Sunday, December 31, 2006

Santa Rant

SPOILER ALERT: If you don't already know about Santa, don't read any further!

I'm not going to tire everyone with yet another rant on the consumerism that surrounds Christmas - it's been done and most of you know where I stand by now. Another interesting thought around Christmas occurred to me this year - the Santa Conspiracy. Where does it come from? Why do we perpetuate it? I remember the year that I figured it out - and ever since then Christmas doesn't feel the same - the magic is gone and there's a cynicism that just kinds of pesters at me throughout the season. While I was at my mom's I watched some of the late night talk shows, which were all repeats of course, and caught this one intereview with an actress who was trying to be very careful about the way she talked about Santa Claus so as not to give anything away while she was talking about what she was doing for her family this Christmas. The host ended up making a comment that, if a child had been watching, would have given away "the big secret" and this actress was visibly upset that he did that after she had been trying so hard. Well watching this got me thinking about the things that we tell our kids - the lies that we work so hard to maintain. What is the purpose? We teach kids not to lie - that "honesty is the best policy" and "truth will set you free" and all of that - but we all lie all the time for a variety of reasons!

Due to the season, Santa is the most obvious example right now - we tell kids that it's his "helpers" that are working the malls and shopping meccas, or that "the elves are watching" their behavior to report back to Santa if they deserve gifts or coal. I've even known parents to go to great lengths to "prove" that Santa exists - leaving footprints, notes, and other evidence to be found the next morning. But let's not forget the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and boogey man - just to name a few of the other characters we create for our children. Why do we do this? With Sants you can make a case that it's the magic of the season, the spirit of giving, blah blah blah... What about the actual magic of the season that this is when we remember that God made an effort to be in this world, this life with us. Why isn't that the magic of the season and the spirit of giving that we explain? Is it because we can talk about Santa in school and not Jesus - that Santa has given us a secular way of dealing with the holiday?

Why can't we find a way to teach our kids the holiday of love and giving without encouraging this belief that their behavior earns them toys? Why can't we be honest with them so that when they get old enough to figure it out they aren't disappointed or permanently suspicious of what grown ups tell them (of course, this happens anyway once they become teenagers anyway)? I love watching kids at Christmas - believing in magic, their innocence, the excitement, etc. - but I do wonder if that wouldn't all still be there without Santa Claus. And if it wouldn't be, what does that say about us??

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

NOT NOW I'm still at my mom's house in Rhode Island for the holidays but I wanted to start looking to the New Year and evaluating my commitments and priorities. One of my favorite "jobs" at seminary is being the co-chair of the Social Justice Committee. We're a group of students and staff who try to educate ourselves as well as the rest of the Saint Paul School of Theology community about any of a number of social justice issues, both in and outside of the church (although there's nothing that doesn't have a theological implication or perspective). To help keep ourselves focused, the SJC chooses two "focus issues" - particular topics that we commit to covering for that calendar year. The 2007 issues will be 1) to work on justice issues on our own campus and 2) the genocide in Darfur. To begin educating myself and getting the word out, I checked out this website and wanted to share it with all of you as well. I've noticed that there's an ad campaign on tv lately and hope that we can all work together to educate ourselves about what's been going on and work to move political leaders to find some kind of peaceful solution. has a post called "Educate Others" that's worth checking out...

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have responded to the suffering in Darfur by standing up and demanding that their governments take action to end the crisis. However, many individuals still have not heard about the genocide in Darfur. To build the political will necessary to…

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Breathing at Last

YAY!! Last night at 8:35 I finally finished my last class of the semester. This one's been really tough for me - not that the school work was really harder academically, but everything seemed harder emotionally with Angela being gone and talking about violence every week (for one of my classes). I've learned a lot, had great conversations with people, and seen some good friends finish their seminary careers (but they'll come back to walk in the May ceremony with me). Right now all I can say is that it feels good to be done and know that I have a little bit of room to breathe. I'm going to see my mom and her new husband for Christmas this year and I leave on Tuesday, not coming back until a few days after Christmas, so it's a good long change of scenery.

I've noticed a bit of spam on the comments (no the porn stuff is not anything I put up there - not that I don't have friends who would do that to my blog for fun!) so I'm putting the "eye test" password function back on. Sorry for those of you who think it's a hassle, but I'd rather have you type in some characters than have to clean out my comments all the time. Anyway, hope you're all in the Christmas spirit. I have a few days to finish getting gifts together to mail out before I fly east. If you don't have ideas for some people, I'd like to suggest you check out some of the links on the right side of my blog - there's a lot of sites and organizations that have somegreat sutff. If you shop through the Hunger Site, you also feed the hungry when you shop and a lot of stuff is fair trade! Ok, that's the only bit of preaching I'm doing today. Maybe more later...