[#] The Last Santa post of 2005

Phil Johnson came over with an anecdote about how Santa rocked his epistemological world when he discovered that the fat man in red was not any more a citizen of Earth than Columbo or Jim Rockford. The most striking aspect of Phil’s comment was not the substance of the post. All-told, I’m willing to wager that Phil’s experience is a fairly normal experience.

The most striking aspect of Phil’s post was its position as the first one to relate that story of world view formation. When I called the anti-Santa crowd “jerks”, I expected there to be an army of “when I found out that Santa was not a flesh-and-blood perpetrator of Yuletide anti-larceny, I almost lost my religion” proselytes lined up to tell their tale of philosophical woe.

Now let me tell mine.

When I was a kid – and this may seem far-fetched to most of you – I was a good kid. I held my parents in exceptionally-high esteem. I was the oldest and, as the axiom goes, I was the one who ought to know better. I believed in Santa.

At school, a lot of kids didn’t believe in Santa by the time I was in 3rd grade, and as far as I was concerned, that was their problem. For me, without having studied Pascal’s Wager yet, there was a very simple world to be reckoned, and it intersected between the existence of Santa and the receipt of presents.

See: if I don’t believe in Santa, that’s not going to stop other kids (like my younger brothers) from getting Santa presents on Christmas morning. It’s just going to stop me from getting Santa presents on Christmas morning. The value of the “truth” and my personal integrity gets pretty radically deflated on the morning when my stocking is the only stocking which doesn’t have anything in it.

So, holding my parents up to exceptionally-high esteem, I trusted them. If Santa wasn’t a real person, so what? What’s that got to do with anything? The world in which we had Christmas morning was a much more enjoyable and loving place than the one in which we didn’t. If the belief in Santa was the cause of the events of Christmas morning, I was in.

The exceptionally-bright among you will now be firing up Haloscan to say, “Cent: what about Jesus? After all your arguments, how come Jesus doesn’t enter into your Christmas story here?”

Listen: those of you who are long-time readers know that I didn’t come to saving faith until I was 27 years old. I was an atheist from the time I was 17 to the time I was saved. The question, as Phil asked, “if Santa’s not real, what about Jesus?” never entered into my mind because I didn’t know what a “real Jesus” was. What I did know was that there were consequences to beliefs – at 9 I knew this – and if I was willing to give up Santa I was, apparently, willing to give up Christmas morning.

The real irony is that I wasn’t willing to give up Santa until I knew I didn’t give a damn about Jesus. I have no explanation regarding why this is true because I am certain I did not understand the Gospel when this happened. I only know that when I didn’t want anything to do with Santa, it was because I didn’t want anything to do with Jesus.

In that, when I hear about people who want to give up Jesus because of the lack of habeas corpus in the case of Claus vs. John and Jane Doe, I wonder how my parents got that part right. Santa doesn’t cause Jesus – and if our kids think he does, we are to blame.