I had a talk not too long ago with a very intelligent person about Christian Christmas stories. He asked, “Surely you don’t actually believe that the Christmas story you preach really happened?” It was a question that I settled long ago, although it reminded me that many people still struggle with their faith around the holidays.
Even though there are probably some good reasons to ponder the “reality” of the Nativity story over the holidays, I honestly don’t even think about it anymore. I once read a quote that went something like, “The question is not always whether it is real, but whether it matters…the things that matter most become reality.”
Atheist Sam Harris has written about “tiny lies” and the cost they have on our culture. He even discusses Santa Claus, taking on a popular non-religious Christmas tradition as a form of deception. I see Harris, much like my friend, in a very “stuck” place. When we bring the wrong question to the table, we often feel the need to “force feed” answers. No one likes being force-fed.
When it comes to Santa, the question for families is not so much whether or not he and his reindeer troop are real; rather the question is whether or not he matters. Because if he matters, every family finds a way to make him real during the season. [Read more…]