1. Literaturelady says:

    You’ve said it very well! I’ve noticed this “Santa-God” attitude in the Chrismas specials on TV. It takes the joy and wonder out of Christmas to watch people depending on a glorified human (’cause no one has ever pretended [to my knowledge] that Santa is truly a deity).
    I like what Tolkien did in his Father Christmas Letters. He painted a picture of Santa that is perfectly acceptable–a sometimes grumpy old man who works hard, who cares for children’s Chrismases, who dearly loves his friends but who gets stressed out when they misbehave! Tolkien didn’t make Santa (or Father Christmas) godlike.
    Now on a different note, I absolutely love the Muppet Christmas Carol too!

    • Kaci says:

      Hehe. Yeah, I know people don’t consciously do it. But the attitudes and the way they say things would be considered quite exalting in any other context. Take Elf. Replace Santa with Jesus and call Buddy…I dunno, John the Baptist, and you have a quite different story.

      I haven’t read the Father Christmas Letters. They sound intriguing. 0=)

    • As far as my knowledge, either, no one has ever seriously pretended that Santa is a deity. (Though in my opinion he’s the modern equivalent of some of the lesser members of the Roman pantheon—someone that everyone pretends exists, that it is part of the civic religion to pray to and otherwise venerate, but who those “in the know” know doesn’t really exist. And that last is intended as a stepping stone: “if Santa doesn’t exist, then …”) But L. Frank Baum (the author of The Wizard of Oz and the first set of sequels) wrote a novel detailing his origins, in which he becomes divine (or Immortal, which is as far as the book goes with anything) by agreement of all the other Immortals. It’s a quite enjoyable book, which I enjoyed very much as a child, but I’m somewhat worried about its implications now that I think of it.

      • Kaci says:

        Oh, right. I know. I was mostly gleaning from terminology used in various movies. (Example: My context-use of the phrase ‘give glory’ is such that I can’t fathom using the word in any other context except in reference to God himself. That meant I refused to sing my own college alma mater. It was strictly a personal thing with me, but it’s virtually the same perception.)

        I’ll have to check into the book.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kaci, Speculative Faith. Speculative Faith said: Mistreating Santa or other religious symbols misses their true meanings, @KaciHill argues on #SpecFaith: http://bit.ly/eZxWFS […]

  3. Kirsty says:

    Once in my Sunday school class, to the question “Who do we pray to?” a child (from a Christian family) replied “Santa” :-O

  4. Jonathan says:

    “The fickle, karma-based Saint Nick just doesn’t do it for me.”


    I have Hindu friends (from Bhutan-Nepal) and one of them was under the impression that we, in America, worship Santa Clause along with Jesus. And I replied that we (in America) worship neither. But Christians worship Jesus.

    Anyway, I liked this because when he asked me that question I was thinking, “But why would anyone want to worship Santa, he is all about karma?” And then I realized they, my Hindu friends, worship Santa.

    Elfish slavery.

    So I guess we Americans do worship Santa too. But Christians worship Jesus.

    Shoot, here’s to hoping that this Christmas many elves will be set free from slavery. To know the love of God in Yeshua.

    • Kaci says:

      Wow! Honestly, I’ve been doing a personal study on Hinduism, which is partly responsible for the connection in my mind. Thanks so much.

      Amen to that.

  5. Ken Rolph says:

    Santa is a means of getting rid of Jesus. Substitution. There are people for whom this is a desirable objective.

    In Australia we have just had a bureaucrat issue a memo that nativity scenes not be permitted in Centrelink or Medicare offices. The minister was quickly in front of the TV cameras saying that this ban would not stand, and the staffer (the grinch) found and counselled.

    Homework assignments? Now that would be really weird, considering that the schools have just broken up for summer holidays.

    And a merry Christmas to all!

  6. Steve Taylor says:

    I think this song “My Grown Up Christmas List” proves your point very well. Every music artist seems to be singing this these days, even the Christian ones. The melody is so nice that we probably pay no attention to the lyrics but when we do it’s quite offensive. This is basically a prayer to Santa. And not one that lines up with Scripture either. (Yes, one day there will be no more pain but not until Jesus’ return and the new Heaven and Earth are aet-up). I posted the lyrics in case you are unaware of them. Good article Kaci. Thanks and Merry Christmas

    Do you remember me
    I sat upon your knee
    I wrote to you
    With childhood fantasies

    Well, I’m all grown up now
    And still need help somehow
    I’m not a child
    But my heart still can dream

    So here’s my lifelong wish
    My grown up christmas list
    Not for myself
    But for a world in need

    No more lives torn apart
    That wars would never start
    and wars would never start
    And time would heal all hearts
    And everyone would have a friend
    And right would always win
    And love would never end
    This is my grown up christmas list

    As children we believed
    The grandest sight to see
    Was something lovely
    Wrapped beneath our tree

    Well heaven only knows
    That packages and bows
    Can never heal
    A hurting human soul

    No more lives torn apart
    That wars would never start
    And time would heal all hearts
    And everyone would have a friend
    And right would always win
    And love would never end
    This is my grown up christmas list

    What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
    Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth
    (there’d be)

    No more lives torn apart
    That wars would never start
    And time would heal all hearts
    And everyone would have a friend
    And right would always win
    And love would never end, oh
    This is my grown up christmas list

    This is my grown up christmas list

    • I have always loathed this song — like a holiday-ized version of “Imagine” and just as humanistic. Not only that, but its sentimentality leads to bizarre contradictions, such as “that wars would never start” but at same time “right would always win.” Kind of hard to win if wars will never start.

      [O]ne day there will be no more pain but not until Jesus’ return and the new Heaven and Earth

      Amen times ten, Steve. That’s why songs pining for “world peace” and whatnot, but without Jesus, are no better than all those wars and friendlessness and other sins.

    • Kaci says:

      Steve – You know, that was one I liked growing up, but as a kid you don’t think about it. I know that one very, very well. But yeah – definitely changes perspective once you see the words. Thanks.

  7. Ken Rolph says:

    We need to look at the deeper meaning of the Santa Claus. It is a realtively recent invention. There is always a reason why these monsters crop up in popular culture. They express something. The wolf man expresses our fear of uncontrollable violence. The vampire (as Dracula) expresses our fear of seduction. Zombie stories came to prominence at the same time as mobile phones became widespead and masses of people walked around our cities using them.

    The Santa Claus arises as a consequence of the triunph of production. Our culture promises us that we are all going to get lots of stuff. We will have so much stuff that small aliens can hid in it. And not particularly because we created it ourselves or even earned it. Someone is just going to give it to us.

    We may overlook that other monster that arose at a similar time. With no name of its own, the Monster (by Frankenstein) represents our fear of what might happen as a result of our creative tinkiner in the world. Perhaps we are not as smart as we think we are. We will make things that will come back at us in ways we can’t predict.

    That suggests a new movie plot: Santa versus Monster. I wonder who would win?

  8. […] the interest of a prelude, before Christmas I wrote a piece called Inherently Religious, in which I argued that some events and symbolism are by nature religious, and, therefore, […]

  9. […] for reference, this is a bit of a throw-back to Inherently Religious (Some things are sacred by default, no matter our efforts to ‘secularize’ them) and […]

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