aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

On this St. Nicholas Day,

I think it would be appropriate to say a word about Santa Claus. As a pastor, I have occasionally taught the children in church about St. Nicholas. I show them the Nicene Creed in our hymnal, and I tell them that St. Nicholas helped write that creed. And I tell them about other things he was famous for doing, like helping the poor. I point out to them that St. Nicholas was a real person who loved Jesus and helped others and led the Church. I tell them that Nicholas was the most popular saint of the Middle Ages, and that the stories we tell about Santa Claus (Claus being short for Nicholas) are based upon him.

In this way, I tell no untruths to children, while sidestepping the Santa Claus cult that some people think of such importance. And it is a cult the way some people pursue it. I have seen parents go to extreme lengths to 1) induce belief in Santa, and 2) confirm it with all kinds of trickery. And I have met youth who remembered how hard it was to admit there was no Santa such as their parents told them of. They felt embarrassed to have believed so long. They felt swindled. And then, many of them turned around and did the same to their children. In that way, it's kind of like child abuse; in its extreme forms, it is child abuse.

And I wonder what the consequences for belief in God are for those who were so bamboozled in their childhood about Santa. It would make an interesting research project: a questionnaire asking about belief in Santa and gauging its intensity in the child believer and in the parent promulgators, a questionnaire that would also try to pin down the beliefs of the same children as adults and how hard or easy it was to come to adult faith. For it seems to me that being sold a bill of goods as a child -- not merely observing a tradition, but really being lied to -- would make it hard to trust in those who had misled one when those same authorities now tell you it's time to profess your faith in Christ.

Me, I like St. Nicholas. My last name is even a form of his (Collins). I believe he still lives before the throne of God, and that he prays for us. So, no, I got no quarrel with him. And I enjoy the stories. But sometimes, things go too far, and I think the first responsibility of the parent, the teacher, the pastor is to tell children the truth. Always.


Meanwhile, in Indiana

Uh, maybe not

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

The Real Santa
My guy

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