Friday, November 21, 2014

The Santafication of Christmas

As the Christmas season quickly approaches (well, at Costco it’s been the holiday buying season since September) there seems to be a new trend among super Christians to stop fighting and start merging. For most Christians, Christmas is a nominally religious holiday where friends and family get together, exchange gifts and share a feast. There might be a yearly trip to church, but the emphasis is on gift-giving, gatherings, kids and the magic of Santa.

Uber Christians have always been conflicted by Christmas and have been fighting for decades to put the emphasis more on the birth of Christ than Mr. Claus, but this is corporate America, and it’s been pretty much a losing battle. So the Christ cult leaders are changing tactics. Instead of berating the materialistic aspects of the holiday, they are working hard to find religious justifications for the fun side of the holiday. I call it the Santafication of Christmas.

All of this may have actually begun with Bill O’Reilly’s War on Christmas tirades that have been going on for the past few years. It’s Merry Christmas, Goddamnit, not Happy Holidays. There is no war on Christmas, the Fortune 500 would never allow it, but it may have nonetheless been the spark that lit a fire under Kirk Cameron and Glenn Beck.

Cameron released a movie recently called “Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas.” Beyond the egomaniacal title is his lonely battle to save the true spirit of Christmas and, at the same time, keep the fun stuff. At a family Christmas gathering, Kirk is confronted with a bah-humbug brother-in-law and proceeds to “save” Christmas with ludicrous historical inaccuracies surrounding Christmas traditions so that somehow, it’s all about Christ again. It probably goes without saying that movie critics have given it a universal thumbs down and it’s at rock bottom on Rotten Tomatoes and still falling.

Where Cameron’s effort is pretty straightforward, Glenn Beck takes the Christmas train into Crazyland. Beck’s movie company is releasing a film called The Immortal. Now bear with me here. In the movie, “Santa” is a conflicted superhero/hunter/warrior who is immortal, lives to see Jesus crucified, is converted by the Sermon on the Mount, serves as a bodyguard for Jesus, then, a thousand years or so later, befriends and mentors a kid named St. Nicholas.

That’s a lot of insanity to absorb, so I’ll give you a minute…. The Santafication of Christmas is essentially an attempt by Super Christians to have their cake and eat it too. They’ve had to concede that Christmas is just too darn fun and economically important to stop, so they are now putting their efforts into merging Jesus and Santa together into one holly Jolly messiah.

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