Please, carry on with the Kris Kringle schtick for whatever reason you like, but not this one. Any reason but this reason. Santa makes Christmas magical? SANTA?
This is what I hate about the guy. He’s a Christmas-stealing glory hog. He’s a diva; everything has to be about him, doesn’t it?
This makes me give a holiday hoot. Right — because Santa is actually real; he can actually “hog glory” or steal Christmas and draw all attention to himself, and “he” is not at all guided by the wills of parents who can either use “him” as a Christ-ignoring, moralistic lie or a Christ-exalting myth.
Contra this comes a colleague at Christ and Pop Culture. Like a toymaking boss — or Kris Kringle’s public defender Fred Gailey from Miracle on 34th Street — S. L. Whitesell shellacks Santa-phobia among Matt Walsh and other well-meaning holiday myth-haters.
Santa-phobia is a result of the atrophy of the Evangelical imagination.
Information—data—is lowest in the hierarchy of higher faculties, then knowledge, then wisdom, then imagination. We moderns are addicted to information and we lionize knowledge. Christians and other traditional religionists place a great premium on wisdom. But Evangelicals at least resist imagination. The same impulses lead us to poo-poo Halloween and scary stories. The High Reformed places such emphasis on propositional truth—beautiful in its own right!—that they have little time for unbound storytelling. Fundamentalists, in my experience, tend to be so narrowly biblical that anything not explicitly mentioned or sanctioned in the Scriptures is off-limits. (Elves using magic to guard Lothlórien just sounds pagan.)
This is cause for grieving. Imagination is the height of the power of the imago dei: It is the engine of Creation itself.
Meanwhile, this week I’m handing over the reins to my weekly column sleigh to fellow fantasy fan and Army veteran Timothy Stone. He has volunteered a two-part column about Santa’s origin story, and why we should embrace this myth born in Church history.