Archive for December, 2007

Little Believers

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Christmas day has come and gone, though Christmas itself lasts until Epiphany (or “Little Christmas”) on January sixth, so of the twelve days of Christmas, only a few have gone by. Given the season, I thought I’d return to the subject of believing in Santa Claus.

At some point when we’re little we start to question whether or not the big guy is as real as we’ve been told, or if he’s just a story. Eventually we figure it out. We figure out that there’s no Santa Claus. We figure out that there’s no Easter Bunny. We even figure out that there’s no Tooth Fairy.

Now there’s evidence for all of these. We see Santa everywhere in the weeks leading up to Christmas. There’s the presents that show up in the middle of the night. And there’s endless songs, movies, and TV specials reinforcing the message. There’s also evidence for the other two. There’s eggs and candy for the Bunny. There’s the money under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy, though I don’t want to really think about what association that sets up for the kids’ later development.

So here’s what I asked God: When we learn so early that all these other beings don’t really exist, that they’re just a case of mass collusion, of the adults, the authority figures in our lives, seeing how long they can pull the wool over our eyes, how is it, in the face of that, that we’re supposed to keep up our faith in her?

Now she had a response that wasn’t what I expected. It didn’t directly answer the question but I think I got the point.

She told me that some kids are smarter than others. The really smart ones figure out that we’re lying to them but they also figure out that as long as they seem to believe, they keep keep getting cool stuff. She told me that a lot of people take that same approach to religion. They realize that there is no evidence to support a belief in God but that if they keep claiming to believe, they’ll get cool stuff. They get friends. They get simple rules to live by. They get to claim moral superiority.

So, so what if they have to give up a little self-respect, at least they get to be part of the club.

Oh Grow Up

Friday, December 21st, 2007

So Christmas is almost here. In fact, it will be here before the next time I write, so I just want to take this opportunity to wish you a merry Christmas from both myself and God. I thought I’d also take this opportunity to give you a little insight that comes not from God but from the children of the world.

Except for a few occasions when the urge to do something different has gotten fairly high, I’ve always worn my hair long as an adult. It’s not that long, just shoulder length but only because that’s as long as it grows. I’d have let it get much longer if it was willing. Now when I was younger my hair was very curly and a deep auburn in color and my beard was much the same only lighter hued. Now it happens, that on quite a few occasions I overheard little kids asking their parents if that was Jesus as they’d point or pointedly look in my direction. I could see the resemblance they were citing, though only on a very superficial level. It was the sort of mistake that a small child could make but not anyone more versed in the menagerie of humanity. I found it amusing but then, I find most things amusing, at least on some level.

I’ve gotten older though. I’ve put on weight. The beautiful curls and ringlets of my youth have given way to hair that is more wavy and a little kinky. The red highlights have dulled and now my hair is a medium brown and the more striking red of the beard has given way to an almost uniform white.

But the kids still notice me. Over the last few years I’ve still caught them whispering and pointing, only now they don’t ask if I’m Jesus, they ask if I’m Santa Claus. Even in the midst of summer when Christmas is one of the furthest things from their minds.

So what’s the insight of these kids? When Jesus gets old and fat he becomes Santa Claus. Personally, I think they’re onto something.

Oh Brother

Friday, December 14th, 2007

One of the big stories in the press this week is presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. There’s two aspects that are getting a lot of stories posted, some stories cover one or the other and some stories cover both. Now, while I call them two aspects, they really are separate issues, but they’ve been lumped together in so many articles that by mere proximity they have each diminished the other into merely being an aspect of the larger tale.

The first aspect is that Mr. Romney gave a speech about his faith and his religion in order to assuage fears that being a Mormon will negatively affect his ability to be a good president. In this speech he made a big point of stating that he personally believes Jesus Christ to be the son of God and the saviour of mankind. He did not say that this is a tenet of the Mormon church, which appears to be his way of having his cake and eating it too. He doesn’t overstate or oversimplify the views of his church but he gets to claim a faith in common, that many Mormons don’t, with all the other Christians.

The second aspect is that Mike Huckabee, another Republican presidential hopeful, gave an interview to the New York Times in which he asked, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” There appears to be a fair amount of Mormon literature that supports this question, or at least there is when you take into account that this is true for a special definition of brother that is used in such discussions and so doesn’t really apply when the subject is taken out of context. Now my reading of the articles about this brouhaha suggests that Mr. Huckabee has been the victim of people trying to misrepresent this belief rather than being himself one of the people trying to misrepresent this belief, but I could be wrong.

So now that I’ve made sure you’re at least somewhat up to date on Mitt and MIke’s muddled match of Mormon messages, what insights did I get on the whole thing from talking about it with God? I’d like to tell you, I really would, but every time I tried to bring it up, he stopped me. He wouldn’t even let me get out the question.

Sometimes I wonder what good it is to be able to talk to God when he pretty much never gives me any juicy information, but then I remember, hey, I’m getting to talk to God; we could be discussing how to properly cream the butter when making chocolate chip cookies and I’d still find it worthwhile.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily do much for you.

Pearls Out of Time

Friday, December 7th, 2007

So it’s December seventh. The fifty-sixth anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. It’s the kind of thing that can put a real damper on your Christmas shopping. If you’re prone to dwelling on history, that is.

So what about God? Does he dwell on history? Does he wander from possible universe to possible universe playing out different scenarios like a kid trying to find the best way through a video game?

Well, he didn’t really give me a straight forward answer, but I pieced together a few things out of his ramblings. He doesn’t dwell that much on history as a whole, he figures he gets enough of it going over our ledgers when we die and he has to figure out if we go to Heaven or Hell. And he won’t discuss the notion of other universes or dimensions at all. He says he doesn’t want to give anything away; I think he just wants to keep his options open.