At Christmas I tend to get attacked by my philosophical ghouls who want to play around with me. I begin thinking of our religious beliefs since religion plays such an overwhelming part in the lives of a majority of Americans. And it did with our forefathers as well, who, having suffered persecution at the hands of a power structure that sponsored a set of differing religious beliefs, braved the stormy Atlantic to settle in the wilderness of America where they could worship as they pleased, and kill the Indians. Then they went to war with England, and sculptured a constitution, and there you have it, presto! the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of religion.
Perhaps you believe that the First Amendment to the Constitution will protect you to embrace whatever religion sings to your soul. Well, it will, of course, if you are a Presbyterian or Lutheran or even one of those who have been mocked and belittled from the time I was a child — a “Holly Roller” they were called. But they were rolling for Jesus.
In my day the Catholics prayed to God in Latin because, obviously, He only understood Latin, and the priests were all dressed up in glittering nighties and wore strange crowns and rang bells. And even they were talking to Christ through his mamma. I thought that was smart, knowing as I did, the power that mammas have.
And the Baptist dumped you in a tub and near drowned you to wash away your sins, which meant to me that Baptists had more sins than Methodists, the church I grew up in, because in the Methodist Church the preacher just dipped his soft, white, uncalloused fingers into a silver bowl, got a drop or two on his fingers, and then sort of pressed the drops on your head, which told me right off that Methodists didn’t have as many sins to be washed away as Baptists.
Then there were those who had the days of the week all mixed up and went to church on Saturday instead of Sunday, and, if you could scrape up a dime, how could you see Hopalong Cassidy at the Saturday afternoon show if you had to go to church instead?
And then there were those who were trying to put doctors out of business because they left all healing to Jesus – some sect called Christian Scientists, which didn’t seem very scientific at all. I thought Jesus probably liked doctors. If Jesus was too busy to hear your prayers, there was always a doctor to back Him up. But none of these belief systems caused any serious problems because the First Amendment said that in America you could worship as you pleased.
I don’t know what they would do to us if we were teaching our children from the time of first thought that Santa Claus was a lying fiction that represented the degenerate corporate money structure and was created only so Americans would buy a lot of junk at Christmas for their kids in order to insure the profits of the corporate king.
And what would happen if you taught your kids that Jesus and Santa were in competition with each other—as a matter of fact, as it turns out, Christmas is not the celebration of the birth of Christ, but it’s the time when Santa comes and, if you are a kid from a poor family trying to scrape enough together to eat, it is obvious that Santa does not love you as much as he does the rich kid, because the rich kid got a new bike and you got nothing, which teaches that money and virtue are somehow related, and that being poor is the first sin.
I have no problem with the various religions or with Santa. The human species is born with that overriding instinct of all instincts – survival – the other side of which is the fear of death. So we invent whatever belief systems are necessary to cope with that omnipotent fear, and we are born Baptists or Catholics or Muslims depending on the parents we drew out of the big basket in the sky. Doesn’t seem like much of a basis to kill each other because of the parents, along with their beliefs, that we, and they, drew out of said big basket in the sky.
Yours for a fine holiday,