Sacred???? Santa

We could hardly we accused of being “Bah, humbug.” We have a holiday season filled with light, music, food, family, gifts and most important love. Also, as far as I can tell, we consistently pass the “grandkid test.” We are just not very traditional in our approach.

Last year my daughter came across and bought for me at a library sale, a book titled, The Sacred Santa: Religious Dimensions of Consumer Culture by Dell deChant. The book is a kick. It is not however a plea to put Christ back in Christmas, rather the author is championing the idea that America’s slide into rampant materialism, is an almost inevitable and natural evolutionary event in the history of religion. The author lays out an annual liturgical calendar, complete with Feast Days, Holy Days, High Holy Days, and even Fasts (after an orgy of eating and spending, most people retrench for a bit), all based on Materialism as the real State Religion of America and ultimately Santa as GOD. Of course Christmas is the “holiest” day of the year.

Consider the following—Santa arrives out of the sky (by helicopter) to the precincts of the local temple (the mall) where he is then enthroned in the center of the temple surrounded by numerous attendants. Petitioners then approach him one by one with their requests. However the “blessings” received will depend on the sacrifices (money) given at the various shrines (stores) of the temple. This all builds to a climax on Christmas Eve when Santa disappears into the night sky not to be seen again until his next annual appearance from the sky to his temple.

Oh my!

Perhaps Latter-day Saints of all people should be most concerned if materialism really is our state religion for we alone are familiar with Ether 2:12

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

I believe it is also still in effect that we cannot serve two masters, God and mammon.

6 comments for “Sacred???? Santa

  1. Jonathan Green
    November 29, 2006 at 3:05 am

    That’s awesome, Marjorie. And hits uncomfortably close to home…

  2. Matt W.
    November 29, 2006 at 11:31 am

    hmmm… Is the issue here Santa, or consumerism? Isn’t buying things for others good, as it is an expression of love for others, and thus not personal materialism?

    I guess I am asking: What is your view on gift giving?

  3. Mike
    November 29, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    I dislike gift giving. It made sense when people lived in poverty. Mot people don’t need anything more than they already have, materially. They need other less tangible gifts, which I am 100% in favor of. The best gifts are the ones you buy for yourself and get someone else to give you. Or the book you want to read that you give to a family member.

    I used to say that the best Christmas present would be for someone to drive a truck up to the house and haul out about half of our junk. Well, one year I got my wish.

    We were in Utah for Christmas for three weeks. A water pipe in the kitchen broke and sprayed hot water most of the time and destroyed half of our house. We lost everything in the basement and in 5 of 7 rooms on the main floor. It took 4 months to kill the fascinating array of different species of the mold. We lived the rest of the winter without heat in the upstairs bedrooms and were without a kitchen for 11 months. It took 3 years to finish the remodeling and our insurance company ate about $70,000 dollars. Now that was a Christmas present to remember.

  4. Anita
    November 29, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    I mentioned this in the other Santa post, but I think the omniscience of Santa, that he knows if you’ve been bad or good and is going to reward accordingly, in some ways deifies him. Thanks for the book tip, that looks interesting. I think the “Jesus is the reason for the season” bumper stickers have the right idea…

  5. Marjorie Conder
    November 30, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    Matt–Well, yes. I like gifts—both giving and receiving but I’m not so much for “stuff that stuffs your life.” One of the things I have learned in spades, working in a museum, is that owning stuff is never free. You have to store it, take care of it, figure out what to do with it, etc. etc. if you own it. My favorite gifts to give and receive have generally been “unbirthday” presents—just because you know you have found something that will bring joy to someone you love. Of course we do acknowledge all birthdays and Christmas. I mostly give books and CDs these days whether it is Christmas or a baby shower. I buy them all year long with specific people or events in mind as I find them. I have never felt in competition with other grandparents, in fact for the most part I don’t even know what they have given our grandkids. Conversely, when asked, I have suggested to our kids and grandkids that the only gifts I am interested in from them are notes, photographs and offers of help (as their dad/grandpa and I increasingly realize that some things are problematic for us.)

    I am thrilled to see that for the most part our grandchildren are not greedy, although some are very acquisitive. One eight year old grandson apparently has a “collection of collections”—rocks, elastic bands, old school work, etc. etc.

    I was also interested in Mike’s comments about his forced downsizing. About 15 years ago, my neatnik daughter wanted to clean out my basement. I knew very clearly what she really meant was to throw my stuff out. I had a bit of anxiety, but what cinched my willingness to let her do this was her argument that “Mom, I’ll have to do this sooner or later and I might as well do it while you are still here so I can ask questions.” I also realized this was a great and unusual opportunity. In truth I have only noticed only two things that disappeared and neither of them were compelling. I also recently conducted the great book giveaway, where I downsized my collection by about 500 books and then I added excess dishes and gadgets to stack. I feel great. I would recommend it to anyone who is drowning in their stuff.

  6. Matt W.
    November 30, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    Marjorie: I am pretty much anti-stuff. My wife and I don’t buy movies, because we have net-flix, and we live in an area where someone else always needs the baby clothes etc. Books are a solid weakness for me, as the Library is less enjoyable, and doesn’t actively market to me what I might like (which is a shame.)

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