Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Santa vs. Vatican


Santa himself emailed me to explain he isn’t trying to sue the Vatican or the pope directly. Instead, he’s looking into ways law enforcement might better protect children from priests’ wandering extremities. Santa’s laid out a few ideas in his press release on the matter, which you can read here. It seems AOL News misreported some of this story, which is probably less surprising than the fact that there’s still an AOL News.

Santa also took offense at my questioning his goal of combating the commercialization of Christmas by donning the name and visage of a North Pole slave driver and manufacturing tycoon. He points out that the Santa figure is based on the historical St. Nicholas, who was definitely no secular, capitalist mascot. This is true. However, I’m reluctant to cede my point, since St. Nicholas is depicted throughout European folklore as carrying a giant sack meant to store naughty children he’s kidnapped. This seems to run counter to Santa Claus’ admirable work as an advocate for children everywhere. But perhaps this is just splitting hairs.

Santa Claus, an ordained bishop of the tiny Apostles’ Anglican Church, says the Vatican hasn’t done enough to curb the raping of children by clergy, and he’s willing to take the pope to court if things don’t change. But while most of us are decidedly anti-child rape, it’s difficult to take this threat seriously. For one thing, it’s difficult to see how Santa Claus could sue the Roman Catholic Church, since he isn’t a child and has never been raped by a priest. Also, he’s a man from Lake Tahoe who legally changed his name to “Santa Claus” because he has a long white beard. If every man with a long white beard changed his name to “Santa Claus”, then every December, our malls would be overrun by hobos. Well, more hobos. Oddly, Santa Claus says his mission in life is to combat the commercialization of Christmas, which should be focused on celebrating the birth of Christ over rampant consumerism. But he’s chosen to do this by invoking a character known to run a North Pole sweatshop where indentured elves are forced to manufacture goods year-round. Mixed messages. More details here.