Still haven’t figured out how to officially reblog Plato’s stuff, but he was sweet enough to let me post this in its entirety. What a beautiful gift he reminds us of for Christmas.
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Now I am not dogging out Christmas but I have been thinking about it and the stories we tell our children as well as the impact those stories have. I remember the magic of it and the power that innocent hope has to help children modify their behavior if only for a season. Ralphee was able to focus and get creative and overcome obstacles motivated by the lure of a Red Rider BB gun. As best I can remember that movie had a purely secular slant on it and probably is a good reflection of the psychology behind our yearly spending frenzy. It seems now most of what this season has become is a three month cultural ritual which culminates in a lavish sacrifice to the one-eyed god – MON-EYE
I was wondering what must go through the mind of a child regarding this mishmash of stories that have somehow evolved into whatever we do during this time of year. Children, especially those raised in a Christian tradition must be the most confused. Let’s see . . . Jesus was born on December 25th that just so happens to coincide with significant dates in Astral theology. He was visited by shepherds and angels and wise men on that night, unless one reads the account and find that the wise guys showed up a few years later. A poor boy played his magic drum that made animals dance. Frosty needs help from Santa to come back to life. Santa and Rudolph and the folks from theIsland of Misfit Toys I think were also at the birth. Jesus is loosely associated with evergreen trees and lights and gifts and peppermint and Santa and flying reindeer and Coke cola and polar bears and Budweiser horses. Between all of these stories and songs and a multitude of church plays with questionable theology the key player in all of this jumble is Santa. He is the one who is always watching (creepy) and is keeping a list. A naughty and nice list. I am thinking that for the average elementary aged “Christian” child the God story must be something like this. We were bad and Jesus came to help us. People came to visit him and brought him stuff and wore robes. There were angels and animals and Santa and Rudolph and Frosty and the boy with the magic drum. There is something about Jesus dying on a great pine tree and in the spring the magic Easter bunny leaves colored eggs that Jesus hatches from. And there’s chocolate. Still trying to figure out where the cavemen and dinosaurs and Batman fits in. But most importantly if I am “good” Santa will give me stuff. If I am “bad” I will be punished. Santa watches and keeps a list. Now creepy Santa has a new helper. The Elf on the shelf. (Just playing no judgement.)
If the Jesus story is anything it is a story of grace. But somehow in the larger culture it has functionally created a mass hysteria involving money and debt and guilt and greed and self-indulgence a spike in alcohol sales and therapy early the next year. Junk purchased and soon disregarded pass for meaningful gifts and distract from the true wonder of grace. Just wondering out loud but I think those were not the results intended by the divine incarnation. Grace is free and frees. It is not an easy thing but it lasts and carries no debt.
But grace is a very frightening thing. It can not be controlled or bargained with. We have to accept it naked and without merit or it can’t be had. When it comes, it comes to our core where it is needed. The light came into the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it. That is the place that is shamed and we’ve hidden it under the fig leaves. When it comes it exposes our weakness and sense of unworthiness. We are naked again as in the beginning of things. Grace though brings life and not death.
I think we often understand grace as some divine indulgence or permission where god sometimes lets us get away with things or does us favors depending on whether we are on the naughty or nice list.
But because we are never fully naughty or fully nice (good or bad) it promotes insecurity and we never really know our standing with the universe. God’s favor or displeasure seems a mystery and random. We get trapped in the good-bad thinking and wonder why god does not play by the rules we were taught. In that we seldom question the rules the default become something is wrong with me. And we go round and round the good-bad dialectic. Good and bad is an illusion and a lie. We can never be good enough to win god’s favor or bad enough to loose it. It is a stupid trap and a trick from hell. It is a control mechanism based in fear. That is why even Jesus would not let them call him good. He recognized bullshit when he heard it. The better question is whether something is true or not. Is it in accordance with the nature of creation or not. Are you being true to who you were created to be and to become, or are you trapped in the bargain of trying to be good and hiding when you are bad.
Santa like many other traps and illusions looks good on the surface. Somehow we get sucked into believing that we can bargain with Santa or the Government or God or our spouse or boss or children etc. etc. etc. to win favor and avoid the punishment inherent in the naughty list. But we remain confused and lost and life seems to be arbitrary and outside the rules. It seems that way at times because we learned the wrong rules. Maybe that is why little kids are afraid of Santa and Disney characters. They know what’s up, they sense it and have to be trained that they are not scary. The universe is love and grace. The Creator already favors you and offers it freely. It has always been yours. Striving to earn it misses the point. Feeling beyond its help is ridiculous. It has nothing to do with either proposition. You already are everything you need to be. That is the point of grace. That is the gift of Grace. That is the story of Christmas. We are all, everyone, from the Island of Misfit Toys and God loves folks like that. Blessings – Plato
No point. Just thought it was funny.