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si-blog
the web log of Simon Jessey

Tuesday, December 24th, 2002

A Christmas irony

This little story has been reported elsewhere but I thought it would be a good idea to repeat it here because of its topical significance. BBC News Online carried this story earlier in the month about a British vicar who told a group of young children at a Christmas carol service that Santa Claus is dead. He added that it was scientifically impossible for Santa to deliver so many presents and in order to do so, the reindeer would have to travel so fast that they would burst into flames. Some of the horrified children were as young as five years old and parents were appalled.

The irony of this story is not wasted on me. Not being a religious man, I am as likely to believe in Santa Claus as I am the Son of God. I have always thought that it was a bad idea to convince children there is some fat bloke, dressed in red, showering gifts upon any good children of the world. But I also think that it is unwise to teach them that some slightly thinner bloke, dressed in lighter garb, was crucified to save us from our sins. Both the story of Santa Claus and the story of Jesus are tales of mythical proportions that began with real people. Like Chinese whispers, each retelling of either story has modified, expanded and elaborated upon the original. The biggest difference between the two stories is that few people believe in Santa's exploits, but vast numbers believe in the exploits of Jesus.

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