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Ch. 14 -Does Santa Claus Undermine Critical Thinking? 
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Post Re: Ch. 14 -Does Santa Claus Undermine Critical Thinking?
johnson1010 wrote:

I had the chance to witness a santa snow-job over christmas. a girl recieved a big doll house that had been previously owned. it had a fanciful sticker on the inside that they tried to remove, but couldn't and just slapped it back into place. she could tell the sticker was not meant to be there, and had to have come from somebody. They told her it was from an elf.
"Why would he put a sticker on it, then peel it half way off?" was her question.

Instead of encourageing this sprout of intellectual integrity and critical thinking, they white washed her with assurances that that is just the kind of thing that santa's elves would do.


I used to have misgivings about teaching the Santa myth. I'd read them "The Night Before Christmas" and tell them to leave a plate of cookies for Santa (and a carrot for Rudolphe). But as they got older, I kind of laid off the story and let them figure it out for themselves.

The girl you're talking about probably knows on some level that Santa isn't real. But yeah, if the parents value rational thinking, they should use this as an opportunity to teach critical thinking skills. "What do you think?" is always a good answer to a child's questions.

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Personally, I find pre-Christian paganism, which emphasizes communion with nature, to be much more meaningful and sustainable. Santa Claus with his sackful of toys has almost become an obscenity. Or am I being too cynical?


I'm more and more surprised at how effective small interests are in controlling the zeitgeist. I don't think you're being too cynical. Each citizen is just a sheep with money, which they MUST spend to keep the economy going. Since when is spending a virtue? How does our position on spending weigh in to morality? Is it immoral to refrain from spending, as the rich people do, and instead amass wealth?


That was a new low for America when, after the 9/11 terror attacks, Bush told Americans to go shopping. The rich invest in stocks and real estate and the rest of us keep the economy humming along.


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Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:47 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 14 -Does Santa Claus Undermine Critical Thinking?
Analysing Santa as a myth helps critical thinking. We have grown used to the myth-fact distinction, but in the case of Santa, the myth is so pervasive at Christmas that you have to ask what emotional buttons it pushes that makes it so popular. Part of modern mythology is the paradox that we do not believe in myths. This is true at a rational level, but not at the emotional level. All sorts of myths about cultural and political identity have widespread emotional hold. To understand a mythic meme such as Santa, we have to understand the interests and the psychology that are at play.

Foremost, Santa gives a divine blessing to capitalist consumption as the highest good. This is a form of what theologians call idolatry, the worship of false gods. If the highest value of the society is material acquisition, that owning things make us happy, we naturally gravitate to worship of a God who blesses our values.

In order to be acceptable as a modern idol, Santa deploys his key weapon – irony. Part of the arsenal of belief in Santa is the knowledge that he is not real, that by pretending we offer an ironic wink in the direction of the supernatural, while holding it at bay as a pure product of the imagination.

The wink towards a magical vision is a key part of how Christmas allows the intrusion of supernatural beliefs into a naturalistic culture. Naturalism, presented as materialist science, claims in its unguarded moments that we already understand everything we need to know about the universe. The sense of divine mystery is regarded as obsolete in modern life. However, doubt about this modern arrogance is accepted at Christmas through the magical story of Santa.

Since Christ has been rejected as messiah, mainly because of his unwelcome comments about sharing wealth, Santa has become the selfish saviour. The trouble is that worship of false Gods always comes to grief in the end.



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geo
Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:15 pm
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