know to be true. I am unapologetic about it. If lying protected a brother or sister in arms, or anyone else, I would lie every day of my life.

I imagine that would trouble you and many others here. I have no problem with it. I do not argue that lying is good. I don’t argue war or shedding blood is good either. Sometimes you have what you would call “necessary evils”. I do not compare Santa as a myth to lives in war or international issue. I merely make the case that the world is not this nice, neat, convenient place that it is made out to be. It is messy and hard, and difficult. It will be until Christ comes back. 

Until then, to protect others, and to further ideals, one often must do what so many disdainfully sneer down at as “dirty work”. It’s a part of life.

Kaci Hill
Member

Ma’am, do you ever hide gifts from your kids you buy them, because hiding the truth is also a lie.

 
That’s not entirely accurate. While hiding the truth is deception, the whole point of hiding a gift is so it can be revealed at the proper time. The truth is, the kid likely already knows they’re getting a gift. So the truth – there is a gift – is not concealed, and the truth – the exact whereabouts and nature of said gift –  is concealed for a specific amount of time for a specific purpose. I think this is assuming mal-intent where there is none, otherwise it’d be a sin to put Christmas gifts in the closet out of sight; indeed, it’d be a sin just to wrap them. 
 

Should parents tell kids they have sex with each other, when, and how. After all, you will not want to lie to your kid, right? You will also outright tell folks that people die in war, and show them the images on tv. After all, otherwise would be lying. Should I get in frank conversation, when I’m emotionally able to at times, about warfare? Otherwise is lying.

 
I think there’s  an “appropriateness” factor in which all subjects can be handled with tact and without deception.  I don’t think deception and tact are the same thing.
On the rest: I think I’ve only got two things here, because I think I get your overall point.  Sometimes, I think the spirit of the law trumps the letter; and, yes,  I understand national security doesn’t exist without some measure of deception.  But I’ve said my whole life: I will baldfaced lie and fall into the hands of God rather than knowingly endanger a human life. It is what it is.
 
 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Ma’am?
Mr. Timothy, you talking to me? If so, I’ll get back to you! Too late at night to talk more…
Bless you!!

Maria Tatham
Guest

Before retiring for the night, I must just say, Timothy, I’m NOT NOT NOT sneering at anybody. I just have a funny looking face…
M.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Timothy, thank you sincerely for your service to our country. You obviously know first hand about just how messy and hard this world is.

I appreciate your comments, and I think we agree in essence. At the same time I see things in a fundamentally different way because I don’t believe telling some facts and not all facts is lying. In a way, by that definition, we’d have to say that God lied (and we know He didn’t) because Scripture says that the mystery of Christ had been hidden from past ages and generation, but had now been manifested to His Saints. (See Col. 1:26).

I don’t think the Magi lied, either, or that God instructed them to by telling them to go home via a different route. For one, it’s an assumption that they promised Herod they’d do what he asked. We have no indication in Scripture that they agreed. Secondly, if they did agree to tell him so he could come and worship, then found out that he would come and kill, they weren’t breaking their word to tell the worshiper where to find the object of worship.

I also can’t think of an example when Gideon lied, but you’re right to suggest that others did — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his mother, Rahab when she hid the spies, and others. There were also instances when God did instruct Israel’s army to set up ambushes, and once when the prophet of God apparently lied to an invading army, delivering them into the hands of the king (though he then instructed the king to treat them as guests and release them).

However, all these examples are mitigated by God’s clear instruction. He says there are things He hates, and lying makes the list. He also calls Satan the father of lies, and Paul tells Christians in Colossians not to lie to one another.

So here is a summary of what I’m trying to say:

  • People in the Bible sinned, and sometimes they weren’t censured and didn’t receive a consequence for their actions. So too with lying. Just because Bible people lied doesn’t mean we should go and do likewise.
  • Since God is sinless, His plans to deceive enemy armies cannot be considered wrong, nor should other’s similar plans.
  • Telling the truth while keeping some related facts secret is not the same as lying.
  • Satan loves what is false; God hates it.
  • Pretending is not lying; it’s play.

I guess, I’d conclude that when we mistake pretend or truth that doesn’t reveal all for lies we actually weaken our understanding of what constitutes the communication God hates. We end up excusing all lying in order to accommodate the “lies” we believe are justified. Or we end up painting as black things which God Himself did, and in the end, accuse Him of wrong doing, as if we have a better moral compass than He does.

OK, I said “conclude” so I better do so, or I might end up lying. 😆

 

Becky

Timothy Stone
Member

Thanks for the conversations all.

I get your point, Rebecca Ma’am, and thanks for your appreciation. 🙂

Maria Tatham, Ma’am, I look forward to your comments, but I am SO sorry. I did not mean to question your character, or portray you negatively. I was talking about folks in general, not you. I just argue passionately. Sometimes it gets away from me. I am really sorry for having you think that by my unwise choice of words. Please forgive me.

Stephen, I know I’m not comparing directly the same ideas, and I don’t mean to do so. I just mean to get people to think that the idea that answering “that would be a lie” is not a good enough answer. The world is not so easy to maneuver. I guess I just want so many debates to move beyond a simple declamation of that kind.
 
Thanks all for listening. I know the fact that lying is wrong, I just want something deeper than that in the conversation. I agree with your idea, Ma’am, of the pretend method. Very good.

I also think that the ideas of those who DO believe in Father Christmas as I do, many Brits and some of those in Hispanic countries do, is another thing to be discussed.

Thanks again for your patience, and I am truly sorry for some poor words and over-vehemence. Please forgive me for this. God bless.

Stephen: When will part 2 be out?

Maria Tatham
Guest

Timothy, just back briefly to let you know how well I think of you–don’t worry. Have a terrifically happy Christmas!

Hope to talk to all of you again after my sabbatical, that is, Lord willing!
Maria
    
 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Everybody, I appreciate your discussion, fiction, and fellowship, but I’ll be saying goodbye for a while. My sister-in-law died early Monday morning, I’m sad, exhausted, don’t feel well, and am overly involved with online conversations. I’m setting all the blogs I subscribe to, to weekly digest, to give me a chance to recoup. But I don’t think that I can be this involved now, nor perhaps even in the future. Also, I’ve completely stopped work on my novel. Not good.

You know I wish you all, the best of Christmasas!! Muppet kind, or otherwise. God bless us every one!

In His joy,

Maria
    

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