It’s easy to say I believe in Santa Claus, because all of us know that it’s a symbol for something larger. People over a certain age know that the jolly old elf with red suit, white beard, and bag full of toys does not really live at the North Pole and deliver gifts to children on Christmas Eve in a sleigh with flying reindeer. Santa Claus is the symbol of the magical spirit of Christmas, and of the eternal spirit of humankind. Santa Claus is Love.
God is Love. If I say I believe in God, I mean that I also believe in the concept of God, like the concept of Santa Claus. But many prople take the concept as literal truth. Most educated adults probably realize that God is also a symbol – a symbol of the transcendent, not a super-natural father figure who lives in “Heaven”, created the universe, and influences the earth and its inhabitants with punishments, rewards, and myterious ways. The majority of American adults can’t bring themselves to say they don’t believe in God, though, because it still seems so socially unacceptable. God is the politically correct and sanctioned version of Santa Claus that good adults are still expected to believe in. If you don’t you’re seen as immoral, unethical, perverted or down-right evil. We’re encouraged to be tolerant of others’ religious beliefs, but not of others’ non-theistic view of existence. Atheists, secular humanists, or however they are labeled, are the last group that it seems socially and politically acceptable to misunderstand, vilify, and discriminate against. Will they be the last group to come out of the closet in our supposedly advanced, tolerant, and enlightened age of scientific consciousness?
“The kingdom of God is within you.” This quote attributed to Jesus is a very wise expression of truth. The best and highest qualities of humanity are encapsulated in the ideas of God and Santa Claus: peace, joy, love, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, hope, tolerance, cooperation and community. They try to express the things that we cannot adequately explain with language: the transcendent, the sublime, the ineffable, the ultimate mystery of existence. They are beautiful, artistic stories we tell to illustrate our highest yearnings, ideals and aspirations. They are an invaluable part of our history and culture. I believe in the human spirit. Just as we need morals and ethics, we also need maturity, consciousness, and truth without delusions. However, we still need fantasy, fun and magic.
I will always believe in Santa Claus.
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