have always loved the myth about Santa. The child in
me still takes delight in all the trappings of Christmas,
and I have no problem talking about Santa to my grandchildren.
But since I was in first grade, I have known that the
story is a myth. True, the story is based on an historic
individual, but it has become so mythologized that the
facts of the story are almost unrecognizable.
hard to convince people that the same thing is true
about the Jesus story. One of the correspondents to
the website asked me recently, when I alluded to the
myth of Christianity, "What would you change?"
I said, "The basic message! Jesus didn't die on
the cross to save you from your sins, because you don't
need to be saved." She responded, "Okay, then
why did Jesus die on the cross?"
My answer: Why did Spartacus die on the cross? Because
he wanted to set his people free from physical slavery.
Jesus died on the cross because he wanted to set his
people free from religious slavery. But the Jewish leaders,
to prove his point, had him killed for his spiritual
beliefs. Then, to try to make sense of the whole thing
- in just the same way we look for reasons to explain
Kennedy's death and 9-11 - his followers tried to glorify
his death by giving it some cosmic meaning. But the
simple truth is that Jesus was a teacher who threatened
the religious powers. They killed him for heresy and
blasphemy in order to prevent change and to protect
their power. It had nothing to do with God's plan of
salvation. I told her that if God wanted to save us,
he could have simply waved his hand and pronounced us
"No, no," she protested. "We have to
earn our salvation." To which I said, "We
are part of God. We have existed with him from eternity.
We were already perfect in heaven, totally accepted
by God, before we ever decided to incarnate. Coming
here is not going to lose us our spiritual heritage.
We are still part of God. This earthly experience is
merely to add to our wisdom and understanding. The notion
that God will reject us if we don't say certain words
is a tool the church uses to maintain control of its
"You have a child," I told her. "Suppose
you loved that child for the first six years of his
life up until you sent him to first grade. Then in first
grade, he flunked a spelling test. What would you do?
I'm certain that you would not throw him out of the
house and onto a bonfire in the backyard and watch him
scream in anguish."
cringe at this image, but we have no problem projecting
this exact scenario onto God. Myths are a way of simplifying
the truth so that the average mind can grasp it. It's
a good tool. Jesus used parables. However, some people
want to believe that the parables actually happened,
that, for instance, there was a real Good Samaritan,
etc. But there wasn't. To try to make the story literal
completely misses the point.
same thing with the Christian myth. The story of Jesus/Savior
is a parable, a metaphor, a holy myth designed to teach
a truth. But the church long ago made the mistake of
claiming that it was literal truth, and now they're
stuck with it. They know it's a myth but they can't
admit it, or the whole structure would collapse. So
instead of telling us the truth, the church has to spend
its resources propping up what amounts to a lie.
the Santa story can teach us that we can enjoy myths
and learn valuable lessons from them, while not confusing
them with actual history.
John W. Sloat 2005