Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa as Christian Boogeyman

Driving around yesterday listening to Christmas music I actually listened closely to the lyrics of a song I've heard for years: "Here Comes Santa Claus." This little ditty includes lines like:
"Get in bed and cover your head, for Santa Claus is coming tonight."
"Say your prayers because Santa Claus comes tonight."

Does this strike anyone else as more than a little creepy? Is this jolly Saint Nick we're talking about here, or an axe murderer?

That got me thinking about the real Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra in the 300's. Aside from his reputed generosity, history tells us he was a staunch defender of Christian orthodoxy, especially the article of the Trinity. Arius was the heretic du jour then, arguing that the Son was not equal to the Father. Legend has it that Nicholas was quite agitated by this. So agitated was he, that one tale has it that Nicholas went to the ecumenical Council of Nicea and was so incensed by Arius' assault on the trinitarian nature of God he crossed the room and slapped him in the face. (This is apocryphal, of course. There are pretty decent records of the Nicean Council and none of them indicate this happening.)

But this gets me thinking. If we're going to make Santa Claus into some kind of boogeyman, instead of telling kids they should be good or Santa won't bring them presents, why don't we tell them they should watch their doctrine closely or Santa will punch them in the face?

I'm going to run this by Driscoll and see if this duding up of Santa qualifies as redeeming him. ;-)
Jared Wilson

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