The Worship of Deliberate Ignorance: The Santa Myth

Discussion in 'Religion' started by spidergoat, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Why do American adults venerate the tradition of deceiving their children about the existence of Santa Claus? What is so valuable about this one form of ignorance over all others? Do we actually think children couldn't understand and enjoy pretend Santa?

    For reference, read the tripe below.

    Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
    Dear Editor

    I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it
    in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
    Virginia O’Hanlon

    your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical
    age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not
    comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s,
    are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared
    with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no
    Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this
    existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which
    childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to
    hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did
    not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is
    no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither
    children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are
    unseen and unseeable in the world. You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that
    curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

    Francis B. Church
    Editor of the New York Sun

    Fuck you, Francis Church. There's no proof you aren't the spawn of Satan, working to keep mankind in ignorance, so I guess that's just fine to believe too.
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  3. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    I don't get it either. Never had kids myself, so I never had to face the issue. My sister tried telling her kids that he is just pretend, but they still absorbed it from the culture around them. But, as adults, they still seem well adjusted. I don't know if they are passing the myth on to their kids...
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  5. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps in promoting a myth we are actually teaching a profound truth - people LIE!
    Yazata likes this.
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I think that just about every kid realizes that Santa Doesn't exist. I certainly did. (If Santa brought the presents, why did my parents ask me what I wanted for Christmas, and why were the gifts hidden in my parents' closet before Christmas arrived?)

    It's more like a little game that kids play with their parents. Parents pretend there is a Santa, and kids pretend to believe it. But it's obvious to both what's happening. Both enjoy it and don't want to screw it up.

    Just in cognitive terms, it's probably valuable for children. It's a very benevolent, non-threatening way for young kids to start to learn that everything their parents (and authority figures in general like teachers and the TV) say isn't always exactly true.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
    Jan Ardena likes this.
  8. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    I've had a lot of little children believe I was Santa Claus.
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    We have many beliefs as children that as we grow up, gain knowledge, learn and experience life, realize that they are simply fairy tales. I'm yet to be really convinced that they are harmful.
  10. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    I could say disbelieving in Santa is a part of growing up...

    But, dude, 1897? If that's the year I really can't muster a care for the article.

    [ QUOTE="spidergoat, post: 3554912, member: 9733"]Francis B. Church
    Editor of the New York Sun
  11. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    that is several questions.
    your 1st question is quite big.
    your 2nd question is arguably bigger
    your 3rd question appears rhetorical as it is a closed statement with a question mark & 1 word added.
  12. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    i would ask you this

    are hopes & dreams a lie ?
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    ?? Most of them do 'understand and enjoy' pretend Santa. It's like made-for-TV shows like Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman etc. Kids know they are fake. (Except for the very young ones - but that's just a phase of child development.)
  14. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Let's do a bit of editing

    Why does the church venerate the tradition of deceiving their followers about the existence of god? What is so valuable about this one form of ignorence over all others? Do we actually think adults couldn't understand and enjoy pretend god?

    Edit the rest at your leisure

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  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Wait... Santa's not real???
  16. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Because it's easier to sell a supernatural being who brings presents than one who sentences you to eternal torment for touching the wrong pee-pee. Santa is a rehearsal stand-in. God with training wheels. A voyeur, yes; judgmental, yes; receives pleas without responding, yes - but he's jolly.

    It eases children into a world of hypocrisy, manipulation and consumerism.
    They do. We know they do. Nobody who has given it two seconds' thought can imagine a child over three sincerely believing that the sweaty guy getting his picture taken in the mall really comes down off an apartment building roof with that load of parcels wrapped in the same paper their mother just bought in the same mall.
    Children pretend to believe to humour their parents. This is good practice for all the humouring of teachers and bosses they'll have to do later on.
  17. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    To those who say that children do understand it's a lie, I disagree. In my own experience children didn't understand it's a lie.
    If it's a lesson in adult lying, then why portray it as the defense of innocence rather than the introduction of cynicism?
    If it's just part of growing up, what about the betrayal of your parents, why should you trust them about anything again?
    If it's the promotion of hopes and dreams, don't we undermine that when we place hope in something known to be false? Reinforcing hope by hoping for something that can be achieved seems more effective. And the hope for presents would be equally satisfied if kids knew the source.

    Money, power, fame, sex, ignorance, piousness. I don't know. Don't they undermine their own religion by inviting comparisons to the false idol of Santa? Wouldn't the real story of Saint whatever be inspiring?
    That doesn't make sense, either. A rehearsal wouldn't inevitably include betrayal.

    Here's the real reason in my view:
    It circumvents children petitioning parents for presents which can get annoying, the whining, the begging, etc. Then it became a tradition. Then it became a travesty of faith.
  18. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Because we always lie about our lying!
    "Christmas is all about giving." So, wadjaget, wadjaget?
    War is peace! Ignorance is wisdom. Cynical self-serving consumerism is pious innocence. You can tell by how shinily the choirboys' faces are washed after that session in the dressing-room with the vicar.
    What betrayal? A rehearsal is just the performance that the critics don't savage. It prepares you for the real thing. First, you believe in a benevolent supernatural being who rewards you for obedience. Later on, the white mitts come off and he also punishes you for disobedience.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  19. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Sounds like someones a bah hum bug.

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  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I'm not sure worship is the common approach to Santa.
    The people who take the disobedience punisher most seriously are often the ones with the strongest objections to Santa Claus. They take the inevitably exposed myth as an obstacle to the true faith, rather than a rehearsal.

    In my childhood, the transition to being Santa - to helping my parents be Santa for the little kids - was a good time. Not a whiff of betrayal about it. Santa himself was real in the same sense that the characters in books or the bad things in the basement were real - a reality of childhood that transferred to the nearest younger child. (Even better than a bright light for banishing basement bogeys: hold a little kid's hand so they won't be scared. It's you who won't be scared. Funny how that works.)
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Uh - OK. Do you think that kids understand that Star Wars didn't really happen?
    Because kids don't see it as a betrayal. That's just you.
    We place hope in many things that are largely illusions. We sing the Star Spangled Banner - even though it's inaccurate. (The flag Keyes saw during the bombardment was not "still there.") But I don't think anyone's 'hopes and dreams' are destroyed by that.
  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Reminder: Check the date on that tripe.

    Furthermore, your inquiry apparently overlooks multiple self-evident answers. Honestly, if you can reach back to the nineteenth century, you should be reasonably capable of observing the transformations of American culture throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first.

    Commercialism stands out. So do demographics; as a marketshare game, Christmas persists as a gateway institution, so even the Christian disdain toward Santa Claus is tempered, and toward that end we might note the well-established literary history runs through the legend of a Christian saint from the third and fourth centuries. We might furthermore point out that even white identity has claimed a stake, with a former FOX News celebrity and persistent not-a-white-supremacist professional gaffemaker having thrown down over the point that a fourth-century Turkish saint must necessarily be white. Indeed, like the portly Buddha, the large and jolly Santa Claus is a political distortion; the entire concept is artifice attending other purposes. And nothing in this paragraph feels particularly obscure.

    What's so valuable about it? Duh: The money. And after that, well, I can remember, a quarter-century ago, as people lamented the "commercialization" of Christmas, cleaning up the Fourth of July signage in order to place the Christmas promotions that arrived before the holiday. Honestly, how many businesses would deck themselves with proselytization of Christ for how long just because Christmas is coming, eventually?

    Again, how is any of that obscure?

    Here's something a little less obvious, but any parent ought to be able to affirm:

    "Do we actually think children couldn't understand and enjoy pretend Santa?"

    ↳ No. This, of course, raises a question of when we introduce such notions to children in the first place, and at that point, why do we really need a pretend Santa, because why do we need Santa at all, and so on. Which is well and fine. But observing the self-evident, or, at least, the historical record, will remind that some manner of winter bachhannal has long existed in human societies. And if the question is how much effort we put into making an excuse to party in the dead of the dark season, sure, Santa Claus is a bit much; good for you. But the answer to your question is that by the time children are developmentally capable of understanding such concepts, there really isn't any point to introducing them.​

    At least you made it into the twentieth century this time; no, not really, but anti-Catholicism flourished in the early twentieth century. To the other, this line of thought did evolve in Seventh-Day Adventist and other communities, persisting throughout the twentieth and into the new; Lawrence M. Nelson, The Antichrist (Myrtle Beach: Keep the Faith Ministries, 1996), for instance. It's hard enough to keep track of this book that I always botch the point; it's "filii", not "angus". Nonetheless, the point holds: Congratulations, you've caught up to Seventh-Day Adventists.
  23. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    I mention this because that letter was celebrated in the news recently as a feel good story. And I have no issues with the commercialization of Christmas, but kids know superheroes aren't real and love them anyway. The Adventists have a point, if you want the sacred to remain sacred, don't just pretend it's real. I don't care if the realization of the lie helps secularism, I just wonder why everyone else thinks it doesn't.

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