Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Believing" In Santa

This essay was made possible in part by the excellent tutoring of Mrs. Weitz and the unparalleled writing course by Mrs. Jacqua.  Classical Writing, how I love thee.

Whenever a figure replaces the true God in any way, time, or place, it becomes an idol, and the 2nd commandment proclaims that no man shall make for himself a false idol.  Yet every Christmas season, the modern world worships an idol by the name of Santa Claus, who has effectively taken over the spotlight during the holy day.  The meaning of Christmas, so named for the birth of our wonderful savior Jesus Christ, is overshadowed every year in hundreds of millions of households, and popular culture takes the place of religious faith in the minds of innumerable children.  It is for this reason that Santa Claus is the most threatening idol to Christian values in history, for aside from his shameless theft of what used to be a holy day of commemoration and celebration, he is also guilty of other minor crimes.  If an idea can burn, there should be a massive bonfire prepared specially for the Claustian movement.

Contrary to popular belief, Claus did not for the most part originate from legends told about Saint Nicholas, who was a very godly and pious man.  Santa’s roots come more from Dutch folklore and a European legend called Sinterklaas, who is almost as evil as Claus himself.  Sinterklaas in turn is based on several old stories told about the 4th century saint, but there is little reason to believe that the tales of the Nicholas’ charitable giving at Christmastime are true.  In any case, the Saint Nicholas stories were taken and applied to Sinterklaas and Santa with a twisted result.

The character of Santa began to surface in the 19th century, in the drawings of an artist named Thomas Nast.  At that time, he was called Father Christmas, and the character of Santa would grow from his image.  Santa is generally recognized as a fat, bearded man who wears red and rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.  He is renowned for climbing down the chimneys of homes all around the earth and distributing gifts on Christmas Eve.  Good children wake to find toys and other delights in the stockings they hung over the fireplace, but “naughty” children only receive coal.

Santa Claus is an abominable character not only as a perceived hero, but also as an idol.  Firstly, Claus is a beacon of gluttons; the cause of his abnormal size is never explained in fairy tales, but one can assume that he attained it just as any other obese man has, through poor eating habits and laziness.  Despite his embarrassing physical shortcoming, society still worships Claus as a role model, which sends a deceptive message to children who look up to him.  This, however, is the least of Claus’ sins, for in his Inferno Dante Alighieri wisely placed the souls of the incontinent above the heretics, because the sins of gluttony are not as perverse as heresy, a crime of which Claus is also guilty.  Santa Claus’ discrimination in deciding which children are naughty and nice assumes that the more sinful of human beings are unworthy of receiving a gift.  The tradition of Christmas gift-giving of course stems from the Gospel, in which God gave mankind the best gift of all, His Son.  No man is without sin, and all men need salvation, but in sending Christ God offered to save even the most sinful as long as they believe in Him and the Trinity.  On the contrary, Santa Claus as a god-figure selects which children he believes are worthy of reward on Christmas day, and dismisses whichever he disapproves of, and this preaches a false message to Christian youths about the reality of God and man’s salvation.  It is well known that many children are susceptible to the lies associated with Santa Claus, but even some adults are likely to be misled by this heretical philosophy.  Yet even this transgression by Claus and his followers pales when juxtaposed with the very fact that Santa has replaced the one true and holy God on a day which is meant to honor Him.  Christmas has always been devoted to commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, but modern popular culture has manipulated the date into something else entirely, the celebration of an idol.  A waltz into a retail store at Christmastime reveals hundreds of Claus-related products on shelves, but nary a sight of Christian symbols.  Nearly every Christmas television special focuses on Santa Claus or other mythical figures rather than the holiday’s true meaning.  For this primarily and a host of other reasons, Santa remains uncontested the greatest threat to Christian values in the modern world.

The belief in Santa Claus is often compared to the outrageous myth of the Easter Bunny, but the latter is not nearly as offensive as Santa Claus.  Both figures were invented to shift the focus of their holidays to a false idol, but the media have never embraced the Easter Bunny as they have Santa Claus; to that degree, then, Santa is more dangerous.

One could denounce even further the subtle heresy of the Claustian theology, and speak to exhausting lengths on the incivility of intruding on people’s property, but the idol’s greatest crimes have already been exposed.

And, just so there's no confusion, I actually mean what I say in this invective.  Satan Claus is a demon who ought to burn in Inferno where he belongs.  That's why I'm writing a shockingly original and controversial science-fiction dystopia film about him and his followers.  The greatest downside of living in Southern California, besides losing to Democrats every danged election cycle, is that you can't really shoot a winter apocalypse picture without simulating a snowy environment...

Concerning idols, after watching the first 10 minutes of Never Say Never (and only the first 10 minutes), I have to say that this Justin Bieber fellow ought to retire from the media spotlight, if not guard his soul, then at least to protect those of some others, for there are thousands, maybe millions of girls out there who figuratively worship him as a deity.  It's really rather sad; he's a self-proclaimed Christian, but he could be the doom of many an adolescent girl.  I'm not saying that you can't admire him or listen to his "music" (although I strongly discourage the latter); I'm only making the point that some people follow him to such an extent that it's a form of idolatry.  And no, I don't think he made a baby, baby, boooooo...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy birthday, Halo

Here's to the greatest video game series objectively of all time.

I LITERALLY cannot wait to play the original rendition of this franchise.  No, really, I'll LIKE LITERALLY die if I don't pick up my copy of Halo Anniversary on launch day.  (Are you picking up on my valley girl sarcasm here?)

But seriously, Halo is definitely the best thing that ever happened to console video gaming.  The saga as a whole has the greatest production value of any video game series ever, and while you play through the campaign you feel as though you're influencing the outcome of a high-quality science-fiction epic, rather than merely shooting up alien scum in a poorly plotted FPS mess with one-dimensional heroes.  Weighty themes permeate the series, including soldier augmentation for pragmatic purposes, immortality, genocide, indoctrination into war, courage in the face of immeasurable fear, and heck, even a few Biblical references are thrown into the story.

Halo 3: ODST didn't take itself as seriously as the trilogy or Reach, and its method of nonlinear storytelling through flashbacks was actually highly effective.  The game felt more like a noir, mystery movie than its predecessors, with a little bit of Hollywood quality visual effects thrown in for good measure during action-heavy sequences.  It didn't hurt that the soundtrack was exhilarating.  This installment was incredible, and second only to Portal 2 as the most cinematic game I've ever played.

So let's celebrate ten years of the wonder that has been Bungie's Halo.  Now if I could only secure my weekend again in the frenzy of this TP debate world...