Tuesday, 17 December 2013

of Flying Pigs and Christmas Cults


“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

So asks the caption on the Christmas cartoon on the left. As I sat back and thought about that question for a while, I had to confess, “Yes, it does seem very cultish to me.”

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

Now, I’m not going to regurgitate all the arguments as to why Christmas is or isn’t a pagan holiday, or where we got our Christmas tree tradition from, or even debate the Santa Claus superstition; we’ve all heard the theories and speculations on that more than enough times. But let’s think about that question again:

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

There are only two possible answers to that; Yes or No. If your answer is “Yes,” then the question that naturally follows is, why do you persist in observing something that is “cultish?” If the answer is “No,” then you might as well exit this post now and move on to someone else’s post that treats your Christmas (cult?) with a little more dignity and respect than you’ll probably find on this blog post. Still, the question remains:

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

My dictionary defines “Cult” as: “1. a system of religious worship: Buddhism includes many cults [and, I would argue, so does Christianity]. 2. great admiration for a person, thing, idea, etc.; worship: In the Soviet Union, the cult of Stalin was discouraged after his death. 3. a group showing such admiration.” So therefore, according to the same dictionary, “cultish” is “of, having to do with, or characteristic of cults,” and a “cultist” is “a person who tends to follow or practice cults.” Again:

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

Using the previous dictionary definitions, and considering how wrapped up many of us get into our Christmas celebrations (which I might add, the early church did not even observe), is the church (and Christians by extension) cultish? I know, I know, Christmas is about Jesus, and many cry out, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” but still few are the Christians who say “boo” when it comes to one of its greatest deities, the god Santa Claus.

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

Think about it. Symbolically we offer our children on his lap, not that terribly dissimilar to the sacrificing of the children to the Cannanite deity Molech by the confused ancients of yesteryear. “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God (Leviticus 18:21).” Why would that be in our Bibles if child sacrifice were not a very real problem? If nobody ever did such a horrible thing, there would have been no need for God to ensure its inclusion in our scriptures. But it’s there. So too, we continue the practice and take the kids to ole St. Molech … I mean, St. Nick. How ironic!

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

Are you still here? I haven’t scared you away yet? Yes, I’ve sensationalized the connection between Molech and Santa Claus, but only to create a point; to listen to some of us talk as we lie to our children about the Santa Claus myth (cult), it’s really quite bizarre, if not actually pathetic. Perhaps that’s why so many kids are so screwed up in our world today. Perhaps that’s why lying has become so acceptable in our society; we’ve instilled it in our children from an early age. We’ve taken them to see Santa; we’ve caused them to believe in a lie, and so they grow up believing that lying is acceptable. After all, mom and dad lied, so what’s the big deal? And then one day we get after the kids and chastise them for lying. Again, how ironic.

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

I remember a couple bosses I’ve had over the years who surprised me with dishonest requests. One, back when I drove a delivery truck, asked me to dishonestly “steal” pallets from a customer. He didn’t actually call it “stealing,” but that’s what I heard. The general accepted practice was that, for every pallet of product I delivered, I would pick up one empty pallet in exchange. The boss wanted me to pick up several extra pallets throughout the day. In other words, he wanted me to be deceptive. Other bosses over the years have also asked me to say things that were untrue. And then there was the boss I once had to whom I ultimately asked the question: “Is it OK if I steal from you or lie to you?” He didn’t like that, and yet he was asking me to do that very same thing to others. Ironic? I thought so!

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

Maybe those bosses grew up believing in the Christmas cult. Maybe lying is not that bad after all. Maybe Christmas, as our modern world celebrates it, is all only innocent fun. Maybe fantasy is good and healthy for children. Maybe a little white lie, if done in a spirit of love, is not really bad at all. Maybe Santa Claus really does exist, and maybe a Christmas tree is nothing more than his altar. Maybe the manger birth and the wise men are nothing more than a myth. Maybe it’s just me who is out to lunch. Maybe I’ve been making a big deal of nothing at all. Maybe the word “cultish” is a little extreme. Maybe pigs really do fly.

“This doesn’t feel the least bit cultish to you?”

Cartoon Sources: Unknown

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