The Christian Case for Santa Claus

Yes, it’s fine, in this modern day, if you want to emphasize the St. Nicholas version of Santa Claus. It’s also a fine thing if you want to play up the Sunblom version of Santa Claus as well. I don’t find rejecting either one as particularly bad, but what I object to is rejection of Santa Claus’ materialism of excess for the sake of the materialism of scientism: that he doesn’t exist because of certain universal physical laws that we know to be true.

Fairy-tales aren’t valued because of their truthfulness but in their value as a vehicle for truth-illustration. Denounce Santa as a symptom of Keynesian easy credit and the Industrial Revolution all you’d like, but don’t denounce him because he’s not real. Of course he isn’t real, yet it does children no good to reject him just because he’s impossible. It just so happens in this universe that Santa Claus is not particular to us—Santa Claus is, truthfully, not impossible because God is not impossible.

Below is a quote from G.K. Chesterton’s “The Other Stocking,” stolen from here.

What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.

As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good–far from it.

And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.

I have merely extended the idea.

Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.

Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea.

Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.

There’s No Arguing With Disembodied Concepts Labeled “Science”

Taking a quick break from Retardo Montalbán to mention this.

Science-lite articles using “science says” verbiage are bothersome reification fallacies, since science doesn’t “say” anything; people do. On the other hand there’s a different kind of fallacious appeal smuggled through, since using “science says” doesn’t exactly invite criticism of whatever “it,” as an object, says.

One can reason with actual people—in this case, scientists—but not an abstraction. Counterpoints are preempted as soon as the phantom is invoked.

google_science_says

Coming Out of the Idolization Closet

I’m already sort of breaking my “no more posts until the book is done” rule already, but this was too delicious to pass up: “The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelical Christians Can Worship Idols”.

Secondly, and even more significantly, we need to read the whole Bible with reference to the approach of Jesus. To be a Christian is to be a Jesus-person: one whose life is based on his priorities, not on the priorities of subsequent theologians. And when we look at Jesus, we notice that he welcomed everyone who came to him, including those people that the (one-God worshipping) religious leaders rejected – and that Jesus said absolutely nothing about idols in any of the four Gospels. Conservative theologians, many of whom are friends of mine, often miss this point in the cut-and-thrust of debate, but for those who love Jesus, it should be at the very heart of the discussion.

Positivism meets sola scriptura OCD dorkdom.

And my favorite comment:

Andrew, my cousin came out as an idolater a few weeks ago. Until then, I had made comments and remarks in my blog and to others that would be taken as hurtful and demeaning towards idolaters. I’ve come to realize, based on his testimony to me, that I’ve been wrong about idolatry. I’m glad that you’ve taken the first steps towards a great understanding of the love that Jesus has for us all, idolaters or no.

Taking A Short Break

Not that I am particularly prolific on here, but I’m going to be taking a shortish break from posting while I finish up the first few drafts of Retardo Montalbán. There will be more drafts while Jill does her editing thing but that writing won’t be as rigorous or demanding…unless the bean bang completely misses the board (a cornhole analogy for you). Until I’m finished or I have a nuclear blast of inspiration, things will be quiet on here.

Bored in the Breakroom Print Paperback Is Out

You can buy it on Amazon.

Here’s a list of things you can do with the paperback that you can’t do with the electronic version:

  1. Read 17 more stories
  2. Hold it
  3. Throw it
  4. Hide it from your babysitter
  5. Hide it from any babysitter
  6. Steal it*
  7. Steal it from Kevin Bacon**
  8. Bite it
  9. Do nothing with it
  10. Read it***

* This requires you to buy it first, since no one you know will have it.
** This requires you to buy the book for Kevin Bacon first.
*** This can be done with the e-book version as well.

Salvaging Some Knowledge

Immanuel Kant

Good thoughts from Ed’s latest post:

One of the biggest problems I run into is this knee-jerk reaction that our cultural substrate is the human default. It seems nobody wants to understand that what we have today is an anomaly, an intellectual tradition more radically different from all others than any of the rest are from each other. With this faulty assumption comes a typical Western Christian attitude that the Scripture canon is the compendium of all there is to know about the things it addresses. It was never meant to be that. It was the narrative of one particular nation and reflected what they had to know for their own covenant with God. Some of that narrative trumps all others, but not every bit of it.

So while I have a big objection to introducing Lilith into the Eden narrative because it changes the entire meaning of the story completely, that doesn’t mean every item of external mythology is relentlessly evil. You shall know them by their moral fruit, not so much by their words. Labels are fungible; the moral character of God is not. Our Western heritage has elevated the meaning of “truth” to some self-existent deity equal to our Creator. We tend to think language is objective, too. The folks who gave us the Bible would snicker at such nonsense.

One thing I may clarify about what I think he’s talking about here—and he may not agree with me—is the relevance of objective vs. subjective truth(s). I would argue that though God is an objective truth (and I would argue the only objective truth), and we as humans can only apprehend God subjectively, i.e., we can only experience Him, not “know” Him in the same manner we know our own name.

The only person who knows the objective truth about God is God. And this reflexively makes categorical sense: God, as perfect being, would necessarily have perfect knowledge of Himself, and as the only perfect being in existence He would also be the only one with the ability to apprehend Himself as an object, as a noumena proper. The fact that God is an object is really irrelevant in a practical sense, then, except for the bit of knowledge we can glean that He is ultimately unknowable, which also means He’s infinitely experienceable: there is no end to our experience of Him.

I’d be better at this in some respects if I knew my Kant a little more thoroughly—who does, though? The man probably had a brain tumor. Words are going to fail at the end if we’re talking about a thing so abstract and barely conceivable. I’m just doing the best I can with the tools I have.

Myers-Briggs Test Results: INTJ – The Conceited, Nit-Picking Sociopath

ron_swanson_intjNo one can be accurately fit into one of sixteen personality types, but whenever I take a Myers-Briggs assessment now and then I usually get INTJ, strong on the I and J. Instead of titling it with a positive slant, it’s more precise to label it as most people would assess it—externally, in others. Becuase, honestly, interacting with humanity can pretty taxing, but that may be my I talking.

Arrogant – INTJs are perfectly capable of carrying their confidence too far, falsely believing that they’ve resolved all the pertinent issues of a matter and closing themselves off to the opinions of those they believe to be intellectually inferior. Combined with their irreverence for social conventions, INTJs can be brutally insensitive in making their opinions of others all too clear.

Judgmental – INTJs tend to have complete confidence in their thought process, because rational arguments are almost by definition correct – at least in theory. In practice, emotional considerations and history are hugely influential, and a weak point for INTJs is that they brand these factors and those who embrace them as illogical, dismissing them and considering their proponents to be stuck in some baser mode of thought, making it all but impossible to be heard.

Overly analytical – A recurring theme with INTJs is their analytical prowess, but this strength can fall painfully short where logic doesn’t rule – such as with human relationships. When their critical minds and sometimes neurotic level of perfectionism (often the case with Turbulent INTJs) are applied to other people, all but the steadiest of friends will likely need to make some distance, too often permanently.

Loathe highly structured environments – Blindly following precedents and rules without understanding them is distasteful to INTJs, and they disdain even more authority figures who blindly uphold those laws and rules without understanding their intent. Anyone who prefers the status quo for its own sake, or who values stability and safety over self-determination, is likely to clash with INTJ personality types. Whether it’s the law of the land or simple social convention, this aversion applies equally, often making life more difficult than it needs to be.

Clueless in romance – This antipathy to rules and tendency to over-analyze and be judgmental, even arrogant, all adds up to a personality type that is often clueless in dating. Having a new relationship last long enough for INTJs to apply the full force of their analysis on their potential partner’s thought processes and behaviors can be challenging. Trying harder in the ways that INTJs know best can only make things worse, and it’s unfortunately common for them to simply give up the search. Ironically, this is when they’re at their best, and most likely to attract a partner.

A Stupid Poll About Writing

I received an email asking to promote the results of a poll, as seen in this post from the Daily Beast. Even though I’m actually doing what was requested by linking to it in this post, I responded to the email and declined because I’m not into charities I’m not personally involved with, and because the ham-handed interpretation of the poll was ludicrous.

Here’s my email response:

Thanks for reaching out to me, semi-personally, but the poll results are garbage. Not that it’s necessarily Grammarly’s fault, since polls are a wildly inaccurate at quantifying a complex series of attributes that comprise an intuitive-knowledge sort of area like language or writing. But it also presumes a standard of what “better writing” could be that not everyone may agree with. Yet, since it fits conveniently with TDB’s leftoid, feminine-primary readership, it works out in your favor.

Good luck, and I hope Grammarly sells the appropriate number of subscriptions this month.

An important contextual note on the “feminine-primary” phrase. There’s nothing wrong that I can see, by definition, about women (or men) getting together by themselves, separate from the other sex. Societies around the world have been doing that since time immemorial because there is benefit to it. Whether that could be called “x-primary” organization in the modern sense matters little. This isn’t a technical, academic paper.

But the wholesale “gathering together” of one sex has been met with more politicized/socialized approval for a good many decades, to the detriment of the other sex. An artificial and “forced”, as opposed to naturally-occurring and self-organizing, favoring of one over the other will always cause an imbalance in a binary system. The subject was already on the docket given the nature of the poll and the title of the post so it’s not an untoward gesture to give it a mention.

An Update on the Works In Progress

I am currently on the first draft stage of Retardo Montalbán, and I have onboarded Jill Domschot as the semi-formal editor of the project. We have a verbal agreement for services and payment, where I will remite payment at the end of her editing duties. So this public post carries with it the accountability factor—mostly on my end—to uphold my part of the bargain in good faith.

Before I go deep-diving into Retardo I’m going to finish the dead tree version of Bored in the Breakroom. The ebook version is still free and I don’t foresee it ever being not free, but the print version will have bonus stories and will obviously carry a cost. But that cost is heavily in your favor after the dolphin apocalypse arrives and there is no electronic grid to speak of.

N.T. Wright on Christian Art

When you see a beautiful chalice, it has a double beauty. If it’s well made, it has beauty for what it is. But if you know what it is, it also has beauty because you know what it’s meant to be filled with. The present world is like a chalice. God has made it as a thing of extraordinary beauty. But…we know what it’s going to be filled with. We should therefore celebrate the present beauty of the world, not in the sentimental way that denies the presence of evil and chaos and horror and death…Christian art ought to be able to say that the world is a place of great beauty, and also a place of great pain; but to do so in the light of the fact that the world shall one day be full of the glory of the Lord.